1996 MIJ Deluxe Anniversary
Telecaster Custom Models

Some background and a Stock Sample
Fender Japan (MIJ-Made in Japan) made some fantastic guitars. The 1996 Deluxe Custom Anniversary Models were no acception. In fact, between 1984 to 1986 Fender USA depended heavily on the MIJ models to supply the US market due to the CBS buyout and the moving of the US plant to Corona, California. It is said that as much as 80% of the Fender guitars sold in the US during that time were MIJ.

On this page of the website I am going to only address the 1996 Deluxe Custom Anniversary Model Telecasters. These were only produced for a short time—between late 1995 to early 1997. If you want to know about Made in Japan/Crafted in Japan Serial numbers, click here! It will be just a matter of time they will become more of a collectors item. I have sold a lot of these on eBay.

A Stock Sample of a 1996 Anniversary
Deluxe MIJ Telecaster!

First I would like to introduce you to a totally stock 1996 Anniversary Deluxe MIJ Telecaster (See above). This is a prime example, as this is a New Old Stock—Brand New Honey-Burst Foto-Flame model that I have tucked away for a long time. (If you want to know more about Foto-Flames click here). These models came, not only in Foto-Flame, but a variety of colors. The Foto-Flames have a Basswood cap on Alder wood. Most of the solid colors are on Alder or Basswood. There are some transparent models in Sunburst made from solid Ash

All of these models came from the factory with Rosewood fret boards, beveled bodies (front and back) and 2 Strat Pickups with a Tele bridge pickup using a 6-saddle “USA style” bridge plate. For some reason all of these came stock from the factory with the control plate turned around backward (which in my opinion is really awkward! Yes, I know some people like it that way for doing swells with the volume control, but I guess I am too much old school, and like it the old fashion way.) So if you see one of these models with the control plate the right way around, someone has turned it over. On this page you will find many of these that have been modified with various pickup configurations, and control mods.

Many of them, but not all, have the 50th Anniversary sticker on the back of the headstock (see above). And, as stated above, many of them came in various flavors of the short lived Foto Flame Finish. (I will discuss this more later.) As stated already, all these 1996 DX models came with a Rosewood fretboard on the neck and 21 small-medium frets with a 62 style C radius—really a comfortable neck. They also have accurate reproduction of the slotted vintage Kluson style tuners, which allows you to put the string down inside the hole on the top to help prevent the string from slipping (or poking an eye out!).

As already stated on some of the other pages on this site, these MIJ Teles and Strats are becoming more of a collector’s item due to their high quality. Some argue on forums about which is best, the USA or the MIJ Fenders of this vintage. I have both in my collection and this MIJ Tele is just a nice as any high end USA model I have played. It is important to note that these Fender guitars came from the Japanese Fuji Gen Gakki factory that is making the $2,000.00 Ibanez guitars. So please understand that these are are not cheapy Squires! These guitars play and tune wonderfully. The MIJ quality in the neck and body is unprecedented. I have owned over 55+ of these Deluxe Anniversary models. I alway completely rewire them with custom pickups and USA parts, one of my favorite configurations being like a Strat Plus DX. (duh!)

The bodies on these Foto Flames are made from Alder with a Basswood cap which dent and crack easily, so you have to be careful with them! If you're looking to buy one and the auction or add says there are some small finish cracks, take note, as these cracks can be all the way down through the flim into the wood. The flame is a photographic film that was designed most likely by Fuji, or some other large photopraphic company. To learn more about Foto-Flames, click here! They really have a nice look. There were also some of these that were released with a Sunburst in a White Asian Ash, often called Sen. These are very rare and are very high quality guitars. I will have a few posted on here soon.

