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Pete’s Gear: 1952 Fender Telecaster

Pete Townshend owns or owned at least two 1952 vintage Fender Telecasters, which he used on Empty Glass and Face Dances. According to Frank Lucido, Pete acquired the primary model from Frank’s vintage guitar store California Guitar.

Frank Lucido:

It was in mint condition when I bought it from a little old lady in Oxnard. Pete used it on Empty Glass and many other recordings as well as the excellent video of “Rough Boys.” I’m not sure where Pete got some of his other Telecasters. I think he has only two total early ’50s models with the black pickguards.

The other was likely acquired by Alan Rogan, Pete’s guitar tech, from Norman’s Rare Guitars (normansrareguitars.com) in Los Angeles, Calif., in the late 1970s or early 1980.

Pete also used a 1952 Telecaster onstage for solo appearances from 1986 through 1997.

Pete Townshend in 1982 (from 1983 Schecter advertisement):

“My favourite guitar is a rare and expensive ’52 Telecaster.”

From Guitar Player, August 1996

I’m standing up there at the shows that I’m doing, and I’m carrying this ’52 Telecaster. It’s a California guitar. It’s a masterpiece. Thank God for America. Thank God for Leo, it’s a beautiful guitar. I play it like a chainsaw, and it’s still beautiful. This is a perfectly good guitar. Somebody said to me the other night, “Smash it.” I never would. You have to realize that most of the guitars I’ve smashed have not been perfectly good guitars — they’ve been junk, really.

1952 Fender Telecaster general specs:

  • Single-cutaway slab ash body with Butterscotch Blond finish.
  • One-piece, rounded “U” shape maple neck with truss rod.
  • Round button string tree.
  • Flat pole pickup in bridge position; chrome-covered pickup at neck position.
  • Two chrome knobs (volume and “blend”), three-position toggle switch.
  • Three paired brass adjustable bridge saddles.
  • Black fiber pickguard, clear-coated with lacquer.
  • Strings through body.
  • Silver “spaghetti” Fender headstock logo with black trim.

Photo Gallery

Ca. June–December 1980, Face Dances sessions, Odyssey Studios, London, with two 1952 Fender Telecasters, with original appointments (three-brass-saddle bridge).

Ca. June–December 1980, Face Dances sessions, Odyssey Studios, London, with two 1952 Fender Telecasters, with original appointments (three-brass-saddle bridge).

Ca. 1989, with 1952 Fender Telecaster fitted with Fender American Standard six-saddle bridge.

Ca. 1989, with 1952 Fender Telecaster fitted with Fender American Standard six-saddle bridge.

Ca. 1985 (Deep End), with 1952 Fender Telecaster.

Ca. 1986 (Deep End), onstage with 1952 Fender Telecaster.

Ca. 1980, miming for A Little Is Enough video.

Ca. 1980, miming for Empty Glass video.

Ca. 1993, with 1952 Fender Telecaster (original or reissue?) fitted with Fender American Standard six-saddle bridge.

Ca. 1993, the Psychoderelict tour, with 1952 Fender Telecaster (original or reissue?) fitted with Fender American Standard six-saddle bridge.

Resources and Information

Acknowledgements

  • Special thanks to Frank Lucido, owner of California Guitar in Santa Barbara, Calif., and Studio City, Calif., 1978–1985
  • RockStarsGuitars

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