8860 E. Chaparral Road,
Scottsdale, AZ 85250
Telephone: (480) 596-9690
Fax: (480) 596-1384
Also See: Squier Guitars
Also See: Fender Amps
Fender started in 1946 when Leo Fender first introduced his solid body electric guitar. Fender Musical Instruments Corporation has been in business for over 50 years. They have made large contribution to music at large by being the first to sell solid body electric guitars. This changed the landscape of music from Elvis to the Beatles a fender has been involved in some way.
Back in 1939 before Leo started Fender, he had a record and radio store called "Fender Radio Service". He had always been interested in electronics and music and thought this might fit the bill. With this shop he met other musicians including those who play lap steel guitars. Hawaiian music had been very popular at the time and Leo decided to open a Lap Steel Guitar store. For those who don't know what a lap steel guitar is, it's a solid body guitar that lies on your 'Lap' and is played using a metal bar in the left hand (for right handed players). There are no actual frets but fret markers where the metal bar is slid upon the strings etc... BTW There's also a Lap Pedal Steel Guitar which is based on the same concept.
In his new store he met Doc Kauffman who had worked for Rickenbacker Guitars. Doc was a violinist and lap guitar player as well. Rickenbacker was one of the first to use Electro-Magnetic pickups on their lap steel guitars. They had also been putting them on 'Spanish' style acoustic guitars (a non-cut-a-way normal looking Spanish acoustic guitar). In 1943 both Leo and Doc made their first solid body eclectic using one of these Rickenbacker electro-magnetic pickups. They basically strapped it to a solid piece of wood. The two later started yet another guitar company called "Kauffman and Fender" which started in late 1945. They made both Spanish and lap steel guitars as well as amplifiers. Later in 1946 Leo (Fender) and Kauffman went their different ways and Leo started Fender Manufacturing which was then renamed to Fender Electric Musical Instruments. On a somewhat predictable but strange note: Les Paul, living some 15 miles away, was working on the same thing, a solid body electric. His version ultimately turned into the Les Paul. It does seem strange that both of these influential people where in almost the same place at the same time - it's a small world after all. To top it all off Paul Bigsby also made a solidbody electric at the same time. Leo knew Paul Bigsby and saw his guitar (Bigsby's guitar) played by other musicians.
In 1949 Leo started work on the Esquire which featured a Telecaster style body with one single coil pickup mounted near the bridge. This guitar also brought the now very famous Fender straight 6 tuner headstock. All 6 tuners where placed on the same side facing up which allowed the guitarist easy access. The neck design was also changing as the original versions didn't have a truss rod. At the time (around 1950) these guitars where actually called 'canoe pedals' by competitors. Little did they know what they were missing. There were some pre-production Esquire models that had two pickups and a truss rod.
In late 1950 when the guitar was made the name was changed to 'Broadcaster'. This is the first marketed Fender solidbody electric and looks very similar to today's Telecaster, or actually it’s the Telecaster that is very similar to the original Broadcaster. It was made in 1950 and featured two single coil pickups with the tele body shape and truss rod in the neck. The truss rod besides giving the neck more strength and reinforcement it allows the guitarist to change the bend or bow. The name "Broadcaster" was changed in 1951 to "Telecaster" because Gretsch complained about prior use of the name. They (Gretsch) had various drum products called the "BroadKaster". Before being called Telecaster the guitar's 'Broadcaster' name decal was removed from the headstock. The guitar at this time was called the 'NoCaster' because of the missing decal.
In 1953 the Esquire was released. This guitar had the Tele body and neck yet only had a single pickup mounted near the bridge. At this time they had two guitars (Telecaster and Esquire) as well as seven guitar amps, and various lap steel guitars, and a new fangled thing called the electric bass. The seven Fender amps at the time where the Bandmaster, Bassman, Champ, Deluxe, Princeton, and Super Reverb. All this was before the Stratocaster had even come into play.
