Fender American Original 50s Telecaster Review (1 year later)
This article is a full review of the Fender American Original ’50s Telecaster. So that you know, I purchased this guitar from a brick-and-mortar retailer, and it was not a gift from Fender. This guitar is available in left and right-handed configurations.
Back in May of 2018, I had a chance to borrow the Fender Original ’50s Telecaster from a local shop to shoot a review. I knew back then that I was in serious trouble. I am a massive fan of Telecasters and have already owned a Fender ’52 Reissue Telecaster for over ten years.
When I first picked this up, I had a feeling that eventually I’d cave and buy one. This guitar screamed quality back then, and I still feel the same about it now. In 2020, I ended up purchasing the Fender ’50s Original Telecaster from a local shop because I knew it was something special.
Pickups and Tone
What separates this from the ’52 reissue back in the day is the pickups. These pickups are so much better for several reasons, which I will outline. Straight out of the case, this Telecaster is arguably the best sounding Telecaster I have ever played. I would put it even with a ’52 Custom Shop Relic I played in 2019.
The Neck Pickup
The Neck pickup has the chirp that many Tele pickups don’t have. Much like my Fender ’52 Reissue Telecaster, most regular Tele’s have an overly warm/roll-off sound on the neck pickup. The ’50s Telecaster neck pickup reminds me of a Stratocaster neck pickup, which is what you want. This tonality is hard to find on Telecasters outside of the custom shop range, but you have it with this series.
The Bridge Pickup
The Bridge pickup has all the snap and snarl of a great Telecaster. I much prefer this guitar pickup again over the ’52 reissue pickups because they can handle a higher amount of gain without squealing.
Running in the middle position of the three-way toggle switch will activate both pickups. This position is great for country players and funk players. Lots of top-end chimes but without ever sounding too shrill.
Outside of the Fender Custom Shop, I have not heard a better off-the-shelf left-handed Telecaster than this.
If you know my YouTube channel and my ’52 reissue, I currently have Joe Barden Danny Gatton pickups in there. The above comparison reflects the difference between the stock pickups that came with the ’52 reissue and not the Joe Bardens pickups.
Neck Size and Feel
One huge factor for me buying this guitar was the neck profile. Finding a left-handed Telecaster with a fat neck is almost impossible. This neck is what is known as a Deep-C. The Deep-C neck will be too thick for some players, but those of you with larger hands, you’ll no double love it.
The neck is fat, really fat. I can’t stress this enough. If you love a modern-C neck, you are going to hate the thickness of this probably. The Fender Original ’50s Telecaster has a much fatter neck again than my ’52 reissue from 11 years prior. I was taken aback when I first picked it up.
With the fat-neck aside, the guitar feels fantastic to play. Much like the Fender ’50s Original Stratocaster I reviewed, this guitar also has a very high gloss neck. The necks are slightly more sticky than the vintage finish on my ’52, but it’s nothing a little bit of Finger Ease can’t fix (or sandpaper).
Frets & Hardware
Fender has included vintage tall frets on their Original Series guitars. Bigger frets are a great addition over the vintage frets that I had to replace in my ’52 reissue. These will last a lot longer than shorter vintage frets. The Fender tall vintage frets feel a lot like 6105 frets, which I had put into my old ’52 when it was time for a re-fret.
While these frets aren’t stainless steel, they should last a decent amount of time, even if this becomes your main gigging guitar.
Value for Money
Considering the quality of the build, the tone, and the feel of this guitar, I think it’s a great deal. It is slightly more expensive than the standard American Telecasters and quite a bit more than the Players Series, but I think the price is justified. You are getting a custom shop quality guitar for far less than the custom shop price.
I always like to suggest that guitarists pick up a guitar and play-test it if possible before buying, but I can tell a huge difference in feel and tone between this and the previously mentioned guitars. This ’50s Tele is a much better guitar than my ’52 reissue was before I modded it to death.
Who is this Guitar for?
