Pete’s Gear: Fender Telecasters
Pete Townshend used (and abused) many Fender Telecaster guitars between late 1965 and 1967. Most of the instruments were contemporary pre- and post-CBS models — i.e., non-vintage — and served one primary purpose: to be destroyed.
With the Who’s ever-mounting debts, their guitar destruction stage act became increasingly expensive. Because of the fragility of the Rickenbacker guitars Pete used during this time, he needed a guitar that could stand up to the stage abuse and be rebuilt easily. Unlike the Ricks, with their neck-through-body construction and a hollow body that Pete likened to “balsa wood” or “cardboard,” the Telecaster, with its bolt-on neck and solid Alder slab body, could take multiple blows before breaking and be easily reconstructed for the next show. So, like clockwork, at the end of the show for My Generation, Pete would switch to a Telecaster for the auto-destruction finale.
By 1967, Pete would transition to using Fender Stratocasters — also because of their strength and reliability.
Selected quotes from Pete Townshend
All quotes and references are copyright their original owners and are included for reference only.
From April 1980 issue of Sound International article, courtesy Joe G’s site.
I stayed with Rickenbackers for a long time and then I started to use Fenders. I never liked Gibsons at all — I still don’t very much (laughs). Then I started to get interested in a wide variety of guitars. … I flitted around a lot and then Hendrix came along and I started to use Strats again. But that didn’t last long because the sound of them wasn’t quite right for what I wanted.
The Telecaster likely left an impression on Pete, as he would return to the Fender Telecaster around 1980, acquiring a vintage 1952 Fender Telecaster for studio work — which he later called his favourite guitar. In addition, he returned to the Telecaster style with the Schecter (and Giffin) “Tele”-style guitars in 1979–1982. And he used a 1952 Telecaster reissue on stage for the Psychoderelict shows in 1993 as well as solo shows in 1995 to the present.
Ca. 1965, promotional appearance, with sunburst Fender Telecaster with maple neck.
23 Oct. 1966, Malmo, Sweden, with Fender Telecaster with rosewood neck. Amplifiers are 1966 Marshall model 1959 Super Lead (top) and 1966 Marshall Major 200-watt (“The Pig”), powering two Marshall 8x12 cabinets.
Ca. 1966, home studio in Wardour Street, with Fender Telecaster with rosewood neck.
Ca. 1966, German television promotional appearance, miming with a Fender Telecaster with rosewood neck and third middle pickup added. Amp is a Selmer Treble ‘n’ Bass amp and cab.
Click to view larger version. Same German television promotional appearance ca. 1966, with closeup of third pickup on Fender Telecaster.
Ca. June 1966, with Fender Telecaster awaiting its finale fate next to the Marshall 8x12 stacks.
In July 1966, 6th National Jazz and Blues Festival, Windsor, two Marshall 8x12 cabinets (topped by Marshall JTM45 100 Tremolo amps) being impaled by a Fender Telecaster fitted with a non-Fender rosewood neck. Fuzz pedal is Tone Bender.
In July 1966, 6th National Jazz and Blues Festival, Windsor, two Marshall 8x12 cabinets, with Telecaster with unknown neck from previous photo, awaiting its fate against the cabinet.
Ca. 1967, with a Fender Telecaster fitted with a Stratocaster neck.
Ca. 1966, repairing a Fender Telecaster fitted with a Stratocaster neck.
Ca. 1966, a collection of broken guitars, including two Telecasters and a Rickenbacker Rose Morris 1997.