These were made between later 1995 to early 1997 and every one of these guitars will have a serial number starting with either a "T" or a "U" unless someone has swapped necks. Inside the neck pocket on the body, it will be marked DT (Deluxe Telecaster). The body is beveled front and back like a Strat and makes the guitar more comfortable to play. Down under the peariod pickguard, the routing on these Teles are very vintage. The Strat routes are identical to a 62 Strat and the bridge route is like a vintage Tele. Since these Teles have 3 pickups like a Strat they have a Strat style 5-way switch. Unlike a Strat, they have a Tele bridge with the strings going through the body. This combination really is great for getting a large variety of sounds. The one above has been specially shielded with copper.

These Teles are not to be confused with the 3 pickup Nashville Teles which have Tele neck and bridge pickups, with a Strat pickup sandwiched inbetween. These DX Teles come stock with 2 Strat pickups and a Tele bridge pickup.

The only other guitars similar to these, that I have seen, and which I am sure these are fashioned after, is Fender's Custom Shop Models that were made for a short time about this same period.
Some came in Sparkel Finishes, like the ones above, and others transparent colors with a ivory binding on the top. The Purple Sparkle is a 1996 Custom Shop Limited Edition. Please note that thecontrol plate is backward just like on the 1996 Anniversary Deluxe MIJ Telecasters.
There also were some USA Telecaster Deluxe Plus', around 1996, such as the one above, that were configured like this using Fender Lace Sensor pickups. These came with an Ash top, with a bound body (on top only) and a Strat belly cut. As you find out as you scroll down this page, you will see some of these Tele that I have customized similar to a Fender Tele Plus.

1996 Anniversary Deluxe MIJ Telecasters were based on the 1962 Reissue using the exact style neck profile in Rosewood, but with an unbound body. I sure they were a spin off of the custom Shop models and the Deluxe Tele Plus'.

Modified Versions of the 1996 Ann DX Tele

Over the years I have modified over 50 of these DX teles. Here are just a few samples, but first let me explain: While the body and necks on these MIJ guitars are extremely high quality, I have found the electronics to be rather on the cheap side. The potentiometers are the small type with less contact surface. The switches (YM-50) are cheap and the pickups are not bad—in fact some people like the sound of the stock pickups— but I have found that Seymour Duncan, Lace Sensor, DiMarzio, and other pickups have more output and better sound. Thus I always gut the guitar and replace everything with high quality parts.
As you read through this page, you will see the evolution of these guitars as I have experimented over the years, as I have customized 50+ of these. These Teles all came stock with standard Telecaster wiring, except for the 5-way Strat style switch—so when you see 3 knobs or small switches, remember these have been modified.
if you want to see how one of these is wired, step by step, go to my Custom Wiring page.

is the first Foto Flame DX Tele I owned. It was mint in condition. You will see through this site that I have owned a number of these Wine Red Foto Flame Models, as they seem to be the most common color floating around. On this one, the neck pickup is a DiMarzio Virtual Blues stacked humbuckerwith a tap coil switch to go from single coil to dual coil. The middle pickup is a Van Zant Vintage Blues single coil reverse wound. The bridge pickup is a Fender 1952 Custom Shop. This is a replica of the same pickup Fender used in their American made 52 Teles. It has all the bright crispness and bite of the old traditional Tele. After building this one, I started to experiment with other pickups and tone controls.

This is about as close as you can get to a USA Deluxe Telecaster Plus, without really being one.  This is one of the rarest MIJ DX Teles, being made in solid Ash (Sen or what is called Asian Ash). This one has 2 Chrome Dome Lace Sensors with a special ordered Chrome covered Hot T-150 Lace Sensor in the bridge. I used the 5-way Stra-O-Tele wiring on this so in the middle position you have the bridge an neck pickups together like on a standard Tele.
 Like I mentioned, these Ash verisons are very hard to find. The craftsmanship is excellent and wired with USA parts, as this one is, it is as good and playable as any USA Tele Plus.