Some guitarists at the time where complaining about sharp edge found on the Telecaster's bodies. It would dig into the side guitarist. The Stratocaster was born out of the need for a smoother more contoured body style. In 1954 the Stratocaster was first released to the public. Its body design was rounded and had a double cut-a-way design which allowed the guitarist to reach the upper frets. This body shape was actually taken from the Fender Precision bass guitar, which was probably influenced by the various car makers’ designs of the time.
Another first were the use of 3 single coil pickups that gave the guitar a much wider range of sounds than any guitar built at the time. The most important feature was the built-in VIBRATO. This is similar to what Bigsby was doing at the time but the Fender design was smaller and more controllable. Fender actually called it Tremolo but Vibrato is more correct. The Tremolo was used to change the pitch of the guitar strings by reducing the tension placed on the strings and thus lowering their pitch. The 'Whammy' bar was first installed on the '54 Strat. It had six saddles where each saddle held a string and could be adjusted for height.
Many of the original Fender designs are very much in use today. From their guitar and bass amplifiers to PA systems and acoustic guitars. Fender is also responsible for Squier Guitars. Squier guitars started in the early 1980's and where generally made in Japan. They were exported into Europe using this name. The name came from the string manufacturer 'VC Squier that was acquired by Fender in the mid '60's. The idea with this guitar brand was to make them affordable for the masses, and that they did :)
Currently Fender consists of 10 main types of guitars: American Deluxe, American Standard, Standard, American Vintage, Artist, Classic, Deluxe, Highway One, Special Edition, and Vintage Hot Rod
The American Deluxe guitars have the latest technical advances and are manufactured in Corona, California. Some models include features like Samarium Cobalt Noiseless pickups, S1-Switching System, 1/8 inch solid maple top, Two Point synchronized tremolo, 22 Medium Jumbo Frets, LSR Roller Nut, and abalone inlays. Some of the models included in the Fender American Deluxe Series are the Ash Stratocaster, HSS Stratocaster, HSS LT Stratocaster, V-Neck Strat, FMT and QMT Strats, FMT and QMT Telecasters, Ash Telecaster, Telecaster, and Stratocaster.
These are guitars made to the exact specifications of that when they were originally built. They are manufactured in Corona, California. They feature appointments from the time period like a “U” shaped neck and vintage single-coil pickups, original wiring circuit designed, and come with a deluxe lined tweed or brown hard-shell case. Some of the guitars included in this series are the ’52 Telecaster, ’62 Custom Telecaster, ’57 Stratocaster, ’62 Strat, ’62 Jazzmaster, and the ’62 Jaguar.
The American Standard series is designed based upon feedback from customers. Some of the features that maybe included are hand-rolled maple or rosewood fretboard edges, staggered pickups, S-1 Switching System, Micro-Tilt Neck Adjustment, 22 Medium Jumbo Frets, and a 9.5 inch radius neck profile. Some of the guitars in this series includes the Telecaster, Ash Telecaster, HS and HH Telecaster, Stratocaster, and the HH and HSS Strats.
The Classic guitars are lower-cost versions of the American Vintage line. It includes classics from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. The main reason they are lower cost is they are made in Ensenada, Mexico. Guitars in this series include the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s Stratocaster, 50’s and 60’s Telecaster, 50’s Esquire, 12-String Stratocaster (XII), Mustang, ’69 and ’72 Tele Thinline, 72’ Tele Custom and Deluxe.
The Deluxe series are traditional guitars that have something special added to them. They are made in Ensenada, Mexico and cost less than if the same guitar were made in America. In this series you’ll find Tex-Mex and Humbucker pickups used as well as extra flat fretboards (12 inch radius), Tun-0-Matic Bridges, and guitars with active electronics. Some of the guitars in this series are the Acqustasonic Stratocaster, Fender Nashville Power Telecaster, Cyclone, Toronado, Strat HSS, and Power Strat.