On removing the ’52 from its case, the nitrocellulose lacquer has that familiar aroma and slight stickiness, although initial impressions are that the butterscotch finish applied to the one-piece ash body is just a touch too dark in hue and too thick and glass-like to really capture that vintage vibe in the way that the Custom Shop Time Machine Fenders do.
That said, an NOS Nocaster will set you back £2099, so therein lies the difference. If you like the aged look, then the only answer that doesn’t involve sandpaper is to distress it the old-fashioned way… by gigging the hell out of it! So, rather than evoking the worn-in comfort of your favourite pair of jeans or an old leather jacket, there’s something a little stiff and new about the immediate feel of this guitar.
The ’52’s vintage profile frets are immaculately fitted with no sharp ends, yet the gauge of the fretwire seems a fraction fatter and a little closer to medium than some we’ve encountered. But there are plenty of impressively vintage-accurate features and the attention to detail is apparent in the choice of slot rather than crosshead screws, even down to the neck bolts and tuner screws.
The neck itself is one piece of maple with traces of a light flame on the back, while the ‘U’ profile is a decent rounded palm-full, without quite being as chunky as the Nocaster spec. With a less flat playing surface than most modern Teles, the ’52 fights back deliciously and provides the perfect platform for emotive lead playing and gritty, aggressive rhythms.
The ’52’s wiring is authentic, and may prove somewhat alien to even die-hard Telecaster fans. Instead of the usual bridge, both pickups in parallel and neck selections, from right to left we get the bridge single-coil, neck pickup and a second, woollier version of the neck unit; a lower output pseudo bass tone dating back to 1950, a year before a certain Clarence Fender finalised his Precision Bass design.