Fender: A Brief History
From modest beginnings in 1946 to its current status as a cultural icon, Fender has touched and transformed music worldwide and in every genre: rock ‘n’ roll, country, jazz, rhythm and blues, and everything in between. From beginners and hobbyists to the world’s most acclaimed artists, musicians have used Fender instruments to bring their dreams to life while changing the world along the way.
In the 1940s, Southern California inventor Clarence “Leo” Fender, a modest inventor and businessman with a special skill for electronics, founded a company that would imagine, invent, design, create and deliver the world’s most important and reliable tools of the recording and performing musician’s trade, including industry-leading amplifiers and iconic instruments such as the Telecaster®, Stratocaster®, Precision Bass® and Jazz Bass® guitars.
Throughout the 1940s, standard upright acoustic basses of the era could seldom be heard beneath the rumble of ever-growing pop and big bands. In 1951, Fender changed all that with the advent of the Precision Bass, an instrument that was easily heard and powerfully felt. The instrument became so popular that for years any electric bass guitar was often referred to as a “Fender Bass.”
Actively producing and marketing some of the most innovative electric instrument amplifiers as early as 1946, the company went on to perfect the art of sound reinforcement with the introduction of the Bassman® amp in 1951, followed by the legendary Twin Amp® in 1952; products that have been recognized as undeniable industry standards in sound ever since.
In 1954, Fender released what would become the most popular, recognizable and influential electric guitar of all time—the Stratocaster. The soon-to-be-famous instrument featured a comfortably contoured body, three pickups (allowing a multitude of tones never heard before) and a tremolo system that allowed players to mimic popular lap- and pedal-steel tones, all while remaining in tune.
With Fender guitars in the hands of artists such as Buddy Holly, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix to name only a few, entirely new genres of music took shape. Indeed, more popular music over the past 50 years has been made and played on the Stratocaster than on any other electric instrument.
By 1987, the renowned Fender Custom Shop opened in Corona, Calif., creating dream instruments for professional guitarists and guitar enthusiasts. Fender always recognized the importance of an open-door policy for musicians, accommodating their requests for specific features on an individual basis. The Fender Custom Shop has since become known worldwide as the pinnacle of craftsmanship and instrument artistry.
Since its founding, Fender has grown dramatically in stature, and still creates everything guitarists and bassists need, from instruments, amplifiers, strings and accessories to professional audio products. Fender became the world leader by defining the sounds we hear, by meeting the needs of musicians and by continuing to create quality products. As Fender forges into the 21st century, it continues to be driven by the same passions that inspired its founder and his passion and eternal love for music.