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The Tale of the Tele Custom

The 1970s were a confusing time for everyone, but 1972 was an especially perplexing year. While kids everywhere jostled one other in front of the TV set for a chance to play the first iteration of Pong, adults everywhere saw the tale of the Watergate scandal unfold on the evening news.

The musical world was in tumult, too, and the upheaval caught Fender off guard. Led Zeppelin had dethroned the Beatles as the biggest band on Earth, and David Bowie debuted a new stage persona modeled after Lou Reed and Iggy Pop that he called Ziggy Stardust. The sound of a humbucker-equipped guitar plugged into a Marshall amplifier was the de facto sound of rock and roll, and Fender was nervous that their single-coils wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demands of rockers looking for meaty tones.

Stealing Seth

So, the geniuses at Fender worked out a plan: they’d entice legendary pickup-winding wizard Seth Lover to jump ship from Gibson to Fender and have him design a world-beating humbucking pickup. Then, they’d develop a Telecaster that bore a passing resemblance to Keith Richards’s legendary blackguard named Micawber (a Tele routed for a humbucker in the neck position).

They executed their scheme to perfection, and the legend of the ’72 Telecaster Custom was born. The pickups that Seth Lover designed for these terrifying Teles—which he dubbed Wide-Range Humbuckers—have such an incomparable tone that original examples sometimes fetch three, four, or even five hundred dollars on the open marketplace.

And they deserve their price tag and their reputation, because they’re a big part of the Tele Custom’s magic. Wide-Range humbuckers sound unlike any other double-coil pickup on the planet. They have a remarkably snappy attack, whereas more traditional PAF-style ‘buckers give the front end of your notes a rounder, more pillowy quality.

After that unmistakably crisp attack, the Wide-Range humbucker sings with a voice that is warm and creamy yet clear and articulate, and it has an open, airy top-end. You can get a delightfully rich, full sound out of a Wide-Range, but they never sound muddy or flabby. Even in the neck position, you can strum away on open chords through an overdriven amp and hear every note ring out clearly.

A Rock and Roll Duet

This thick-yet-crystalline tone works beautifully with the snappy, sizzling midrange bite of the traditional Tele bridge pickup, and these complementary voicings make this guitar quite versatile. You have all of your jangle, bite, and squawk in your bridge pickup, and a perfect thick rock tone in your neck position.

Speaking of pickup selection, Tele Custom’s extra set of tone and volume controls allow you to dial in some extraordinarily cool tones in the middle position—one of the Wildwood Staff’s favorite tricks is to roll back the tone all the way on the bridge pickup to get a scorching take on Clapton’s “Woman Tone.”

Thinskin for the Win

Given the storied history of these six-strings, it was an enormous honor to work with Fender to help design a ’72 Telecaster Custom for our line of Thin Skins. We believe that the modern Wide Range Humbucking pickup in the neck position captures the essence of the vintage originals with exceptional accuracy, to say nothing of the screaming tones produced by the hand-wound Twisted Tele in the bridge.

Of course, the lightweight ash bodies come with a thin nitrocellulose finish, just like a Fender from the 1950s. This allows the bodies to “breathe” and resonate more freely, giving you fuller, more three-dimensional tone and longer sustain.

Despite their vintage roots, these Teles are as modern as can be when it comes to feel. The ‘70s-style D-shaped neck has plenty of shoulder to dig into for big bends, and it is just as comfortable for those who employ a more traditional thumb-in-the-middle left-hand technique as it is for those who wrap their thumbs over the top of the fretboard a la Hendrix. It also sports a modern 9.5” radius and 6105 frets, so modern players with a taste for vintage mojo will feel right at home.

We invite you to experience the magic of 1972 by playing one of these terrific Telecaster Customs. They prove that musical tumult can inspire innovation of the highest order, and we believe that their singular yet versatile voice will motivate you to stretch your practice sessions out for hours on end every time you pick one up. We cannot wait to see what glorious fretboard adventures they inspire you to embark upon.


ModelAmerican Vintage Thin Skin '72 Telecaster Custom
Finish ColorTransparent Crimson Red
Finish TypeThin Skin Nitrocellulose Lacquer
Weight8.05 lbs.
Body WoodAsh
Neck WoodMaple
Neck ShapeD Profile
Neck Dimensions.850 1st - .890 12th
Fingerboard Radius9.5"
Scale Length25.5"
Width at Nut1.650"
Frets21 6105 Narrow-Tall
PickupsFender Wide Range Humbucker (neck), Custom Shop Twisted Tele (bridge)
Controls2 Volume, 2 Tone, 3-Way Switch
Bridge3-Saddle American Vintage Strings-Through-Body Tele with Solid Barrel Steel Saddles
TunersFender Vintage-Style F-Stamped
CaseBlack Hardshell Case

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Serial Number: V08316

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