1988 Fender Telecaster American Standard

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs up: Milestone in Fender’s rejuvenation, classic looks, neck, pickups, adjustable bridge saddles, TBX tone control OHSC

Thumbs down: Not an ‘old’ vintage Tele, modern appointments may deter some

Decree: A great example of Fender’s post‑CBS renaissance, simple and elegant

Model Description:

In 1965, CBS Corporation bought Fender from its founder and inspirational leader Leo Fender, introducing big business practices to improve efficiency and productivity. Many saw the CBS‑era as a decline in quality and craftsmanship. By the early 1980s, Fender recruited former Yamaha executives Bill Schultz as president and Dan Smith as director of marketing. Together, Schulz and Smith embarked on an improvement programme for the company, focusing on quality rather than quantity. By 1984, CBS had decided to sell Fender after nearly 20 years in control. Schultz and a group of investors acquired Fender in March 1985 and set about restructuring the business as Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC). The key milestone to post‑CBS‑era success was the American Standard Telecaster and Stratocaster, which appeared in 1987. FMIC also established the Fender Custom Shop in 1987 to concentrate on producing guitars of the highest quality. The humble Fender Telecaster has been in continuous production in one form or other since it was introduced as the Esquire and then the Broadcaster in 1951. The Telecaster was a remarkable piece of industrial design that still endures, fundamentally unchanged, to the current day. If there is a definition of industry standard classic, the Telecaster must surely be on a very short list. Another remarkable fact is that the Fender American Standard guitars, introduced in 1987 lasted for nearly 30 years until it was replaced in 2017. 1980s Fender guitars are often seen as second division guitars with used market prices to match. However, the general assumption that they are all cut from the same cloth is false and should be reflected in both desirability and values.

Guitar Description:

If ever there was a guitar that ‘does what it says on the tin’, then perhaps the American Standard Telecaster is it. There is something so ‘right’ about the standard Telecaster template that there isn’t an awful lot to say that hasn’t been said many times elsewhere. They are just so good at what they do, which is just about everything. Here we have a more modern(‑ish) vintage 1988 Fender Telecaster American Standard with a classic traditional Fender Tele look in black, white and maple – understated and classically cool. You can track its lineage directly back to its early 1950s ancestors, as the fundamental ingredients have hardly altered. There are some ergonomic improvements, such as the low friction string tee, ‘flat’ bridge with 6 individual adjustable bridge saddles to improve intonation and an early version of the dual‑ganged tone pots that are the Fender TBX (‘Treble Bass eXpander’) circuit. Personally, I prefer a rosewood fingerboard for looks and playability but that is just a matter of taste. Generally speaking, little else had really changed by the time this one left the Fender factory 38 years after the very first ones. I have owned this Telecaster since about 1997 and it was the guitar that reignited my interest in guitars and indirectly led to the formation of CRAVE Guitars. She is in overall very good condition with just the odd nick and scuff to hint at her previous life. This is a workhorse vintage Tele built to modern quality standards – aging disgracefully. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. When it comes down to it, what more could you ask for?


  • Made in Corona, California, U.S.A. in 1988
  • Ash slab body with black polyester finish
  • Maple bolt‑on neck (4‑bolt)
  • Unbound maple fingerboard with 22 frets and black dot markers
  • Scale length 25½” (647mm)
  • Original Fender tuners
  • Original Chrome hardware
  • Original ivory scratchplate
  • Original Telecaster single coil pickups
  • Original switch, knobs (including TBX tone control) and jack socket
  • Original 6‑saddle ‘flat’ bridge with 6 adjustable saddles
  • Weight: 6 ½lb (2.95kg)
  • Original Fender hard shell case


The Fender TBX tone control was described by Fender as, “This detented, stacked 250k/1 Meg control enhances your tonal palette without the use of a battery. From 0 to 5, the TBX is your standard tone control, but once you pass 5 you start to decrease the resistance, which allows more bass, treble, presence and output to flow to your amp.”

Detail Gallery:

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