The Original Series Telecaster Review – The Best Tele?

Fender Original Series 50s Telecaster

The Fender 50s Original Telecaster Review

If you know my YouTube channel, odds are you’re well aware I am a huge Telecaster fan. I’ve had the same Fender ’52 reissue telecaster now since 2010 and had no plans on buying a new guitar. I wandered into a shop just after Christmas 2019 and saw a great looking Telecaster on the wall.  This left-handed Telecaster was the Fender 50s Original Series Telecaster.

First Impressions

The first thing you will notice as soon as you pick this guitar up is how fat the neck is.  This “U-Shape” neck is one of the fattest necks that Fender makes.  This already is a deal-breaker for folks who like a thin neck, but for me, it felt amazing.

I noticed the neck was fatter than my ’52 Reissue along the entire length of the neck.  The detail in the almost-flamed Maple neck was beautiful.   Looks aside, my big hands loved the feel of the neck and I knew I would be in trouble.

At the store, I was plugged into a Fender Blues Jr IV and it was a flashback as to why I purchased my ’52 Telecaster of old.  The tones were beautiful! I realized immediately how much I liked the neck pickup.

Fender Original Series 50s Telecaster
Buy it on Sweetwater | Thomann

The Stock Pickups

To put it simply, this sounds like a custom shop Fender guitar at a much less expensive price point.  This neck pickup killed the original ’52 Tele pickup that I later replaced with a Joe Barden pickup.  It had the “custom shop” sound whereby the neck pickup has a brighter and more “strat-like” tone.

This illusive bright neck pickup has been haunting me for years. I’ve only ever heard this sort of tone on a black Relic Custom Shop Telecaster I had played a few years before.

With the combination of this great sounding neck pickup mixed with the fat neck, I was in serious trouble! The Bridge pickup is a beautiful sounding Tele pickup combining a nice bright high frequency mixed with some “girth”.  To my ear, this pickup sounds fatter than a lot of pickups I’ve tried while still being 100% Telecaster

When using both pickups you will still get buzz as neither pickup is reverse wound.  This also might be a deal-breaker for some folks, but I  couldn’t get enough of the middle position on the switch.  For those who love to play country, funk, or cleaner guitar parts, the middle position is amazing.

The Guitars Weight

Another selling point for me was the weight.  This is a much lighter guitar than my ’52 Reissue.  It literally surprised my friends when they picked it up expecting it to hurt their shoulder.  This Original Series ’50s Telecaster is about one-third lighter than my ’52 making it a great gigging guitar for more than 2-3 sets.

Hardcase Included

It’s great to see that Fender didn’t cut corners with this 50s Original Series of guitars.  The Telecaster comes in a premium G&G Tweed Hardcase.  I was really happy to see this included in the deal and quite frankly for the price, was not expecting it.  Visually, these cases are really something special while not being as practical as Fenders Deluxe Molded Case.

The only downsides of these G&G cases are they are quite heavy and most people cringe when they actually do some damage to the case accidentally. This case is a great bit of eye-candy that is included with the guitar.  No real complaints here as most gigging musicians will opt for a gig bag for gigs anyway.

Included Accessories

Other than the premium G&G case there’s not a lot else in the case.  Included is a 50s style cover for the back-pickup (see video above). This is something that I am certain 99% of people don’t use.  It not only gets in the way but it doesn’t add anything of value tone-wise to the guitar.  All it does it look really cool.  For those reading who are Albert Collins fans, you might want to snap the pickup cover in place.  This pickup cover snaps onto the ash-tray bridge and does not require any additional parts or screws.

Tuners

On the Original Series 50s Telecaster, we get vintage-style tuners. I love these.  It makes changing strings fast and easy once you learn how to do it properly.  If you are unsure how to do this watch this video on YouTube that perfectly explains how to change strings on Fender vintage tuners.  With the exception of locking tuners, these are my personal favorites.

