Table of Contents

A Brief History of the Telecaster
Tele Players: a Who’s Who of Guitar Wizardry
Basic Telecaster Features
Squier Telecasters
Fender Telecasters
USA Made Telecaster Guitars
Fender Custom Shop Telecasters
So, Which Telecaster is Right for You?

A Brief History of the Telecaster

In 1951 the Telecaster was introduced to the world by Leo Fender, a Southern California inventor and businessman. Now a legendary instrument available in dozens of variations, the iconic “Tele” became the world’s first successfully mass-produced solid body electric guitar.

Fender's Esquire guitar was the first prototype for the Telecaster and was produced in limited numbers. It was introduced in 1950 and renamed the Broadcaster shortly after. To avoid confusion and trademark issues with Gretsch Broadkaster drums, the guitar was renamed as the Telecaster. The Esquire was brought back as a single-pickup version of the Telecaster in 1951.

The Telecaster’s simple, straightforward design along with its versatility and playability have led to its longevity. It features a single cutaway body and two single-coil pickups that produce the Tele’s bright and twangy trademark tone. The headstock has six single-side tuners, and the original design featured three innovative barrel-shaped bridge saddles that allowed guitarists to adjust the string height for better playability.

Fender incorporated production techniques no other guitar builder had used previously. Bodies were built using solid pieces of wood, referred to as blanks, and cavities for the electronics were made using a router. Prior to this, guitar bodies were hand-carved. The cavities offered easy access for repair or replacement of the electronics.

Fender American Professional Telecaster

The Fender American Professional Telecaster offers a Modern Deep C-shaped neck plus the new V-Mod single-coil pickups, developed by vintage pickup master Tim Shaw.

Fender didn’t use a traditional set neck. Instead, he routed a pocket into the body and bolted the neck into it, making production faster and easier. This innovation also allowed the neck to be quickly removed, adjusted, or entirely replaced. The original Telecaster neck was shaped using a single piece of maple without a separate fingerboard—another technique used to produce the instrument faster and more simply. Some luthiers, accustomed to using rosewood or ebony fingerboards that were glued onto the neck, found Fender’s methods highly unorthodox. Nonetheless, these revolutionary techniques resulted in an affordable, versatile, and highly playable instrument.

The Telecaster's popularity helped pave the way for the many other solid body electric guitar models that followed from other manufacturers—some of them thinly disguised knockoffs of the original Tele. Through it all, the Tele, in one form or another, has remained in constant production since its inception, and remains a workhorse for countless guitarists.

With the many Telecaster models available today, it may seem difficult to know which one’s best for you. This guide will give you the information you need to help pick the right Telecaster for your music and budget.

Tele Players: a Who’s Who of Guitar Wizardry

Throughout its history, the Telecaster has turned up in the hands of countless players in every modern music genre, ranging from rock to jazz to country to pop and everywhere in between. Along the way, Fender has made many signature-model Telecasters incorporating the specs of legendary players. Arguably, no other guitar has enjoyed such diverse and widespread popularity among so many guitarists representing so many different styles.

One testament to its popularity and influence is the number of legendary guitarists whose nicknames reference the Tele. These include “King of the Tele” Roy Buchanan, “Telemaster” Danny Gatton, and “Mr. Telecaster” Albert Lee.

Just a few famous Telecaster players from a range of musical genres:

  • Rock - Joe Strummer, Keith Richards, Bruce Springsteen, John 5, Jim Root
  • Pop - Jeff Buckley, Prince, Andy Summers, James Burton, George Harrison
  • Blues - Albert Collins, Muddy Waters, Mike Bloomfield, Roy Buchanan
  • Country - Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Merle Haggard, Clarence White
  • Psychedelic Rock - Jeff Beck, Syd Barrett, Zoot Horn Rollo
  • Jazz - Jimmy Bryant, Mike Stern, Howard Roberts, Barney Kessel
  • Soul - Steve Cropper, Freddie Stone

Basic Telecaster Features

Although Telecaster come with a lot of model-specific variations, there are some general characteristics to be found on most Telecasters.

  • Solid body - usually ash or alder
  • Bolt-on neck - made of maple
  • Maple or rosewood fretboards (maple is more common)
  • Nitrocellulose lacquer (vintage Teles), polyurethane or polyester finish (modern Teles)
  • 2 single-coil pickups (one in the bridge position and one in the neck position)
  • 3-position pickup switch
  • Master tone and volume controls
  • 21 or 22 frets
  • 25.5" scale length
  • 7 1/2" fretboard radius (vintage Teles), 9 1/2" fretboard radius (modern Teles)

To learn what these specs and features mean, check out our Electric Guitar Buying Guide.

