1952/1953 Fender Telecaster Tele Guitar

Description: 1952/1953 Fender Telecaster (Tele) guitar
Collectibility Rating: A
Production: no official (or unofficial) production numbers available.
General Comments:
The Fender Telecaster guitar is one of the most popular solidbody electric guitar ever made, and is the solidbody guitar that started it all. Early models (pre-1965, known as "pre-CBS" models, since CBS bought Fender in January 1965) are the most collectible. Originality and condition are the two most important features of a vintage Fender guitar, and Fender Telecaster, Nocaster, Broadcaster, and Esquires (Teles) do seem to have been easily modified (due to their "bolt together" nature).

Serial number range for the 1952 and 1953 Fender Telecaster are generally 0100 to 5500 (stamped into the bridge plate). If you need to figure out the exact year of your pre-CBS Fender Nocaster or Telecaster, use the serial number and the general features of the guitar. The serial number is located on the bridge until mid-1954, when it was moved to the back metal neck plate. See the Fender Serial Number Info web page for help determining the year.

If you have a vintage pre-CBS Fender Telecaster (Tele) guitar for sale, please let me know. I am a private vintage guitar collector (not a store), and you can contact me at cfh@provide.net

See the next year's 1953 Fender Telecaster guitar.
See the previous year's 1951 Fender Telecaster & Nocaster guitar.
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1952 Telecaster specs:

  • The lead pickup no longer has the two notches in the black pickup base for the winding wires.
  • Gradual use of phillips head screws replaces slot head screws (this change was not complete till 1953).
  • Knurled chrome plated brass knobs with a round top.
  • Late 1952: pressed jack cup replaced milled jack cup. An added internal metal plate is used inside the body jack hole to secure milled cup.
  • Walnut peghead truss rod plug is more oval shaped.
  • Late 1952: Wiring changes on Tele. Now instead of the last knob being a "blend" control (allowing both pickups to be used at the same time), it now becomes a tone knob. The 1950-1952 wiring used a .05mfd cap between the 3 way switch and the volume pot, and a 15k resistor coming off the 3 way switch.

1953 Telecaster specs:

  • Neck fingerboard dots change spacing. On pre-1953 models, dots are about 1" (center to center) apart at the 12th fret. On 1953 and later models, the dot spacing is about 1 1/8" center to center.
  • New wiring on a Telecaster. (Note the wiring change was late 1952.) That is, the 3 position switch forward position was the neck pickup with a "woof tone" capacitor (no tone adjustment.) Middle switch position was the neck pickup with the tone knob implemented. Rear switch position was the bridge pickup with no tone adjustment. This wiring used a .05mfd cap soldered between the two pots, and a .1mfd cap between the volume pot's ground and the 3 way switch.
  • Flat-side ("poodle") guitar-shaped cases used during 1953.

A 1952 Fender Telecaster with original case.

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