Once in a while a truly great guitar comes through our door, and this one is the top of the Fender totem pole. The “Black Guard” era of fifties Fenders is revered to the extent that there have been books written specifically about the Tele style instruments manufactured from 1950 to 1954 (see “The Blackguard” by Nacho Banos). For 50s Fender aficionados, this a ‘holy grail” piece – an extremely rare 1952 Blackguard Esquire in great condition.
A little history – before the Telecaster and the short-lived Broadcaster, there was the Esquire – Fender’s first production solid-body electric guitar. The original Esquire came out in 1950 and was produced with either one or two pickups. Apart from standardising the two pickup layout, the Broadcaster also introduced a truss rod into the neck when it premiered in autumn of that same year. No Esquires were produced from September 1950 to January 1951, when the model was reintroduced as a single pickup counterpart to the Telecaster, and including a truss rod.
By the mid-’50s, the Esquire design had changed to include a white celluloid pickguard instead of black bakelite. Staggered height pickup poles were also introduced in 1955.
Years of Production: 1950 – 1970
Body Style: Single cutaway solid body
Wood Composition: One piece ash body. One piece maple neck.
Design Elements: One single-coil pickup, black bakelite pickguard, volume and tone controls, 25 1/2-inch scale length, string thru-body
Finish Specifications: Blond was a standard finish for the Esquire.
This 68 year old, well aged blond beauty weighs just 7.32 lbs and has a solid one piece ash body.
One-piece maple neck with a super comfortable soft “C” profile.
No maple cap on this – the frets are stamped directly into the neck.
Black dot position markers.
Single “butterfly” string tree.
Headstock decal in unusual higher position with “Fender” spaghetti logo in silver with black trim and “Esquire” with design & patent numbers in black below it.
Four-bolt neck plate with no serial number
One original single-coil, flat pole-piece pickup, with an output of 6.9 k
Single-layer black bakelite pick-guard with five screws.
Original tone circuit in place
3 way “tone” switch with black plastic barrel tip
Original ashtray bridge cover included
Bridge stamped serial # 3055 = 1952
Neck Date: 23 April 52
So we also know is that Blackguard baby has had an excellent pro refinish and aged relic job done by an expert. Whoever did this work really knew what they were doing – the colour is just right, and it absolutely looks and feels like the finish is 60+ years old.
That’s most of what we do know about this fab guitar. And as any 68 year old would know, sometimes certain parts maybe don’t work as well as they used to or maybe need some cosmetic attention. And that there are a few other possibly non original parts including –
We think the Kluson Deluxe tuners date to 1956 & feature Phillips head screws
Tuner ferrules – faint marks of originals still present on face of headstock
Volume pot is dated 1964. Tone pot is also a later replacement, no codes showing
2 x control knobs
Treble bleed capacitor in place
Pickguard screws x 5
Bridge screws x 4
Saddle screws have been replaced at some point
The number 87 is pressed into the rear of the neck heel, which is likely to be a Fender factory repair number, which may explain some of the odd year parts.
We believe the nut and frets are original and in very good condition – no refret required.
But the best thing about it, beside the Blackguard mystique, is that it plays and sounds simply fantastic. We have had some great old Teles at PREMIER GUITARS over the years, including an original ’51 Nocaster and a 54 Blackguard Tele, and they have each had extraordinary sounding pickups.
But this single Esquire pickup is an absolute beauty. It has quickly become the benchmark pickup in our showroom – there is no modern pickup, Custom Shop or otherwise, that sounds anything like this one. It is super bright, but with a rich, fully loaded bottom end and amazing punch and definition. And loud ??? It reads 6.9 on our meter, but well, you just have to hear it – guaranteed to cut a blazing sonic path right through any mix, that’s for sure.
And don’t let the idea of only one pickup fool you – the ingenious tone circuit and 3 way switch offer quite surprising versatility.
As the saying goes – they don’t make ‘em like this anymore.
Comes in a brown Fender tolex USA case from 1962-63, functional but has seen better days.