With so many different Telecaster models to choose from today, many of these typical specs will vary on a model-specific basis. For the most part, differences among Telecaster models and families usually involve the pickups, electronics, hardware, and finishes. With this guide, we’ll walk you through those variations.

Keep reading for a complete rundown on all the currently available Telecaster models from Fender and its Squier division.

Squier Telecasters

Squier is a division of Fender and its Telecasters are based on Fender models, sharing many of the same design features at super-affordable prices. In the company's own words, Squier is the “value brand alternative to its big brother, Fender.” Squier Teles are made in Asia.

Squier Affinity Series

The Affinity Telecasters target cash-strapped players looking for traditional Telecaster vibe coupled with value pricing and good playability.

  • Solid alder body; thinner 1-1/2" depth
  • Maple C-shaped neck
  • Maple or rosewood fingerboard depending on finish color
  • Polyurethane finish (body and neck)
  • 9.5" fretboard radius
  • 21 medium jumbo frets
  • 2 single-coil pickups
  • 3-position blade pickup switching
  • 6-saddle top-load bridge
  • Standard die-cast tuners
  • Chrome hardware
  • 1-ply white pickguard
  • Made in China

Squier Affinity Telecaster Arctic White

The Squier Affinity Tele in Arctic White combines cool cosmetics with a super-easy price.

Squier also offers the Affinity Telecaster as part of an economical guitar pack that includes an amp, gig bag, tuner, instructional DVD, and cable. It’s a great value for new players, giving them everything they need to begin playing the guitar.

Squier Standard Series

A step up from the Affinity series, the Squier Standard Telecaster offers the feel and comfort of a Fender Standard at an affordable price. It has a fast-action neck based on ‘60-era Telecasters plus upgraded hardware and electronics throughout. And it delivers the same bright single-coil twang that made the Tele an icon in the first place.

  • Solid Agathis body; 1-3/4" depth like most Fender models
  • Maple C-shaped neck with rosewood fretboard
  • Polyurethane finish (body and neck)
  • 9.5" fretboard radius
  • 22 medium jumbo frets
  • 2 Alnico magnet single-coil pickups
  • 3-position blade pickup switching
  • 6-saddle top-load bridge
  • Standard die-cast tuners
  • Chrome hardware
  • 3-ply parchment or 4-ply tortoiseshell pickguard
  • Made in China or Indonesia

Squier Standard Telecaster Vintage Blonde

The Squier Standard Tele in Vintage Blonde recalls ‘50s-era models.

Squier Classic Vibe Series

Squier’s Classic Vibe series Telecasters are based on traditional Fender models, but each incorporates modern touches, making it a unique instrument in the Fender/Squier product lineup.

Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster 3-tone Sunburst

The 3-tone sunburst finish and Alnico V single coils on the Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster Custom offer a mellow look with sonic punch.

Squier Vintage Modified Series

As long as there have been Teles, guitarist have customized them with hotter pickups, personalized paint jobs, non-standard pickguards—you name it. Similar in spirit to the Classic Vibe series, the Vintage Modified Tele delivers hotter tone and chop-shop looks without the customized price tag.

  • Body woods vary with model (polyurethane finish)
  • Mostly maple C-shaped neck (gloss polyurethane finish)
  • 9.5" fingerboard radius
  • 21 medium jumbo frets
  • Pickup types—vary with specific model
  • 5-position blade pickup switching
  • Vintage 6-saddle bridge
  • Standard die-cast tuners
  • Hardware varies with model
  • Pickguard varies with model
  • Made in China or Indonesia

Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster

Squier teams a throaty Fender Wide Range neck humbucker with a bright, chimey Duncan-Designed single-coil bridge pup for the best of both worlds in the Squier Vintage Modified Custom Tele.

Fender Telecasters

Fender Telecasters have proved to be one of the most versatile and venerable electric guitars ever, having been in continuous production in one form or another since their debut in 1951. Fender Telecasters are favored by country and rock musicians, and are not uncommon among jazz and blues artists.

Player Series

Fender's Player Series Telecasters are the newest members of the Fender Tele family. Introduced in June of 2018 as part of the larger Fender Player series, they come in two standard models. The first model is just what you'd expect: a dual single-coil Tele (also available left-handed). The second model is an HH, dual humbucker configuration.

