Early on in 1950, the revolutionary Broadcaster first rolled off the line of Fender’s Fullerton factory. In the post-war era of America, it was nothing short of innovation both in design and manufacturing: to put it simply, the world had not seen anything like it. It was the first mass- produced solid body electric guitar, and pretty soon it was a hit with guitar players ranging in style from country, blues, RnB and more. Rock ‘n roll was a good five years away, and a vital element of some of the earliest recordings of this new rebellious and downright dangerous kind of music was the Broadcaster.
Back in the early 1950s, however, Gretsch were already making a drum kit named the Broadkaster. When word got out about Leo’s groundbreaking new guitar, he was quickly issued a cease-and-desist by his good friends over at Gretsch. With his first batch of Broadcasters ready to go (and being the ever-resourceful man that he was) Leo figured the best course of action was to continue producing this radical new instrument and with scalpel in hand, went about removing the “Broadcaster” section of the original decal, thus keeping the legal wolves at bay. This incarnation became known as the “No-Caster” until it was rebranded the “Telecaster” in 1951 (with fresh graphics in tow) and thus a legend was born. Around 250 Broadcasters were manufactured in that first batch, developing a cult like status amongst Fender acolytes and vintage guitar enthusiasts alike, often fetching eye-watering prices at auction.
To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Broadcaster, Fender have released a limited edition Broadcaster and suffice to say, it’s a faithful recreation of the original. As soon as you open the tweed case, you can’t help but feel enchanted. Starting with the blonde Ash body, it’s obvious that the nitrocellulose lacquer is meticulously applied, giving it an even finish which will age and wear to you personally. Relic-ing can be a contentious issue, but every mark, scuff and worn area will be yours alone.
The neck is a big one - one piece “U”-shaped maple with a 7.25” radius and vintage style frets. One of the problems I’ve found with a lot of Telecasters is that the neck can be a little on the slim side, making it hard to get a real grip on and dig in. Not this one – personally, it might even be one of the best I’ve played. Some players might not be a big fan of the heavy coat of lacquer applied here, but it’s definitely era correct.
The bridge is authentic steel with three brass saddles- a vital ingredient in the classic Telecaster tone and the classic control plate with three-way pick-up switch and volume and tone controls complete the original design. The only departure from the original details is the neck plate celebrating the 70th anniversary. It’s a very subtle celebration of the guitar’s history and enduring popularity.
The Broadcaster’s tone comes courtesy of the single coil pickups designed by the Fender Custom Shop to recreate the tone of the original Telecaster models. How does it sound? The word “superb” comes to mind. The Custom Shop designed pickups really are something special. I’d go so far as to say that they are among the best I’ve ever heard, which should come no surprise given the pedigree of instrument they’re replicating. With the tone turned up, the neck pickup has a warmth and clarity you would’ve heard on classic soul records and with the tone wound down it’s almost like a big old jazz box. The neck and bridge combination has the raunch of classic rock ‘n roll, while the bridge pickup has the unmistakable twang of classic country.
In short, that’s why the Broadcaster/Telecaster is still one of the most popular electric guitars ever made. It’s easily the most versatile and comfortable of singlecut guitars, and seventy years after its debut, this reissue proves that it’s still hard to beat. The new addition to the Fender line comes in a lacquered tweed case with red plush lining and a 70th Anniversary Broadcaster emblem sewn into the lining, a certificate of authenticity and some sweet case candy – consider it a cherry on top.
Hits and Misses
Amazing tone and versatility
Beautifully shaped neck
Possibly a little too much lacquer on the neck