Telecaster Guide



The Fender Telecaster, colloquially known as the Tele is the world’s first commercially successful solid-body electric guitar. It’s simple yet effective design and revolutionary sound broke ground and set trends in electric guitar manufacturing and popular music. Introduced for national distribution as the Broadcaster in the autumn of 1950, it was the first guitar of its kind manufactured on a substantial scale and has been in continuous production in one form or another since its first incarnation.

The Telecaster is known for its ability to produce both a bright, rich cutting tone (the typical Telecaster country twang) and a mellow, warm, bluesy jazz tone depending on the selected pickup, respectively “bridge” pickup or “neck” pickup, and by adjusting the tone control. The bridge pickup has more windings than the neck pickup, hence producing higher output, which compensates for a lower amplitude of vibration of the strings at the bridge position. At the same time, a capacitor between the slider of the volume control and the output allows treble sounds to bleed through while damping mid and lower ranges. Slanting the bridge pickup also increased the guitar’s treble response. The solid body allows the guitar to deliver a clear and sustaining amplified version of the strings’ sound; this was an improvement over previous electric guitar designs, whose resonant hollow bodies made them prone to unwanted acoustic feedback when volume was increased. These design elements intentionally allowed guitarists to emulate steel guitar sounds, as well as “cut-through” and be heard in roadhouse Honky-Tonk and big Western Swing bands, initially making this guitar particularly useful in country music. Its wide range of tonalities allows the Telecaster to be used successfully for many styles of music including country, pop, rock, blue sand jazz.

In keeping with other models Fender distinguishes product lines manufactured in different locations.

The moderately-priced Standard, Classic Player, Blacktop, Modern Player and Deluxe Telecaster models are manufactured in Mexico, Japan, China and Korea. Each of these instruments has a feature set that makes them more affordable.

The American Professional, American Vintage, American Elite, Artist Series, Custom Shop and American Special model lines are manufactured in the United States.

The Telecaster was important in the evolution of country, electric blues, funk, rock and roll, and other forms of popular music. Its solid construction let guitarists play loudly as a lead instrument, with long sustain if desired. It produced less of the uncontrolled, whistling, ‘hard’ feedback (‘microphonic feedback’) that hollow bodied instruments tend to produce at volume (different from the controllable feedback later explored by Pete Townshend and countless other players). Even though the Telecaster is more than half a century old, and more sophisticated designs have appeared since the early 1950s (including Fender’s own Stratocaster), the Telecaster remains in production. There have been numerous variations and modifications, but a model with something close to the original features has always been available.


Basic Telecaster Features

Although Telecaster come with a lot of model-specific variations, there are some general characteristics to be found on most Telecasters.

  • Solid body – usually ash or alder
  • Bolt-on neck – made of maple
  • Maple or rosewood fretboards (maple is more common)
  • Nitrocellulose lacquer (vintage Teles), polyurethane or polyester finish (modern Teles)
  • 2 single-coil pickups (one in the bridge position and one in the neck position)
  • 3-position pickup switch
  • Master tone and volume controls
  • 21 or 22 frets
  • 25.5″ scale length
  • 7 1/2″ fretboard radius (vintage Teles), 9 1/2″ fretboard radius (modern Teles)

Squier Telecasters

Squier is a division of Fender and its Telecasters are based on Fender models, sharing many of the same design features at super-affordable prices. In the company’s own words, Squier is the “value brand alternative to its big brother, Fender.” Squier Teles are made in Asia.

Squier Affinity Series

The Affinity Telecasters target cash-strapped players looking for traditional Telecaster vibe coupled with value pricing and good playability.

  • Solid alder body; thinner 1-1/2″ depth
  • Maple C-shaped neck
  • Maple or rosewood fingerboard depending on finish color
  • Polyurethane finish (body and neck)
  • 9.5″ fretboard radius
  • 21 medium jumbo frets
  • 2 single-coil pickups
  • 3-position blade pickup switching
  • 6-saddle top-load bridge
  • Standard die-cast tuners
  • Chrome hardware
  • 1-ply white pickguard
  • Made in China

The Squier Affinity Tele in Arctic White combines cool cosmetics with a super-easy price.

