Could this be the first Fender Telecaster ever made?

Joe Bonamassa recently shared a photo of “The Bludgeon,” a Fender Custom Shop recreation of his prized 1951 Nocaster. But if you’re in the market for a truly rare piece of electric guitar history, head over to Norman’s Rare Guitars, which has unearthed what owner Norman Harris says is one of the earliest Telecasters in existence.

The Telecaster, as we all know, was preceded by the two-pickup Fender Broadcaster. Gretsch, however, was already using the name Broadkaster to market a drum kit, and asked Fender to cease using it for its instruments. 

Fender responded by clipping the Broadcaster name off its headstock decals, so that they read only “Fender.” These “no-name” models came to be known as Nocasters, before being rebranded with the name Telecaster.

Nocasters, as Harris notes, generally sport serial numbers between 1,000 and 2,000. This ’51 Tele, he continues, “is under 1,000. So this is one of the earliest Telecasters on the face of the earth.”

Norman's Rare Guitars has one of the earliest Teles in existence

(Image credit: YouTube/All Guitar Network)

What’s more, it’s also in “pristine condition,” with just a bit of expected weathering and checking. It also comes with the original strap and case, as well as a photo of the guitar’s original owners.

The only modification made to the Tele, Harris notes, is that the “neck pickup was rewound”. This was due to the fact, he says, that the front single-coil boasts “a dark circuit, and a lot of times people thing the pickup is weak. With just a slight mod these pickups come alive.”

Overall, he says of the '51, “this thing is clear and clean. Somebody who wants this guitar is going to have a major piece of memorabilia.”

To check out the Tele for yourself, take a look at the video above. Then head over to Norman’s Rare Guitars. The guitar isn't listed yet, but we dread to think what the price tag will be on this prize specimen…

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.