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A 1968 Telecaster Custom with olympic white finish and maple fretboard.
Introduced in 1959, the Fender Telecaster Custom was a special deluxe version of the regular Telecaster. The Custom’s sunburst alder body had white binding around the top and back that was meant to provide a more sophisticated look than the standard blonde finish Fender used on ash-body Teles.
The 1968 Telecaster Custom pictured this month has a custom olympic white finish with black binding (black binding was used occasionally for a light-colored guitar). The body is finished with a thick-skin polyester base coat, which was new to ’68. The maple neck with separate maple fretboard still has a traditional Fender nitrocellulose lacquer finish, but by ’69 polyester-finished necks became standard. The headstock boasts the bold black CBS logo, which was first seen on Customs in ’68. The 1968 list price for a Telecaster Custom was $259, plus $58 for a case. A maple fretboard was an extra 5 percent, as was the custom color. The current value for this well-used Tele is $10,000.
Looking much like a piece of the Starship Enterprise’s transporter, a 1967 Fender Solid State Super Reverb stands behind the Tele. Fender’s solid-state amp line was developed in 1966 when most electronic companies were replacing tubes with transistors. Although pursuing solid-state technology was a logical move, these early attempts failed to account for the nuances of tube interaction with a guitar and player. Compared to tube versions, the solid-state amps were thought of as sounding “tinny” and sterile. These transistor amps were also unreliable and prone to complete breakdown. While other late-’60s companies like Acoustic and Kustom achieved success with solid-state amps, Fender gave up on its first endeavor in 1971. The 1968 list price for a Solid State Super Reverb was $500. The current value for one in excellent condition is $400.
LEFT: All the signs of a well-played guitar. CENTER: Fender’s rare black binding appeared on some light-colored Customs. RIGHT: The bold black CBS logo first appeared on Customs in ’68.
You can find virtually everything you need to know about Fender Telecasters in The Fender Telecaster by A.R. Duchossoir. Detailed information on Fender amplifiers can be found in The Soul of Tone: Celebrating 60 Years of Fender Amps by Tom Wheeler, and also in Fender Amps: The First Fifty Years by John Teagle and John Sprung.
Original price: 1968 Custom Tele, $259 (maple fretboard and custom color each cost an extra 5 percent), plus $58 for hardshell case. 1968 Solid State Super Reverb, $500.
Current estimated market value: 1968 Custom Tele, $10,000; Solid State Super Reverb, $400 in excellent condition.
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 by Braithwaite.