The First Solidbody Made: The Fender Telecaster turns 70

I’m sure all the guitarists and guitar hero fans know this one.

The Fender Telecaster (first named the Broadcaster) was the first commercially successful solid body guitar, released on the market in the fall of 1950.  It was the first bolt on guitar, the neck detachable from the body by screws.  Prior to that, guitars were single piece from head to end to ensure strength, and the Telecaster proved that wasn’t necessary.  Unlike all the other famous models of guitar (Stratocaster, SG, Les Paul, Thunderbird, Explorer, etc.) the Telecaster has never been out of production since it was introduced.

The standard Telecaster has two single coil pickups, giving it a much cleaner sound than most guitars.  Double coils and guitars with three pickups have more distortion due to the interference caused by magnets close together, a problem the Telecaster doesn’t have.  (Some early Telecasters had only one single coil, meaning even less distortion.)  Its sound is versatile and can be found in all styles of music, from rock to pop, blues, country, punk, jazz and many others.

Here is a small sample of guitarists who use it, most of them live recordings.  In the case of Queen, May used the Telecaster on the song instead of the Fireplace.

Albert Collins, “Cold, Cold Feeling”

Graham Coxon of Blur, “Charmless Man”

PJ Harvey, “This Is Love” (most live videos show her with a Gibson Thunderbird)

Frank Black (a/k/a Black Francis) of The Pixies, “Gigantic”

Brian May of Queen, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”

Rory Gallagher of Taste, “Gambling Blues”

Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine, “Killing In The Name”

Ed Bickert Trio, “Street Of Dreams”

Larry Carlton, “So What”

Cate Le Bon, a Welsh singer/songwriter/guitarist

Jerry Reed and Glen Campbell of “The World’s Most Famous Unknown Band”

Wilko Johnson of Dr. Feelgood, “Milk and Alcohol”