The Eclectic Collector: 1994 TLG-94P MIJ “50th Anniversary” Fender Custom Telecaster

August 4th, 2011

by Alan Schulman

It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In the case of those guitar enthusiasts familiar with the guitars of Fender Japan (Fujigen), or MIJ/CIJ as they are commonly known in Fender circles, we’re not just talking imitation—we’re talking major collector’s vibe.

Ask anyone familiar with the MIJ Strats, Teles and other vintage replicas made in the early 90’s by Fender Japan and they’ll tell you – these axes not only look great—their playability rivals that of their American counterparts. A touch heavier, yet, true to spec, these axes command great respect among players and collectors who appreciate attention to detail and that vintage Fender vibe.

Clearly one of the most flamboyant of the MIJ Teles is the 1994 “50th Anniversary” Custom Tele (Model TLG-70P & TLG-94P) that was made in 1994 and 1995. Generously adorned with mother of pearl binding, pickguard, fret dots and more gold hardware than a Saudi imported Cadillac, this model has been referred to in collectors’ circles as the  “Vegas Tele,” the “Nashville Custom Tele,” and, my personal favorite, the “Saudi Tele.”

According to an early 90’s catalog, Fender Japan had a special team during that era called “Custom Edition Team” (which no longer exists). An imitation of Fender USA’s original Corona Custom Shop, the team consisted of only highly skilled builders and finishers, used only select materials, took custom orders, and produced these “50th Anniversary” Custom Teles in just two finishes—Black and vintage White.

The same model used by U2 guitarist The Edge on “Sunday Bloody Sunday” during U2’s “Elevation” and “Vertigo” tours, this over-the-top Tele features a comfortable “C Shape” neck and weighs in at between 7.5 and 8.5 pounds.

The TLG94 features a basswood body and maple neck with a 25.5” scale rosewood fretboard (21 frets) and white dot inlays. The electronics consist of two original Fender Telecaster single coil pickups, controlled by a 3-way switch with master volume and master tone controls. The neck is adorned with vintage style Fender gold tuners complete with safety posts and a “Custom Edition” decal on the back—once again, reminiscent of the early Corona, California Custom Shop decals.

The fact is, you may never desire a Tele this flashy in your collection, but one can’t help but wonder if, when Elvis reappears, he won’t be sporting one of these bad boys around his white jump suit when he busts out the 21st century version of “Hound Dog.”

Alan Schulman, the Eclectic Collector, is a jazz guitarist and collector who resides in Harlem, NYC.  He has appeared with such noted jazz artists as Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Anita Baker, and Michael Feinstein. He is proud to be the owner and picker of an MIJ “Saudi Tele.”

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  • Matteo

    I’d buy this guitar. Can you tell me where can I buy it?

  • Peter Sadorski

    Dear Alan,
    I have the honor to have this White Tele in my collection. It is really a great pleace of guitar and wonderful playeble instrument. I was all the time wondering what a kind of Tele do I have. I knew it is a CIJ Tele but I didn’t know it is a very rare collectors item…
    Thank you very much for the review.
    Best wishes from Poland

  • Leo Vanzo Sinsuk

    By sheer luck I was able to own one of the kind, mine is MIJ Black Tele. Got it from a second-hand market,it works and plays perfectly well….glad to own it.

  • I traded an 80’s LP special ( I own a 55 LP JR. ) that needed neck work. I was desperate to unload it when I passed by a guitar shop in NYC that had this Baby hangin in the window. I went in and picked it up and that Tele has Heavy ! The Weight and the good looks and playability sold me.
    The owner jumped at the trade, and I felt like I got the much better half of a very good deal. I must mention that this Tele has TONE as well as POWER. I can see why The Edge would want this Bad Boy, it cries for a stadium to be heard in.
    Currently looking for the Black version to keep it company .

  • M. D. Liley

    “More gold hardware than a Saudi imported Cadillac”,.. too funny! I recently purchased the black version of this MIJ Tele off of Craigslist. Honestly, I wasn’t to crazy about all the gold bling on it and was considering swapping it out for chrome or brushed nickle hardware after I brought it home and cleaned it up. Once I stopped laughing at your “Saudi Imported Cadillac” comment I deciced to keep mine just the way it was built. Bling and twang, what’s wrong with that?

  • George Jorjoladze

    I purchased the white one in Moscow in second half of the’90’s and I own it. now I wanna purchase silver “Blacktop Tele” for “fat” sound.

  • rogeaux

    I bought my tlg94 (white, second hand) two days ago ! the sound is excellent ! Better than a tele USA reissue 52 (of 2011) and 2 or 3x cheaper !

  • christopher

    do you know what the dc resistance would have been on both of the pickups?

    • RJoz

      The bridge pickup is 6.01 K ohms and the neck is 7.1 K ohms on the set that I have.

  • David

    This article is filled with misinformation, exaggeration and fabrication. The instrument pictured is a COMPLETELY STOCK PRODUCTION MODEL. The double bound Tele’s with the matching headstock were produced in large numbers by FujiGen. At any given time you can find black, white, red (JD’s) and sunburst instruments on eBay, not rare at all. I doubt anyone with any knowledge of Fender products would call it a ‘Nashville’ as those are a different Fender Tele model.

    Conveniently, the author has not put up a picture of the alleged ‘custom edition’ decal. Those are among the rarest of MIJ Fender guitars, which were available only to customers in Japan who could placed special orders through retailers in 1992, before the instrument shown was built.

    The only thing custom is the author’s delusions in this very loathsome example of internet journalism.

  • Gordon Bell

    Hi there. I bought this exact guitar in Edinburgh in 1996 for around £500. Plays really well. I hadn’t played it for about a year or two due to moving house and kids etc. But when i took it out to play at a jam session i was stunned to find it had a turned a more creamy yellowy white. Whats all that about?! Still a great bit of kit tho.

    Anybody any idea what these guitars are worth nowadays?

  • Steve Taylor

    Gordon I have the white MIJ and got it valued by Axe Central in USA.

    Mint 98%: $750.00 USD
    Exc+ 95%: $625.00 USD
    Exc 90%: $550.00 USD
    VG+ 80%: $475.00 USD

  • Alan Schulman

    As someone has pointed out, this article is all BS. I made it up just to see how far it would go on the net. Not only is it just a standard Fender MIJ, but it is not the model that the Edge plays. Did anyone pick up that I claimed to have played with Michael Feinstein and Herbie Hancock??? I am a crap guitar player and I live in Florida.

    • Jack Frolly

      Get off here you Troll.

  • Alan Schulman

    This is a professional publication that is not in the practice of fabricating stories for simple thrills. Feel free to go on youtube and watch the Edge playing the guitar featured above and make up your own mind.

  • George

    Hey Troll’s Jesus hates you so does Satan. I have a Black version yep has all the aforentioned upgrades and is mij not crafted. I changed the PUs to hot the others seemed lame. But yes sir someone done their homework.