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1997 Fender Telecaster ‘52 Vintage Reissue TL52-80TX Butterscotch w/ USA Pickups, Japan MIJ


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Up for sale, a 1997 Fender Telecaster ‘52 vintage reissue model TL52-80TX in exceptional condition and in perfect working order. An uncommon first-year iteration of the TL52-80TX model, this example is notable for retaining "Made in Japan" branding.

Built for the Japanese domestic market and discontinued long ago, the TL52-80TX Telecaster offered stiff competition for Fender's American Vintage series instruments. Featuring an ash body, one-piece maple neck with a prominent V-shaped profile carve, and a pair of factory-installed Fender USA Texas Special pickups, this guitar delivers on the promise of a classic Tele tonal palette. Fat and throaty in the neck position, chiming and cutting in the middle, and offering a chewy, snappy sparkle and twang in the bridge position, this guitar covers traditional Tele ground, and the slightly overwound Texas Specials offer a bit more midrange fullness and kick. Featherweight at just 6lbs 10oz, this Tele has been professionally setup here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar with 10-46 strings, low action, and accurate intonation.

The one-piece maple neck has a substantial V-shaped profile carve, filling the palm with lightly rolled fretboard edges, measuring .890” deep at the 1st fret and .970” at the 12th. The maple fretboard has a vintage-spec 7 1/4“ radius and practically perfect slender frets with well-rounded crowns, showing just a hint of wear beneath the plain strings on frets 1-2. This guitar plays cleanly up the 25 1/2“ scale with a straight neck and a responsive, optimally-adjusted truss rod. The stock nut measures 1.650" in width, carved from bone for optimal sustain and clarity. On the headstock, the Kluson-style tuners turn smoothly and hold accurate pitch, with notably clean chrome plating.  

A transitional example, this Tele has the "Made in Japan" text sans-serial number above the four-bolt neck plate, and the bridge base has an A-prefix serial, a serialization sequence most commonly seen with the first “Crafted in Japan” instruments.

All of the electronics work as they should, with the USA-made Fender Texas Special pickup pair wired to the stock harness. The vintage-style bridge retains its trio of brass saddles with uniform surface patina, while the control plate, dome-topped knurled knobs, and neck plate all have particularly clean plating. The body is accented by a one-ply matte black pickguard just like a genuine example from '52, and all flathead screws were used on this model further aligning with 1952 specs.

The gloss Butterscotch finish highlights the dynamic grain in the ash body, with cosmetic wear limited to a handful of tiny dings along the lower bout perimeter, with a few additional marks and faint scratches on the back. The neck profile retains its smooth gloss, with a singular shallow finish chip on the bass-side shoulder at the 8th fret that is imperceptible to the palm while fretting.

The original Fender-branded gigbag is included.