Squier also offers the Affinity Telecaster as part of an economical guitar pack that includes an amp, gig bag, tuner, instructional DVD, and cable. It’s a great value for new players, giving them everything they need to begin playing the guitar.

Squier Standard Series

A step up from the Affinity series, the Squier Standard Telecaster offers the feel and comfort of a Fender Standard at an affordable price. It has a fast-action neck based on ‘60-era Telecasters plus upgraded hardware and electronics throughout. And it delivers the same bright single-coil twang that made the Tele an icon in the first place.

  • Solid Agathis body; 1-3/4″ depth like most Fender models
  • Maple C-shaped neck with rosewood fretboard
  • Polyurethane finish (body and neck)
  • 9.5″ fretboard radius
  • 22 medium jumbo frets
  • 2 Alnico magnet single-coil pickups
  • 3-position blade pickup switching
  • 6-saddle top-load bridge
  • Standard die-cast tuners
  • Chrome hardware
  • 3-ply parchment or 4-ply tortoiseshell pickguard
  • Made in China or Indonesia
  • The Squier Standard Tele in Vintage Blonde recalls ‘50s-era models.


Squier Classic Vibe Series

Squier’s Classic Vibe series Telecasters are based on traditional Fender models, but each incorporates modern touches, making it a unique instrument in the Fender/Squier product lineup.

The 3-tone sunburst finish and Alnico V single coils on the Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster Customoffer a mellow look with sonic punch.

Squier Vintage Modified Series

As long as there have been Teles, guitarist have customized them with hotter pickups, personalized paint jobs, non-standard pickguards—you name it. Similar in spirit to the Classic Vibe series, the Vintage Modified Teledelivers hotter tone and chop-shop looks without the customized price tag.

  • Body woods vary with model (polyurethane finish)
  • Mostly maple C-shaped neck (gloss polyurethane finish)
  • 9.5″ fingerboard radius
  • 21 medium jumbo frets
  • Pickup types—vary with specific model
  • 5-position blade pickup switching
  • Vintage 6-saddle bridge
  • Standard die-cast tuners
  • Hardware varies with model
  • Pickguard varies with model
  • Made in China or Indonesia

Squier teams a throaty Fender Wide Range neck humbucker with a bright, chimey Duncan-Designed single-coil bridge pup for the best of both worlds in the Squier Vintage Modified Custom Tele.


Fender Telecasters

Fender Telecasters have proved to be one of the most versatile and venerable electric guitars ever, having been in continuous production in one form or another since their debut in 1951. Fender Telecasters are favored by country and rock musicians, and are not uncommon among jazz and blues artists.

Standard Series

Standard Telecasters are the most affordable versions within the Fender family lineup. Introduced in 1987, they deliver all the versatility, reliability, and playability of the original Tele at budget-friendly prices. This is available in a left handed version, as well as HH (dual humbucker) configurations. These (and other) Made In Mexico Tele models are often colloquially referred to as “MIM Telecasters”.

  • Alder body
  • Polyester finish
  • Modern C-shaped maple neck
  • Satin polyurethane neck finish
  • 21 medium jumbo frets
  • Maple fingerboard
  • 9.5″ fretboard radius
  • 2 Hot Standard Tele single-coil pickups
  • 3-position blade pickup switching
  • 6-saddle string-through-body bridge
  • Chrome hardware
  • Fender Ping standard cast/sealed tuning machines
  • 3-ply pickguard
  • Made in Mexico

The Fender Standard Telecaster has all the time-honored Tele features and is available in a wide color assortment.


Modern Player Series

These eminently affordable Modern Player Telecasters are aimed at entry-level players, but far exceed the usual standards of such guitars. While they offer all the playability and reliability of other Teles, they also incorporate modern touches while keeping the price in reach of the newbie. They are hand-crafted to Fender’s specifications in Asia.

The HSS pickup array with 5-way plus coil-split switching makes the Fender Modern Player Telecaster Plus decidedly different from your father’s Tele.


Deluxe Series

Deluxe Telecasters retain the look and feel of the original Tele design, but pack extra punch thanks to special pickups electronics and switching. Deluxe instruments are fitted with modern C-shaped neck profiles for added playing comfort.

