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Vintage & Rare guitar of the week: 1955 Fender Esquire single pickup wonder


I found the gorgeous Fender Esquire from 1955 being sold via our good friends at Vintage & Rare after Guitarz reader Andrew suggested that I feature one of these all too forgotten Fenders, a guitar that has unjustly languished in the shadows of the Telecaster despite being a pretty damn nifty guitar in its own right.

It seems Andrew is quite the fan, as he waxes lyrical about this often neglected Fender in his email to me:
During one of my slow days (all of them around this time of year) I decided to plough through your archives and check out some unique guitars. While doing this I realised you had left something out. This something? An Important piece of guitar history and an extremely odd and unique guitar. The Fender Esquire.

Yes, it is a mass produced guitar, yes it made by Fender, yes it is only available in fairly dull standard spec or ludicrously expensive VOS spec (spec not needed I know, VOS says it all). But it is underappreciated and relatively unknown. Its most famous users are Syd Barratt and Bruce Springsteen for god's sake!

It was the ORIGINAL Solid-Body Guitar, produced before the Telecaster in both single and dual pickup models. But it is the single pickup model which is unique. Not only did it originally ship without a truss rod in the neck, its seemingly superfluous pickup selector allowed tonal modification on a guitar in the most elegantly simple of ways, and still remains an underused feature among many single pickup guitars. As you may well know, the switch modifies 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 are bypassed entirely for "hotter" lead tone. This is something you still don't see very often on guitars. It's studio varitone before studio varitone!

You need to feature this guitar for one reason above all: to stop complete *&$£@#s of vintage guitar collectors from taking advantage of the unused neck pup routing (it had the same routig as a Tele) and converting vintage 50s/60s models to a Telecaster setup through the addition of a lipstick pickup and the removal of the tonal circutry. We don't need more damn Springsteen-style Esquires!
Thanks for that, Andrew. That is what we need more of on this blog: passion! The Esquire pictured above looks to be in great condition for a guitar from 1955, although it appears to be missing its original "ash tray" bridge/pickup cover. It's currently available for purchase via Vintage & Rare priced at €17,000.

G L Wilson

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