This is a DX Tele that I refinished in Graffiti Yellow. I have made a few of these some years back. I really do not enjoy refinishing guitars as it takes a lot of work to get them to turn out really nice. I do mostly studio work, and I was looking for a guitar that had a large diversity sounds and was quiet. The concept was taking shape for a great guitar, both for live playing and for studio work. I moved toward more of a vintage Tele sound by putting vintage Fender Tele bridge plate with Calibrated Brass Saddles like the ones developed for Danny Gatton’s Custom Shop Teles. These keep the intonation more accurate than the old straight stock brass saddles. This model had the Tiger Flamed Foto Neck with really nice flame in the Rosewood.

The tone control on this Tele is a Fender TBX tone pot. This control cuts either treble or bass instead of the standard style of tone that cuts treble only, thus = T (treble) B (bass) X (Cut). When you turn this knob, you can feel a halfway point, which is tone neutral. This was wired to the neck and middle pickups, bypassing the bridge pickup. I used the a Blue Lace Sensor in the neck for a warm 50s P-90 sound and a Silver Lace Sensor in the middle for a fat 70s Strat sound. The bridge pickup is a 50's Fender CustomShop. The guitar was great, but the bridge was not hot enough to keep up with the Lace pickups.

This is a Blonde (Natural) Foto Flame. These Blonde Tele Fotos are fairly hard to find, especially in mint condition. The Foto Flame necks are really cool with Tiger Flame (and they sell on Ebay for as much as $300 at times.) Most of these have the famous "smiley face " in the print design as mentioned on the Foto-Flame page. I have been told this was a joke on the part of the film processor, who was later fired over the issue (but I can not confirm the story).

I went back to the similar pickup configuration I used on the Number 1. With this set-up, you can get just about any sound you are looking for: sounds like an "almost Gibson," Strat, Tele, or a combination of these guitars. This is a great playing and sounding Strat-o-tele!

The neck pickup is a DiMarzio Virtual Blues stacked humbucker with a tap coil switch to go from single coil to dual coil.

The middle pickup is a Van Zant Vintage Blues single coil reverse wound/reverse polarity to eliminate the hum in positions #2 and #4. (The Van Zant pickup company was started by the father of the famous Van Zant brothers of such groups as .38 Special and Lynyrd Skynyrd. They are hand wound). It delivers a clear blues/country sound and, depending what your amp configuration you have, can deliver a powerful single coil Strat sound—clean or dirty.

The bridge pickup is a Seymour Duncan Vintage Broadcaster. The first Telecaster pickup (1948) had an unprecedented edgy sound and great sustain. Leo Fender called it the Broadcaster, and Seymour Duncan made this one is made this one exactly like it. It has all the bright crispness and bite of the old traditional Tele.

This is one of the most common colors in these DX Teles. It is a Wine Red Foto Flame Custom Tele DX.

This one is dead mint. I left the traditional USA styled bridge plate on it (Stock MIJ bridge plate) instead of replacing it with the vintage type. I replaced the MIJ controls with USA Fender made 5-way switch, and tone and volume controls, with no coil switch. Here is the PU configuration:
The neck pickup is a YNGWIE DIMARZIO HS-3/ DP117. This is the famous guitar player Yngwie's favorite pickup. The HS-3 is EQed with a broad low-end while gently rolling back the top. The smooth tone curves of the HS-3 produces a sweet over-drive tone without jagged edges. It has a slightly warmer-than-usual Strat sound. The HS-3 hum-free design lends itself to any performance situation and is great in a recording environment because there is no single-coil noise. Again, the middle pickup, is a VAN ZANT VINTAGE BLUES SINGLE COIL REVERSE WOUND/REVERSE POLARITY and the bridge pickup is a FENDER "NO-CASTER" RELIC CUSTOM.

