1959/1960 Fender Telecaster Tele Guitar

Description: 1959, 1960 Fender Telecaster (Tele) guitar
Collectibility Rating: B
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 1959 Fender Telecaster are generally 30000 to 40000 and is stamped into the rear metal neck plate. Serial number range for the 1960 Fender Telecaster are generally 40000 to 58000, again on the rear metal neck plate. If you need to figure out the exact year of your pre-CBS Fender Telecaster, use the serial number and the general features of the guitar. 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 1961/1962 Fender Telecaster guitar.
See the previous year's 1957/1958 Fender Telecaster guitar.
Back to the main Fender Vintage Guitar Info webpage

Mid 1959 Telecaster specs:

  • Slab Rosewood fingerboard.
  • Neck now has a very thin "D" backshape. As 1959 progresses, the neck backshape gets thinner. By the end of 1959, the neck has an extremely thin backshape.
  • Single layer thick white pickguard (though some custom color Teles used three layer celluloid mint green pickguard, as also used on the Custom Telecaster).
  • Number of pickguard screws increases from five to eight.
  • "Custom Telecaster" introduced with body binding, sunburst finish, and three layer celluloid mint green pickguard. The first few models have a peghead logo the same as a regular Telecaster. Then a gold spaghetti peghead decal reads "Custom Telecaster" (not Telecaster Custom!), with the model name lettering slightly bolder than a regular Telecaster. Earliest Custom Telecaster date I have seen is 4/59, but there are rumors of some early 1959 Custom Teles with a regular "Telecaster" (instead of "Telecaster Custom") peghead decal.
  • Brown paper rectangle tone cap changes to a white "chicklet" paper tone capacitor.

1960 Telecaster specs:

  • Strings anchor thru the body again, but bridge is still drilled for top loading strings (this happened by late 1959).
  • The blond finish seems to become less translucent, hiding more of the wood grain.
  • Position of the body "nail holes" moved - around this time the nails were moved to inside the body routes, like inside the neck pocket or truss rod adjustment route, inside the bridge pickup route, and inside the wall of the control cavity route. Why this was done I am not exactly sure (it wasn't done on the Strat). Also the fourth nail positioned on the cutaway was dropped.

A 1959 Fender Telecaster with a "slab" rosewood fingerboard and an original tweed case.

A 1959 Fender Custom Telecaster with a "slab" rosewood fingerboard and an original tolex case.

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