Let's take a closer look at the shared specifications of the Player Series Telecasters: 

  • Alder body
  • Modern C-shaped maple neck
  • Gloss body finish
  • 22 medium jumbo frets
  • Maple fingerboard
  • 9.5" fretboard radius
  • Newly designed Alnico pickups
  • 3-position blade pickup switching
  • 6-saddle string-through-body bridge with bent-steel saddles
  • Chrome hardware
  • Standard cast/sealed tuning machines
  • 3-ply parchment pickguard
  • Made in Mexico

Fender Player Series Telecaster

Fender's Player Series Telecasters offer fantastic features, exceptional feel and great sound at a budget-friendly pricepoint. 

Modern Player Series

These eminently affordable Modern Player Telecasters are aimed at entry-level players, but far exceed the usual standards of such guitars. While they offer all the playability and reliability of other Teles, they also incorporate modern touches while keeping the price in reach of the newbie. They are hand-crafted to Fender’s specifications in Asia.

Fender Modern Player Telecaster Plus

The HSS pickup array with 5-way plus coil-split switching makes the Fender Modern Player Telecaster Plus decidedly different from your father’s Tele.

Deluxe Series

Deluxe Telecasters retain the look and feel of the original Tele design, but pack extra punch thanks to special pickups electronics and switching. Deluxe instruments are fitted with modern C-shaped neck profiles for added playing comfort.

  • Alder body with gloss polyester finish
  • Maple, modern C-shaped neck with satin polyurethane finish
  • 12" radius maple or rosewood fretboard
  • 22 Tall Narrow frets
  • 25.5" scale length
  • Vintage single-coil Noiseless pickups
  • 5-position blade pickup switch with Strat-O-Tone
  • Vintage 6-saddle string-through-body bridge
  • Deluxe sealed/locking tuning machines
  • Nickel/Chrome hardware
  • Made in Mexico

Fender Deluxe Nashville Telecaster

The Fender Deluxe Nashville Telecaster has three Vintage single-coil Noiseless pickups. 5-way switching further ups the tonal ante.

Classic Series

Made in Fender's Ensenada, Baja California facility with collaboration from Fender's highly regarded Master Builders, the Classic Series Telecasters offers Custom Shop features and vibe at a more affordable price. Here are some the most popular models in the bestselling Classic Tele lineup:

Classic '50s Telecaster

A faithful reproduction of some of the Telecaster's first years in production.

  • Ash body (polyester finish)
  • 1-piece maple C-shaped neck (gloss polyurethane finish)
  • Maple 7.25" radius fretboard
  • 21 vintage-style frets
  • 2 vintage-style single-coil alnico magnet pickups
  • 3-position blade pickup switch
  • Vintage 3-saddle strings-through-body bridge
  • Knurled chrome knobs
  • '50s Custom Colors

Fender Classic Series '50s Telecaster

The Fender Classic Series ‘50s Tele is a note-for-note re-creation at a fraction of the price that an original would set you back.


Classic '72 Telecaster Thinline

The 72 Thinline Teles offer a unique departure from the standard Tele configuration. A semi-hollow body serves up a vibrant bluesy voice, while a pair of humbuckers packs a punch sure to please even the pickiest tone freak.

  • Semi-hollow ash body (polyester finish)
  • 1-piece maple U-shaped neck (gloss polyurethane finish)
  • Maple 7.25" radius fretboard
  • 21 vintage-style frets
  • 2 Fender Wide Range Humbucking pickups
  • Vintage-style Strat string-thru-body hardtail bridge

Fender Classic '72 Telecaster Thinline

With its semi-hollowbody, dual humbuckers, and distinctive f-hole, the ‘72 Fender Telecaster Thinline was a radical departure captured perfectly by the Classic Series reincarnation.

Classic '72 Telecaster Custom

This unique Telecaster offers a humbucker in the neck pickup for rich warmth, while delivering classic Tele twang via the single-coil bridge pickup.

  • Alder body (polyester finish)
  • Lightly-tinted, maple U-shaped neck (gloss polyurethane finish)
  • Rosewood or maple 7.25" radius fretboard
  • 21 vintage-style frets
  • 1 Fender Wide Range Humbucking pickup (neck)
  • 1 Tele single-coil pickup (bridge)
  • 3-position toggle switch
  • Vintage-style string-thru-body Tele bridge
  • Chrome hardware
  • "Top Hat" knobs

Fender Classic Series '72 Telecaster Custom

The Fender Classic Series ‘72 Tele Custom replicates the original’s humbucker in the neck and traditional single coil in the bridge for tonal versatility.

Classic '72 Telecaster Deluxe

A solid-body sister to the Thinline Telecaster, the ‘72 Deluxe features dual humbuckers that churn out thicker tone to satisfy modern-rock players.

