are ten of the most famous, desireable and valuable Telecaster®
guitars in the world. The collective 'mojo' of these guitars
would be enough to power a large nation for many months! Read
about the Dragon Telecaster®, the Snakehead Esquire®,
a guitar called Nancy and many more.
The One That Started it All
Fender® Esquire® guitar has never been played by anyone
famous. It doesn't have a fender logo, has no truss rod and
has a body made of pine, yet in 1994 it sold for the highest
price ever paid for an electric guitar. So what made this
very ordinary-looking instrument such a valuable item?
1949, Leo Fender and his colleague George Fullerton built
their first ever solidbody electric guitar prototype. This
rather crude-looking and experimental instrument had a laminated
two-piece pine body which was cut by Fullerton. The body was
then given a heavy coat of white enamel.
wood for the neck was chosen by Leo. He decided to use a piece
of strong and even-textured hard rock maple, the type of which
had long since been used in the manufacture of bowling pins
and dance floors. This particular type of wood had a proven
record of being unaffected by heat from the sun or stage lights,
unlike Bakelite necks which were favoured by some manufacturers
at the time.
headstock was shaped like a snake head (hence its subsequent
nickname, the 'snakehead' Esquire®), which was similar
in shape to Fender®'s steel guitars. As on the steels,
the strings pulled straight across the nut instead of turning
towards the tuning keys. As with the steels, straight string-pull
made the guitar easier to tune and stay in tune. There was,
however, no truss rod and although the neck proved incredibly
tough, the benefits of a truss rod were soon discovered the
following year when the first Esquire® models were made.
wise adaptation from the steel guitars was the lead pickup.
To further boost the bass, Leo slanted the pickup under the
strings. The pickup had fixed pole pieces and was protected
by a simple, sliding pickup cover.
name given to this prototype by Fender® was the Electric
Spanish guitar prototype, although it also, rather unkindly,
became known as the Paddle Stock Telecaster®.
original prototype was never displayed at any Music Trade
fairs and remained unseen by the public as further, improved
prototypes took shape.
many years in storage, the guitar was guitar was displayed
to the public for the first time in 1994 as part of the Fullerton
Museum's "50 Years of Fender®" exhibit. After the exhibition,
this simple prototype was sold to a private collector for
a staggering $375,000, the highest price ever paid for a guitar
at that time.
Keith Richard's Micawber
is the name of Keith's main Fender® Telecaster®, named
after one of the central characters in the Charles Dickens
novel, David Copperfield. However, in an interview
a few years ago, Richards denied this, adding, "There's no
reason for my guitar being called Micawber, apart from the
fact that it's such an unlikely name. There's no one around
me called Micawber, so when I scream for Micawber everyone
knows what I'm talking about."
is a 1952 butterscotch-coloured model with a black pickguard
& a stock 3 way switch. The sixth string is removed, it's
always tuned to open G, with the following gauges: .011,.015,.018,.030,.042.
It has replacement tuners & a brass replacement bridge
with individual saddles, and the nut is cut to accommodate
5 strings-they aren't evenly spaced across the fingerboard,
but the first string is moved a bit to keep it from going
over the edge.
is modified with a humbucker in neck position and an original
Tele pickup in the bridge position. It is warm & thick
sounding & can be heard on such live tracks as Before
They Make Me Run, Brown Sugar, Mixed Emotions , and Honky
Keith owns a number of other similar models, two of which
are named Malcolm and Gloria, Micawber is his main guitar
and accompanies him on tours and studio sessions.
our Keith Richards biography HERE
Muddy Waters' Red Telecaster®
Bluesman Muddy Waters created many classic blues songs on
his red 1958 Telecaster®. The guitar with its ash body
and Candy Apple Red finish was worn from many intensive years
Couple of Modifications
to interviews, Muddy had a custom neck fitted to his Telecaster®.
With the obvious exception of the Fender® amplifier knobs
used in place of the standard Tele® controls, the guitar's
other features are mostly stock, or were stock 40 years ago.
about the neck of his guitar, Muddy Waters once said in an
interview, "I got a heavy hand and my strings are heavy, like
a .012 or .013 for the first one. A guy in Chicago made me
a neck, a big stout neck with the high nut to raise up the
strings for slide. I needed to strengthen it up because of
the big strings, and I think that the big neck has a lot to
do with the big sound."
his death in 1983, his Telecaster® became the property
of his family and is, to this day owned by his estate.
