Fender celebrates 70th anniversary of the Broadcaster
Back in January, Fender hit California's National Association of Music Merchants show with a bunch of stunning Custom Shop guitars, and new models dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Broadcaster. Now these birthday boys have gone on sale.
Still highly sought after by guitarists looking for vintage tone – Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour put a 1950 Broadcaster up for sale last year – it's thought that only 250 original Broadcasters were ever made. The template went on to become the Telecaster, an iconic instrument often found in the hands of players like Danny Gatton, Bruce Springsteen, Albert Lee, Muddy Waters and Roy Buchanan in the US, and Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Andy Summers and Joe Strummer from the UK.
The Broadcaster story began in the late 1940s, with a desire by Fender to create a Spanish-style electric guitar that was both easy to build and easy for the working guitarist to maintain. A single pickup, no truss rod instrument called the Esquire enjoyed a very brief production run before a two-pickup, truss rod-packing "boat paddle" (as some called it) debuted in the latter half of 1950s. The Broadcaster had an ash body with a blonde finish, a maple neck, single-ply phenolic pickguard, and two single coil pickups wired for three distinct tones.
However, its name was not long for this world. Shortly after its launch, Fender received a telegram from Gretsch, not too happy that the guitar's moniker was very similar to its trademarked BroadKaster name. The offending name was just removed from the headstock for a while – leading to a limited range of Nocasters, as they became known – before the single cutaway guitar was renamed the Telecaster in early 1951.
For the 2020 Broadcaster, Fender has dipped back into its historic archives and gone for an ash body in blonde finish, a thick "U-shaped" one piece maple neck and fingerboard rocking 21 "vintage-tall" frets, Custom Shop-designed, hand-wound 50-51 Blackguard single-coil pickups (wired for a Tele sound out of the box, but with the option of a Broadcaster wiring kit – with a blender pot and slightly brighter rhythm setting in the neck position – for added authenticity), custom stamped neckplate, certificate of authentication and hardshell case.
The 70th anniversary Broadcaster models are on sale now for US$1,999.99, and the company's Custom Shop is also joining in the celebrations with special Teambuilt and Masrterbuilt editions – though we have no prices for those. Either way, the birthday releases will only be on sale during 2020. In the video below Fender's Mike Lewis talk about the early days of the electric guitar and the Broadcaster.