  • Alder body (polyester finish)
  • 1-piece maple C-shaped neck (gloss polyurethane finish)
  • Maple 12" radius fretboard
  • 21 medium jumbo frets
  • 2 Fender Wide Range Humbucking pickups
  • 2 volume, 2 tone controls
  • 3-position toggle switch
  • Vintage-style Strat string-thru-body hardtail bridge
  • '70s large Stratocaster headstock

Fender Classic '72 Telecaster Deluxe

As with the original, the Strat headstock and alnico humbuckers in the Classic Series reproduction of the ‘72 Telecaster Deluxe give it visual and sonic distinction.

Classic Player Baja Telecaster

Based on a ‘50s Telecaster, it features Custom Shop pups and wiring for a wider range of tonal options at a gentle price.

  • Ash body
  • 1-piece maple soft V-shaped neck
  • Maple 9.5" radius fretboard
  • 21 medium jumbo frets
  • 1 Custom Shop "Twisted" Tele single-coil pickup (neck)
  • 1 Custom Shop Broadcaster single-coil (bridge)
  • 4-position blade switch with 2-position push-push S-1 switching (8 pickup settings in all)
  • 3-saddle string-thru-body Tele bridge
  • Gotoh Vintage locking tuners
  • "Custom Shop Designed" neck plate

Fender Classic Player Baja Telecaster Blonde

Custom Shop pickups and 8-way pickup selection delivers a ton of tonal options in the Classic Player Baja Telecaster.

Check out our full selection of Classic Player Baja Teles.

Fender Special Edition Deluxe Ash Telecaster

The Fender Special Edition Deluxe Ash Telecaster provides the best of old and new, with all of the classic cosmetic appointments matched with a modern "C" shape neck and Hot Standard Tele Single-Coil Pickups.

Here are the all important specs for this affordable workhorse that offers everything you'd hope for in a modern Telecaster:

  • Ash body
  • Maple Fretboard with 9.5" radius
  • 1-piece Maple, Modern "C" Shape
  • 21 Medium Jumbo Frets
  • 2 Hot Standard Tele Single-Coil Pickups
  • 3-Position blade switch
  • 3-Barrel string-thru-body Tele bridge
  • Chrome hardware

Fender Special Edition Deluxe Ash Telecaster

The classic looks, modest price tag and modern features of the Fender Special Edition Deluxe Ash Telecaster will appeal to any Fender fan on a strict budget.

Road Worn Series

Fender gives a selection of 1950s and ‘60s instruments distressed treatments to conjure up the appearance of road-hardened guitars in creating the Road Worn Series. They evidence the wear and tear of countless gigs, including worn finishes, rusted hardware, and aged parts. While offering the vibe of veteran axes, they incorporate modern features and lighter overall wear than other Fender distressed treatments.

Fender Road Worn '50s Telecaster

The Road Worn ‘50s Telecaster has the look of a battle-scarred veteran updated with Tex-Mex pickups and 6105 frets.

USA-Made Telecaster Guitars

Built in Fender's Corona, California plant, USA Telecasters set the standard for quality, tone, and playability. Made with premium tonewoods (usually alder or ash), Custom Shop pickups, and master craftsmanship, the USA Tele is a legendary electric guitar built to please the most demanding players.

American Professional Series

The American Professional Telecaster, available with rosewood or maple fingerboard, is the tried and true workhorse of seasoned pros and discerning weekend warrior alike. Unveiled in late 2016, the American Professional Telecaster offers plenty of refinements including a new treble-bleed tone circuit and Tim Shaw's newly designed V-Mod single-coil pickups voiced specifically for each position, mixing AlNiCo magnet types to produce powerful, nuanced tones with that classic Fender sound. A Deluxe model, featuring two ShawBucker pickups, is also available with rosewood or maple fingerboards.

  • New V-Mod single-coil pickups designed by pickup guru, Tim Shaw
  • Deluxe hardware
  • Solid alder body or ash body (2-Color Sunburst, Natural, Crimson Red Transparent and Butterscotch Blonde)
  • Modern Deep C neck
  • New treble-bleed tone circuit
  • Narrow-tall frets
  • Bone nut
  • 3-saddle vintage-style
  • Gloss polyurethane body finish
  • Rosewood or maple fingerboard
  • Deluxe staggered machine heads
  • Includes case

Fender American Professional Telecaster Maple Fingerboard Electric Guitar  Mystic Seafoam

The Fender American Professional Telecaster features brand new pickups, a new treble-bleed circuit, Modern Deep C neck, and a number of other refinements.

American Elite Series

The Fender American Elite Series electric guitars are armed with the latest 4th Generation Noiseless pickups that pair up convincingly with high-gain amps and music styles. The American Elite Series Tele also sports a modern, compound-radius fretboard as well as compound-profile neck that merges the best of C and D profiles for one amazingly comfortable Telecaster.

