Fender Guitars – information

The history of Fender goes way back to 1946. A truly iconic brand that has been at the centre of musical development for decades. There isn’t a musical genre that has been affected by a Fender guitar from rock ‘n’ roll, country and western, jazz, rock, rhythm and blues – you name it, Fender has been there. Ask any wannabe guitar player what their dream guitar would be and there’s a very good chance it will be a Fender. Whether it’s a Telecaster® or a Stratocaster® electric guitar or a Precision® or Jazz® bass guitars.

An inventor from California called Leo Fender made innovative prototype amplified guitars using SOLID BODIES instead of the usual hollow body. He not only got the sound he was striving for – he also developed a process for building these new, ground breaking solid body electric guitars. That was back in the 1940’s.

All images courtesy of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation ©2020

1951 – the Fender Broadcaster / Telecaster

It wasn’t until 1951 when Leo Fender presented a prototype solid-body instrument that would eventually be called the Telecaster® guitar. initially as the Fender Broadcaster – the Fender Telecaster is one of the most popular electric guitars ever produced.

A modern Fender Telecaster guitar

The Telecaster has been in full production since 1951/52. The collectors dream version is known as the “NOCASTER”. Due to copyright infringements in 1951 the Broadcaster labels were simply removed -these no label models are highly prized. More information on the HISTORY of the Fender Telecaster here

Keith Richards Hannover 2006

Keith Richards with his Fender Telecaster – image by Patrick Baumbach, original uploader was DieBand

The Fender Precision Bass

At this time – the term “Bass guitar” referred to the large upright bass instruments. Fender took the upright bass and introduced a revolutionary new instrument – the Precision Bass guitar. Played like a regular guitar (under the arm) with the addition of frets. A traditional bass instrument has no frets leaving the location of notes to the skill of the musician. The Precision Bass could be played with “precision”. The other breakthrough was the introduction of amplification. Being amplified bassists no longer needed to carry around their large, unwieldy and increasingly difficult-to-hear acoustic basses.

A modern Fender Precision Bass guitar

In the 1940’s and early 50’s the only way to create loud music was with a traditional “big band”. These new small, amplified, portable guitars allowed smaller bands to be formed leading the way to the modern 4 or 5 piece rock combo.

1954 – Fender Stratocaster arrives

Musicians of the time didn’t have to wait long for the next revolution. It was in 1954 that Leo Fender released the Fender Stratocaster. A key to the innovation behind the Stratocaster is its third single-coil pickup. This extra pickup offered more tonal possibilities.

A modern Fender Stratocaster guitar

Physical changes to the body shape made it more comforable to play and the double cutaway design made access to upper frets much easier. More information on the HISTORY of the Fender Stratocaster here

Eric-Clapton 1975

Eric Clapton with a Fender Stratocaster “Blackie” circa 1975 – photo Matt Gibbons

Fender Tremolo bridge

The addition of the new Fender vibrato (or “tremolo”) bridge was a real game changer. The tremolo lever gave lead guitarists the ability to “bend” strings. This bending of the strings can either flatten the pitch (by loosening the strings) or by pulling the tremolo arm away from the body it can sharpen the pitch (tightening the strings).

The Stratocaster has revolutionized popular music as we all know and love it today. Essentially the design has remained unchanged since its debut in 1954. The STRAT is the most popular and influential electric guitar ever. A look down the Fender Stratocaster Hall of Fame reads like a who’s who of the music world.

Because of poor health, Leo Fender sold the company to CBS in 1965. Fender Musical Instruments experienced tremendous growth over the next 20 years, but a lack of commitment and real understanding of music and musicians by CBS gradually became apparent.

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A sample of Fender guitars available from Gear4Music

The quick links provided below provide easy access to the most popular Fender guitar styles and models.

History of the Fender Icons

To find out more about some of the most iconic Fender guitars – please use the links below