The design was originally an attempt to reduce the weight of the solid-body Telecaster guitar, which had become ever heavier throughout the 1960s due to the dwindling supply of the light ash wood Fender had formerly used. The f-hole and reshaped pickguard are the most apparent visual clues to its construction.
There have been many different versions of the Telecaster Thinline over the years, although the original two are more recognizable. The 1969 version has two standard Telecaster pickups and a mahogany body, while the 1972 version, based on the Fender Telecaster Deluxe, yields two Fender Wide Range pickups and a natural swamp ash body. Thinline versions have been made in Mexico and Japan as a part of the Classic Series of guitars and basses, followed by higher-end American-made Factory Special Run (FSR) versions from the Fender Custom Shop in 2005 and 2013.
A much lower price Thinline design was produced in China and featured P-90 pickups and a mahogany body. While it retained the "Fender Telecaster" name on the headstock, it was not labeled as a Thinline, although the F-hole design and hollow construction makes its heritage obvious.