Esquire Guitars

1951 Fender Esquire

Color: Butterscotch Blond, Rating: 9.25, Sold (ID# 00678)
Call to Inquire: (818) 222-4113

Quite Simply the Best…

This fifty-five-year-old Butterscotch Blond beauty weighs 7.70 lbs. and has a nut width of 1 5/8 inches and a scale length of 25 1/2 inches. Solid ash body and fretted maple neck with slot head truss-rod adjusting screw and with 21 frets and black dot position markers (with the two black dots at the 12th fret are 5/8 inch apart). The neck of this guitar is more rounded and less "Veed" than a Broadcaster and has a typical '52 Telecaster profile measuring .90 inch at the 1st fret and 1 inch at the 12th fret. Single "round" string tree. Headstock decal with "Fender" spaghetti logo in gold with black trim and "Esquire" in black below it. Individual "no-name" single-line Kluson Deluxe tuners without a protruding shaft and with oval metal buttons. The bottom base of the tuners are stamped "2356766 PAT. APPLD." One single-coil pickup, angled in bridgeplate, with flat polepieces, black bottom, and steel bridge pickup grounding plate with two wire notches in the pickup's black base. The output of the pickup is 6.56k. Black vulcanized fiber (often called "bakelite") pickguard (clear coated with lacquer) with five slot-head screws. Two controls (one volume and one blend control) plus three-way tone selector switch (stamped "CRL 1452" and "PATS. 2,291,516/2,291,517") with round Daka-Ware switch tip with "Pat. Pend." on the bottom edge, all on metal plate adjoining pickguard. Taller chrome knobs with less pronounced domes and heavy knurled sides. Telecaster/Esquire combined bridge/tailpiece with three brass saddles. The serial number ("1292") is stamped on the bridge plate. The neck and the potentiometers on this guitar are not dated, as with the very earliest examples. The body neck pocket is dated in blue pencil "TG 6-5-51" and there is also a "D" impressed into it, as is often seen in the neck pocket and/or neck heel of 1951 to 1954 Esquires. All of the screws on the guitar are slot-head screws, including the most important truss-rod adjusting screw (between early 1952 and 1953 phillips head screws gradually replaced slot head screws (this change was not complete till 1953) on Esquires). This guitar has the four nail or pin holes (approximately 1/16 inch in diameter) clearly visible, two under the pickguard, one under the bridge pickup assembly, and one under the edge of the control cavity. Fender used these nails, which were hammered into the front of the body just prior to painting, as "legs" to suspend the body above the spraying and drying tables. On the back of the guitar you can see the two (1/8 inch) pin router's holes beneath the finish. This very early and very special guitar is in near mint (9.25) condition. There are a few minuscule marks on the back of the guitar, a few small marks on the top of the guitar, some natural edge wear, and one small surface chip on the treble edge by the treble horn. The neck is probably the cleanest that we have ever seen, with just a tiny amount of wear to the fretboard on the first three frets and a minuscule amount of wear to the first three frets. This guitar has spent very little time out of its case -- the Butterscotch Blond is very fresh and really is its original color. There is remarkably little finish checking. Housed in the original Fender brown form-fit "thermometer" case with four latches, brown plush lining, and center neck pocket (8.50). With an original folding sixteen-page Fender catalogue for the Telecaster and Esquire. The price in 1951 was $149.50 for the guitar (a full $40.00 less than its Telecaster cousin) $39.50 for the case!

"Leo Fender's new solidbody was the instrument that we know now as the Fender Telecaster, effectively the world's first commercially successful solidbody electric guitar...The guitar was originally named the Fender Esquire and then the Fender Broadcaster, and it first went into production in 1950. It was a simple, effective instrument. It had a basic, single-cutaway, solid slab of ash for a body, with a screwed-on maple neck. Everything was geared to easy production. It had a slanted pickup mounted into a steel bridge-plate carrying three adjustable bridge-saddles, and the body was finished in a yellowish color known as blond. It was unadorned and like nothing else. It was ahead of its time (Tony Bacon, 50 Years of Fender, p. 10).

"After a false start the Esquire 1951, now with Fender's new adjustable truss-rod. It was offered in single-pickup format only, but otherwise was virtually identical to the two-pickup Telecaster. However, the Esquire's three-way selector functioned as a preset tone control or bypass switch, offering wide versatility from a one-pickup guitar. Perhaps surprisingly, the Esquire stayed in the line for 20 years" (Tony Bacon and Paul Day, The Fender Book, p. 10).

"When first announced in June of 1950 (but available a bit earlier) as Fender's first electric solidbody, the Esquire was a available with either one or two pickups (actually the 'single Esquire' with one pickup was available first), a black pine laminated body, a white pickguard, steel bridge saddles. Body shape was the standard 'Telecaster' body shape, but only 1.5" thick (instead of the normal 1.75" thick). After the first few examples were made, the finish changed to butterscotch blond on a solid ash body and a black pickguard, and later two pickups (known as the 'Double Esquire'). Most 1950 Single Esquires had no truss rod (no contrasting strip down back of maple neck). Though there are at least two 1950 single pickup butterscotch Esquires with a truss rod. Approximately sixty 1950 Esquires were shipped, though Fender had orders for hundreds at the time. And many early examples with no truss rod were returned to Fender for neck and/or body replacements (but the parts were kept). The reason? Without a truss rod many necks warped (or the owners thought they would warp in the future). Often the body was replaced too because the original non-truss rod Esquire body did not have the truss rod adjustment route between the neck pocket and the neck pickup. Or sometimes the truss rod adjustment route was hand chiseled. If the body wasn't replaced or chiseled, the truss rod could only be adjusted if the neck was removed. This is why surviving examples of the original no-skunk-stripe (no truss rod) Esquires are difficult to find. The Esquire only lasted in this form until the Broadcaster replaced it in October of 1950. The Esquire was re-introduced in January 1951 as a one pickup version of the Broadcaster (Telecaster), with a truss rod and brass bridge saddles (note I have seen a January 1951 Esquire that had *two* pickups, and the guitar appeared to be stock, but by February 1951, one pickup was the norm for the Esquire). In 1959 the Esquire Custom was introduced with a bound sunburst body" (

"50s Maple Necks are inlaid with black dots (diameter=1/4") which in 1950 originally showed a 5/8" spacing at the 12th fret. By the end of 1952, though, the 12th fret spacing was widened by 3/16" and the double dots became neatly crossed by the A and B strings" (A.R. Duchossoir, The Fender Telecaster, p. 50).

This guitar is documented in Werner's List (1998), p. 4: "1292 Jun 51 Esq." Other Esquires documented in Werner's List include: "0210 Jul 51 Esq," "0307 Jan 52 Esq," "0329 Dec 51 Esq," "0379 Jul 51 Esq," "0409 Jan 52 Esq," "0471 Jan 51 Esq," "0546 Jan 52 Esq," "0606 Jan 51 Esq," "0690 Feb 51 Esq," "0852 Apr 51 Esq," "0856 May 51 Esq," "0936 Sep 51 Esq," and "0986 Nov 51 Esq."

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