  • Alder body with gloss polyester finish
  • Maple, modern C-shaped neck with satin polyurethane finish
  • 12″ radius maple or rosewood fretboard
  • 22 Tall Narrow frets
  • 25.5″ scale length
  • Vintage single-coil Noiseless pickups
  • 5-position blade pickup switch with Strat-O-Tone
  • Vintage 6-saddle string-through-body bridge
  • Deluxe sealed/locking tuning machines
  • Nickel/Chrome hardware
  • Made in Mexico

The Fender Deluxe Nashville Telecaster has three Vintage single-coil Noiseless pickups. 5-way switching further ups the tonal ante.


Classic Series

Made in Fender’s Ensenada, Baja California facility with collaboration from Fender’s highly regarded Master Builders, the Classic Series Telecasters offers Custom Shop features and vibe at a more affordable price. Classic models are based on vintage models from the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. Here are some the most popular models in the bestselling Classic Tele lineup:

  • Classic ’50s Telecaster
  • A faithful reproduction of some of the Telecaster’s first years in production.
  • Ash body (polyester finish)
  • 1-piece maple C-shaped neck (gloss polyurethane finish)
  • Maple 7.25″ radius fretboard
  • 21 vintage-style frets
  • 2 vintage-style single-coil alnico magnet pickups
  • 3-position blade pickup switch
  • Vintage 3-saddle strings-through-body bridge
  • Knurled chrome knobs
  • 50s Custom Colors

The Fender Classic Series ‘50s Tele is a note-for-note re-creation at a fraction of the price that an original would set you back.


Classic ’60s Telecaster

True to the ‘60s era Tele, these guitars feature rosewood fretboards for added warmth and sustain.

  • Alder body (polyester finish)Maple C-shaped neck (gloss polyurethane finish)
  • Rosewood 7.25″ radius fretboard (gloss polyurethane finish)
  • 21 vintage-style frets
  • 2 single-coil alnico magnet pickups with aged covers
  • 3-saddle strings-through-body bridge
  • Fender Ping vintage-style tuners
  • Chrome hardware
  • “Top Hat” switch tip

From the 3-ply pickguard to rosewood fretboard, the Fender Classic ‘60s Tele captures its forerunners’ cosmetics and playability to perfection.


Classic ’72 Telecaster Thinline

The 72 Thinline Teles offer a unique departure from the standard Tele configuration. A semi-hollow body serves up a vibrant bluesy voice, while a pair of humbuckers packs a punch sure to please even the pickiest tone freak.

  • Semi-hollow ash body (polyester finish)
  • 1-piece maple U-shaped neck (gloss polyurethane finish)
  • Maple 7.25″ radius fretboard
  • 21 vintage-style frets
  • 2 Fender Wide Range Humbucking pickups
  • Vintage-style Strat string-thru-body hardtail bridge

With its semi-hollowbody, dual humbuckers, and distinctive f-hole, the ‘72 Fender Telecaster Thinline was a radical departure captured perfectly by the Classic Series reincarnation.


Classic ’72 Telecaster Custom

This unique Telecaster offers a humbucker in the neck pickup for rich warmth, while delivering classic Tele twang via the single-coil bridge pickup.

  • Alder body (polyester finish)
  • Lightly-tinted, maple U-shaped neck (gloss polyurethane finish)
  • Rosewood or maple 7.25″ radius fretboard
  • 21 vintage-style frets
  • 1 Fender Wide Range Humbucking pickup (neck)
  • 1 Tele single-coil pickup (bridge)
  • 3-position toggle switch
  • Vintage-style string-thru-body Tele bridge
  • Chrome hardware
  • “Top Hat” knobs

The Fender Classic Series ‘72 Tele Custom replicates the original’s humbucker in the neck and traditional single coil in the bridge for tonal versatility.


Classic ’72 Telecaster Deluxe

A solid-body sister to the Thinline Telecaster, the ‘72 Deluxe features dual humbuckers that churn out thicker tone to satisfy modern-rock players.

  • Alder body (polyester finish)
  • 1-piece maple C-shaped neck (gloss polyurethane finish)
  • Maple 12″ radius fretboard
  • 21 medium jumbo frets
  • 2 Fender Wide Range Humbucking pickups
  • 2 volume, 2 tone controls
  • 3-position toggle switch
  • Vintage-style Strat string-thru-body hardtail bridge
  • ’70s large Stratocaster headstock

As with the original, the Strat headstock and alnico humbuckers in the Classic Series reproduction of the ‘72 Telecaster Deluxe give it visual and sonic distinction.


