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The Fender 70th Anniversary Broadcaster
It was the Fall of 1950 when Leo Fender introduced his first solid-body electric guitar to the world. And, if you don't know the story, you might be looking at the above picture saying to yourself, "isn't that a Telecaster?", and today it is a Telecaster, but in 1950s, it was a Broadcaster, with a legendary story that is being revisited with the 70th Anniversary release of the Fender Broadcaster.
Although not technically the first solid-body guitar on the market, when Fender released the Broadcaster in 1950, it was arguably the first solid-body guitar that attracted mainstream popularity. It's slab body, and truss rod equipped neck made it mass-producible and adjustable for players once they had the guitar.
From Fender Broadcaster to Nocaster to Telecaster
Originally released in early 1950 as the Esquire, with a single pickup that later that year had a second pickup added to it and renamed to the Broadcaster.
After only a few months of production, Fender received a telegram from the Fred Gretsch Company, requesting a stoppage of the name Broadcaster as they had a trademark on the term "Broadkaster" that they were using for a line of drum kits.
This telegram produced what we now know as the "Nocaster". With the cease and desist in play, guitars still needed to get built and catalogs still needed to be printed. So in order to keep business flowing while determining the next name for the guitar, Leo Fender decided to simply remove the model name "Broadcaster" from the headstock and marking material, essentially creating a guitar without a name or the Nocaster.
It took until mid-1951 for Fender to re-name the guitar to the Telecaster, and as rumor has it Leo wanted to capitalize on the emerging popularity of the television, thus naming the guitar Telecaster, and the name has stuck, as the Telecaster is still in production today.
The loar and popularity of the early models, the Broadcaster and "Nocaster" has only increased over time, and now with 2020 marking the 70th anniversary of the Broadcaster, Fender has released the 2020 Fender 70th Anniversary Broadcaster.
An homage to the original Fender Broadcaster
The Fender 70th Anniversary Broadcaster strikes an amazing balance between paying honor to its predecessor, while still feeling like a modern Telecaster ready for the stage. This is most evident with modern electronics and switching installed from the factory and including in the case a reproduction of the vintage-correct Broadcaster 'blend' circuit that can optionally be installed in the guitar for the most authentic experience.
This one detail shows that Fender understands most players will want to modern electronics that the Telecaster has become known for in the guitar, and for those who desire the feel of the original electronics, they can easily swap them out.
All that to be said, the lacquer finish, thick "U" shape neck, and vintage accurate body shape and neck radius all total up to a true Broadcaster, and not simply a modern Telecaster with a Broadcaster logo on the headstock.
The finishing touch is the Custom Shop designed Blackguard Pickups that recreate the tone of the original Broadcaster and early Telecasters.
Final Thoughts on the Fender Broadcaster for 2020
This USA built Fender Broadcaster re-issue is everything we would have hoped for. A true throwback and a tip of the hat to the original Broadcaster, while adding just enough modern touches to make this guitar extremely versatile and fun to play. For the collectors out there, every guitar ships in an embroidered case has a 70th Anniversary neck plate and includes a Certificate of Authenticity. Whether a player or a collector, you can't go wrong with this guitar.