The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

Fender Telecaster Thinline Guitar Natural, 1978

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The Fender Telecaster Thinline appeared in 1968 as a new design by Roger Rossmeisl, who had moved to Fender from Rickenbacker. His influence at Rickenbacker was profound and still seen in the iconic 300 series guitars and 4000 series ‘cresting wave’ basses. At Rickenbacker, one of his apprentices was Semie Mosley, who went on to found Mosrite Guitars. At Fender, he hired a young John Suhr to help with acoustic guitar design, and then with the Telecaster Thinline. Suhr now runs Suhr Guitars.

The Telecaster Thinline shows Rossmeisl’s concepts of semi-hollow design clearly. The body shape is made from a constructed slab, then the top is cut off and the bottom is routed for chambers (on the Rickenbacker 300 series, the back is separated). The top is replaced, then F-holes and control accesses are added.

There have been several distinct versions of the Telecaster Thinline. The original from 1968 uses all stock Tele parts, including the ‘ashtray’ style bridge and standard pickups, but with a new shape pearlescent pickguard.

Here we have a 1978 Fender Telecaster Thinline, from the second variation produced 1972-1980 at Fullerton, California. For this version the stock Tele pickup set is replaced with a pair of original design, humbucking pickups designed by Seth Lover, and the ‘Ashtray’ bridge shifts to the ‘Hardtail’ model like that found on trem-less Strats. The pickguard has been enlarged to enclose the bridge pickup. This example carries the classic one-piece Fender Maple Neck, with Schaller-designed tuners and the innovative Micro-Tilt 3-bolt neck attachment.

This guitar is in good playing condition. On the top, two holes on either side of the bridge have been filled. The finish is in decent condition, with wear and checking expected for an item four decades old. The frets show some wear and are typically low, but it still plays fairly cleanly. A non-original hard shell case is included.

This first Thinline variation appeared in 1972 and ran until 1980. At this point, Fender was trying to gain some of Gibson’s market share by blurring the distinction many people made of Fender being the ‘single coil’ guitar company and Gibson the ‘humbucking’ company. To this end, Fender hired Seth Lover, the designer of the ground-breaking humbucking pickup that appeared from 1958 on Gibson models.

Lover had worked for Gibson from 1952, and joined Fender in 1967. A key result of this was the Fender Wide Range Humbucker, often referred to as the FWRH. This pickup appeared on several 1972 Telecaster models – the Custom, Deluxe, and the revamped Telecaster Thinline.

The original Wide Range Humbucker is different in a number of ways from Lover’s designs for Gibson (and from later reissues of the pickup). In particular, bar magnets, often AlNiCo (Aluminum, Nickel, Cobalt) were used in the Gibson design, but the FWRH uses threaded rod CuNiFe (Copper, Nickel, Iron) because CuNiFe can be easily machined into this form, unlike AlNiCo.

The object of the design is to combine the brightness and clarity of the Fender Strat or Telecaster pickup with the fullness and noise cancellation of the humbucker. It was a success in that regard, and these original pickups are now highly regarded and sought after.

Unfortunately, CuNiFe became very hard to procure, and all of the Fender reissues use a conventional, bar magnet design, adapted to look like the original 1970s models. Most reviewers agree that they do not sound the same as the originals. A very few custom pickup builders have been able to source original style materials and can hand build small quantities of these pickups at a fairly high price. Original pickups, not attached to a guitar, now appear occasionally on the market for hundreds of dollars.


 

Price: $2900 CAD
  • Model: Telecaster Thinline
  • Year: 1978
  • Finish Natural Gloss
  • Class: Vintage
  • Serial Number: S803038
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Good
  • Date Posted: 23/04/2018

  • Consignment Item

  • Including Hard case
  • Instrument Weight: 7.65lbs 3.48kg
  • Scale Length: 648mm 25.5in
  • Nut Width: 41mm 1.61in
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