Hands-On Review:60th Anniversary Telecaster®
A top-tier Tele® to mark a milestone occasion
By Jon Chappell
Harmony Central Senior Editor
In the mid-1940s, Leo Fender conceived a unique solidbody guitar design aimed at addressing feedback problems by amplifying a guitar's strings but not its resonance. His vision led to the formation of the Fender Electric Instrument Company. By the winter of 1951, the company's premiere two-pickup model, the Fender Telecaster, began rolling off the assembly line. Along with its three-pickup peer, the Stratocaster, the "Tele" would ultimately become among the most widely used six-string on the planet, helping to alter the course of popular music in the process.
Now 60 years on, the Telecaster's superb playability and supple sound continue to make it one of the industry's most adaptable instruments, equally at home in country or hard rock, alternative or smooth jazz. To mark this milestone year, Fender has crafted a special limited-edition that combines features found on the '51 prototype with a slew of unique updates that, in many respects, make this a Tele to top all Teles.
You don't even have to lay a finger on it to know that this Telecaster is an extraordinary piece of craftsmanship. The first clue is the guitar's singular ash body, its striking wood grain highlighted by a translucent lacquer "Blackguard blonde" finish, created by Fender especially for the . Equally impressive is the guitar's tinted maple neck and supple "C-shape" fingerboard with 22 medium-jumbo frets and 9-1/2 inch radius—perfect for rhythm aces and speed demons alike. Sitting on top is a set of staggered tuning keys, which make re-stringing a breeze while enhancing intonation. Other touches include knurled chrome knobs that facilitate accurate tone and volume adjustments, as well as a 60th anniversary commemorative chrome plate fastened at the base of the neck—just to prove you were there.
And what a sound
What better way to test an early-'50s-styled guitar than through a late-'50s tweed amp? After experimenting with a few different units, I plugged the Tele into my crackly '59 Gibson GA-40, and that was that. Yes, the is a fine-looking specimen, but what really counts are the sound and feel—and on both fronts, the 60th Anniversary Telecaster absolutely kills. Unlike some new arrivals that may require weeks of tweaking before they finally settle in, this Telecaster was ready for action right out of the box. String height, pickup level, and intonation were all perfectly in sync—a testament to Fender's attention to detail during the all-important final phase. The tinted neck and ultrasmooth rolled fingerboard edges only enhance the guitar's superior playability, allowing you to move around with ease (the guitar comes strung with a set of .009s, which doesn't hurt either). A pair of American Standard Telecaster single-coil pickups give you a wide range of tonal options, from characteristic Tele rhythm overdrive in bridge position to a rounder blues-like tone in neck or combo pickup settings. If chord progressions are your thing, you'll savor the Tele's roomy maple fingerboard and perfectly aligned frets, which are guaranteed to bring out the "Keith" in all of us. Tired of incessant string slippage and questionable intonation? In addition to the Telecaster's no-fuss tuning machines, a rock-solid, brass-plate bridge with sturdy bent steel saddles not only keep you locked in from start to finish, but offers ultimate tonal sustain as well.
For pro-level players or anyone in the market for a finely crafted instrument with a longstanding reputation of historic proportions, thedeserves a hard look. It may fetch a few more bucks than even its American Standard counterpart, but the extraordinary beauty, quality workmanship, and above all, tremendous tone of this Anniversary Telecaster makes it a highly worthwhile investment—the kind of guitar that should keep you in business for a good 60 years and beyond.
Features & Specs
- Blonde finish
- Ash body
- Modern C-shaped maple neck
- Lacquer finish
- Maple fretboard
- 9.5" fretboard radius
- 22 medium jumbo frets
- Black dot position inlays
- 25.5" scale length
- 1.685" nut width
- Synthetic bone nut
- Bi-Flex™ truss rod system
- 3-position blade pickup switching
- Volume, Tone controls
- No-load tone control
- Chrome hardware
- Knurled chrome knobs
- Chrome strap buttons
- 3-ply black/white/black pickguard
- Fender/SKB hardshell case
- Cable, strap, polishing cloth
- Lacquer body finish
- American Standard Tele single-coil pickups
- 60th Anniversary neckplate
- American Tele bridge with American Standard bent steel saddles and stamped brass plate
- Rolled fretboard edges
- Deluxe staggered cast/sealed tuning machines