Text By Dave Rogers & Laun Braithwaite; Photos By Tim Mullally
Dave's Guitar Shop
What do Steve Cropper, Jimmy Page, Michael Bloomfield, and Robbie Robertson have in common? Besides being some of the most influential guitar players of all time, each did some of his finest work on a rosewood fingerboard early ‘60s Fender Telecaster.
Why did so many great players choose this type of guitar? It could be because of its gritty, biting sound, or its durability and simplicity. It was also affordable; second hand, a Tele would be well within the reach of a young player at the start of his career who needed a reliable, inexpensive tool. The reasons don’t matter as much as the fact that so much great music was made on these unadorned, utilitarian planks of wood.
This example from the collection has all the features common to early rosewood fingerboard Telecasters. It has a Brazilian rosewood “slab board” fingerboard on a slim maple neck (seen until mid-1962), clay dots (seen until 1964), single ply white pickguard (seen until 1963), and an ash body with an almost opaque creamy blonde finish.
When examining the metal bridge plate, six extra holes can be seen at the end, near the bridge saddle screws. These holes were originally intended to hold the strings on the unpopular top-loading bridge used from mid-1958 to mid-1959. Since Leo Fender never wasted a usable part, these bridges were converted back to the original string-through design when the top loading system was abandoned. These top-loading bridges can be seen from 1959 to as late as 1962.
The original owner of this Tele decided to buy it with the less expensive plastileather padded bag instead of the typically seen brown tolex case. Rosewood board beauties like this one are becoming as hard to find as their blackguard predecessors, and almost as expensive. The Fender Custom Shop is currently making a 1963 reissue that captures the look and feel of the originals at a much lower price.