It’s no exaggeration to say that knowing the history of Fender means knowing the history of electric guitars. Many other electric guitar brands have carried a little Fender in their products, even for Gibson.
In the 1940s, guitarist Les Paul invented a solid-body guitar in the Epiphone factory and named it Log. He presented the idea to Gibson but received no interest. It wasn’t until Fender released the Telecaster that the company returned to seriously consider Les Paul’s idea, and the result of their collaboration was Gibson Les Paul. So if there was no Fender Telecaster, would there be Les Paul?
The technological innovation race for over 70 years has led to many results that we take for granted today. Let’s take a look at history and see the products that have had the biggest impact on rock music from Fender.
The Telecaster began as the Esquire in 1950, then the second Broadcaster, and finally the Telecaster, designed by Leo Fender – founder of Fender – with unique innovation.
The form and function of this guitar have remained essentially the same since its inception. Fender built the Tele model for clear, clean sounds, and assembly line production. With a flat, solid body and simple wiring, thousands of Tele guitars could be made and rock players were not too hard to buy it.
Today the Fender Telecaster is one of the simplest guitars out there, but in its infancy, it was a huge success. Leo Fender knew what he was doing!
The first Fender Stratocaster appeared in 1954. Like the Tele, it was simple in form and function but featured some differences.
The body shape featured contours to make holding the guitar more comfortable, and a double-cutaway design that helped artists easily access the low frets. The tremolo bar allowed players to add vibrato to the sound, a three-pickup design meant more tone options than the Telecaster.
However, Strat’s beginning was not very favorable until rock icon Buddy Holly used a sunburst Strat on the Ed Sullivan Show. Then a bunch of other artists like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Yngwie Malmsteen, and many more rock guitarists used the Fender Stratocaster to get the sound they needed.
The Strat is also the most modified guitar on the market. When guitarists felt that it didn’t have the sound they wanted, they took a wrench to it. They have created their own customizations to suit the style and these changes were caught in other brands’ guitar designs.
Without the Fender Stratocaster, we would never have seen Ibanez or Jackson Soloist.
The Stratocaster is one of the most popular guitars in the world, and no matter what genre you’re into, you can find value in the Strat. The Fender Jazzmaster, however, has its own taste.
With a large body, single-coil pickups, unique lead and rhythm circuits, normal pickup switching, and tone control, the Jazzmaster is more sophisticated than the Tele and Strat. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as warmly welcomed as the previous two. Even so, it played an important role in shaping the sound of the ‘60s surf guitar, and later it appealed to guitarists looking for a new distinctive sound.
Since the late ’50s, the Jazzmaster has been a unique voice in the Fender lineup. While not as well known as the Stratocaster or the Telecaster, it is no less important in this brand’s evolution.
The Fender Jaguar popped up in 1962, and like the Jazzmaster, it has a certain attraction for surf players. It looks almost identical to the Jazzmaster but has a few differences such as a more complex pickup switching and tone circuit system, a shorter scale length, and single-coil pickups more like on a Strat or Tele.
Jaguar was considered the most innovative Fender guitar yet. The initial release of the Jaguar received the interest of many musicians, but then Fender ceased production.
But the grunge movement of the early ’90s brought the Jaguar back into the limelight, as guitarists found clever uses for its unique sound. Jaguar is now re-manufactured by Fender and is available globally.
Fender introduced the Mustang in 1964 as a children’s guitar. It is an instrument only about 24 or 22.5-inch long with a pair of single-coil pickups. Unlike the Tele, it does not have a pickup selector switch. Instead, each pickup has its own on-off switch. In 1982, Fender removed the guitar from production.
However, the explosion of grunge in the early ‘90s led to a Mustang renaissance. It was the favorite of many top alternative musicians like Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain.
Today, the Mustang is a popular Fender instrument. Although it is unlikely that the students chose it as the first guitar, it has found its place as one of the most legendary guitars of Fender in rock history.
Fender is a giant name in the music industry, its products have contributed to changing the face of many music genres since its inception. Hope this article can help you understand somewhat more about legendary Fender guitars in particular and music in general.
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