In the late 1940s, Leo Fender began working on a practical electric Spanish guitar. His
design would be simple, and the
guitar would be easy to manufacture and repair. It would also
be convenient and uncomplicated for the working musician
to transport and maintain.
Introduced in the fall of 1950,
the result was the Broadcaster.
The Broadcaster was a two-pickup solidbody guitar able to
reach high stage volumes with
none of the feedback problems
that plagued hollowbody guitars.
The instrument was fitted with
an easily replaced bolt-on neck
that contained an adjustable truss
rod (something earlier prototypes
lacked). The instrument’s pickups were meant to give the same
bright clarity as Fender’s lap steel
guitars. Lastly, a 3-saddle adjustable bridge was included for better
(though not perfect) intonation.
In mid-February of 1951,
the Gretsch Company contacted Fender to point out that
the guitar’s name was very similar to its Broadkaster drum set.
Gretsch requested “immediate
assurance” that Fender would
abandon the name. Fender
complied, and the guitar continued to be produced without
a name until September of that
year, when “Telecaster” began
appearing on the decal. The
Telecaster name continues to be
used on the Broadcaster’s contemporary descendents.
Most modern Telecasters
have changed very little from the
61-year-old Broadcaster spotlighted this month. The features
special to Broadcasters and early
Teles include closed-shell Kluson
Deluxe tuners with no protruding shafts on the side (they were
open-shell by 1952), a maple
headstock plug (all were walnut
by ’ 52), back string ferrules that
weren’t in a straight line (they
were straightened by ’ 51), a pickup Blend control (this became
ABOVE: In 1950, the dual-pickup Broadcaster had a
pickup blend control instead of the tone control found
on modern Teles. RIGHT: The Broadcaster’s bridge
pickup was designed to deliver the clear, bright tone of
Fender’s lap steel guitars.
The Broadcaster decal survived on this model until Gretsch persuaded Fender to drop the name in 1951. Notice
the maple headstock plug covering the truss rod’s insertion hole.
a Tone control by ’ 52), and
slot-head screws (which became
Phillips screws by ’ 54). A black
pickguard was used until late
’ 54, and an ash body with a see-
through blonde finish remained
standard through the ’70s.
If you want to explore the fascinating world of vintage Fender
Broadcasters and Telecasters,
check out The Fender Telecaster
by A.R. Duchossoir and The
Blackguard, an astounding coffee-table book by Nacho Baños.
DAVE’S GUITAR SHOP
Dave Rogers’ collection is tended
by Laun Braithwaite and Tim Mullally
and is on display at:
Dave’s Guitar Shop
1227 Third Street South
La Crosse, WI 54601
Photos by Mullally and text