The Fender Telecaster was the first mass-produced solid body electric guitar. The Telecaster was developed by Leo Fender in 1948, and was originally called the Esquire and first sold as the "Broadcaster." The Gretsch company, itself a manufacturer of electric guitars, claimed "Broadcaster" violated the trademark for its Brodkaster line of Drums. As a newcomer to the field, Fender did not want to alienate the rest of the industry, and quickly changed the name to "Telecaster," after the newly popular medium of television.

The guitar features two single-coil pickups controlled by a three-way selector switch, as well as volume and tone controls, all mounted on a solid wooden body, usually made of ash or alder, and a detachable maple neck fixed to the body by means of four screws (called "bolts.") Fender also produced a single pickup version, called the Esquire.

The creation of the Telecaster was important to the developement of Blues, Rock and roll and other forms of popular music because its solid body design allowed for loud aplification without feedback. Leo Fender could not play guitar himself, and many believe this fact contributed to the instrument's unconventionally simple and practical design.

Even though the Telecaster is more than half a century old, and more sophisticated designs exist (including the Gibson Les Paul and Fender's own Stratocaster), the Telecaster remains popular with musicians. Fender has produced Telecasters with a number of variations and modifications, but a model with the original features has always been available.

Notable Telecaster players include Muddy Waters and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.

copyright 2004