James Burton's 1952 Tele - The Beginning of the Telecaster Craze

April 17, 2020

Young Teen with a blackguard

Playing with Linda Brannon

Another with Linda

"James" on the pickguard, and looks as though the sides are painted.

Colorized photo from "Carnival Rock"

Modified again with Bob Luman on the Hayride

Hayride with David Houston

Live with Ricky Nelson

This color photo from 1959 finally shows what was up. He crudely painted the headstock and body. A bit of overspray on the neck.

Final incarnation. Red with a white guard

James with the 52 & Don Everly on a 335, mid-60s.

With Elvis in Vegas, 1969. These are the final shows before he retires the guitar for the 1969 paisley Tele he would use through 1989.

Recent shot of JB with his 1952 Tele

Photo of the guitar in 2022, while on display at the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN

round top early 50s knobs with a replacement later top hat switch

Replaced steel saddles, yet with original plate and flatpole pickup

Later string tree.

Body Shot

The strange Tele/Strat James used some on Shindig


Despite claims, this is not the 52 on the "Corn Pickn'" album cover. This is a 1966 Tele in red with a maple cap neck. Notice 3-ply guard, and placement of logo and string tree.

The history of James Burton's iconic 1952 Telecaster. From his parent's purchase of it in 1952, through all of the aesthetic variations it underwent until its current incarnation of a red finish and a white pickguard.  

Gear Used:

1957 Fender Esquire with a 1954 neck pickup, and original bridge pickup. Restoration and aging on the body by Dan "Danocaster" Strain. Both pickups were rewound by Ron Ellis. Pickguard design by Jay & Kristi Smith of Juicebox Designs.

Strings: D'Addario NYXL 10-46

Pick: Blue Chip TPR 35

Amp: 2021 Fender Handwired 64 Princeton Reverb with a Jensen Neo 10-100 speaker.

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