Esquire Guitars

1951 Fender Esquire

Color: Butterscotch Blond, Rating: 8.75, Sold (ID# 01165)
Call to Inquire: (818) 222-4113

An All Original Early 1951 Fender Esquire

This fifty-nine-year-old Butterscotch Blond beauty weighs just 6.90 lbs. and has a nut width of just over 1 5/8 inches, a thick rounded neck profile 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 0.89 inch at the 1st fret and 1.01 inches 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 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 8.56k. 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 (later) round Daka-Ware switch tip, all on a metal plate adjoining pickguard. Taller (5/8 inch) chrome knobs with less pronounced domes and heavy knurled sides. Telecaster/Esquire combined bridge/tailpiece with three brass saddles. The serial number ("0601") is stamped on the bridge plate. The neck is dated "T G / 2-5-51" and the body neck pocket is dated in blue pencil "TK 1-27-51". The stamping on the potentiometers is obscured by solder on one and the capacitors on the other. 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 three nail or pin holes (approximately 1/16 inch in diameter) clearly visible, two under the pickguard and one under the bridge pickup assembly. 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 excellent plus (8.75) condition. There is a fair amount of finish checking and some loss of finish on the sides and a small area on the back. The neck is one of 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. Housed in the original Fender brown form-fit "thermometer" case with four latches, brown plush lining, and center neck pocket (8.50). This guitar is featured on page 140 of Nacho Banos' book The Blackguard, A Detailed History of the Early Fender Telecaster Years 1950-1954.

"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).

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