Friday, July 20, 2012

Fender TL52-80 Telecaster Guitar Review

Hi there!

By now, you all know that I love both Telecasters and Japanese guitars, so when those two planets align I must be in heaven. Check out today’s answer to my prayers: a Japan-built Fender TL52-80 Telecaster. This is a fairly faithful recreation of a 1952 Telecaster, and gives the performance of the American-made reissues at a fraction of the cost. I picked this non-export model on a business trip to Japan, and will be selling it pretty soon as I recently happened upon a factory “Micawber” Tele.

As this is a model TL52-80, it is one of the more expensive models. The “80” in the name designates 80,000 Yen, which is a little over a thousand bucks right now. And Japanese music shops don’t bargain much from list price. The serial number on the back of the neck has a Q Crafted in Japan prefix, dating this to 2003 (or so) according to Fender’s website. Do not be distracted by the extra serial number on the bridge. Every 52 RI Japanese Tele I have seen has an extra A-prefix serial number stamped into the bridge.

This one has a stunning transparent finish over the ash body. There must be a lot of quality injected into that wood, because this is a pretty heavy guitar, weighing more than my Les Paul. Wow.

The neck is a peach with a period-correct water transfer label and a v-profile. The frets are normal-size and are very well finished. The neck pocket to body fit is very precise, showing the fine craftsmanship that went into building this instrument.

The hardware is faithful, with a classy single-ply black pickguard, and a traditional tele bridge with 3 brass saddles. The tuners are the vintage in-line type, and they hold fine. In keeping with the 1952 Tele these, there are flat head screws everywhere, and not a single Phillips head in sight.

The pickups appear to be original to the guitar, but I am not sure if they are from Fender Japan or Fender USA. They sound great, and this thing will kill any Stratocaster on the block. Taking the control cover off, you will find that this is wired like a modern tele, but still uses vintage-type cloth-covered wiring.

It is in fabulous original shape, with no modification, not a lot of play wear, and no major dings or scratches. It plays great and will make its new owner very happy. Drop me a line if you are interested…



  1. Very Nice! I have an identical one from 80's MIJ with Custom Shop PUP in Bridge. Neck is stamped TL-52-80. 2- 250k CTS pots. I needed to change the selector switch to U.S made. Otherwise this baby is beautiful and great tone!

  2. That's odd, my '99 TL52-80 is a whopping six pounds. I put Ron Ellis '52 Blackguard pickups in it and it's for sale...for a MILLION DOLLARS! I'll never let this guitar go.