Guitar Goes On Display
18th-24th of September 2000, Muddy's Telecaster® was displayed
at the The Rock
and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio at
an exhibition called Got My MojoWorkin': Muddy Waters
and Modern Blues.
Muddy Waters Telecaster®
is available through your local Fender® authorised
George Harrison's Rosewood Telecaster®
Gift From CBS/Fender®
December 1968, George Harrison was presented with a Rosewood
Telecaster® by Fender®. The guitar with its serial
number of 235594 was made by Phillip Kubicki, a young guitar
maker, who worked for Fender® from 1964 until 1974. The
handcrafting process was overlooked by master builder Roger
Making Of The Guitar
recalls, "The bodies for the guitars were made with a thin
layer of maple, sandwiched between a solid rosewood top and
back. I spent hours sanding the bodies to perfection."
a clear polyurethane finish was applied and allowed to dry.
George's guitar was to have a particular hand-done satin finish.
To achieve this, the body and neck were hard-block sanded
with 500-grit paper, following the grain, until the surface
was carefully rubbed with a fine cloth until it became highlighted.
The guitar was set up, checked and re-checked to Roger's satisfaction,
placed in a black hardshell case, and delivered to marketing.
I never saw the guitar again - not in person, at least.
Telecaster®, made in 1968, was then flown to England in
its own seat, accompanied by a courier, and hand-delivered
to the Apple offices in London's Saville Row, where it was
presented to George Harrison.
guitar was played by Harrison on the Beatles' famous rooftop
performance at the Apple building, in what was to be the last
ever live performance by the fab four. It was also used in
the 1970 movie documentary Let It Be , which charts
the recording of the album of the same name, as well as being
played on parts of Abbey Road and, famously, on
the Beatles' track Get Back .
Gift From A Beatle
December 1st 1969, George Harrison and Ringo Starr attended
a performance by the American act Delaney and Bonnie at London's
Royal Albert Hall. The next day, Harrison joined the band
onstage and afterwards, he presented his Rosewood Telecaster®
to the guitarist, Delaney Bramlett. Bramlett recalls the moment
the guitar was presented to him:
I went back to the back - when I went to the dressing room
- George Harrison presented me with this guitar. And he said,
'This is to you for what you just did for me last night.'
And I went, "WHAT?!" And he said (again), 'This is for you
for what you just did for me.'
had a meeting with Leo Fender before he died, and I told him,
'I got that George Harrison guitar.' He said, 'How'd you get
that?' And I said, 'He gave it to me.' Leo said, 'Why would
he do that? That's a one-of-a-kind.' I said, 'I don't know!
I just don't know, man!' I guess he liked me, you know! Leo
says, 'God, I guess he must have!'"
time in 1999, Bramlett put the guitar up for sale in the States
Kyle , an expert dealer in famous and vintage guitars
(including the fabulous leather-inlaid Waylon Jennings Telecaster®).
Bramlett later withdrew the Rosewood Tele®, putting it
up for auction instead.
date for the auction was set for August 19th, 1999 at Bonham's
auction house in London. Although it was expected to raise
£200,000 (320,000 Euros), the Telecaster® failed
to reach its reserve price and was taken off the block when
bids topped out at £100,000 (160000 Euros).
Harrison's sister-in-law tried to take steps to reclaim the
guitar on George's behalf, claiming that as it was a gift,
it shouldn't be sold on the open market. This attempt at retrieval
was unsuccessful and the guitar remains with Bramlett to this
to guitar dealer Dave Kyle, who has had the privelage of playing
and examining the guitar, "The Harrison/Bramlett Tele®
was also pretty well worked over. It had been routed for Humbucking
pickups, which were gone by the time I saw it and had what
looked to be the original pickups back in place. The back
of the neck had been sanded off but the fretboard still had
the original finish".
recently, the guitar can be seen gracing the cover of the
David Ralston album (produced by Bramlett), called Nail
the guitar's failure to reach its asking price, it remains
one of the most glamorous and valuable celebrity Telecaster®
guitars in the world.
Saturday, September 13, 2003, the guitar was put up for sale
by Bramlett at Odyssey Auctions in Hollywood. The winning
bidder paid $434,750. Although the identity of the West Coast
collector was not revealed, rumours persist that the bidder
was none other than U.S T.V actor Ed Begley, Jr. who was apparently
bidding on behalf of George Harrison's widow Olivia Harrison,
who now owns the guitar.
guitar is now one of the most valuable in the world.