Agian another Wine Red Foto Flame. Again the regular Tele tone controls configuration (with USA parts), but this time I decided to experiment with some different pickups:

The neck pickup is a DiMarzio Virtual Blues stacked humbucker with a tap coil switch to go from single coil to dual coil. Unlike thinner-sounding single-coils, it stands up to hard picking—the sound seems to expand through an overdriven amp instead of shrinking away. The middle pickup is a DiMarzio VirtuAL 2 Model DP 409. The VirtuAL 2 pickup has a very raw, aggressive sound, particularly when it's adjusted close to the strings. All VirtuAL 2 models use a special precision-ground Alnico 2 alloy with 45% less magnet pull than Alnico 5 magnets and Virtual Vintage technology to eliminate noise. While Alnico 2 reduces string pull and increases sustain in middle and it enhances pick attack and definition, particularly on the low strings. The low magnetic field creates an almost glassy tone quality, but the specific Alnico 2 alloy we've used adds warmth and body to the sound, so high notes don't get thin & brittle. The overall sound is very focused. The bridge pickup is a Fender 57 Telecaster Custom Shop. This Telecaster pickup comes from Fender's Custom Shop and is manufactured exactly like the 1957 Telecaster bridge pickup. Unprecedented edgy sound and great sustain that make Telecasters famous. It has all the bright crispness and bite of the old traditional Tele.

This Tele has a lot of character because of the combination of pickups.


This is a Candy Apple Red (often called CAR) with standard USA Tele tone controls. I stepped out and tried something a little crazier on this one. By putting a hot Strat bridge pickup in the neck, you can get a real punchy humbucker type sound. So in the neck I placed a DIMARZIO SDS-1/DP-111 SUPER DISTORTION. Don’t let the name fool you. Like I said, it is designed to be in the bridge position for a Strat for a heavy metal sound, BUT put in the neck position it has an old Les Paul P-90 Soap-bar sound. This pickup weights a ton and has lots of power. It has Allen Wrench adjustable poles, which you can fine tuned for each string. This pickup turns this Tele into a want-to be-Gibson! (Sorry you Gibson lovers!)

The MIDDLE pickup is an YNGWIE DIMARZIO HS-3/DP117 stacked humbucker and the BRIDGE pickup is a DIMARZIO VIRTUAL T/DP412. This pickup combines some of DiMarzio’s favorite qualities from different Tele and Broadcaster models pickups. It is clean and snappy on the low strings, and is warm on the high strings, which gives superior string separation and balanced response.

Here is a another customized Graffiti Yellow, using again the design of the Lace Sensor pickups in the neck and the middle, but this time a Blue Lace in the neck and a Gold Lace in the middle. The bridge pickup again is a FENDER 50’s CUSTOM SHOP. The whole bridge assembly was set up to create the vintage Tele sound. Danny Gatton type calibrated Brass Saddles not only correct the intonation but boost the sustain. These saddles became a favorite that I have used over and over on customized Teles. They provide that vintage look, with the Ashtray on top, and a vintage sound with the strings riding on brass, but corrected intonation. The bridge sound on the Tele is great for blues or country picking—lot's of bite, but again the bridge pickup has a hard time keeping up with the Lace pickups.

You will notice on this one that it is wired exactly like a STRAT PLUS, thus it has 3 knobs instead of the standard 2. The 2nd tone control is wired with Fender TBX tone control and is connected to the bridge and the middle pickups. The 1st tone control is for the neck pickup.

I leaped almost totally into the Strat Plus DX arena on this DX Tele by using two Lace Sensor Chrome Domes in the middle and neck positions on this custom finished in LAKE PLACID BLUE. It has a Lace Sensor T-150 Tele bridge pickup (which is about the same as the Red Lace Sensor. In all respects, this is wired exactly like a Strat Plus DX with a hot Tele bridge sound. It uses again, the TBX for the bridge and middle PUs and a seperate tone control for the neck. A beautiful Tele that is really quite and full of variations of sound.

Here again is another Graffiti Yellow. The first tone control is a Push/Pull Pot which is set up for coil splitting on the Neck Humbucker. This way you can get either a Tele single coil neck sound or a true Humbucker sound. With the 5-way switch, the special wired tone controls, you have a large variety of tones!

