The only solidbody guitars that even come close are the Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul.Given this success, it’s amazing so few guitars have attempted to copy the Telecaster.So here we will explore the evolution of and variations on its form.

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Recall Lloyd Loar’s experiments at Gibson as early as ’24, though the technology was so primitive that failure was almost a foregone conclusion.

Kay, the company known as Stromberg-Voisinet at the time, became the first to put an electric guitar into production in ’28; the Stromberg Electro Guitar, the six-string in a Spanish design, the tenor in a two-point Venetian acoustic guitar, both with some sort of pickup.

No modern electromagnetic pickups were shown on illustrations at the time, so it has been speculated this may have been some sort of transducer placed inside, perhaps adapting phonograph cartridge technology.

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Certainly this was the case Leo Fender’s Telecaster guitar, which was revolutionary in its design and impact, and relatively simple, even elemental.

Which is probably why since it was introduced as the Esquire in 1950, the Telecaster has remained in constant production.

That’s a track record equalled only by the Fender Precision, the world’s first solidbody electric bass, which debuted in ’51.

And while this is true for the first 35 years of its existence, the form garnered considerable attention beginning in the late ’80s, perhaps due to the renewed interest stirred by its creator, perhaps influenced by the burgeoning of the vintage guitar scene.

In any case, this month we’ll track the more conservative years of Tele history and next month discuss some of the more spectacular modern interpretations.

The Road to the Telecaster While the Telecaster was not the first solidbody electric guitar, it was groundbreaking.

American guitar manufacturers had begun playing around with the notion of an electric guitar as early as the ’20s.