Bruce Springsteen's '52 Esquire®
1969, Bruce Springsteen bought what was to be his main guitar
throughout his long and glorious career, and one that still
serves him well today.
axe in question is a well-worn 1952 Fender® Esquire®,
which is basically a single-pickup Telecaster®. There
is some debate as to the year of this guitar. Articles on
the subject state that the guitar may have been a 1953 or
popular theory is that the headstock decal was placed incorrectly
at the Fender® factory and the guitar became a factory
'second'. Consequently the serial number was rubbed out. However,
the common story is that in 1969 when Bruce purchased the
guitar, the guitar was invoiced as a 1952 Fender® Esquire®.
close inspection of the guitar reveals that the back of the
body is heavily worn from years of playing, making it look
like a piece of driftwood. Flip the guitar over to the front
and something even stranger appears.
of the Trade
Bruce's stage secrets is the application of household sealants
over all the guitar's cavities (including the gaps between
the pickups and the body) to make it waterproof. This is due
to the fact that, during a performance, 'the Boss' contently
likes to dip his head in a full water butt (located at the
back of the stage) to cool down, saturating his entire upper
body. The sealant protects the pickups and wiring from any
subsequent water damage. Interestingly, Bruce likes to 'seal'
all of his new guitars and tests out their resilience by pouring
a two litre bottle of Evian all over the instrument and then
plugging it in! The sealant is changed frequently on each
guitar, including his trusty Esquire®.
guitar has been used on the majority of Bruce's famous recordings
and tours and it is unlikely that he will ever part company
our Bruce Springsteen biography HERE
The Jeff Beck/Seymour Duncan Fender® Esquire®
axe has the distinction of being owned by not only one, but
THREE famous people - a very impressive
This single-pickup 1950's Fender® Esquire® guitar,
with its serial number, 1056, was originally owned by John
Maus, the guitarist with famous West Coast trio The Walker
Brothers, whose hits included The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine
Anymore and Make It Easy On Yourself . Maus
modified the guitar by contouring the front and back of the
body to make it feel more like a Strat®. This included
carefully shaping the wood to leave the original paint and
exposed Swamp Ash body.
the mid 60's, whilst the Walker Brothers were on tour in the
U.K, Maus sold the instrument to guitar wizard Jeff Beck for
$60. Jeff set to work making modifications to the guitar.
First off, he changed the pickguard from a white single-ply
to a black phenolic one. Then he took off the original bridge
saddles that were well rusted, replacing them with 52' Telecaster®
brass saddles from another of his Telecaster® guitars.
To top it off, Jeff used a white lever knob from a 55' Stratocaster®
(this is still in the case). A recessed 53' Telecaster®
black bakelite knob was put on it the late 60's.
1974, pickup guru Seymour Duncan was working as a technician
at the newly opened Fender® Soundhouse in London where
he worked for such artists as The Stones, The Who, Gerry Rafferty,
Roy Wood and Wizzard, Supertramp and Jeff Beck. Around this
time, Jeff was recording the second album with Beck, Bogert
and Appice at the CBS Studios that was just around the corner
from the Fender Soundhouse.
Duncan started work on a hybrid guitar for Jeff. (The guitar
was a Telecaster® with two Humbuckers. And a homemade
pickguard, fashioned from dark chocolate vinyl plastic. The
lever switch knob was from an old telephone switchboard).
When the guitar was finished, Seymour gave the guitar to Jeff
as a present. Several days after giving Jeff the guitar while
Jeff was recording in the studio, his then-guitar tech Ralph
Baker visited Beck at the Fender® Soundhouse with a cloth
bag with three guitars in it. Ralph said "Jeff wanted you
to take your pick." In the bag were a '51 Telecaster®,
a mid 50's Stratocaster® and Jeff's 54' Fender® Esquire®.
Needless to say, Seymour picked the Esquire®. Later on
Seymour said "I picked the Esquire® because Jeff used
it! I remembered the songs like Heart Full Of Soul, I'm
A Man, Train Kept A Rollin' and Mister You're A
Better Man Than I ."
seems to have made little or no modifications to the guitar
(which is still in his possession) whatsoever. The strings
(.009-.042's) have been on the instrument since 1974 are kept
de-tuned to reduce tension and eliminate breaking. The tuning
keys are stock 1955 Klusons and the neck is dated 1955 with
stock frets and fingerware.
pickup height has not been modified since it was used by Jeff,
whilst the neck has a nitrocellulose lacquer finish in orange
and yellowish and is worn thin. The top edge of the fingerboard
is rounded towards the edge from both sanding at the factory
and extensive wear from playing.
configurations are as follows:
Position: Mellow sound due to capacitor
connected to ground. Tone control inactive in this position.
