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Fender Telecaster Custom: Wikis


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Fender Telecaster Custom
TeleCustom 76 horiz.jpg
Manufacturer Fender
Period 1972 — present
Body type Solid
Neck joint Bolt-on neck
Scale 25.5"
Body Alder
Neck Maple
Fretboard Maple/Rosewood
Bridge Fixed
Pickup(s) 1 Single-coil and 1 Fender Wide Range
Colors available
Black, 3 Colored Sunburst

Fender Telecaster Custom is a model of electric guitar made by Fender. This model should not be confused with the "Fender Custom Telecaster" model manufactured between 1959 and 1968, which only differs from a standard Telecaster in having a bound body. Ever since the release of the Telecaster Custom the market generally refers to the guitar as the "1972 Custom", indicating the year this model was originally released.


During the 1950s and early 1960s Fender's twangy single-coil sound enjoyed considerable popularity. This began to wane by the mid-1960s as new stars like Eric Clapton and Mike Bloomfield plugged their humbucker-equipped Gibsons into over-driven Marshall amps. Many players began to look for a thicker, creamier sound that the standard Telecaster didn't deliver them. To achieve this many players removed their Telecaster neck pick-ups and installed aftermarket humbuckers (a good example of this is Andy Summers' modified Telecaster). Another reason for replacing the tele neck pickup was that many players felt it lacked "Rock and Roll vibe". The original pickup excels in jazz tones, but players felt replacing it with a more powerful humbucker would give the Telecaster a 'second' rock voice to match the popular bridge pickup.

The Telecaster Custom (along with the Thinline and Deluxe models) was an attempt to enter the humbucker market largely dominated by Gibson. Fender's first humbucking design was the wide range humbucker created by Seth Lover, who had overseen the development of the original Gibson humbucker. Lover's Fender humbucker is felt by many to be brighter with more bottom end than his Gibson versions, and a better match for the classic Fender bridge pickup.

The original Telecaster Custom was in production from 1972 until 1981. Early examples sported a curly "Custom" logo and "Witch-hat" vol and tone knobs. Later examples differed; the knobs changed to Stratocaster types, and the "Custom" logo changed to the standard italicized block typeface used for Fenders of the period.

Few well-known players of the time picked up on the Tele Custom, apart from Keith Richards, who ran a couple alongside his Gibson-humbuckered modified Teles. Fender used denser wood for this model, resulting in a significantly heavier instrument (nine lbs verses the average Tele's seven) with inherently greater sustain. The resulting sound is much thicker and less sharply defined: if a traditional Tele can be described as going "Spranngg", a '70s Tele Custom goes "Brang".


Blighted with Fender's notoriously wobbly 3 bolt adjustable neck joint, the Tele Custom was introduced just around the time that Fender began to lose its reputation as a quality instrument company. The Custom was also more expensive than the standard Tele, and sales never reached as highly as the CBS-owned Fender companies had anticipated.

As with the other guitars in the '72 reissue series, the Custom has enjoyed much of its popularity long after the cessation of its original production run. Fender Japan was the first to release a reissue of the Custom, which benefited from being substantially lighter than the original and thus less tonally inert. Following the Japanese re-issue, Fender moved production to its Ensenada facility in Mexico - the MIM reissues are now the predominate versions in Europe and the USA. It is generally accepted among players that the Japanese version is superior to the Mexican version in construction. The higher-end Factory Special Run (FSR) editions of the guitar are made at the Fender Custom Shop (USA).

Both versions feature a reissued version of the Fender Wide Range humbucking pickup, which differs fundamentally in construction from the original. The original WRH used magnetized CuNiFe (copper, nickel and iron) polepieces ("slugs") with a copper wiring around the slugs, while the reissue has a standard non-magnetized set of slugs with an AlNiCo (aluminum, nickel, Cobalt) magnetized bar underneath. This standard humbucker is fitted in the larger casing of the original pickup, using wax to fill the void. The original WRH measured an average of 10.6 kΩ and used a 1 MΩ volume pot and a 250 kΩ tone pot, while the reissue measures a fairly standard 8 kΩ and uses 250 kΩ volume and tone pots. This results in a much darker and muddier sounding reissue wide range pickup.

See also



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