1950 Fender Broadcaster Guitar

Description: 1950 Fender Broadcaster (Telecaster) guitar
Collectibility Rating: A+
Production: no official (or unofficial) production numbers available.
General Comments:
The Fender Broadcaster (Telecaster or Tele) guitar is one of the most popular solidbody electric guitar ever made, and is the solidbody guitar that started it all. Early models (pre-1965, known as "pre-CBS" models, since CBS bought Fender in January 1965) are the most collectible. Originality and condition are the two most important features of a vintage Fender guitar, and Fender Broadcaster, Esquires and Telecasters (Teles) do seem to have been easily modified (due to their "bolt together" nature).

The first Fender solidbody model, the Esquire, lasted (in name only) from June 1950 to October 1950. This model name was replaced by the "Broadcaster", which lasted (in name only) from the October 1950 to January 1951.

The 1950 Esquires had a pine body usually painted black (or red.) This body was two pieces, but two pieces in a different sense, where it's two thin slab pieces glued together like a sandwich. The neck of these early Esquires was one piece maple with NO truss rod. Leo didn't want to implement a truss rod but George Beauchamp (pronounced Beechum) eventually convinced Leo that was a bad idea (hence all Broadcasters do have a truss rod.) Leo Fender felt that a truss rod was just added expense, where Beauchamp knew that changes in humidity and temperature required a way to adjust neck bow. (The famous story of Leo putting an Esquire neck between two chairs and standing on it showed the neck was strong enough, but that really wasn't the point.) The early esquires often didn't say "Esquire" on the peghead either (just "Fender".) In addition the earliest 1950 Esquires used some lap steel parts. The bridge was the same as a 1950-1954 Telecaster bridge (with the four digit serial number of 000x or 00xx), but the saddles on these early Esquires were larger and more rough cut barrels. Many early Esquires had two pickups also, with no angled route between the neck route and the control cavity under the pickguard.

By the fall of 1950 Fender decided to change to the model to the Broadcaster and to make it more "professional." That is, now there were two pickups, a one piece Ash body painted blond, no lap steel parts, and a neck with a truss rod. The majority of Broadcasters have body and neck dates of November 1950 and usually have a serial number of 0xxx or 00xx (the lastest Broadcaster serial number i have heard of was in the 08xx range and the earliest documented is serial number 0005), but 12/50 and 01/51 Broadcasters do exist. All Broadcasters have truss rods, where many 1950 Esquires have no truss rod (unless the original Esquire neck was sent back to Fender and "upgraded" to a truss rod model, which did often happen.)

Serial number range for the 1950 Fender Broadcaster are generally 0001 to 2000 (stamped into the bridge plate). If you need to figure out the exact year of your pre-CBS Fender Broadcaster, use the serial number and the general features of the guitar. The serial number is located on the bridge until mid-1954, when it was moved to the back metal neck plate. See the Fender Serial Number Info web page for help determining the year.

If you have a vintage pre-CBS Fender Broadcaster or Tele guitar for sale, please let me know. I am a private vintage guitar collector (not a store), and you can contact me at cfh@provide.net

See the next year's 1951 Fender Nocaster/Telecaster guitar.
Back to the main Fender Vintage Guitar Info webpage

October 1950 Fender Broadcaster guitar specs:

  • Ash body 1.75" thick with Butterscotch Blond finish.
  • Maple one piece neck, all with truss rods. Sometimes the truss rod plug behind the nut on the peghead face is maple instead of walnut.
  • Peghead truss rod plug is more rounded.
  • Neck backshape feel was a large rounded "D" style neck. The fingerboard had a 7.25" fingerboard radius with small (.078" wide) frets (though a 9" radius Broadcaster has been documented).
  • Round button string tree (1st month models don't have one).
  • Silver "spaghetti" peghead Fender decal with black trim.
  • Flat pole pickup in treble position and two wire notches in the black pickup base.
  • Lead pickup has a tin (or sometimes copper) baseplate used for ground.
  • Pickup windings cover with white string (which often looks black from the wax pickup potting).
  • Knurled chrome plated brass knobs with a semi-flat top.
  • Chrome covered pickup in neck position.
  • Black vulcanized fiber (often called "bakelite") pickguard, clear coated with lacquer (though one white fiber pickguard Broadcaster is documented).
  • Four digit serial number on bridge plate, starting with "00" or "0".
  • Round Dak-a-Ware switch tip.
  • Two patent number 3-way switch CRL 1452 (2291516, 2291517).
  • Stackpole pots (manufacturer number 304).
  • Blend control pickup wiring (no tone control).
  • Often the rear string ferrels are not aligned.
  • Steel bridge saddles till November 1950, then brass with flat bottoms.
  • Body date in neck pocket.
  • All screws have slot heads (including the truss rod adjuster).
  • Many Broadcasters bodies do not have the diagonal wire route between the neck pickup and the control cavity. This route was added to allow easier drilling and mounting of the neck pickup's wire to the control cavity. Instead a long drill bit was used to drill a hole thru the truss rod adjustment channel in the neck pocket, thru the neck pickup route, down the center of the body, to the lead pickup.
  • Many Broadcasters also have a "ground hole" in the pot control cavity. The theory is this hole is drilled from the bridge plate/pickup route to the pot control cavity, but was not used (since a separate ground wire is not needed for the bridge, due to the design of the bridge pickup mounting screws and bridge pickup ground plate, and how the guitar was wired to the bridge pickup). Other stories for this hole is it's a "nail hole" (as used in 1959 and later Teles), or the hole comes from the screw-tip augar drill bit used to drill the side jack hole.
  • Brown rectangle Cornell Dubilier paper tone capacitor and brown tube paper tone caps used.
  • Kluson Deluxe tuners with "Kluson Deluxe" in a single vertical line (aka "single line"), no second hole on side of gear shell (for the tuner peg), "pat. pend" on side bottom side of gear shell.
  • Milled chrome plated brass jack cup with ribbing on sides to hold jack inside the body hole - no other attachment method used.
  • A guess is that about 200 Broadcasters were made, before changing to the "NoCaster".


I'm looking for a Fender Broadcaster! When I get one i'll add some pictures...

* Email the collector cfh@provide.net
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