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why is a guitar called a thinline?

Willie-O 19 Jul 03 - 12:03 PM
Murray MacLeod 19 Jul 03 - 01:58 PM
GUEST 19 Jul 03 - 02:08 PM
Little Hawk 19 Jul 03 - 10:34 PM
CraigS 20 Jul 03 - 06:27 AM
Willie-O 20 Jul 03 - 01:40 PM
GUEST,fogie 20 Jul 03 - 01:57 PM
Willie-O 20 Jul 03 - 02:18 PM
CraigS 20 Jul 03 - 08:59 PM
Willie-O 23 Jul 03 - 09:55 AM
GUEST 29 Aug 09 - 01:54 PM
open mike 29 Aug 09 - 02:09 PM
Richard Bridge 29 Aug 09 - 03:05 PM
Art Thieme 29 Aug 09 - 03:58 PM
Willie-O 30 May 10 - 07:39 PM
Willie-O 30 May 10 - 07:41 PM
open mike 30 May 10 - 08:43 PM
GUEST,Songbob 30 May 10 - 11:26 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 31 May 10 - 10:22 PM
Willie-O 06 Jun 10 - 11:39 AM
GUEST,Goodfella 01 Jun 12 - 03:35 PM
JohnInKansas 01 Jun 12 - 08:01 PM
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Subject: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: Willie-O
Date: 19 Jul 03 - 12:03 PM

This is a bit of nomenclature trivia that has been bugging me for years. I used to own a Fender Telecaster Thinline. (And I sure miss it sometimes, but that's another story...) Electric guitar nerds know this is a Telecaster with the upper portion of the body hollowed out, and one f-hole in the top. This gives the guitar lighter weight, a semi-acoustic quality, and a special sparkle to the tone. They were made in late 60's/early 70's and are now reissued by various companies.

So why do they call it a Thinline? I have heard that it is because these Tele's had a single thin strip of different coloured wood down the back of the neck, which was their less conspicuous difference from solid-body Telecasters. Mine had this strip, so that made some kind of sense to me. But now I see the word "Thinline" being applied generically to lots of different guitars, some of which don't have the strip, or much else in common with a Telecaster:

  • The 1965 Gibson EB-2 Bass currently for sale at the Twlefth Fret, described in the listing as a "thinline double cutaway" body.
  • an aluminum body (weird) Tele thinline style, custom electric, no strip on the neck.
  • Colin Cripps' Vintage Guitar Info site has a section on Gibson Thinline models, which seem to be an actual model name for hollow-body electrics with one or two f-holes. Maybe "Thinline" in Gibsonese is a reference to body profile?
  • a Takamine TS90CDW described as a Thinline Cutaway--this just looks like another contemporary acoustic flattop roundhole with a single cutaway and built-in electronics. What the????
  • of course, Martin has made "Thinline" pickups for many years--a completely different item, namely an under-saddle pickup.


      Alright my fellow nerds, anyone have a handle on this? It would seem that the term gets thrown around so much, sometimes capitalized, that perhaps there have been discussions between, say, Martin and Fender company lawyers as to who owns the capitalized "Thinline" description.

      Just another burning issue....

      W-O
      thinking way too much about stuff like this.


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 19 Jul 03 - 01:58 PM

My understanding of "thinline" as used by Gibson is that it refers to
the shallow bodied models (such as played by Chuck Berry for example) as opposed to the more old-fashioned deeper bodied models so beloved of jazz players but not so well suited for stand-up rock and roll.

The thinline models are 1 3/8" at the edge, the older models would be anything up to 4 3/4".

Why Fender would call any of their products "thinline" is beyond me.

Murray


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jul 03 - 02:08 PM

I thought Fender called it a 'Telecaster DeLuxe'...


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Jul 03 - 10:34 PM

I thought it was just under-the-saddle pickups that were called thinlines...

- LH


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: CraigS
Date: 20 Jul 03 - 06:27 AM

Thinline Fender Telecasters are so-called because they are thinner than standard Telecasters, ie. the body is "comfort contoured" (Fenderese for material cut out of the back) like the Stratocaster.

Gibson make/made thin versions of some guitars, notably their hollow-bodied jazz guitars, which are designated by a "T" after the model number. I've only ever seen one accoustic (an L5T), but there are plenty of examples of semi-accoustic electrics, and some of these were/are standard models, eg. the ES175T. Dealers often use the word thinline to describe such guitars, but I've never seen Gibson do it.


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: Willie-O
Date: 20 Jul 03 - 01:40 PM

Craig, that makes sense, but my Tele had a body that as far as I could tell was the same size as a regular Tele, and not contoured like a Strat either. Are you saying that the thin-body guitars are the real Telecaster Thinline, and the semi-hollows with an F-hole aren't?


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: GUEST,fogie
Date: 20 Jul 03 - 01:57 PM

Wasn't the stripe down the neck refered to as a skunk or something


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: Willie-O
Date: 20 Jul 03 - 02:18 PM

Only if it's white on black...

OK, OK, I give. Here's pictures of a "thinline standup bass", fer chrissakes. On sale at Elderly.