Classic Player Baja Telecaster

Based on a ‘50s Telecaster, it features Custom Shop pups and wiring for a wider range of tonal options at a gentle price.

  • Ash body
  • 1-piece maple soft V-shaped neck
  • Maple 9.5″ radius fretboard
  • 21 medium jumbo frets
  • 1 Custom Shop “Twisted” Tele single-coil pickup (neck)
  • 1 Custom Shop Broadcaster single-coil (bridge)
  • 4-position blade switch with 2-position push-push S-1 switching (8 pickup settings in all)
  • 3-saddle string-thru-body Tele bridge
  • Gotoh Vintage locking tuners
  • “Custom Shop Designed” neck plate

Custom Shop pickups and 8-way pickup selection delivers a ton of tonal options in the Classic Player Baja Telecaster.

Check out our full selection of Classic Player Baja Teles.


Fender Special Edition Deluxe Ash Telecaster

The Fender Special Edition Deluxe Ash Telecaster provides the best of old and new, with all of the classic cosmetic appointments matched with a modern “C” shape neck and Hot Standard Tele Single-Coil Pickups.

Here are the all important specs for this affordable workhorse that offers everything you’d hope for in a modern Telecaster:

  • Ash body
  • Maple Fretboard with 9.5″ radius
  • 1-piece Maple, Modern “C” Shape
  • 21 Medium Jumbo Frets
  • 2 Hot Standard Tele Single-Coil Pickups
  • 3-Position blade switch
  • 3-Barrel string-thru-body Tele bridge
  • Chrome hardware

The classic looks, modest price tag and modern features of the Fender Special Edition Deluxe Ash Telecaster will appeal to any Fender fan on a strict budget.


Road Worn Series

Fender gives a selection of 1950s and ‘60s instruments distressed treatments to conjure up the appearance of road-hardened guitars in creating the Road Worn Series. They evidence the wear and tear of countless gigs, including worn finishes, rusted hardware, and aged parts. While offering the vibe of veteran axes, they incorporate modern features and lighter overall wear than other Fender distressed treatments.

The Road Worn ‘50s Telecaster has the look of a battle-scarred veteran updated with Tex-Mex pickups and 6105 frets.

USA-Made Telecaster Guitars

Built in Fender’s Corona, California plant, USA Telecasters set the standard for quality, tone, and playability. Made with premium tonewoods (usually alder or ash), Custom Shop pickups, and master craftsmanship, the USA Tele is a legendary electric guitar built to please the most demanding players.


American Professional Series

The American Professional Telecaster, available with rosewood or maple fingerboard, is the tried and true workhorse of seasoned pros and discerning weekend warrior alike. Unveiled in late 2016, the American Professional Telecaster offers plenty of refinements including a new treble-bleed tone circuit and Tim Shaw’s newly designed V-Mod single-coil pickups voiced specifically for each position, mixing AlNiCo magnet types to produce powerful, nuanced tones with that classic Fender sound. A Deluxe model, featuring two ShawBucker pickups, is also available with rosewood or maple fingerboards.

  • New V-Mod single-coil pickups designed by pickup guru, Tim Shaw
  • Deluxe hardware
  • Solid alder body or ash body (2-Color Sunburst, Natural, Crimson Red Transparent and Butterscotch Blonde)
  • Modern Deep C neck
  • New treble-bleed tone circuit
  • Narrow-tall frets
  • Bone nut
  • 3-saddle vintage-style
  • Gloss polyurethane body finish
  • Rosewood or maple fingerboard
  • Deluxe staggered machine heads
  • Includes case

The Fender American Professional Telecaster features brand new pickups, a new treble-bleed circuit, Modern Deep C neck, and a number of other refinements.


American Elite Series

The Fender American Elite Series electric guitars are armed with the latest 4th Generation Noiseless pickups that pair up convincingly with high-gain amps and music styles. The American Elite Series Tele also sports a modern, compound-radius fretboard as well as compound-profile neck that merges the best of C and D profiles for one amazingly comfortable Telecaster.

With a newly designed compound-profile neck and high-output 4th-generation Noiseless pickups, the American Elite Telecaster the performance and tone pros demand.

