Fender | Esquire 1950s
- Solid Body
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Following the renaming of the dual pickup Broadcaster, production and promotion of the single pickup Esquire was briefly discontinued. It was reintroduced with a truss rod in January 1951. The only external differences between these second generation Esquires and the Broadcasters and Telecasters of 1951 are the lack of a neck pickup, and the Esquire label on the head. Although the Esquire had only a single pickup, it retained the three-way switch of the two-pickup guitars. This switch modified the tone of the pickup by making it bassier in the forward position, while enabling use of the tone control knob in the middle position. With the switch in the rear position, these tone controls were bypassed entirely for a “hotter” lead tone.
Like the two-pickup guitar, these Esquires had a routed cavity in the neck pickup position. Thus, with the purchase of a neck pickup and replacement or modification of the pickguard, players could upgrade their instrument to a guitar identical to the Telecaster in every respect except for the model decal. Bruce Springsteen, for example, has long played an Esquire modified in this way. Springsteen has claimed that the guitar he is pictured with on the Born To Run album cover is, in fact, a hybrid of two guitars, a Telecaster body and Esquire neck. However, it is actually a first-generation Esquire with two pickup routs. The Esquires had Esquire pickguards to cover the neck pickup rout; Springsteen’s guitar has a neck pickup installed, but not connected.
The initial rationale for reintroducing the single pickup Esquire in 1951 had been to offer a more affordable option for musicians who could not afford the two-pickup guitar. However, with the introduction of cheaper student models such as the Mustang, the more expensive Esquire became a less attractive option, and it was sold in smaller and smaller quantities. Consequently, Fender discontinued the Esquire in 1969.
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