Rather than writing long descriptions, much of which is the same for every one of these great guitars, I'm using this page for a little background info on these somewhat misunderstood guitars from 1983.
I've mentioned it many times, but I'm a big fan of the Elite Series. The tone, while not exactly your vintage Strat tone, does have a Strat-like tone (bridge/middle and neck/middle), however, it's more full and rich, falling somewhere between a Strat and a Gibson solid body. With its use of 3 on/off switches instead of a 5-way switch, it has the added benefit of neck/bridge and neck/middle/bridge settings, giving you 7 tones in all.
The Elite Series started out on the drawing board in 1981 and spent 18 months in design, with 1983 being the first year of production. Total production run was around a year and 95% of the ones I've had were '83 models. It was an ambitious attempt to blend the traditional Strat with upgraded features such as electronics, better neck adjustment, and more functional hardware - plus a very early version of a "locking tremolo", with a fine-tuning nut as an option, rather than the fine-tuning bridge we are now accustomed to. Depending on the guitar, these locking are sometimes installed, sometimes included but not installed, or sometimes installed but removed as evidenced by 4 telltale small holes above the nut. Used in conjunction with the new Freeflyte tremolo, it was an ambitious attempt, and a fairly successful one, at a tremolo system that would stay in tune better than the vintage style that had been in use since 1954.
Some of the innovations on this model took hold and were incorporated into the American Standard that followed 3 years later. The overall goal was to make a more flexible instrument with a modern look and feel. Features of the Elite included a new push-button pickup selector system which allowed all 7 combinations of pickups, a new Freeflyte tremolo with used a virtually frictionless knife edge pivot with heavy duty cast bridge. The Freeflyte also utilized an easy "drop in" string loading which made re-stringing a breeze. Trem spring tension is easily adjusted from the top of the bridge with the "Top-just" mechanism and the adjustable "Torq-master" trem arm snaps out for ease of use. Frequently these trem bars have been lost or sold separately as they sometimes fetch $75 or more at auction. Other features include the new "Biflex" truss rod, flatter (12") fretboard radius, jumbo frets, side-mounted output jack, and active electronics with a special tone circuit using the TBX and MDX (Tone bass expander and mid boost control) which change the tone of the guitar while also functioning as part of a noise reduction system. Battery access was via a small plate on the back of the guitar. The pickups are capable of fat sounds more along the lines of a humbucker while retaining much of the Strat tones, only quieter. This model also introduced the Schaller strap lock system and the "tilt-adjust" neck attachment which allowed adjustment of the neck angle while the neck was attached, far easier than removing the neck and using various sizes of shims. Like the features on this model, the price was also "elite" - at a time when the regular American Standard retailed for $550, the Elite was $895, which was a lot of cash around 30 years ago.
Some of the noteworthy features, shown here, include the new string trees, 4-bolt "Elite" neckplate with micro-tilt adjust, Schaller straplock strap pins, new-style Fender tuners with "half-round" casing, side output jack, rubberized knobs with "F" caps and black accents, Low-Z pickups which are larger than vintage style pickups, Freeflyte tremolo, low-friction string trees, and proprietary Freeflyte tremolo arm with distinctive "T" protrusions that lock the bar in place, making it both a trem arm and tool all in one.
The Elite was offered in many colors, although from my experience Black, Pewter, and Natural are by far the most common. Slightly less common, but still standard finishes, include: Artic White, Brown Sunburst, and Sienna Sunburst. Custom Colors include 4 solid colors - Candy Apple Red, Lake Placid Blue, Candy Apple Green, and Aztec Gold - plus 2 transparent colors - Emerald Green and Wild Cherry. The last color option were the "Stratoburst" finishes, which were airbrushed in a unique shading pattern in black, blue, and bronze.
Cases: Gold Elite and Walnut Elite, more on these later, were the top of the Elite line, and came with a special ATA Fender case in brown plastic with aluminum trim. All other Strat Elites came standard with the rectangular Fender molded case with 3 latches or, optionally, a vintage-style black tolex case with leather ends and white piping (these generally had a blue interior during this era).
The Elite Series started out on the drawing board in 1981 and spent 18 months in design, with 1983 being the first year of production and was gone by the end of 1984. It was an ambitious attempt to blend the traditional Tele with upgraded features such as electronics, better neck adjustment, and more functional hardware. Some of the innovations on this model took hold and were incorporated into the American Standard that followed 3 years later. The overall goal was to make a more flexible instrument with a modern look and feel. The Elite Telecaster, specifically, was designed to entice Gibson players as admitted by Dan Smith as he was trying to "pick up some of the Gibson players, hence the Les Paul type switch and the humbucking pickups." The Elite Tele was designed as a "balls-out" loud guitar fitted with dual humbuckers four controls, 3-way switch, and white body binding. Other Elite features include a Biflex truss rod, flatter (12") fretboard radius, jumbo frets, heavy cast bridge with drop-in string loading, "Ezy-Glyder" string trees, rubberized knobs with "F" caps, owner-installed pickguard, barrel style output jack, and active electronics with a special tone circuit using the TBX and MDX (Tone bass expander and mid boost control) which change the tone of the guitar while also functioning as part of a noise reduction system. Battery is accessed via a separate cover plate on the back of the guitar. The dual noise-canceling Alnico II pickups are described in the '83 catalog as "preserving the unique Telecaster tone..." but, in reality, the tone doesn't really have that Tele twang, but nonetheless, it's a quality tone, unique to this model and for my tastes, a fantastic tone that stands on its own. Teles were offered in the same finishes as the Strats above. Like the features on this model, the price was also "elite". At a time when the regular American Standard retailed for $550, the Elite was $895, which was a lot of cash around 30 years ago.