The Fender ’50s Telecaster is one of the best guitars on the market. Having owned a ’52 Reissue Telecaster from years ago, I can honestly say this is the better instrument. I’m using the term “better” because the pickups are better, and they are wired for the modern player. The pickups are better than any US Tele I have played, and the neck is fantastic. Guitarists who are fans of the fat necks will love this guitar.
I had no intention of buying it when I first saw it because I already had a Telecaster that I loved. This Fender ’50s Original Telecaster is easily as good as my ’52, which has been modded a lot over the years. Without the mods on my ’52 reissue, this is the better instrument.
The pickups handle a decent amount of gain before any issues with squealing, and being there are no buzz-free options, it will appeal to the fans of the vintage gear.
Being the neck pickup has a nice amount of treble, you can dial in some Strat-like tones without any issues.
Fender American Original 50s Telecaster Video Reviews
Below is my video review from 2018 when I first played the guitar:
This next video is the beginning of 2020 when I finally purchased it:
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Who should avoid this guitar?
If you can’t stand a fat neck on a guitar, then you need to look for something else. If you also can’t live without the middle switch position being hum-canceling, then you also need to give this a miss.
Some venues that you gig at can make single-coil guitars buzz to no end. There is no jail-free card with this guitar; it will hum in every position. The buzz is no worse than any other single-coil guitar but just be warned.
Concerns or Quality Control Issues
None. The pickups, hardware, finish, are top-notch. The only downside of the G&G hard cases is the locks are very sticky. Sometimes I have to try and unlock them 3-4 times before they pop open.
The Nitro finish is not as thick as other guitars, so just be careful if you are used to the super-thick finish on other models. Consequently, this can make the finish a lot easier to dent or ding than other electric guitars.
The reality is, this is the guitar I didn’t need, but I couldn’t live without it. It took two years for me to buy this guitar and I couldn’t be happier. Between this and my Fender American Original ’50s Stratocaster, I consider myself done.
It took changing the pickups, the frets, and the pots in my ’52 reissue to make it as playable as the Fender ’50s Original Tele is straight off the shelf.
You might be better off going for a Fender Player Series or American Series Telecaster for those, not into a big-neck guitar.
More of a Stratocaster Fan?
Recently I purchased the Fender 50s Original Stratocaster as well. Check out the full review and post regarding that guitar. I will have this Telecaster and the Fender 50s American Original Stratocaster for a long time.
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Comparable Left-Handed Guitars
- Fender American Professional Telecaster
- Fender Player Series Telecaster
- Vola Arcane Tele 50’s Experience
- Fender ’50s Original Stratocaster
Check out all of my Left-Handed Guitar Reviews
Official Fender 50s American Original Specifications:
Body FinishGloss Nitrocellulose Lacquer
Neck FinishGloss Nitrocellulose Lacquer
Neck Shape1952 “U.”
Scale Length25.5″ (648 mm)
Fingerboard Radius9.5″ (241 mm)
Number of Frets21
Fret SizeVintage Tall
Nut Width1.650″ (42 mm)
Position InlaysBlack Dot
Truss RodVintage-Style Heel Adjust
Truss Rod NutVintage-Style Slotted
Bridge PickupPure Vintage ’52 Single-Coil Tele®
Neck PickupGenuine Vintage ’52 Single-Coil Tele®
ControlsMaster Volume, Master Tone
Switching3-Position Blade: Position 1. Bridge Pickup, Position 2. Bridge and Neck Pickups, Position 3. Neck Pickup
Bridge3-Saddle American Vintage Strings-Through-Body Tele® with Brass Saddles
Tuning MachinesPure Vintage Single Line “Fender Deluxe”
Pickguard1-Ply Black Phenolic
Control KnobsKnurled Dome
Switch TipBarrel Style
StringsFender® USA 250R Nickel-Plated Steel (.010-.046 Gauges)
Legal NoticeWARNING: Cancer and Reproductive Harm
Case/Gig BagVintage-Style Hardshell