Fender ’50s Esquire Electric Guitar Review

There are some guitars that are so intrinsically linked to one musician; it can be difficult to think of any other connection to the instrument. The Fender ’50s Esquire is a hugely popular instrument played by guitarists all over the world but mention this instrument to a real music fan and it is likely that one name will keep on being repeated. Bruce Springsteen will always be closely associated with this instrument and if you aim to sound like The Boss, getting your hands on this guitar would be a very sensible choice.

Fender themselves consider the Esquire to be part of the Telecaster range of guitars, bringing it under the umbrella of one of the biggest names in rock, but for many, the Esquire manages to stand alone with respect to look and sound. Fender have created numerous reproductions of the ’50s Esquire in recent years and the instrument is still a hugely popular choice amongst modern guitarists.


There is a very instant classic look to the Fender ’50s Esquire guitar, drawing heavily on the look of the early 1950s model. Nostalgia will always remain a big part of rock n roll and anything which arcs back to the halcyon days of music will always find a home. Thankfully, the modern versions of the Esquire pack a musical punch to go along with the tremendous style of the instrument.

With respect to the basic features of the Fender ’50s Esquire, this is what you will receive:

  • 21 frets
  • A mahogany neck with an ash body
  • Three way switch
  • Volume dial
  • Tone dial

Sound / Tones

In the early 1950s, the Fender Esquire was recognised as a country instrument and was a pivotal guitar in the growing popularity of this genre. Luther Perkins, the right hand man of Johnny Cash, was known to play a Fender Esquire and his distinctive sound was central to the development of country music. The single coil pick-up of the ’50s Esquire produces a bright and snappy tone that could be found in country, swing, blues and the early days of rock n roll. It is easy to see why playing this guitar without any additional effects or pick-ups would provide a very set sound but if it is what you are looking for, it gets you to the heart of so many classic music genres in no time at all.

Playability / Action / Ease of Use:

The Fender ’50s Esquire has a pick up and play attractiveness that is welcomed by so many guitarists. Yes, the guitar is based on the designs from a much simpler time so it is easy to see why it is easy to start playing when you first get your hands on it but there are many great benefits from this. It is very easy to use the tone dials to create a crisp and clear sound but there is a great deal of variety on offer from the guitar itself and the three separate settings all offer a stand-alone sound.

If you feel you will be limited by only having one pick-up, you could well be surprised by the range of sounds that can be created but equally, it may well be that the Fender ’50s Esquire is not for you. It is a period piece guitar that helped to shape so much of the music that laid the grounds for musical generations to come. If you are looking for an easy to play guitar that offers a great range of simple tones, this could be an ideal instrument, if you are looking for more, it may disappoint.

Build / Reliability

The look of the Fender ’50s Esquire is tremendous and definitely very appealing to a broad range of guitarists but there is more to it than that. The Fender range, on first glance, seems more fragile than their chunkier Gibson counterparts but there is no reason to have major concerns over the reliability of the guitar. It is also fair to say that the guitar is heavier than it first looks, which may take some getting used to. In this sense, the more limited range of options in the Esquire provides a greater degree of reliability as there are fewer things that could go wrong with the instrument. With the Fender reputation behind this instrument and a guitar that can be relied upon even after numerous gigs, it is fair to say that this is an instrument that won’t let you down.

Price / Value

At around $649.99, you should be able to get a Fender ’50s Esquire, which is a fair price for a slice of rock n roll history. Again, this is a brand name you can rely when it comes to delivering great guitars, even if the Fender ’50s Esquire is a bit limited compared to other guitars. There are plenty of affordable guitars which can provide a wider range of tones and sounds but if you are looking for a clean and distinct sound, the Fender ’50s Esquire may be exactly what you are looking for. Whether you love the nostalgic feel of the instrument, you are a huge Bruce Springsteen fan or you just want a simple guitar that will allow you to create and recreate the music you love, the Fender ’50s Esquire is well worth considering.

The initial thinking behind the creation of the Esquire and its single pick-up was to provide a value alternative for musicians who found the two pick-up guitar to be too expensive for them. This is no longer a rationale for snapping up the Fender ’50s Esquire guitar but the value for money and quality that is associated with the guitar remains.

Fender ’50s Esquire in Action:

The Verdict / Impression

There would be no point in trying to suggest that the Fender ’50s Esquire guitar is for everyone as this would only lead to disappointment. However, if you are looking for a simple guitar that can be set up very quickly and which will produce a great range of classic tones, this is an ideal choice. With a perfect retro style and the origins of rock n roll steeped in its history, the Fender ’50s Esquire is a guitar for those that understand and adore the story of music in the 20th century.

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Andrew Reilly

Indie and rock n roll were the main genres that inspired Andrew to first fall for the guitar, but as the years went by he developed a wider appreciation of other genres like blues and country.
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