Saturday, July 11, 2015

1994 Fender TL52-88TX Telecaster Guitar Review


When it comes to guitars, I am a huge Telecaster fan and I love Japanese guitars, so when these two things are combined it is pure bliss! Today we are going to look over another perfect combo: a Japan-built Fender 1994 TL52-88TX 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 Keith Richards “Sunny” Tele.

As this is a model TL52-88TX, it is one of the more expensive models. The “88” in the name designates 88,000 Yen, which is a around $715 right now ($838 in 1994). And Japanese music shops don’t bargain much from list price. The serial number on the back of the neck has a Made in Japan T prefix, dating this to 1994 (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 transparent finish over the nicely figured ash body (northern light ash, I believe). It is a tad porky for a Tele, coming in at a touch over 8 pounds, but it is not nearly as heavy as a lot of these I have seen (10 pounds plus, in some cases).

The 25 ½-inch scale neck is a peach with a period-correct water transfer label but with a more modern oval profile. It has a 42mm nut (I hate using inches for nut measurements) and a 7 ¼-inch fretboard radius; the 21 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 Kluson 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 are original to the guitar, and they are super-hot Fender USA Texas Specials which give it the TX in the model designation. 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 (volume/tone/3-way switch), but still uses vintage-type cloth-covered wiring.

It is in fabulous original shape, with no modifications or repairs, 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…


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