Monday, September 1, 2008

1971 Black Fender Telecaster Thinline

This story shapes up to be a little embarrassing to tell, but the guitar is so cool...and I REALLY wish I had it back...that I will tell it anyway. Hey, we've all had our problems. I live in the San Diego area known as North County. As the name implies, we're still in San Diego county, but north of the city of San Diego itself. This puts us in pretty close proximity to Los Angeles and some of the cool vintage guitar stores around L.A. At least the ones that used to be there...last time I was up that way they seemed to have disappeared for the most part. One day I headed up to the Hollywood area to look around at Guitars'R'Us (Bruce Springsteen was in there when I walked in...he was friendly and we even talked about a particular Tele on the wall). Around the corner from G'R'Us was a place called Voltage, which always had SOMETHING I wanted, and there is Freedom Guitar on the corner...a store I dislike quite a bit. They also have a store in San Diego and my personal experience at both stores has been a staff that is less than helpful, a bit arrogant, and prices that are less than desirable. But how do you really feel?

Anyway, Springsteen left the store and after a few minutes I decided to go down to Voltage to see what they had. I had some money in my pocket to buy a pretty nice guitar, but was trying to be very patient and not just buy the first thing I saw. I turned the corner and saw The Boss walking into Voltage. I didn't want him to think I was stalking him, but I did want to check out the guitars. When I walked in the door I saw my favorite electric guitar I have ever owned. It was a black vintage Telecaster Thinline. I'm guessing here, but I think this was around 1995 or so. It was slightly relic'd looking from wear and tear, but in pretty good shape overall. It sounded fantastic and played perfectly. Great action and the pickups had that sweet Tele spank. I have been a Thinline fan for years and always wanted a black one. Most of the vintage models you see are sunburst or natural, so the black was a custom color at the time. I later added a vintage italian pin-up water decal on the front...I know, it's not original and may cut the value, but I was planning on keeping this one forever. FOR EVER. If I remember correctly, the pin-up girl was on a blue flower.

Have you seen this guitar? Can you send me photos? Or sell it back to me?

On my way home I stopped in a store in Huntington Beach to try out a Way Huge pedal (they were new at the time). The singer for Los Lobos walked in and was looking around. He saw me strumming my new guitar, checking out the pedals and came over and asked about the Thinline. I told him I had just bought it up at Voltage. He asked if maybe I'd be interested in selling. Man, I'd only had it a couple of hours and famous people were trying to buy it right out of my hands. No sale.

When I bought it the guy told me it was a '69, though I later found out it was a '71 (if memory serves me correctly). This didn't matter to me that much until the fateful day I had to sell it. I work as a graphic designer (for the amazing Tony Hawk these days) and, at the time, I was working for Snowboarder Magazine. For a couple of years prior to that I only did freelance work and had not been good about paying my taxes (yes, here's the embarrassing part). So, one day, just after payday, I go to get my rent money out of the bank and find out I have a balance of zero. What the F? Turns out the nice folks at the IRS had taken all the money out of my bank account. With a 3-year old daughter to house and feed, and being a single dad, I had no choice...sell the guitar. AAAAHHH. Luckily I had a back-up guitar to get me through, but this was the most painful loss of a guitar I ever had. And there was nothing I could do about it.

I went down to the local guitar store to see if he was interested in a sweet, vintage custom color Thinline Tele and, of course, he was. We struck a deal for less than I had paid for it, but what was mostly fair under the circumstances. Of course, since it had turned out to be a '71 rather than a '69 there was some loss of value there. But I practically cried when I walked out the door. That guitar was just me. I loved everything about it. Man, I wish I had that one back.

Note: I don't have actual photos of this one, so I have found a few that match up pretty well. If you know the guitar I'm talking about (it's pretty distinctive) send me a photo!


Keith said...

Being that I've only plucked around with one at a Guitar Center (where cavernous space = fantastic acoustics!), what's the advantage to a Thinline over a regular Tele? Is there better bass response and resonance with the semi-hollow body? Is it, if you had to pare down to absolutely one guitar, loud enough to be a decent practice acoustic?

Jaimie Muehlhausen said...

I'll be completely honest and tell you that I can't put my finger on the sound differences...I've had Thinlines with humbuckers and Thinlines with standard single coils and so really they all sort of run the gamut in sound qualities. I can tell you that (obviously) they are lighter in weight and slightly more prone to feedback with the hollow body chamber...not enough to worry about. I wouldn't really count on it acoustically other than sitting on your bed strumming though. As with many guitars, I like the way they look and, although it shouldn't count at all, it definitely counts for something with me.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jaimie. I have one EXACTLY like it.

Jaimie Muehlhausen said...

Hey, how about a photo?