James Burton Telecaster

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The James Burton Telecaster is a Signature/Artist Series electric guitar made by Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. The guitar is available in two models, Upgrade and Standard, and both were designed by American country-rock guitarist James Burton along with Dan Smith at Fender. Both models are patterned after mid-century Fender Telecaster guitars played by Burton during his long career with Ricky Nelson, Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, John Denver and many other well-known artists.

James Burton Telecaster Upgrade[edit]

James Burton - Live in Concert with his current Upgrade model Telecaster

The original Upgrade was introduced in 1991 and had a poplar body, three Lace Sensor pickups (models Blue at the neck, Silver in the middle and Red at the bridge) and a treble/bass expander (TBX) tone control. The TBX was a dual function stacked potentiometer tone control. From settings 1 to 5, the TBX responded like a normal tone control and routed the signal through a 250k pot with a shunt .022uF capacitor to cut treble. Settings 6 to 10 routed the signal directly through a 1 meg pot which supposedly cut bass, although how this was to be accomplished without a series capacitor remains a mystery. This model was available in Black/Gold Paisley, Black/Candy Red Paisley, Pearl White and Frost Red.[1]

The current Upgrade model features a solid basswood body finished in solid Olympic Pearl, or with a flame design in Red Paisley or Blue Paisley on a black background. This model is based on a 1969 Paisley Red model Telecaster (popularly called Pink Paisley) that Burton played while touring with Elvis Presley from 1969 to 1977.[2] The neck is the same as the Standard model. The electronics include three specially designed James Burton blade single-coil pickups (mounted similar to the Stratocaster layout) and a 5-way "Strat-o-Tele" pickup selector with an S-1 switching system that allows a wide variety of pickup tones. The hardware includes a gold-plated hard-tail Strat bridge, gold-plated Schaller die-cast tuners with black or pearl buttons and gold-plated tone and volume knobs.[3] The current Upgrade model was designed to commemorate a 2005 benefit concert for the James Burton Foundation in Shreveport, Louisiana.[4] This model is made in USA.

James Burton Standard Telecaster[edit]

The Standard model of the James Burton Telecaster was introduced in 1996 and features a solid alder body finished in Candy Apple Red with a 1-ply white pickguard. This model was inspired by Burton's third guitar, the 1953 Telecaster that he played on the seminal 1957 recording of "Susie Q" with Dale Hawkins.[4] The neck is a 1-piece maple 1960s vintage U-shape design with a satin finish and 1950s-style decals. The hardware includes a vintage six-saddle Telecaster bridge, a pair of Texas Special Tele single-coil pickups, a three-way switch and vintage chrome Ping tuners. This instrument is made in Mexico.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "James Burton Telecaster". Internet Archive Wayback Machine. 1999-04-23. Archived from the original on 1999-04-23. Retrieved 2009-02-19. 
  2. ^ Duchossoir, A.R. (1991). The Fender Telecaster: The Detailed Story of America's Senior Solid Body Electric Guitar. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation. p. 23. ISBN 0-7935-0860-6. 
  3. ^ "James Burton Telecaster (Upgrade)". Fender Musical Instruments Corp. Retrieved 2008-12-04. 
  4. ^ a b Cashmere, Tim (2006-08-18). "Legendary Guitarist James Burton Talks Elvis, Ricky Nelson and Guitars". Elvis Australia. Retrieved 2008-12-05. 
  5. ^ "James Burton Standard Telecaster". Fender Musical Instruments Corp. Retrieved 2008-12-04.