George Harrison’s Rosewood Telecaster is one of his most famous Beatles-era guitars. Featuring a body and neck made entirely of rosewood, the guitar was visible in the group’s movie Let It Be, including the final scene in which the Beatles perform their last public concert on the roof of Apple Records.
Now Fender has made 100 limited-edition copies of the instrument, which are available now. Each is a painstaking recreation of the original guitar, which you can watch in the video below.
The original rosewood Telecaster dates back to the last years of the Sixties. Fender made plans to add a solid-rosewood Telecaster and Stratocaster to its line. To get maximum attention for its efforts, the company gave Harrison the Tele prototype. The rosewood Stratocaster was meant for Jimi Hendrix but never delivered, and its current whereabouts are unknown.
Harrison received the custom Telecaster in time to use it on the Let It Be sessions, which began on January 2, 1969. He later used it on the sessions for Abbey Road before giving it to Delaney Bramlett of Delaney & Bonnie in December 1969.
While in Bramlett’s possession, the guitar was resprayed with a gloss finish and the original Fender tuning machines were replaced with chrome-plated Schallers. Bramlett also modified the electronics, which have since been restored, and an extra string tree was added to the headstock at some point.
Bramlett eventually sold the guitar for half a million dollars. It is now in the Harrison estate.
Harrison’s son, Dhani, told our sister publication Guitar Aficionado that the Telecaster is his favorite of his father’s guitars. “Other than the fact that it weighs seven times more than a normal Tele, it’s so nice to play,” he says. “It’s like having a golden AK-47 or something. It’s something that you know so well and you wouldn’t be afraid to beat up, but this one is like the golden gun.”
Fender’s meticulous recreation copies Harrison’s rosewood Telecaster to the finest details. As on Harrison’s guitar, the neck is fashioned from two pieces of rosewood capped with a rosewood fingerboard, instead of the traditional one-piece construction. The nut is 1/8-inch wider than most vintage Telecasters, providing wider string spacing that makes it easier to finger chords that ring out loud and clear, with plenty of crisp articulation.
In a subtly distinctive aesthetic touch, the early-Sixties style “spaghetti” logo decal sits atop the finish, instead of the era’s typical “transition” logo underneath the finish. The decal is also placed closer to the nut than is traditional, resulting in a relocated string tree and slightly altered break angle behind the nut. The hardware is as historically accurate as possible; a vintage-style three-saddle bridge, 21 narrow jumbo frets, a Micarta nut and classic Fender “F”-stamped tuning machines are all present, just as on the original instrument.
Significantly, the rose Telecaster replicas feature pickups that were hand wound by famed Fender pickup master Abigail Ybarra, who broke her 2013 retirement to apply her expertise to this historic recreation’s pickups.
In the video below, you can watch master builder Paul Waller examine Harrison’s unique original instrument to recreate the guitar as accurately as possible. “The whole project has been based on making the guitar look, feel, play and sound how it would have the day that George got it,” Waller says.
We’ve also included a clip of Dhani discussing and playing the rosewood Telecaster with Conan O’Brien.