Fender Esquire Basics
I admit that the Fender Esquire is one of my favorite guitars ever, and I find its sound and simplicity very appealing.
I admit that the Fender Esquire is one of my favorite guitars ever, and I find its sound and simplicity very appealing. Most people think of it as a poor man's Telecaster or a forerunner to the Tele, but this is simply wrong. Yes, the Esquire sports only a single bridge pickup, while the Telecaster has two pickups, but the Esquire is not a Telecaster with a missing neck pickup, but rather a distinct model with its own sound. This is because of its unique wiring and also because the lack of a neck pickup causes less magnetic pull on the strings. This reduced pull gives the Esquire a more percussive attack, more harmonic overtones, and makes it more responsive than a Telecaster.
Some great players have chosen an Esquire for exactly these reasons. Steve Cropper played a '62 Esquire on all his early recordings, including the classic “Green Onions." Up until his untimely death in 1968, Luther Perkins used an Esquire to create his trademark “boomchicka- boom" sound while backing Johnny Cash. Bruce Springsteen played a heavily modified '53/'54 Esquire that he bought in the early '70s and used on Born in the USA and many more of his famous recordings.
The Esquire (or to be precise, an Esquire prototype painted black) first appeared in the No. 2 Fender catalog in the spring of 1950, and was shown to the public at the Chicago NAMM show in July of that year. It had a list price of $139.95, plus $39.95 for the case. The original Esquire was built until late 1969, when CBS dropped it from the production line, very shortly after taking over Fender.
The Esquire was Leo Fender's first stroke of genius and an important step in his restless efforts to transport steel guitar tone to a standard electric guitar. The bridge pickup was very similar to the pickup he developed and built for his lap steel guitar, and the Esquire's electronics clearly show this influence, too. As you may know, like the Tele, the Esquire has a 3-way switch, plus a master volume and master tone configuration. But on a single-pickup guitar, how do you use a “pickup selector" switch? Leo's idea was to use the 3-way switch as a kind of tone-shaper.
Here are the specifics:
- Position #1. This corresponds to the solo bridge-pickup position on a Tele. On the Esquire, however, the pickup is routed through the volume control only, with the tone control bypassed for a hotter and louder lead sound with even more high-end.
- Position #2. In this middle setting, the Esquire's pickup is routed through the volume and tone control—identical to position #1 on a standard Telecaster. It sounds a bit warmer compared to the Esquire's #1 position.
- Position #3. Here, the tone control is again bypassed and the Esquire's pickup is routed through the volume control and a fixed “treble roll-off " capacitor/resistor network for a very dark tone that also has a slightly decreased output. Leo intended this as a “bass preset" that would allow the '50s guitar player to enter bass territory by simply flipping the 3-way switch.
Fig. 1 Theschematic forthe original 1950Fender Esquire.
Wiring diagram courtesy of SeymourDuncan.
Until the production of the Esquire was halted by CBS in late 1969, switching positions #1 and #2 stayed the same, but the value of the pots were changed several times. Switching position #3 was modified several times with different values for the caps and resistors, and the Esquire even had a “capacitor only" version for some time. This clearly indicates that #3 was not very popular among Esquire players, which is still the case today. Only a few players will find this option useful, but in the early '80s Mike Stern and several other jazz players discovered that old Esquires and Telecasters (which had the same preset in the '50s) were great workhorses and a good alternative to the well-known “jazz box." Suddenly the old Fender preset wiring was something desirable, as it worked perfectly for those dark tones a lot of jazz players were looking for and a new hype was born. So if you are a jazz cat, this preset option may be worth a try.
In closing, Fig. 1 shows the wiring of the original 1950 Esquire as a reference. Next month, we'll start modifying the Esquire circuit, so study up on this schematic and stay tuned. I think you'll be surprised how many different tones you can coax from a single bridge pickup. Until then, keep on modding!
- Mod Garage: '50s Les Paul Wiring in a Telecaster - Premier Guitar ›
- The Brent Mason Telecaster Wiring - Premier Guitar ›
Sweetwater vs. Reverb
Which one do you prefer?
Rhett and Zach unpack the big news for secondhand guitar sellers and buyers: Sweetwater has launched their new Gear Exchange. How does it compare to Reverb, Craigslist, and Marketplace? To find out, Zach takes the site for a spin and buys a pedal. He calls the process both “very easy” and “normal.” They discuss the pros and cons of the various used-gear outlets and share tips for not getting got when buying gear. Plus, Zach grew a mustache, Mythos Pedals is moving, and he talks about his forthcoming line of Strat pickups inspired by Hendrix’s reverse-stagger setup.
