1983 Fender Telecaster ‘Elite’


It may look weird… but this Tele is really good… honest!

While looking through Tym’s on my way home from work a while back, I noticed a weird cream Telecaster on the wall. I recognised it as one of those weird ‘Elite’ series Fenders that were released in the early 80’s, which every now and then one of them pop up in a guitar shop… usually over priced and ignored. The over price thing I think is because they were so expensive when they were released due to them being (at the time) the top of the Fender line, so their owners think they MUST still be worth at least a little more than a standard Fender. That’s the problem, though. Most guitarists WANT a regular Fender… not a Fender with weird looking active pickups and a strange looking tailpiece.

One look at the Elite Precision Bass will show you why.


P Bass players want simplicity… one look at those ugly extra pickups, microswitches and weird bridge saddle mirco adjusters would send me screaming out of the guitar shop.


So, curiosity got the better of me and I tried it out. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. The neck is really nice… that 80’s Fender neck that I love. Slightly chunky but a bit narrow, with a flattish fretboard and almost jumbo frets. This was made in the era before Fender became vintage obsessed and made their necks with tiny vintage frets and clubby neck profiles.

The pickups had been gutted of all the active circuitry… which was probably a good thing. They sounded like really nice p90’s… that single coil sparkle was still there, but with a bit of grunt to back it up with. I have to say though, I doesn’t sound like a Tele at all. That Tele ‘spank’ isn’t there… it sounds more like an SG Special if anything. I think the bridge might have a little to do with that. It’s a pretty heavy block of steel… unlike the usual thin metal Tele bridge plate and barrel saddles, this adds a lot of sustain.


The knobs are kind of updates of the original Stratocaster knobs, but with ribbed rubber inserts and a big Fender ‘F’ stamped on top. I personally don’t like them… but they kind of went with the original Les Paul-like scratchplate this guitar had… which is missing on this example.


The headstock is pure Telecaster, with roller string trees. The machine heads are those screwless square Schallers which Fender used on their top of the line models. They work great, but aren’t very vintage looking. Then I guess, nothing on this guitar was meant to be.


The neck plate is the only place where Fender identified this guitar as part of it’s Elite series. It also has a hole which I presume is for the microadjustment feature, which Fender developed as part of it’s failed 3 bolt neckplate design back in the 70’s.


So, all up this is a great Tele. It doesn’t sound like a Tele… but it feels and sounds great anyway. If it was a lot cheaper (the owner wants $1500… I’d pay maybe $800 for it… tops) this is what I would do to it.


A Tele Deluxe scratchplate and and some 70’s Tele Deluxe knobs would knock back the weird factor a fair bit. Maybe down the track I’d add a Fender Bigsby to it. Then I think I’d be pretty happy with this.