Throughout the 1970s, dealers and customers began complaining about the declining quality of some Fender instruments. As a result, in 1981 CBS hired new management, including Dan Smith as director of marketing. Smith came up with a five-year plan to improve sales with new products of superior quality.
After introducing the Vintage Reissue line of guitars and basses, which recreated the classic designs of Fender’s glory years, Smith developed the Elite series. These instruments had state-of-the-art, technologically advanced features for modern playing styles. (Remember, we have to view “modern” in the context of the early ’80s).
The Elite series included a Stratocaster, a Telecaster, and a Precision bass. These instruments were available with maple or rosewood fingerboard necks, and came in a wide variety of standard and custom colors. The Elites were introduced in June of 1983 and were dropped by the end of 1984 when CBS put Fender Musical Instruments up for sale.
The Elite Telecaster showcases all the radical (for the time) changes made to the traditional Tele. These include a heavy cast 6-saddle top-loading bridge, noise-cancelling pickups with alnico 2 magnets, active TBX and MDX tone controls capable of creating fat humbucking and cutting single-coil sounds (similar controls continue to be used on the current Eric Clapton Strats), knobs with a serrated rubber insert for easy gripping, and a Gibson-style, 3-way toggle switch. Elite Tele necks featured a Bi-flex truss rod, jumbo frets, and a 12″ radius fretboard.
This one was bought new in Sydney in 1984 and has had only one fastidious owner. It has been well looked after. It is somewhat of a revelation to play, in that while it is comfortable and easy to get around like a traditional Tele, it can produce rich, fat sounds not normally associated with the Telecaster. It has a very Fender feel, but offers a variety of tones from twang to balls-to-the-wall & everything in between.
The pickups are harmonically rich, and the 2 volume, 2 tone control layout offers infinite blending possibilities. The dual noise-canceling Alnico II pickups are described in the ’83 catalog as “preserving the unique Telecaster tone…” but, in reality, the tone doesn’t really have that original Tele twang. But nonetheless, it’s a quality tone, unique to this model and for our tastes, a very good tone that stands on its own.
There are two tiny screw holes in front of the bridge where a Roland guitar synth pickup was installed in a misguided fit of technological creativity sometime in the 90s, but it has since been removed. Apart from that this guitar presents in its original form with no updates or alterations.
It plays well in all postions, and offers a very useable palette of sounds presented in a classy double bound ‘black tuxedo” outfit. Should certainly be of interest to those want the feel of a Fender but with the option of dialling up fat Les Paul-ish tones when desired.
Comes in its original Fender hard case in good condition.