It’s one of the toughest choices Fender fans will probably ever face: Stratocaster or Telecaster? Well, if you rewind to the early noughties, there was a brief window of time wherein you didn’t have to choose – you could, in fact, get the best of both models in one guitar, thanks to the hallowed Squier ‘51.
Well, after almost two decades, Fender Japan has – once again – leafed through the history books for yet another throwback electric guitar, this time reviving and revamping the Strat/Tele hybrid in the form of the Fender ‘51.
Try not to be alarmed by the bonkers aesthetics, though we must admit it takes a while to get used to it. Looking like something straight out of Fender’s mainstream Parallel Universe collection, the Fender ‘51 is everything the Strat would’ve been had Leo Fender opted to merely tweak the Tele instead of designing an all-new instrument.
Everything about it screams “Telecaster” – the maple fretboard, slim headstock, Butterscotch Blonde finish, single-ply black pickguard, pickup configuration and two-knob control layout – save for one glaring difference: the body shape.
In terms of specs, it’s pretty faithful to the Squier ‘51 blueprint, featuring a basswood body and U-shape maple neck, as well as a 25.5” scale length, 9.5” radius and 21 vintage frets.
Other functional appointments include a three-saddle vintage-style Telecaster bridge – complete with brass barrel saddles – vintage-style tuning machines and knurled dome control knobs.
As for pickups, the Fender ‘51 drastically veers away from the single-coil and humbucker configuration of the Squier ‘51 and continues to lean heavily towards the Telecaster design.
That means two vintage-style single-coil Tele pickups make the cut, and are at the mercy of a relatively unorthodox control layout that swaps out the three-way selector switch for a three-way rotary control knob.
Due to this appointment, there is no tone control, with the secondary knob instead taking charge as the master volume parameter.
The Fender '51 will only be available in limited quantities, and will be sold exclusively through the Fender Japan online store and the Fender shop in Miki Gakki Americamura.
To find out more, visit Fender Japan (opens in new tab).
Fender Japan's hybrid axe is sure to cap off what has been a hectic 2021 for the division, which has produced some of the wackiest, wildest and zaniest instruments of the year.
More recently, the brand unveiled Heather Brown's Original Canvas Esquire and Hama Okamoto's super-jagged Katana, as well as a range of Thinline Telecasters sporting literal 'F'-holes and limited-edition Super-Sonic models.