Here’s a rarely seen Blackguard dream machine … a guitar that rewrote music history.
A brief history of the early Fender years in Fullerton, California saw the company’s founder working with a number of partners and instrument craftsmen, eventually producing the world’s first commercially viable solid body guitar – the Telecaster. The design was developed between 1940 and 1949, and in 1950 Leo Fender unveiled the initial single-pickup production model, named the Fender Esquire.
Fewer than fifty guitars were originally produced under that name, and most were replaced under warranty because of early manufacturing problems. In particular, the early Esquire necks had no truss rod and many were replaced due to bent necks. Later in 1950, this single-pickup model was discontinued, and a two-pickup model was renamed the Broadcaster. From this point onward all Fender necks incorporated truss rods. The Esquire was reintroduced in 1951 as a single pickup Telecaster, at a lower price.
However, on February 20th, 1951, Fender received a telegram from Fred Gretsch. Gretsch notified Fender that they were in possible copyright infringement due to the trademarked Broadkaster name, which was a line of drums from Gretsch. Starting on February 22nd, Leo Fender had the assembly workers clip the Broadcaster name off the Fender decal. Thus he created one of the most sought after early Fender instruments – the “NoCaster”.
Later in 1951 the guitar was officially renamed as the Telecaster and has been known as such ever since. This period of early Esquires, Broadcasters, Nocasters and Telecasters are referred to as “Blackguards” because of their lovely black phenolic resin pick-guards which are unique to this era.
The term Nocaster was coined by collectors to denote these transitional Fender guitars that appeared without a model name on the headstock. They were manufactured in this form for only a few months very early in the Broadcaster/Telecaster’s history. There are no official production numbers, but experts estimate that fewer than 500 Nocasters were produced. Fender has since registered Nocaster as a trademark to denote its modern replicas of this famous rarity.
As collectors would attest, the likelihood of finding a genuine Fender Nocaster from 1951 in totally original condition is comparable to finding a unicorn holding the Holy Grail at El Dorado. But this is the one.
Bought by its current owner from an indisputably reputable US collector back in the 1990s, this guitar has been stored and left in untouched original condition since then. It has never had a thing changed on it since the day it emerged from the Fender facility in 1951. Even the ashtray bridge cover is accounted for.
Serial number is 1948. Neck date is 10th May 1951. The pot codes cannot be seen as the undisturbed solder work obscures them. The 3 way switch is stamped CRL1452.
Weighing in at only 7.1 lbs, this beautiful piece of Fender history is light and resonant, and sounds like only an early 50s Blackguard can.
In his book “The Blackguard” Nacho Banos has written the authoritative history of these instruments. And we quote – “this is the first and, to many the most memorable of Leo’s creations. It represents the beauty of simplicity. For never has anything been conceived with less complexity, yet turned out to be so wonderfully complete. There is nothing banal or artificial about it. It is the perfect balance of functionality and creative design” – Nacho Banos, The Blackguard.
We couldn’t agree more.
To find an instrument from this period remaining in unchanged original condition for over 65 years is a minor miracle. But here it is.
A huge bonus is that it comes with its original Fender “thermometer” case in great condition.