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June 8th, 2009:

Collectable Guitars pt 30 – Fender Elite Telecaster

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481Fender’s iconic Telecaster has many submodels to its name, which have their own distinct set of players. These include the Thinline semi-hollow model, the Custom with a humbucker at the neck and a different scratchplate, and the Deluxe, with two humbuckers and a wide headstock reminiscent of the 1970s Stratocasters.

But that isn’t the full list of submodels offered as part of this iconic range…

Fender Elite TelecasterThe Elite concept was an ambitious project to combine tradition with modern (at the time) technologies with more user-friendly hardware, upgraded electronics and better neck adjustment. The intention was to produce an upgraded version of a classic with a more modern look and feel, and to hopefully entice some Gibson players into the Fender family.

It was designed as a loud rock-orientated instrument, with 2 humbuckers, four knobs as opposed to the usual two,a three way toggle switch and white binding on the top body edge. The Elite had new pickups and active circuitry, with MDX and TBX controls, a biflex truss rod and a new heavy duty cast bridge, not usually seen on Telecasters. According to several reviews on Harmony Central.com the guitar has a heavy ash body and the usual bolt-on maple neck.

The Telecaster Elite is truly “the one that got away”- it was introduced in 1983 in 3 different versions;

  • The Elite, with chrome hardware,
  • The Gold Elite with gold-plated hardware and pearloid button tuners
  • The Walnut Elite, made with American black Walnut body and neck., an ebony fretboard, gold-plated hardware and pearloid button tuners.

A tremolo and 22 fret neck version were also considered, but CBS’s decision in 1984 to divest from Fender put paid to these variations.

Fender Elite Telecaster

It was, as was the case with the Performer and Katana released around the same time, just too different for traditional Fender players to accept as a guitar truly worth their attention and was dropped with little or no fanfare in 1985.

However, if we assess it on its own merits the story could have been quite different.

The guitars weren’t generally accepted by Fender fans, and as such are rare. However, examples occasionally come up for sale, usually in the £750-1200 range. I myself saw one on a recent trip to that haven for all things guitar, Denmark Street in London. The price tag said £ask, however, so prices remain unclear.