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The so-called Nocaster was a short-lived variant of what is now known as the Fender Telecaster, the original solid-body electric guitar created by Leo Fender. The Nocaster, produced in early to mid-1951, was the result of legal action from the Gretsch company over the guitar's previous name, the Broadcaster (Gretsch already had the "Broadkaster" name registered for a line of drums). In the interim, before Fender had come up with an alternate name and printed appropriately revised headstock decals, factory workers simply snipped the "Broadcaster" name from its existing stock of decals, so guitars with these decals are identified simply as "Fender", without any model name. By the summer of 1951 the guitar was officially renamed as the Telecaster and has been known as such ever since.
The term Nocaster was originally coined by collectors to denote these transitional guitars that appeared without a model name on the headstock. Since they were manufactured in this form for only a few months very early in the Broadcaster/Telecaster's history, original Nocasters are highly prized and expensive collector's items. There are no official production numbers, but experts estimate that fewer than 500 Nocasters were produced.
Fender has since registered Nocaster as a trademark to denote its modern replicas of this famous rarity. These period-accurate recreations feature the original Broadcaster/Telecaster internal wiring scheme, which incorporates an unusual tone circuit. There is no conventional tone control in this setup; however, as in later Telecasters, a three-position lever switch is used to switch between pickups. In position 1, a potentiometer blends the neck and bridge pickup signals to vary the tone. Positions 2 and 3 select the neck pickup in either bright or dark tone (the equivalent of a tone control being fully clockwise or counterclockwise, respectively), but nothing in between. The neck of the guitar is considerably thicker than modern equivalents and the maple-fretboard has a vintage size small radius of 7,25 inches, which stands in contrast to the more common flatter fingerboard radius typically found today. The Nocaster is famous for intense blues, country and rock tones but has also been used successfully for jazz and all other genres of electric guitar music.
The '51 Nocaster reissue is a model currently offered by Fender's Custom Shop through certain dealers in North America.
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