Variable tone control adjustment. Only position tone
control works. You can have maximum treble or maximum bass.
Swells and Wah Wah effect.
Position: Full treble in
this position and tone control inactive.
historic axe can be seen on several Yardbirds albums and CD
covers including; The Yardbirds, Rave Up, The Yardbirds'
Greatest Hits Vol. 1 and Spanish release The Yardbirds
Play The Blues.
our Jeff Beck Biography HERE
about Seymour Duncan HERE
Jimmy Page's Dragon Telecaster®
June 1965, the Yardbirds were about to leave for America to
tour and support their next record, Heart Full of Soul.
Before they left, the group's guitarist Jeff Beck showed
up at Jimmy Page's doorstep and presented Jimmy with a rare
cream-coloured 1958 Telecaster®, with the words, "It's
yours". This guitar was one of Beck's main axes during his
set to work customising the guitar by painting an orange and
green psychedelic dragon on the body.
guitar was used almost exclusively on the first Led Zeppelin
album as well as Page's stint with the Yardbirds. It was also
used on Zeppelin's early tours (1968-9) and on the studio
version of Stairway to Heaven .
is said to still own the guitar.
James Burton's Pink Paisley Telecaster®
guitarist James Burton has worked with a variety of top musicians,
including John Denver, Buffalo Springfield, Gram Parsons,
Emmylou Harris and Elvis Costello. It is, however, his stint
with the other, more famous Elvis - Elvis Presley - that James
Burton is most famous for.
1969 and the Presley's death in 1977, Burton was the King's
number one axeman, playing on numerous tours and records.
1969, Fender gave him a gift of a brand new Pink Paisley Telecaster®.
Burton explains: "Chuck Widener [former vice-president] of
Fender® called and said, 'I have a guitar here that's
you.' And I said, 'Really? It's got my picture on it, huh?'
He said, 'Well, no, not exactly, but I think you'd like to
have one.' So I went down to Fender® and picked it up
and played it. It just felt great, and I knew that was it."
what the King's reaction to his flamboyant new guitar was,
Burton recalls, "I took it to Vegas, but I played my original
Tele® for two weeks. Finally, I got up enough nerve to
bring that pink paisley out. I was like, 'Man, what's Elvis
going to say if he sees this guitar on stage?' So I took it
out and he came over to me. ' Johnny B. Goode ,'
he says, and I kick it off. He went out and was singing, then
I played the solo, and he turned around and did a double-take
when the lights hit me and that guitar. After the show, he
came up to me and he said, 'Man, where did you get that guitar?'
I said, 'Well, I was worried about playing it because it's
a little bright.' But he liked it and that was that."
has had some small modifications made. "The front pickup is
stock, but the back pickup is a dual winding that Red Rhodes
did for me," he explains. "I was looking for just a boost,
but not necessarily a change in the sound of the guitar."
owning well over 150 guitars, the pink Tele® remained
his favourite studio instrument until it was replaced with
a black and gold Paisley model. The original Pink axe now
resides in the Elvis Presley collection at the Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.
Burton Telecaster® and James
Burton Standard Telecaster®
are available through your local Fender authorised dealer.
Roy Buchanan's "Nancy"
late Roy Buchanan was one of America's most soulful masters
of the electric guitar. The Buchanan sound was totally unique:
heartbreaking, searing solos, trademark shimmering tone, and
a mixture of snarls, wails and squeals that marked him as
a wizard of the instrument. He was a pioneer in the use of
controlled harmonics, and although this technique has been
used by rock's greatest guitarists, especially Jeff Beck,
Robbie Robertson and Z.Z. Top's Billy Gibbons, all acknowledge
Buchanan as the true master.