American Original Series

The Fender American Original series, which includes Telecasters, Stratocasters, Offsets and more, was designed to offer guitars that reflected a “best-of” approach. This results in guitars that offer specs and features found throughout the decades they represent. The two Telecasters are the American Original ’50s Telecaster and American Original ’60s Telecaster.

  • Ash (’50s model) or alder (’60s model) body
  • ’52 U-shaped neck (’50s model) or 60’s C-shaped (’60s model)
  • Maple Neck
  • Maple fretboard (’50s model) or Rosewood ftreboard (’60s model)
  • Gloss Nitrocellulose body finish
  • 9.5″ fretboard radius
  • 21 Vintage Tall frets
  • Pure Vintage ’52 single-coil Tele pickups (’50s model) and ’64 Gray-Bottom Single Coil Tele pickups (’60s model)
  • Vintage-style hardware
  • Hardshell Case

This meticulously re-created Fender American Original ’60s Tele in Lake Placid Blue is the perfect choice for anyone looking for vintage Fender vibe.


American Special Series

Though they’re built in the U.S., American Special models have budget-friendly pricing more typical of imports. They offer a mix of traditional and modern tones for maximum musical flexibility, and make a great choice for the weekend warrior who’s called upon to play in a variety of music genres. The American Special Tele combines great value with winning features:

  • Contoured alder body in a gloss finish
  • Modern C-shaped maple neck with 22 jumbo frets
  • Texas Special Tele pickups produce midrange chirp, crystal highs, and tight bass
  • Vintage-style Tele bridge with three brass saddles
  • Includes gig bag

Texas Special pups give the Fender American Special Telecaster more of what you love about Tele tone.


Artist Series

Artist Series Telecasters are designed in collaboration with the artists who play and endorse them. They have historically included models that replicate the axes wielded by such artists as James Burton, Muddy Waters, G.E. Smith, John 5, and Jim Root. The artist signature appears on the guitar and it usually includes unique specs that help serve up the artist’s special tone recipe. Made in USA, Japan, or Mexico.

Unique Strat-o-Tele switching and a host of other tweaks specified by the revered Nashville sideman make the James Burton Artist Series Tele a fitting tribute.

Fender Custom Shop Telecasters

Fender’s Custom Shop instruments are simply the finest models they produce. Each one-of-a-kind guitar is hand-built by a master luthier, using the highest quality woods and components obtainable. To see our complete current selection of Fender Custom Shop Telecasters and other Fender instruments, visit our Private Reserve Teles.


Custom Artist Signature

A guitar created with the input or specifications of a famous artist is called a Signature model. The Fender Custom Shop has produced a number of Signature Telecaster guitars in its Custom Artist series that are handcrafted to the exacting personal preferences of famous Tele players such as Merle Haggard.

Custom Deluxe

The hallmark of Custom Deluxe Telecasters is the use of unusual and exotic woods, breathtaking inlay work, unique hardware, and distinctive electronics. The series is seen as a blank canvas on which to apply the highest levels of luthier artistry.

Master Built

Fender’s most elite luthiers—designated as Master Builders—are given free rein in creating these lavish instruments. They personally select each element from the wood to the electronics to the finish of these guitars that proudly bear the builder’s name. Utterly unique and of investment-grade quality, a Master Built Telecaster is an instrument to be treasured and passed down through the generations.

Vintage Vibe Custom Shop Telecasters

If you’re looking for some Teles with vintage vibe, the Fender Custom Shop offers a variety of great options to choose from, including:

New Old Stock (NOS)

As if the guitar was discovered in a warehouse after many years, never played, and showing no signs of age or wear.

Closet Classic

Built to resemble a guitar that has been hidden away for years in a closet. Slightly worn and yellowed from age, the finish has minor checks and cracks.


Shows natural wear and tear from years of heavy use—nicks, scratches, worn finish, rusty hardware, and aged plastic parts.

So, Which Telecaster is Right for You?

As you can see in this guide, the Telecaster is available in many variations and price levels, with varied features to provide a broad range of options for the Tele enthusiast. Pick the Telecaster that suits your budget and your style. Maybe you don’t want to spend a lot, but you want your Tele to have the look and feel of a timeless guitar.

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