Guitar Highlights: Oscar Moore’s Fender Nocaster

It’s hard to find a guitar more incredible than this. Not only is it the first custom-color Fender made through their factory production line, but it is also the first Fender guitar to receive gold hardware – a true luxury next to Fender’s usual nickel. All of this feels unreal but yet, here it is! This 1951 Nocaster is painted in White. You might wonder why we’re not referring to it as Fender’s Olympic White, and that’s because it’s unlikely that this color existed under that name so early in Fender’s history.

As for this guitar’s owner: legendary jazz guitarist, Oscar Moore. He played alongside Nat “King” Cole in his trio for many years. While Moore had allegedly fallen out of touch with the group sometime around 1947, below he is pictured playing with Cole in 1951. Surely enough, he is using this very Nocaster, looking pristine in its brand-new condition. Though there was very little documentation of Moore playing Fender guitars at this time, this photo was taken by Mr. Leo Fender himself…a rare sighting indeed!

Photo Credit: “A Modernist” Blog

Moore was primarily a Gibson arch top player, but Leo had this guitar made for him with custom appointments that included the White color, gold hardware, and a clear Lexan Pick guard painted with gold leaf on the underside. At the time, Leo was interested in attracting the jazz box crowd to play his guitars. Moore was very popular then and Don Randall, the President of Fender Sales, thought he would be the perfect fit to popularize their new, electric solid-body model. In a letter from 1953, Don Randall writes to Syd Heller of Columbia Music Company about how to attract more jazz players to Fender guitars and quotes Mr. Moore, who said it was the fastest guitar neck he had ever played!

Photo Credit: “A Modernist” Blog

This really is such a special piece with amazing provenance. Aside from its historical pedigree, the guitar has since been featured on the cover of Guitarist Magazine in the UK while it was at the Songbirds Guitar Museum. This spread includes pictures and a full feature on the story of this guitar as well!

Guitarist Magazine Cover from January of 2018 featuring Oscar Moore’s ’51 Nocaster

This history-filled Nocaster is available for sale now at Well Strung Guitars. Call us for more information – serious inquiries only, please. You can reach us at 516.221.0563 or