Honoring History: The 70th Anniversary Fender Broadcaster
Derided by some at first, the Fender Broadcaster changed the world of music in 1950 as the world's first dual-pickup electric Spanish guitar.
By Mike Duffy
Even though it was derided by some upon its debut in the fall of 1950, the Fender Broadcaster forever changed the world of music.
The dream began in the 1940s, a time when Fender guitars were primarily of the lap steel variety. The company sought to create a practical electric Spanish-style guitar meant to be played upright that was both easy to manufacture and easy for the working musician to maintain.
The result was new and unusual. Although electrified guitars had been around in various forms since the 1920s, Fender worked throughout the close of the 1940s and the earliest dawn of the new decade to perfect something that really didn’t exist before — a mass-produced solid-body electric guitar.
Upon its debut, some called it a "boat paddle" or a "snow shovel," but once musicians got it into their hands, they soon realized the gift they had been given.
Dubbed the Broadcaster, this instrument was well-designed, eminently playable, efficient, rugged, affordable and, above all, great-sounding.
Boasting an ash body with a translucent blonde nitrocellulose finish, a sturdy maple neck with rear-installed truss rod for solid stability (with a walnut “skunk stripe”), a single-ply black phenolic pickguard, two loud-and-clear pickups and versatile wiring for three distinctive tone settings, the Broadcaster eventually vaulted Fender into the mainstream electric gutiar conversation.
It's moniker, however, would not last long.
Soon after its introduction, a telegram from Gretsch, owner of the BroadKaster trademark, ended Fender’s use of the name. For a short time, the word "Broadcaster" was simply clipped off the headstock decal, and a guitar with this distinction became known as a "Nocaster."
Thereafter, this revolutionary guitar was dubbed the Telecaster, a name all too familiar today. Meanwhile, the brief run of original Broadcaster models, of which only 250 are thought to have been produced, have become highly collectible.
To celebrate seven decades of this groundbreaking guitar, the Fender 70th Anniversary Broadcaster harkens back to the remarkable origins of this iconic model.
Features include an ash body with Blackguard Blonde lacquer finish, period-correct black phenolic pickguard, thick "U"-shaped neck, Custom Shop-designed '50-'51 Blackguard pickups, special anniversary neck plate, embroidered case and a custom COA.
The controls are wired for standard Telecaster operation, while an optional original Broadcaster wiring kit, included in the case, can be installed to replicate the unique "blend" circuit used in original Broadcasters.
In addition, the Fender Custom Shop is offering a Limited Edition 70th Anniversary Broadcaster with a two-piece select ash body with off-center seam, available in four different Custom Shop aging packages — NOS Time Capsule, Journeyman Relic®, Relic and Heavy Relic — all finished in the original “flash coat” lacquer.
The one-piece rift-sawn maple neck has a 1950 Broadcaster profile, 7.25”-9.5” vintage compound-radius fingerboard and 21 medium vintage frets. Other features include hand-wound ’50-’51 Blackguard pickups with ’51 modded “Nocaster” wiring (similar to the original, with blender pot and slightly brighter rhythm setting in the neck position).
The Broadcaster made quite an impact in its brief existence, and it continues to do so today.