The NECK pickup is a Seymour Duncan Little 59. Designed after the 1959 PAF humbuckers used in the old Gibson Les Pauls, but shrunk down to fit in a single coils space. This is not a stacked humbucker, but a true, side-by-side humbucker. Fat and punchy, it possesses an even, dynamic response, and its adjustable pole pieces allow you to fine tune the string balance and dial in just the right amount of punch. Split it with the tone control switch and get a single coil sound. The MIDDLE pickup is a Van Zant Vintage Blues single coil reverse wound/reverse polarity and the BRIDGE pickup is a FENDER 50’s CUSTOM SHOP.

Cramming the custom wiring into a Tele like this can be quite a feat. There is the TBX tone control for the bridge and middle pickups. The neck tone control is a push/pull pot that "taps" off the humbucker, giving more of a vinatge Tele sound. When in the down position, it has a full PAF humbucker sound. This has had to be one of the nicest combinations of wiring and pickups, using the standard pole type PUs. Between this and the Strat Plus Lace Sensors, it is a toss up which one has the best sound. I think this one is a little richer, while the Laces are better for studio work when you need the guitar really quiet.

Again in a Graffiti Yellow. I teamed up with TFN Technologies to do the wiring for this thus providing 11 different pickup tones. (See eBay seller: tfn_technologies) It has 2 Gold Lace Sensors in Neck and Middle with a T-150 Lace Sensor Bridge Pickup. With TFN Technologies' custom wiring, you can get humbucker, Strat and Tele tones, plus some.


Man, packing all of this into a Tele took some doing, but the results were fantastic! TFN wiring uses a Super 5-way selector switch and a custom 3-way rotary switch for the middle tone control. Tom's wiring is extremely clean and everything is covered with shrink tubing. Here are the settings on 5 way switch with the TFN rotary knob:

Position #1: The Classic Bank, as you would find on a stock Strat.

1. Bridge 2. Bridge & Middle 3. Middle 4. Middle & Neck 5. Neck

Position #2: Gibson-ish Bank 2 gives you fat humbucker sounds, mixed with the out-of-phase Strat sounds, and Tele sounds to boot! Imagine a HSH Strat with this setting!

1. Bridge + Middle in Series (Same a Fender S1 switching, and sounds like a humbucker) 2. Bridge & Middle 3. Bridge + Neck in Series (Custom Wired FAT Telecaster Tone like on Fender's 4-way switching.) 4. Middle & Neck 5. Neck + Middle in Series (Humbucker again like on Fender’s S1 switching)

Position #3: Twangy Blues Bank has some cool Blues sounds. It's very versatile!

1. Bridge 2. Bridge & Middle & Neck together 3. Bridge & Neck (Like   Middle Position on a Telecaster and Fender's Ultra Strats.) 4. Middle & Neck 5. Neck

This is a Tobacco Burst Foto Flame.The NECK pickup is a BLUE LACE SENSOR. The MIDDLE pickup is a SILVER LACE SENSOR which delivers a fat 70's single coil sound with increased output and more midrange. And the BRIDGE pickup is a HIGH OUTPUT T-150 LACE SENSOR which delivers brilliant clarity, bite and attack running at a hot 12.8k resistance, which is 2 times hotter than your stock pickup. It is like having a Red Lace Sensor in the bridge.

This configuration became my favorite recording guitar. A Strat. A Tele. Quite. Full of tone. I have sold several of these DX Teles on Ebay for between $750 to $950. The feedback that has come back is great. Again, the above Tele is the Strat Plus DX configuration right down to the TBX and 2nd tone controls.


Again, another Graffiti Yellow. When you think of this guitar, think vintage 52 Tele, 57 Strat and some Mojo power! I wanted to come up with a Tele that had lot's of vintage Strat and Tele Vibe. This one does it!
The NECK pickup is a DiMarzio DP-402 Virtual Vintage Blues which has a voice similar to a pre-63 Strat but is hotter, with more punch and warmth. This is where you can get some Mojo power. And of course, there are some wonderful sound by mixing these PUs in positions #4 and #2!

