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Fender Guitars: An Introduction

The Story of the Stratocaster, the Telecaster, and Other Great Guitars

One of the premier guitar companies of the world is Fender Musical Instruments, Inc. (FMIC) The iconic Fender logo has adorned some of the most well-loved and well-played guitars, basses, and amps in music history. Their guitars are often duplicated by other companies, but there is nothing like a genuine Fender. This article goes over a brief history of the company and reviews several of its more famous guitars.

Fender electric guitars

Fender electric guitars
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Leo Fender’s Vision

Licensed electrician Leo Fender opened a radio repair shop in Fullerton CA in 1938. He repaired a number of different electrical products, including musical instrument amplifiers, which were relatively primitive at the time. Seeing design flaws in these amps, Fender set out to design his own amplifiers. He made modifications to existing designs to increase the quality of both the sounds produced, and the overall build of the amp.

Leo eventually began making musical instruments as well, first offering a Hawaiian guitar and amp set. Eventually he decided that manufacture of musical instruments would be more profitable than repair, and breaking amicably with his business partner Clayton Kauffman (who didn’t agree with Fender’s prediction), officially launched Fender Electric instrument Manufacturing Company in 1946.

First Successes

Fender introduced the first successful mass-produced solid-body electric guitar, the Broadcaster, in 1950. Soon renamed the Telecaster, it was known for its two-pickup design. It quickly became the guitar of choice for the emerging Rock and Roll culture. It has been in continuous production ever since.

The Telecaster was followed by the Stratocaster in 1954. Designed primarily for country musicians, it was quickly picked up by Jazz, Rock and other musicians, and eventually even Metal guitarists. It incorporated a sleek, contoured body with a horn shape for balance. It proved even more popular than the Telecaster, and like its sibling has been in constant production since its introduction.

The CBS Era and Beyond

In 1965, FMIC was purchased from Leo Fender by the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). This was initially seen as a good thing because of CBS’ deep pockets and resources. But in short order, the budget-conscious media company began making cost-cutting measures that compromised the overall quality of Fender Instruments. For example, the traditional four-bolt neck joint was replaced by a 3-bolt design, which caused an increase in mechanical failure. The company still made innovative guitars during this time, such as the Starcaster, but guitars made by Fender during this time are not as highly regarded as their earlier and later models.

In 1985, Fender was purchased from the network by a group of employees, and they proceeded to “right the ship.” To this day, they produce classic guitars such as the Jaguar, the Strat, the Tele, the Jazzmaster, and the small but mighty Mustang, as well as newer designs.

Over time, Fender has launched the Squier brand, which creates low-cost reproductions of their well-known guitars and basses. They also own the Jackson, Guild, Charvel, Gretsch, Ovation, and Tacoma guitar brands, and market them separately.

The Players

A list of well-known Fender players past and present would be too vast for this article, but to narrow it down to some of the true legends of guitar: Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Ritchie Blackmore, Paul McCartney, David Gilmour, Jeff Beck, and, of course, Jimi Hendrix are all famous as Fender players. If you want to join their ranks, check out your local guitar shop or http://www.fender.com.

Phone Glenn Sutton at: 619-306-3664.

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