The Vintage Tuners on the Fender 50s Original Series Telecaster
The Fender 50s Original Series Telecaster Headstock

The Frets

Another huge advantage of this Original series guitar is their frets.  Fender made the great decision to put in tall thin frets instead of vintage frets.  Vintage frets are quite small and don’t last very long.  I had to change my 52 reissue frets to 6105 frets in a few years of use.  Fender has upgraded these frets to be essentially the same as 6105 frets which is a great upgrade.

Fender Original Series 50s Telecaster Frets and Neck
Buy it on Sweetwater | Thomann

The Neck Profile

The neck profile on this Fender Original Series 50s Telecaster is a “U-Shape”.  This means it is one of the fattest necks on the planet and is much thicker than my old 52 reissue Telecaster.  The neck not only looks amazing as it sports some flamed-maple in there, it feels great in the hand too.  If you are a fan of a larger neck profile then you’ll get a huge kick out of this.

One common complaint with this series of guitars and I would agree is that the finish on the neck feels a bit sticky when you first try it.  I use a product called Finger Easy when I play so this wasn’t a deal-breaker but it’s worth mentioning.  Some players will decide to sand the neck back a bit to alleviate some of the sticky nature of the finish.

Finish and Aesthetics

The Gloss is a Nitrocellulose Lacquer.  This is eye-catching and also very robust.  Nitro is a go-to finish for a lot of guitar brands and Fender does it well.  Visually, this guitar looks like it was transported from 1952 to the current year.

Is the Fender Original Series 50s Tele an upgrade over the 52 Reissue?

The short answer is yes.  The original series Telecaster sounds better, it’s lighter, comes with better frets, and is less expensive.  I really feel that this is a custom shop quality guitar without the custom shop price. If you have a chance to try one or pick one up you should.  I am going to have this guitar forever.

Will I be selling my 52 Reissue?

Nope! I have modded my old Telecaster to no-end.  As it stands both of my two Telecasters are very similar with the main exception now being the pickups.  After changing the frets to 6105 stainless steel frets and finding some noiseless pickups I loved, both of these guitars are keepers.  I believe that the Original 50s is just as good as my now-custom ’52 reissue after all of the mods.  Crazy stuff!

 

Official Specifications

Thanks to the Fender website:

BODY
  • Body Material
    Ash
  • Body Finish
    Gloss Nitrocellulose Lacquer
  • Body Shape
    Telecaster®
NECK
  • Neck Material
    Maple
  • Neck Finish
    Gloss Nitrocellulose Lacquer
  • Neck Shape
    1952 “U”
  • Scale Length
    25.5″ (648 mm)
  • Fingerboard Material
    Maple
  • Fingerboard Radius
    9.5″ (241 mm)
  • Number of Frets
    21
  • Fret Size
    Vintage Tall
  • Nut Material
    Bone
  • Nut Width
    1.650″ (42 mm)
  • Position Inlays
    Black Dot
  • Truss Rod
    Vintage-Style Heel Adjust
  • Truss Rod Nut
    Vintage-Style Slotted
ELECTRONICS
  • Bridge Pickup
    Pure Vintage ’52 Single-Coil Tele®
  • Neck Pickup
    Pure Vintage ’52 Single-Coil Tele®
  • Controls
    Master Volume, Master Tone
  • Switching
    3-Position Blade: Position 1. Bridge Pickup, Position 2. Bridge and Neck Pickups, Position 3. Neck Pickup
  • Configuration
    SS
HARDWARE
  • Bridge
    3-Saddle American Vintage Strings-Through-Body Tele® with Brass Saddles
  • Hardware Finish
    Nickel/Chrome
  • Tuning Machines
    Pure Vintage Single Line “Fender Deluxe”
  • Pickguard
    1-Ply Black Phenolic
  • Control Knobs
    Knurled Dome
  • Switch Tip
    Barrel Style
  • Neck Plate
    4-Bolt
MISCELLANEOUS
  • Strings
    Fender® USA 250R Nickel Plated Steel (.010-.046 Gauges)
ACCESSORIES
  • Case/Gig Bag
    Vintage-Style Hardshell