The MIDDLE pickup is a Seymour Duncan SSL-1 which is an exact replica of the original Alnico V Stratocaster pickups used in the 57 Strats. It has the same type of magnet wire that was used, and the same number of coil windings. The staggered rod magnets are hand-ground, then aged by the Seymour Duncan’s exclusive Dun-Aged process. They even have lacquered bobbins and cloth-braid wires. The vintage look and vintage sound! Every detail is included to duplicate the bell-like tone that made the vintage Strats famous.

The BRIDGE pickup is a is a Seymour Duncan STL-1 Vintage Broadcaster
which was chosen for that vintage Telecaster sound made famous by Leo Fender in 1948. Leo called it the Broadcaster. This is built by Seymour Duncan to reproduce the same specs. Unprecedented edgy sound and great sustain that made Telecasters famous. It has all the bright crispness and bite of the old traditional 1952 Tele, thus the reason this pickup was chosen.

And is another in Candy Apple Red (CAR) (Serial #U021814). This one is a little different using Lace Sensors like on a Strat Plus DX but with a push/pull pot on the neck. It has the Rosewood on Maple neck instead of the Foto-flame finish in the 62 Tele style.

The NECK Pickup is a BLUE LACE SENSOR, the MIDDLE Pickup is a SILVER LACE SENSOR and BRIDGE Pickup is a T-150 LACE SENSOR. What is different about this one is that the volume control is a Push/Pull Pot that turns the neck pickup on in positions #1 and #2. This way you can get more traditional Tele tones buy having the selector switch (position #1) in the Bridge position and then turn on the neck pickup. Or you can be in position #2 with all 3 pickups on at the same time, creating a fat, full sound. The 1st tone control is for the neck and the 2nd tone control is wired with Fender TBX tone system for the middle and bridge.

This DX Tele is wired just like a Jame Burtom Signature Telecaster, using the Blue, Silver, and Red Lace Sensors with the Strat-o-Tele wiring. A bad guitar.....

This is a Tobacco Burst Foto-Flame Telecaster Deluxe on Alder. Once again, the tops are made with Basswood with the Foto Finish. (Serial #T017170). Again I moved to the 3 knobs instead of the standard 2. I know, it is a little crowed, but the tone control is sweet! The 2nd tone control is wired with Fender no-load tone control to the Bridge and Middle pickups. When you turn the knob to 10, it clicks, thus bypassing the tone control altogether.

The first tone control is a Push/Pull Pot, which is set up for coil splitting on the Neck Humbucker. This way you can get either a Tele single coil neck sound or a true Humbucker sound. With the 5-way switch, the special wired tone controls, you get a large variety of tones.

The NECK pickup is a Seymour Duncan Little 59. (SL591-N) Designed after the 1959 PAF humbuckers used in the old Gibson Les Pauls, but has been shrunk down to fit in a single coil space. The MIDDLE pickup is a DiMarzio Virtual Vintage Blues (DP 402). This powerful little pickup is voiced after a 62 Strat but with more power and punch. It literally lives up to its name. With the special stacked magnets, it is dead quite and provides some full, rich, single coils blues sound—and quiet. The BRIDGE pickup is a DiMarizo Pre-B1 (DP 112). When choosing a set of pickups that would calibrate well, this was a natural choice. Since the neck and the middle pack more power, a pickup needed to be selected that would maintain a lot of the basic character of the Tele bridge position, yet make the sound is bigger. It has about 25% more power than a stock Tele bridge pickup, and that means a little thicker overdrive and more sustain.


This is a Sunburst 1996 Fender MIJ 50th Anniversary Deluxe Telecaster that has been completely rewired using all brand new USA parts and is customized like a James Burton Tele using the Strat-o-Tele wiring. The NECK and MIDDLE pickups are Strat Chrome Domes and the BRIDGE pickup is a T-150 LACE SENSOR which is similar to the Red Lace Sensor pickup.