Vintage Hot Rod ’52 Telecaster Review

In the late forties the Fender Telecaster changed the life of gigging guitarists as we know it. Gone were the problems normally associated with howling hollow bodied guitars and guitarists finally had an instrument that could be amplified easily and heard at high volume levels. Despite initial skepticism from traditional guitarists the instrument soon took off, to launch the solid bodied guitar boom.


Keeping this in mind the instrument we are reviewing today is based on one of Fender’s most popular models the ’52 Reissue, but now updated under its new vintage hot rod range.

Introduced in January 2007 this particular Telecaster fuses the classic 50s look with modern features to create a unique instrument with a vintage vibe whilst remaining playable by today’s standards.

Stand out features include; the Seymour Duncan Mini-Humbucker at the neck, and a custom vintage Tele pickup in the bridge. These are selected via the usual Telecaster 3-way blade switch. This guitar also carries Fender’s recent “Thin-Skin" Nitrocellulose Lacquer finish, a thinner layer of Nitrocellulose than on other vintage reissue guitars. This is so as to allow the wood to breathe and age more naturally whilst aiding resonance. I actually was able to compare the finish on my instrument to a regular ‘52 RI and the finish on the original ’52 is noticeably thicker

Cosmetically the Tele is finished in butterscotch blonde, whilst the maple neck is satin backed, carrying medium jumbo frets with a flatter than usual radius. Vintage style tuners compliment the headstock and one lone round string retainer completes the package.

The Tele also sports a period correct, 5 screw black pickguard. All the hardware except for the brass compensated saddles, are finished in chrome.


How a guitar sounds can be difficult to describe.  Using a standard USA Telecaster as a reference this one can be described as more raunchy and gritty. The bridge pickup provides the well known treble twang of a Tele whilst still sounding refined, whilst the Mini Humbucker gives gritty powerful dark tones.

Have a listen to sample1 (Hot Rod) and sample2 (RI) and see the comparison between the Hot Rod Tele. and a standard ’52 Vintage Reissue.

The neck profile is meaty but comfortable and the larger frets and flatter radius give this Tele a modern feel.

Fit and Finish

As usual with USA Fenders, everything fits well and no one could really fault the quality of this instrument.


A great Telecaster, to take this incredible instrument further on its journey through the decades.

By Ernest H Slade