Sweetwater vs. Reverb
Get 10% off from StewMac when you visit stewmac.com/dippedintone
Cort Introduces the KX508 Multi-Scale II
Expanding on the innovations of Cort’s original 8-string multiscale, the KX508 Multi-Scale II features an updated okoume body and a specially designed Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker.
The KX508 Multi-Scale II is the second iteration of the eight-string KX508, Cort’s first multi-scale 8-string guitar introduced in 2020. Like its predecessor, the KX508 Multi-Scale II has a visually stunning poplar burl top in a Mariana Blue Burst finish. Beyond its visual appeal, the poplar burl is an ideal tonal complement to Cort’s newly introduced okoume body. Okoume is known for its light weight and ability to improve tonal clarity. It has a tight low-end and highly articulate high-end, which matches the overall sonic characteristics of the KX508 Multi-Scale II. The multi-scale, measuring 26.5 to 28 inches, offers a punchy low end while maintaining a familiar feel and tension on the treble strings, which allows for speedy runs and string-bending. Players have unhindered access to the high frets thanks to the low-scooped heel.
The 5-piece maple and purple heart neck not only provides strength and stability, aided by a spoke nut hotrod truss rod, but a strong and focused sound. The Macassar ebony fingerboard (15.75-inch radius) offers smooth playability along the 24 frets with teardrop inlays. Macassar is an ideal tonewood for high-gain applications because of its ability to cut through a dense mix. At the top of the neck, the 2 7/32-inch nut width (56.5 mm) is surprisingly comfortable for an 8-string guitar and is even suitable for players with smaller hands. The individual hardtail bridge with string-thru-body design results in greatly improved sustain, superb string separation for enhanced articulation, and precise intonation. Deluxe locking machine heads offer reliable tuning as well as easier and quicker string changes.
The Cort Sessions | KX508 Multi Scale II Electric Guitar
MSRP $1699.99 USD
MAP $1199.99 USD
For more information, please visit cortguitars.com.
D’Angelico Guitars Announces the Excel Tour Collection
The Tour Collection is defined by a minimalistic, vintage-inspired aesthetic, top-of-the-line components, and a simplified electronics configuration featuring new, custom pickups by Supro.
Available in the collection is the 16-inch-wide double-cutaway DC, the 15-inch-wide single-cutaway SS, and a 14-inch-wide Mini DC. Each model comes in three finishes: Slate Blue, Solid Wine, and Solid Black.
Every detail of the Tour Collection was chosen to achieve retro minimalism. Small diamond fingerboard inlays match 1930s-style diamond f-holes, and an undersized Throwback Scroll-style headstock achieves excellent head-to-body balance. The collection also features satin nickel hardware and custom Vintage Deluxe Grover tuners with a 15:1 gear ratio. Each model also features a simplified two-knob electronics configuration with 50s-style wiring to retain top-end clarity upon rolling off the volume knob. The neck shape in the Tour Collection is similar to the slim C-shape found throughout the D’Angelico line, but with more thickness in the shoulder to allow for snug hand fit as well as extra sustain. Medium Jumbo fret wire and a 12-inch fingerboard radius allow for quick navigation of the fingerboard while also prioritizing comfort for both rhythm and lead playing.
In 2020, Supro and D’Angelico became part of the same family of brands under Bond Audio. At that time, EVP of Product Ryan Kershaw and CTO Dave Koltai began designing custom pickups under the Supro name for the Tour Collection project.
“Supro Bolt Bucker pickups were designed to offer the tone of the most sought-after vintage "PAF" pickups from the late 1950's. Scatter wound, just like the originals, Supro Bolt Buckers utilize 42-gauge enamel wire along with a mixture of Alnico II (neck) and Alnico V (bridge) magnets to provide the perfect balance of warmth and clarity with unrivaled articulation and note bloom.” - Dave Koltai, Chief Technology Officer at Bond Audio.
Introducing the Excel Series Tour Collection | D'Angelico Guitars
All models are available for pre-order and will be in stock this holiday season. US MAP $1499. For more information, please visit dangelicoguitars.com.
Ananashead Announces the Cream Amp
The Cream Amp is a handmade low-gain overdrive pedal based on the Electra Distortion circuit.
The Cream Amp was designed to deliver full dynamics amp-like dirt to your clean and crunch amp or to another pedal in the chain without altering your tone too much. To add some grit at low volume or to make your amp sound more full, use the Drive control to set the gain and the Level control to match with your amp.
- Two knobs to control Volume and Drive
- Shielded inputs/outputs to avoid RF
- Filtered and protected 9VDC input
- Daisy-chain friendly
- Current draw: 7.5mA
The Cream Amp pedal is hand-made in Barcelona with carefully selected components and has a price of 100.00€. The pedals are available and can be purchased directly from the Ananasheadonline store.
For more information, please visit ananashead.com.