Is this the first Telecaster ever made?

A new arrival at Norman’s Rare Guitars is among the first to bear the name.

An incredibly early telecaster at Norman's Rare Guitars

Image: All Guitar Network via YouTube

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Legendary vintage instrument retailer Norman’s Rare Guitars already has a lot of incredibly rare instruments come by its showroom, but one recent addition is rarer than most. It’s possibly the first guitar ever to be called a Telecaster, and even if it’s not the first, it’s among the first few to be named as such, being made in 1951 and with a very early serial number.

The nature of the Fender Telecaster’s history makes it hard to determine which instrument was the de-facto first in the range. Following the 1950 introduction of the Esquire, Fender introduced the two-pickup Broadcaster. Unfortunately, this name was already being used by Gretsch to market a drum kit, and Fender were asked to stop using it for the guitars. Until a new name was found, the headstock decal was clipped to just read “Fender” rather than “Fender Broadcaster.”

These technically unnamed instruments would be called Nocasters, and were the stepping stone between Broadcasters and Telecasters.

As to determining where this incredibly early Telecaster fits into things, Norman’s Rare Guitars proprietor Norman Harris notes that the instrument bears the serial number 0942, and that Nocasters were generally between serial numbers 1000 and 2000 – meaning that even if this particular instrument isn’t the first Telecaster, it’s likely from the first batch at least. For a 70-year-old instrument, it’s also in stunning condition. There’s no major damage or dirt, only the expected amount of finish checking.

Harris also notes that production at Fender wasn’t linearly related to the serial numbers, as bodies and necks would be picked off the shelves and matched, meaning a slightly older body could come with a later neck.

He takes a look at the guitar in the video below.

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