W-O


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: CraigS
Date: 20 Jul 03 - 08:59 PM

The contouring I'm referring to is just a little scoop out at the back at the upper waist, not the full shaping you get on the Strat body - but more than you get with a regular Tele. The stripe down the back of the neck is just to fill in the space they rout out to install the truss rod - some models have a maple fill, some have rosewood; this varies between periods (ie. between years) but is common to all versions of a model in that period. Deluxe Telecasters have two humbuckers, Custom Telecasters have a humbucker at the neck position, the Telecasters with the F hole at the top are called Thinlines - I've seen a thinline Telecaster (F-hole) bass once, but Telecaster basses are so rare that I've only seen one ordinary Telecaster bass as well! The bass you found is a good example of how the term thinline is being used/abused these days - why can't they just say thin?


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: Willie-O
Date: 23 Jul 03 - 09:55 AM

My Thinline had a single coil/humbucker pickup combination, but it had been extensively modified.

W-O


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 01:54 PM

They call it a Thinline because the hollow out one of the sides to make it lighter and not as heavy.


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: open mike
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 02:09 PM

acoustic meaning....Martin's piezo pickup...
http://www.elderly.com/new_instruments/items/MT332.htm

unknown re: electric guitar terminology.


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 03:05 PM

I think it started with Hofner. In about 1963/4 the Hofner Senators reduced in body depth. Next I think came the Hofner Verithins that looked rather like a 335. I think the Gibson 335s were later.


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 03:58 PM

it's probably anorexic.

Art


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: Willie-O
Date: 30 May 10 - 07:39 PM


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: Willie-O
Date: 30 May 10 - 07:41 PM

Whoops, my error, I was reviewing this old thread for the more recent contributions and hit Submit by mistake.

I don't care about the original question anymore, but if it interested you enough to look in, maybe you can tell me what "hard-tail" and "soft-tail" Strats are...another routine Fender description that's a mystery to me.

W-O


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: open mike
Date: 30 May 10 - 08:43 PM

have only heard those terms used to describe motorcycles as in:
http://hubpages.com/hub/Hard-tail-vs-Soft-tail-Frames--The-Primary-Differences

but this has guitar info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard-tail


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: GUEST,Songbob
Date: 30 May 10 - 11:26 PM

Thinner-than-normal hollow-body guitars are "thinlines," and the Tele Deluxe was hollowed out, rather than totally solid-bodied, like normal Teles. Hence the "thinline" moniker. Essentially, a crossing of nomenclature from the hollow to the solid guitar world.

It has nothing to do with skunk stripes or any other marking.

Bob


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 31 May 10 - 10:22 PM

i love telecasters..

if i only could own one guitar it would be a tele.

however, as i've got dozens of guitars scattered all over the place ..
quite a few of 'em good quality low price far eastern tele copies..

gotta recommend the vintage advance AV2H tele thinline copy with 2 humbuckers
and a rotary pot for graduated single coil spit

it's a brilliant affordable workhorse instrument.




http://www.jhs.co.uk/vintageadvance.html


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: Willie-O
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 11:39 AM

Bob, sorry, you're just wrong about the Telecaster Deluxe. It was not hollow at all--an above-average Wikipedia reference describes it thusly: The Fender Telecaster Deluxe is a solid-body electric guitar originally produced from 1972 to 1981, and since re-issued by Fender in 2004 as the '72 Telecaster Deluxe.

The (capitalized) Thinline, whatever the reason for the name, is the actual model name for the semi-hollow, one-f-hole Tele.

The Wiki article also notes only one commonality between Deluxe and Thinlines, (besides both being Telecaster variants): the Thinline, starting in '72, used the new Fender Wide-Range Humbucker pickups, like the Deluxe.

(Mine was an earlier-year one which had been modified to accept the humbuckers--major body routing, different pickguard and toggle switch--really devalued it by the time I got it. Sigh.)   

W-O
avoiding set-list construction again


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: GUEST,Goodfella
Date: 01 Jun 12 - 03:35 PM

Almost all thinline guitars have 'f' holes. What is the reason for this shape which appears to be derived from classical instruments?


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Subject: RE: why is a guitar called a thinline?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 01 Jun 12 - 08:01 PM

The reason for the "f holes" is well known. For an instrument that depends on a resonant air cavity in the body, the "air resonance" frequency is proportional to the total area of all the holes, divided by the volume in the cavity.

Instrument makers believe that "tuning" the air resonance of the body is extremely critical to achieving proper "voice" for the instrument (although there's little real agreement about what it should be tuned to) and the final tuning is done by "trimming the holes" to bring the air resonance pitch up to a satisfactory frequency.

It is extremely difficult to trim a round hole precisely by small increments and keep it round, so if much trimming is done it ends up ugly. The "compound curves" of the f-hole can be shaved a bit here and there to change the cross-section area of the hole and still retain the "same general appearance" regardless of how badly they're butchered in the process.

But the real reason for putting f-holes on a guitar is that they're used a lot on fiddles and other classical instruments, so the guitar carpenters think it makes the guitar look like something classy - Like Man Ray's "Ingres' Violin" perhaps.

John


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