Roy Met Nancy
instrument of choice throughout his career was a 1953 Fender
Telecaster®, serial number 2324. Buchanan once told an
interviewer that one day, someone with a battered old Telecaster®
under his arm walked past the barbershop where he worked by
recalled, "I walked out, right in the middle of a haircut,
and I said, 'Where'd you get that guitar?'. I just told him,
'I want it'. I said, 'I'll get you the most beautiful guitar
you've ever seen, and I'll trade you straight across.'"
left work that day and went to a friend of mine with connections
and said, 'I want a purple Telecaster.' He had it before the
sun went down. We swapped guitars, man. That was it. It was
like he knew it was my guitar, too."
guitar's body had the date '3/11/53' written on the neck cavity,
while the inside of the neck (where it meets the body) is
features include a replacement Bakelite switch tip, ash body
and an aged Butterscotch Blonde finish.
Was A Battleaxe!
enough, Roy didn't have a case for his guitar and literally
carried it under his arm from gig to gig. Legend has it that
one night, he was attacked in New York City while walking
to where he was staying. Onlookers reported seeing him use
the guitar like an axe to club the would-be mugger! No doubt
this accounts for some of the hard life this guitar endured.
This could also be one of the reasons why guitars are known
the early '80s Buchanan's fortunes had ebbed. He travelled
from gig to gig, playing with different pickup bands, sometimes
with rockabilly singer Scot Anderson. His wife Judy was now
booking the gigs and his beloved '53 Telecaster®, or "Nancy"
as he called it, had survived numerous attempts at theft.
After one theft attempt too many, Buchanan decided to retire
Nancy, in favour of a 1983 model fitted with Bill Lawrence
is an unconfirmed story that he also decided to stop playing
Nancy after he lent the guitar to another player or tech for
repairs, and received it back with the pickups damaged.
Is Nancy Now?
Buchanan's tragic suicide in 1988, there is much speculation
as to the whereabouts of his beloved Nancy. Some say that
it is owned by a collector in Japan, while others maintain
that it is owned by his family.
The Status Quo Telecaster® Guitars
last entry is not one guitar, but two.
All Over The World
worldwide sales of over 100 million and rising, Status Quo
have been rockin' all over the world since 1967. The two founder
members (and sole survivors from the original line-up) Francis
Rossi and Rick Parfitt are familiar figures with their twin
Fender Telecaster® guitars, played legs apart, belting
out their much-loved brand of uncomplicated, unpretentious
and infectious rock music.
the Quo never really broke the States in the way that they
deserved, their music remains as popular as ever in Europe,
the Far East and Australia, where their fans rank alongside
the most devoted and enthusiastic in the world.
Rossi's Green Telecaster®
Rossi's main axe is a Green 1965 Fender Telecaster®, which
he bought for £70 (99 Euros) in 1968. It has a serial
number of 110959 and an ash body with its back and sides finished
green colouring on the body's front is not paint, but a British
wood staining product called Cuprinol, used largely on garden
fences and sheds. The story goes that Rossi was in the garden
of his south London home one day, treating his garden fence
with the aforementioned product when he decided that he liked
its dark green hue. He then proceeded to sand the original
finish off and paint the Cuprinol onto his guitar. Whatever
the thinking behind this act, the guitar's colour is central
to its image. Well, apart from the big hole in its body of
Hole In The Body
22m-wide hole, which goes all the way through to the other
side was the result of another moment of madness/genius on
Rossi's behalf. One day, he decided that he would drill the
enormous hole in his Telecaster®, close to where the jack
socket is located, to stop the cable flying out during one
of his frenzied performances. (Although why he didn't just
tuck the lead behind the strap like everybody else is anyone's
also hand-shaved the back of the neck down to make it thinner
and replaced the Telecaster® pickups with Lace Sensor™
Parfitt's White Telecaster®
familiar figure alongside Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt has
branded his image in the hearts and minds of his fans, playing
his Vintage White 1965 Telecaster®. Originally blue, this
axe has a serial number of 156101 and has all of the original
Fender® specifications apart from the bridge, which has
been changed to a Badass bridge. This modification was made
after Rick injured his hand a number of times while thrashing
away at the top end of the strings during a number of impassioned
is quite clear that Rossi and Parfitt would never consider
parting with their instruments, but with a worldwide army
of adoring fans, there would be no shortage of bidders should
these remarkable guitars ever be sold at auction.
our Status Quo interview HERE.
now offer limited edition Francis Rossi (p/n 025-5502-948)
and Rick Parfitt (p/n 025-5400-941) Telecaster® guitars.
Keep checking our site for more details, or visit your nearest
Fender authorised dealer and try one out before they're gone!