Fender Telecaster's. Why did the original, mass produced, affordable Tele become so expensive?

monty

Member
Messages
25,378
It was not especially affordable to start. People made less back then, too. In 1950, a Tele cost about $170 + $40 for a case. $210 in 1950 is a little shy of $2500 today. Add in imported options and the guitar has actually gotten much, much more affordable.
Spot on! Lots of great affordable Fender/Squier Teles available nowadays, and that is the reason a lot of us have at least a couple of them. Back then you would be hard pressed to find a non-touring musician with more than one.
 

sanhozay

klon free since 2009
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
12,277
because fender's parent's yearly revenue is 2 billion dollars.

a small american manufacturing company that did what Leo fender accomplished is an untenable proposal in today's marketplace.

the current state of american made instruments is sliced into niche demographics and the price of doing business becomes a very simple math equation for the small business owner.

fender makes great stuff still but they are run vastly different than what's associated with the logo.
 

TheBuffalo

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,696
They didn't. If you adjusted for inflation, the first teles probably cost in a similar price range to an American Professional.

Okay, so there's fancy pants custom ones too, but there's also a ton of teles that cost less than they used to, especially Squires.

There were custom ones back then too. I wonder how much more a custom color was
 

cr1961

Member
Messages
1,049
Inflation is real and things weren’t that much more expensive, if at all, in straight dollar value back then.

However, our wages have not kept up with inflation.

Both of these things can be true and give the illusion that something like an $1800 Tele is expensive.

I also know that I personally scored a road worn Tele for $500 right before the pandemic which seems like one of the luckier gear buys I’ve had. I feel like I can’t get rid of it even if I just play it once in a while when the Tele urge strikes.
 

bobcs71

Member
Messages
6,112
It didn't.

In 1951, so far as I can tell, a new Telecaster cost $169.95.

In 2022 dollars, that's $1854.52.

So the 2022 American Professional II Telecaster, at about $1700, costs about the same, maybe slightly less, than the original 1951 Telecaster.

I'm without any data about what the median sold model of a Telecaster is in 2022, but I guess, and it's only a guess, that the median sold model is below the level of the American Professional II.

So perhaps the real question is, why did the price of the Telecaster rise more slowly than inflation?
Agree! My US Tele is right in line.
Now you can also get more cost effective options.
 

slowdived

Silver Supporting Member
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55
Mainly because other brands' guitars got considerably worse from Chinafication of everything.
 

andrekp

Member
Messages
6,775
What you need to wonder is if what you say is true, why everyone doesn’t just buy a Squier or one of the many Tele type guitars that cost considerably less than the Fender American ones?

Either it’s because what you say about the nature of Teles is false, or

People are just sheep.

I think is more the second one than the first. Some people just will not accept that the Tele can be made both great and cheap. I’m talking on an individual basis. Other people, even guitar players, just don’t know a thing important about guitars and just buy what someone tells them to.
 
Messages
2
I'm liking this thread trend. The thought of a DIY TELE style, flame maple neck on a Butterscotch body with noiseless singles makes sense to me dollar wise. There will be compromises in my case in pursuit:
I already own a fair amount of luthier specific hand tools, a compressor and several pro spray guns from a lifetime of building and repairing stuff for a living but draw the line on slotting, fretting and shaping of body and neck - don't have the pro shop grade saws, routers and drum sanders to pull that off but I COULD build a really nice Tele from parts, agreed, around $850 - 1000 finishes and all without making all that sawdust.
I own branded Fender, Gibson, Epiphone and Martin instruments that I'm convinced a carefully built DIY Tele would stand alongside quite well if I did a good job, the only type of job to do. Worth a try.
 

RJLII

Member
Messages
10,659
Why did the handy, affordable pickup truck turn into a $100K behemoth?
Yup. In 1976 Dad got a new 1/2 ton Chevy with a V8 and full size bed for the farm. As I recall it cost about $3,800. I work with a number of guys that drive the big dollar trucks. They’re really nice but oh so spendy! I saved money and bought a BMW instead :rolleyes:.
 

deceased

Member
Messages
642
Inflation and the Ash Boring Beetle.
All this inflation talk seems like corporate greed apologism. Lots of these companies are making record profits and they’re choosing to raise prices because they can. Same with oil companies, same with grocery stores. It’s all part of shifting wealth towards the elites. Might as well tell it like it is.
 
M

Member 1963

They are priced at what you and I will pay while maintaining max profit for $ spent. Pretty simple really.
 

deceased

Member
Messages
642
It didn't.

In 1951, so far as I can tell, a new Telecaster cost $169.95.

In 2022 dollars, that's $1854.52.

So the 2022 American Professional II Telecaster, at about $1700, costs about the same, maybe slightly less, than the original 1951 Telecaster.

I'm without any data about what the median sold model of a Telecaster is in 2022, but I guess, and it's only a guess, that the median sold model is below the level of the American Professional II.

So perhaps the real question is, why did the price of the Telecaster rise more slowly than inflation?
It’s vastly easier to make a telecaster now than it was back then, so the price should be commensurate. Most of it is done by computers. The savings are not passed on to the customer at all. There’s no reason a Tele should cost 2x what it did around 10 years ago.
 
Messages
36
When it comes to Teles I don't even bother with off the shelf guitars anymore. You can assemble an awesome Tele for around $850 in parts. And that includes quality hardware, pickups, & control components, as well as a finished body and a decent neck. Add a bit more if you want a higher end neck or exotic wood.
And to end up with a quality guitar for that price is an inexpensive alternative in today's guitar world. Plus, it will play and sound just as good, if not better than a factory Tele.
I built a Esquire from NEW OEM Fender Telecaster USA Parts and spent $1300. Try buying a NEW USA Fender Esquire for $1300.
 




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