- The lead pickup no longer has the two notches in the black pickup base for the winding
- Gradual use of phillips head screws replaces slot head screws (this change was not
complete till 1953).
- Knurled chrome plated brass knobs with a round top.
- Late 1952: pressed jack cup replaced milled jack cup. An added internal metal plate is
used inside the body jack hole to secure milled cup.
- Walnut peghead truss rod plug is more oval shaped.
- Late 1952: Wiring changes on Tele. Now instead of the last knob being a "blend" control
(allowing both pickups to be used at the same time), it now becomes a tone knob. The 1950-1952 wiring used a .05mfd cap between the 3 way switch and the volume pot, and a 15k resistor coming off the
3 way switch.
1953 Telecaster specs:
- Neck fingerboard dots change spacing. On pre-1953 models, dots are about 1" (center to
center) apart at the 12th fret. On 1953 and later models, the dot spacing is about 1 1/8" center to center.
- New wiring on a Telecaster. (Note the wiring change was late 1952.) That is, the 3
position switch forward position was the neck pickup with a "woof tone" capacitor (no tone adjustment.) Middle switch position was the neck pickup with the tone knob implemented. Rear switch position
was the bridge pickup with no tone adjustment. This wiring used a .05mfd cap soldered between the two pots, and a .1mfd cap between the volume pot's ground and the 3 way switch.
- Flat-side ("poodle") guitar-shaped cases used during 1953.
Summer 1954 Fender Telecaster guitar
- Serial number on neck plate.
- Blond body finish has a more whitish look than the earlier "butterscotch" finish. In
reality, the body finish was probably applied no differently, but the type of clear lacquer used to clearcoat does not yellow as much This gives mid-1954 and later Teles a more whitish blond look,
instead of butterscotch. Because of the more whitish look, a distinct "halo" can be seen around the edge of the body that is less translucent (this halo was present on the earlier butterscotch
finishes, but it was far less noticable). The halo was used to hide the side grain of multi-piece bodies, because Fender could easily match the face grain, but it was difficult to match the side
- White single layer ABS pickguard .060" thick with matte backside replaces black
- Bridge saddles change from 5/16" brass to 1/4" steel smooth saddles with rough finished
ends. Also the angle of the string height screws changed to be about 45 degrees.
- Daka-Ware "Top Hat" style switch tip starts to be used instead of the round
- "D" neck/body stamp is largely not seen after 1954 (except on an occassional neck up
- Case changes to a rectangle tweed case.
Mid 1955 Fender Telecaster guitar
- Staggered pole pickup magnets replace the previous "flat pole" pickup in the treble
- Sunburst finish done on a small batch of Telecasters, and then
- Body date moved from neck pocket to under lead pickup (late 1955).
- "Top Hat" style switch tip used exclusively.
- White pickguard now has a shiney backside.
Mid 1956 Telecaster specs:
- String tree changes from round button to "butterfly" clip.
- String tree moved closer to the nut, roughly in alignment with the A-string
- "Single Line" Kluson Deluxe tuners (which says "Kluson Deluxe" in a vertical
- Peghead decal position changes to between the nut and the string tree (rather than next to
the G-string tuning post).
- Peghead has much sharper edges. No longer is Fender sanding and rounding the edges of the
- Neck backshape gets a large "soft V" shape.
- Metal control knobs change from a chrome plated brass course knurl rounded top design, to
a fine knurl flat top pot-metal knob.
1957 Telecaster specs:
- Most 1957 Teles have a neck with a "strong V" backshape.
- Sunburst finish done on a small batch of Telecasters, and then
1958 Telecaster specs:
- Bridge saddles change from smooth to threaded saddles. Also the angle of the string height
screws changed back to be about 90 degrees.
- Strings anchor at bridge ("top loading") instead of going thru the body (late 1958). This
changed the sound of the Telecaster (and not for the better!)
- Neck is a thinner "D" neck shape (the famous "V" neck is gone). As 1958 progresses, the
neck backshape gets thinner.
Mid 1959 Telecaster specs:
- Slab Rosewood fingerboard.
- Neck now has a very thin "D" backshape. As 1959 progresses, the neck backshape gets
thinner. By the end of 1959, the neck has an extremely thin backshape.
- Single layer thick white pickguard (though some custom color Teles used three layer
celluloid mint green pickguard, as also used on the Custom Telecaster).
- Number of pickguard screws increases from five to eight.
- "Custom Telecaster" introduced with body binding, sunburst finish, and three layer
celluloid mint green pickguard. The first few models have a peghead logo the same as a regular Telecaster. Then a gold spaghetti peghead decal reads "Custom Telecaster" (not Telecaster Custom!), with
the model name lettering slightly bolder than a regular Telecaster. Earliest Custom Telecaster date I have seen is 4/59, but there are rumors of some early 1959 Custom Teles with a regular
"Telecaster" (instead of "Telecaster Custom") peghead decal.
- Brown paper rectangle tone cap changes to a white "chicklet" paper tone
1960 Telecaster specs:
- Strings anchor thru the body again, but bridge is still drilled for top loading strings
(this happened by late 1959).
- The blond finish seems to become less translucent, hiding more of the wood
- Position of the body "nail holes" moved - around this time the nails were moved to inside
the body routes, like inside the neck pocket or truss rod adjustment route, inside the bridge pickup route, and inside the wall of the control cavity route. Why this was done I am not exactly sure
(it wasn't done on the Strat). Also the fourth nail positioned on the cutaway was dropped.
1961 Telecaster specs:
- By 1961, neck backshape is a fatter "D" shape, but still not quite as fat as 1958 and
prior Telecaster necks.
- White "chicklet" paper tone capacitor and tube paper tone cap change to red round disc
- By late 1961, patent numbers 2,573,254 and 2,784,631 added to peghead decal, and DES
Mid 1962 Telecaster specs:
- About 8/62, veneer Rosewood fingerboard instead of the previous "slab"
- Neck screws change from being partially threaded, to being fully threaded their whole
Fall 1964 Telecaster specs:
- Pearloid fingerboard dots replace "clay" dots (this transitioned into early
- Pickguard changed to a white plastic W/B/W three layer laminted
- The Custom Telecaster peghead decal changed to the gold "transition" style decal with
patent numbers 2,573,254 and 2,784,631 and DES number 164,227.
- Pickup changes from "black bottom" to "gray bottom" (again this transitioned into
- Tuners change from "single line" Kluson Deluxe to "double line" Kluson Deluxe (where
"Kluson" and "Deluxe" are now in two vertical parallel lines).
Late 1965 Telecaster specs:
- Gold Fender "transition" decal, thicker than previous "spaghetti" logo. Two patent numbers
of 2,573,254 and 3,143,028 (the DES number is dropped).
- Glued-on Maple fingerboard available as an option (black dots), with no back skunk