Fender’s Summer of Love

As many of you know, the history of the Fender Telecaster dates back to 1951 when Leo Fender revolutionized guitar building and music with the introduction of the first-ever mass produced solid-body electric. Over the years, these guitars sold so well that they exist in essentially the same form to date. Flash back to the summer of 1967: The Summer of Love, where the colors were bright and the styles were simply psychedelic. CBS era Fender guitars were bold to begin with, but in 1968 they did the unimaginable…

The Borden Company, founded in the 1857, introduced their brand mascot, Elsie the Cow, in 1936. Elsie was an American icon who’s recognition through advertising campaigns stole the hearts of the nation. The Borden Company was predominantly known for the production of their consumer products such as processed snacks and dairy. Later in the company’s life, they expanded to include some industrial products such as plastics, resins, and wallpapers. Most famously, they introduced Elmer’s & Crazy Glue to the market during these years. All the while, the company was going to be written into Fender’s musical instrument history without even knowing it.

You might think that there is no correlation between the Borden Chemical Company and Fender, but in this case you thought wrong. During the 1960s, the world was going through a major cultural change. The Summer of Love and the “flower power” trend was taking over the pop culture scene. During this time, the political climate was dark and the music scene was rebelling, albeit peacefully. People ached for something bright and Fender was looking to put something new and exciting out on the market. It was then, in July of 1968, that Fender officially announced their newly available “Blue Flower” and “Paisley Red” Telecasters & Telecaster Basses in their price list.

Fender Blue Flower ad scan
The original 1968 flyer introducing the “Blue Flower” finish options on the Telecaster and Telecaster Bass
Fender "Red Paisley" ad scan
The 1968 flyer introducing the “Red Paisley” finish options for the Telecaster and Telecaster Bass

The unexpected tie between the Borden Chemical Company and Fender came in the form of a sparkling self-stick decorative foil that was applied to the front and back of Telecasters and Telecaster Basses before they were finished with a coordinating “sunburst” color and sprayed with a clear finishing polyester lacquer. The name of this mystery product was Cling-Foil and it was advertised as being able to be used on furniture, appliances, and more.

We were lucky enough to come across a new-old stock roll of the Paisley finish Cling-Foil from an old shop in California. Seeing this material in its natural state with a true silver background just goes to show the age on these guitars where the silver has turned to gold under the yellowing of the clear coat. 

Fender Red Paisley Telecaster Bass detail with Cling Foil
Above: The 1968 Telecaster Bass in Red Paisley next to the NOS roll of Cling Foil. Notice the yellowing of the clear coat.

These extraordinary prints were nothing short of unique, especially on a guitar that was so traditionally simple. They were only available on the Telecaster & Telecaster Bass as they were solid planks of wood and took to the contact paper well due to their lack of contours. 

While some players of the time, including James Burton, played them, the overall success of this finish was less than Fender had hoped. The texture and thickness of the Cling-Foil unfortunately did not maintain the clear finish easily as the material didn’t have a stable hold on the paint. Due to these issues, the production of these pieces only lasted about a year. These instruments have become increasingly difficult to come across today in pristine condition as there was only an estimated 75 of each color Telecaster made and only 25 of each Telecaster Bass made. 

We have been lucky enough to have procured an original Paisley and Floral Telecaster along with a mint Paisley Telecaster Bass for the Songbirds Guitar Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Since then, Fender has reissued the Telecaster in both the Paisley & Floral finishes. With ambassadors like Brad Paisley playing these instruments regularly on tour, there was no doubt they would become a hit in the modern day.

Enjoy a few photos of this stunning bass!

Fender Red Paisley Telecaster bass detail
Fender Red Paisley Telecaster Bass detail
Fender Red Paisley Telecaster Bass
Fender Red Paisley Telecaster Bass head stock with original Cling Foil in background
Fender Red Paisley cling foil pattern detail
Borden Chemical Red Paisley Cling Foil detail