The first thing to clear up for a Fender 70th Anniversary Broadcaster review is that old question, what exactly is a Fender Broadcaster?
In short, the Broadcaster is the original Telecaster. This was the name Fender chose for their groundbreaking dual-pickup electric guitar that would change the world of music. However, Gretsch thought the name was too similar to their BroadKaster drums and threatened with legal action.
Subsequently, Fender soon came up with a new name: Telecaster. But in the interim, they resorted to cutting the “Broadcaster” from their decals. This is how the now-revered “Nocasters” came to be.
Production of Broadcasters and “Nocasters” only lasted for a few months, and there are only an estimated 250 original Broadcasters in existence. And over the decades, the Telecaster formula changed. But Fender is bringing back the original design for the Telecaster’s 70-year celebrations and adding just a pinch of Custom Shop improvement.
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Fender 70th Anniversary Broadcaster Physical Features
- Body material: Ash
- Scale length: 25.5” (648mm)
- Neck: Maple, Modern C-profile
- Fretboard: Compound radius Maple
- Frets: 21 Medium Vintage
- Nut width: 1.63” (41.4mm)
- Nut material: Bone
- Pickups: 2 Custom Shop Hand-Wound Single-coils
- Tuners: Vintage-style
The one-piece maple neck has a classic ’50s U profile and a rounded fretboard with a compound radius of 7.5 to 9.5 inches. On the back, you find the traditional walnut “skunk stripe” that covers the rear-mounted truss rod.
The body has a classic offset-seam two-piece ash construction. Also, the original single-ply phenolic pickguard is back.
As for hardware, it’s all old-school. Vintage tuners, a brass barrel three-saddle bridge, and a real bone nut give it that vintage vibe and twangy bite.
A pair of Fender Custom Shop hand-wound ‘50-‘51 Blackguard single-coils form the foundation here. They’re loud and clear but provide that warm old-school twang and growl.
Out of the box, the electronics work like a typical Telecaster. But what’s really cool is that the 70th Anniversary Broadcaster comes with a wiring kit that lets you bring back the original Broadcaster’s distinct blend circuit.
As usual, there’s a three-position blade switch for pickup selection, a master volume knob, and a tone dial. Of course, they’re vintage-style.
The Fender 70th Anniversary Broadcaster has a faded “Nocaster blonde” flash coat lacquer finish. The way the ash woodgrain subtly shines through the glossy, creamy pain job makes it a treat for the eyes. You can also choose from different aging treatments for more vintage flair.
The Fender 70th Anniversary Broadcaster comes in a vintage tweed hardcase. Inside, you find some neat extras, such as the aforementioned vintage control assembly. There’s also a “70th anniversary” neckplate, a strap, a certificate of authenticity, and a print of the original Broadcaster ad flyer.
How the Fender 70th Anniversary Broadcaster Plays
First, the neck is thicker than almost any other Telecaster neck. It’s very rounded, and so is the fingerboard. This gives it that very comfortable vintage left-hand wrap-around feel for guitarists with larger hands. However, it may take some getting used to if you’re switching from a modern electric, especially if your hands are on the smaller side. But it’s a matter of preference.
The compound radius helps give it that vintage fit while also improving “neck speed” and reducing slip-outs closer to the body. So, returning to the older formula hasn’t made it hard to play.
It’s got all the shimmer and character that a Tele should, and the vintage tone is superb. The thick neck gives it a bit more sustain and depth than modern counterparts, and the bone and brass hardware really bring back that retro sheen.
Due to the solid bridge and custom vintage tuners, it stays in tune really well. And the hand-wound pickups and special blend circuitry unleash some tone qualities that other Teles just can’t replicate.
Plug it into a fat tube amplifier and go to town. Whether you play country, blues, jazz, or all-out rock and roll, it won’t disappoint.
See the price at Amazon. It’s certainly no cheap guitar. But if you consider all the Custom Shop refinement and the accurate replications of the very exclusive Fender Broadcaster, it’s reasonable. You get what you pay for.
Fender 70th Anniversary Broadcaster VS Fender American Standard Telecaster
The modern counterpart makes a good comparison guitar for our Fender 70th Anniversary Broadcaster review.
The deep C profile gives it a slightly different feel, and the various components differ a bit, which alters the tone a bit. The upgrades improve performance in some regards, but you lose some of the classic Tele character. Since it costs about $1,000 less than the 70th anniversary Broadcaster, it’s a strong contender. If this sounds like the Telecaster for you, check it out here.
Pros & Cons
There’s a lot to like about the 70th anniversary Broadcaster, and a few catches. Let’s round them up.
- True vintage tone and feel
- Subtle improvements
- Wiring options
- Very stylish
- Nice extras
This is the closest thing to the original ’50s Broadcaster. If you love that vintage Telecaster vibe, this is the guitar to get.
- Distinct handling
It’s definitely an investment. But compared to the higher prices of some less extravagant Gibsons, it’s not bad. The main downside is that the older design is chunkier, and the different feel can take some time to get used to. But if you have big hands or like the vintage fit, that chunkiness is only positive.
Final Thoughts on the Fender 70th Anniversary Broadcaster Review
Without a doubt, this is THE guitar for old-school Telecaster lovers. The features are all accurate, and it sounds like a fantastic blast from the past. It’s a work of great craftsmanship, and it has all the retro flair a Fender fan could dream of.
Looking for other options? Check out my other electric guitar reviews.