Fender American Elite Telecaster Tobacco Sunburst

With a newly designed compound-profile neck and high-output 4th-generation Noiseless pickups, the American Elite Telecaster the performance and tone pros demand.

American Original Series

The Fender American Original series, which includes Telecasters, Stratocasters, Offsets and more, was designed to offer guitars that reflected a "best-of" approach. This results in guitars that offer specs and features found throughout the decades they represent. The two Telecasters are the American Original '50s Telecaster and American Original '60s Telecaster.

  • Ash ('50s model) or alder ('60s model) body
  • '52 U-shaped neck ('50s model) or 60's C-shaped ('60s model)
  • Maple Neck
  • Maple fretboard ('50s model) or Rosewood ftreboard ('60s model)
  • Gloss Nitrocellulose body finish
  • 9.5" fretboard radius
  • 21 Vintage Tall frets
  • Pure Vintage '52 single-coil Tele pickups ('50s model) and '64 Gray-Bottom Single Coil Tele pickups ('60s model)
  • Vintage-style hardware
  • Hardshell Case

Fender American Original '60s Telecaster

This meticulously re-created Fender American Original '60s Tele in Lake Placid Blue is the perfect choice for anyone looking for vintage Fender vibe.

American Performer Series

Introduced as a replacement for Fender's American Special Series, the Fender American Performer series is a wallet-friendly, Made in the USA line of guitars and basses. Fender is offering two distinct models of Fender American Performer Telecasters, a standard SS configuration and an HS configuration. Each model features Fender's newest Yosemite single-coil design. The HS model features a new Fender DoubleTap humbucker. Each model is available with a rosewood or maple fingerboard.

  • Gloss-finished alder bodies
  • Modern C-shaped maple neck with 22 jumbo frets
  • Featuring new Yosemite single-coil pickups and on the HS model, a new DoubleTap humbucker
  • Fender Greasebucket circuit
  • 6-saddle Tele bridge
  • Includes gig bag

Fender American Performer Telecaster with Maple Fingerboard

Brand new Yosemite single-coil pickups give the Fender American Performer Telecaster provide plenty of dynamic range and classic Tele tone.

Artist Series Telecasters are designed in collaboration with the artists who play and endorse them. They have historically included models that replicate the axes wielded by such artists as James Burton, Muddy Waters, G.E. Smith, John 5, and Jim Root. The artist signature appears on the guitar and it usually includes unique specs that help serve up the artist's special tone recipe. Made in USA, Japan, or Mexico.

James Burton Artist Series Tele

Unique Strat-o-Tele switching and a host of other tweaks specified by the revered Nashville sideman make the James Burton Artist Series Tele a fitting tribute.

Fender Custom Shop Telecasters

Fender's Custom Shop instruments are simply the finest models they produce. Each one-of-a-kind guitar is hand-built by a master luthier, using the highest quality woods and components obtainable. To see our complete current selection of Fender Custom Shop Telecasters and other Fender instruments, visit our Private Reserve Teles.

Custom Artist Signature

A guitar created with the input or specifications of a famous artist is called a Signature model. The Fender Custom Shop has produced a number of Signature Telecaster guitars in its Custom Artist series that are handcrafted to the exacting personal preferences of famous Tele players such as Merle Haggard.

Custom Deluxe

The hallmark of Custom Deluxe Telecasters is the use of unusual and exotic woods, breathtaking inlay work, unique hardware, and distinctive electronics. The series is seen as a blank canvas on which to apply the highest levels of luthier artistry.

Master Built

Fender’s most elite luthiers—designated as Master Builders—are given free rein in creating these lavish instruments. They personally select each element from the wood to the electronics to the finish of these guitars that proudly bear the builder’s name. Utterly unique and of investment-grade quality, a Master Built Telecaster is an instrument to be treasured and passed down through the generations.

So, Which Telecaster is Right for You?

As you can see in this guide, the Telecaster is available in many variations and price levels, with varied features to provide a broad range of options for the Tele enthusiast. Pick the Telecaster that suits your budget and your style. Maybe you don't want to spend a lot, but you want your Tele to have the look and feel of a timeless guitar. Consider the Classic Vibe. Perhaps you want to invest in a true piece of art—not just something to play, but a stunning addition to your collection. Consider a Masterbuilt Tele. Or as a working pro you need a Tele that you can play night after night, show after show—a true workhorse. The American Professional Telecaster won't let you down.

We want you to be pleased with your Telecaster purchase, and offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee and generous return policy so you can order your new Tele with complete confidence.