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Time for a replica of Bruce Springsteen's 'Born to Run' Telecaster?*

April 2, 2009 | 12:31 pm

Borntorun350jpg Guitars, like their owners, aren’t immortal, which is one reason why Eric Clapton decided to donate his celebrated “Blackie” Fender Stratocaster for a charity auction five years ago. (It fetched just under a cool $1 million.) Years on the road and in the studio had taken its toll, he said, so it was time to move on.

Bruce Springsteen, the subject of a Sunday Calendar profile, may be feeling the same way about his most famous Telecaster, the one he’s holding on to on the cover of the “Born to Run” album, which was fairly road-tested when that album came out 34 years ago. The Boss recently started exploring the idea of getting a clone to take on tour so the original doesn’t suffer further abuse, asking the folks at Fender’s Custom Shop about building him a doppelganger.

One of the Custom Shop’s innovations has been its Tribute series of replica guitars, which are copies of famous instruments duplicated down to the nick, scuff, scratch and cigarette stain. Currently the company has an Andy Summers Telecaster and a Rory Gallagher Strat copied from those players’ own guitars. They’ve also mirrored guitars played by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Clapton and other guitar heroes.

After Springsteen expressed interest in a copy of his signature Tele, Custom Shop marketing director Mike Eldred suggested a limited run of the iconic guitar, with maybe 100 instruments from which proceeds could be donated to the charity of Springsteen’s choice.

“He sent us a note back, saying, ‘That sounds like about 99 too many,' ” Eldred said recently. They’re still awaiting word on whether the Boss wants to move forward with just the one. In any case, fans may never know if he ever does get one, since the copies are virtually indistinguishable from the original. That one is currently on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland as part of a Springsteen exhibit, where you can look, but you'd better not touch.

— Randy Lewis

UPDATE: An earlier version stated that Springsteen has the "Born To Run" Telecaster with him on his current tour. It is on loan to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for an exhibit that opened this week.