Looking to acquire a 50’s Tele, what to be looking for

Discussion in 'Vintage Tele Discussion Forum (pre-1974)' started by bxlgotham, May 10, 2021.

  1. bxlgotham

    bxlgotham TDPRI Member

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    What’s preferable for collector grade, as well as sonically for those times you are pull it from the case to play?
     
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  2. john_cribbin

    john_cribbin Tele-Afflicted

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    How big is your budget?
     
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  3. capitalbear

    capitalbear Tele-Meister

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    The million-dollar question. Sonically it's easy: you have to like it.
     
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  4. Telekarster

    Telekarster Tele-Afflicted

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    I would say anything from the 50's and as original as you can get but, from what I've seen, you're lookin' at some serious $$$ to get there. I suppose you must have that part covered hence the thread? Lots of refins, frankencasters, out there so just be careful and buy from reputable places IMO. You got a bud at Emerald City so that should be a big help I'd guess. Still, there's some darn good "relic" refins out there so it would depend if you're ok with that or not. For me, if I were to throw down the kind of $$$ for an original, I'd want 2nd and maybe even 3rd opinions on it before I bought it, not to mention the experts out here. FWIW. Lookin' forward to a thread when you buy one! :)
     
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  5. bxlgotham

    bxlgotham TDPRI Member

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    Right that's what I was wondering. They were all Olympic Whites I guess in that first decade or so? Yeah of course will rely on Jay as main guide but curious what people's thoughts were as collectors, anything about that era that has split opinions or anything worth reading (books) on that time period that would educate me. Thanks, could be a long hunt, but why not start now.
     
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  6. jfgesquire

    jfgesquire Tele-Afflicted

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    They were white blond(e) when new, until the late 50’s. It was like a white wash - the wood grain shows through. However, earlier ones, through ‘54 used a clear coat that turned amber over the years. After that Fender used a clear coat that did not turn amber. Olympic White is a solid color - no wood grain.

    This is a Custom Shop attempt at the early finish before it would have turned “butterscotch” (I hate that word for Telecasters. The modern “butterscotch” attempt is way too orange. The original lacquer aged to more of an amber, in my opnion.)

    50D427C8-D334-4271-93CF-58FA1D7E33C4.jpeg
     
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  7. Adam Wolfaardt

    Adam Wolfaardt Tele-Meister

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    I prefer the flat pole pickups so 55 or earlier. The later ones are really nice too but there's just something about the flat poles
     
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  8. Antoon

    Antoon Tele-Afflicted

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    Around 1956 is my favorite period because of the V shape neck, lightweight one piece bodies and strong pickups.
    Me, I am more interested in good player grade instruments. You can usually find one at one third of the price of a pristeen one (5 - 10k)
     
  9. Skamania

    Skamania Tele-Meister Gold Supporter

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    You can look at guitars at blackguardlogs.com by serial number to see what is to your liking. Like the Model T you can have any color you wish as long as it is a Blackguard. There’s nothing like playing a Blackguard. They are smaller maybe because people were smaller in the 50’s. I was born in the 50’s and I’m 6’ 2.5”.
     
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  10. loudboy

    loudboy Tele-Meister

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    Play it unplugged, to see how it resonates.

    My '57 rings like a bell. Plugged in, it sounds exactly like what you think of in your head, when you think of what a Tele should sound like. Don't settle for anything less than mind-blowing.

    I would also consider playability - it should say "Hello!" when you pick it up. Good frets, good action and intonation. A buddy has a '56 LP Jr. that I can't even play, due to low, tiny frets. It sounds amazing, but I would never want to own it.

    Also, if you're really going for the gold, make sure that the seller can provide a solid provenance. There are so many good fakes out there now, and an awful lot of "vintage dealers" who will take you to the cleaners just for the fun of it, if you're a newb and not part of the inner circle.
     
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  11. Telekarster

    Telekarster Tele-Afflicted

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    For what it's worth, I built my Nocaster to 51 spec as much as I could. Note the color. There are some really rare early 50's teles out there that virtually never changed to the butterscotch you see today. The theory behind why they didn't age is because Fender, for whatever reason on they day they were made, most likely used acrylic finish rather than nitro. They are called "the white necks" today if I recall. Anyway, to that end, here's a pic of my nocaster immediately after I called her "done", and the pic where she's laying on a pool table was taken about a year later. Note the difference in color change of the nitro, after only 1 year of use. BTW - I'm letting mine age naturally, so there has been no artificial aging on my part i.e. this is legit color change in the nitro, so imagine what it will prob look like in 60 years... I won't be around to enjoy that look, but someone will! LOL!! Hope this helps. 20180509_155749.jpg 20181215_125347.jpg
     
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  12. aadvark

    aadvark Tele-Holic

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    my advice, find one you like, buy it to play it... get good advice on provenance.

    please don't keep it in a glass cabinet.
    otherwise, invest in crypto-currency and leave the guitars to players.

    (sorry, but I got this from the tone of OP)
     
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  13. artdecade

    artdecade Poster Extraordinaire

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    Collector grade? Aren't those the ones that look pretty because they didn't sound good enough to get well played?
     
  14. Piotr

    Piotr Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Don't write off the whiteguards!
     
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  15. Adam Wolfaardt

    Adam Wolfaardt Tele-Meister

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    I've played some absolutely mint vintage guitars that sounded outrageous. The best sounding and playing strat I've tried was a mint early 56. It was truly mind blowing
     
  16. Sax-son

    Sax-son Tele-Afflicted

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    A mortgage!
     
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  17. Cadillac_Mike

    Cadillac_Mike Tele-Meister

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    ElementarySnivelingHanumanmonkey-size_restricted.gif
     
  18. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    If you're thinking of an original 50s, make sure you can deal with small frets and limited tone/switching options.
    You could end out paying top dollar for something you don't totally enjoy playing.
     
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  19. bxlgotham

    bxlgotham TDPRI Member

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    Lots of assumptions, I'm not in the business of psychoanalyzing people's assumptions sorry not sorry ;) Got that from the tone of your reply.
     
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  20. bxlgotham

    bxlgotham TDPRI Member

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    Thanks good advice. Never would have guessed about tiny frets. Thought that was a fretless wonder/LP black beauty design choice but hadn't heard about it on a Tele before.
     
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