The Music Experience | Innovation Icon – Leo fender
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Innovation Icon

Leo Fender

fenderClarence Leonidas Fender, better known as “Leo Fender” is the creator and inventor of the world famous “Fender Guitar”. Some of the world’s greatest musicians prefer to play none other than a “Fender Guitar”. Leo Fender was born August 10, 1909 on his parents farm in Anaheim, CA. In Leo’s spare time he enjoyed repairing electronic equipment. During high school, Leo decided to pursue a professional career in accounting. By the early 1930’s Leo married his wife Esther Klosky and worked as an accounted for the State of California Highway Department in San Louis Obispon. When the great depression hit Leo unfortunately lost his job.


Leo who was an extremely resourceful and creative man decided to start his own business. He borrowed six hundred dollars and opened an equipment repair shop called Fender Radio Service. Eventually Leo got involved in the guitar and amplifier business as well. Leo soon found his true passion in life, this ending up making him a very successful entrepreneur. Leo re-invent and improve on the technology of the electric guitar. His new guitar had a cutting edge sound which ended up revolutionizing and changing the face of the music industry. In his later years, Leo’s health began to fail him. Leo continued to innovate right up until his final days. Leo suffered a number of strokes and developed Parkinson’s disease, and died on March 21, 1991.


The Fender Broadcaster
The Fender Broadcaster, launched around 1950, was the world’s first commercially available guitar with a solid wooden body and bolt-on neck.  Leo Fender’s whole design was geared to mass production and to a simple, yet effective electric instrument.


After George Fullerton joined Leo’s Fender Electric Instrument Company in 1948, the two men set about devising their production solid-bodied electric guitar, the Fender Broadcaster. The principle advantage being the ability of the solid body to deliver a clean amplified version of the strings inherent tone.


Even if Leo Fender had only built this one guitar (thank god he didn’t!!) his company’s place in the history of the electric guitar would be assured.


The fender Telecaster is the longest-running solid electric guitar still in production, a brilliantly simple piece of design which works as well today as it did when it was introduced in 1951.


The Telecaster was fender’s original Broadcaster electric.  The company was forced to change it when Gretsch claimed prior rights to the name.  But Leo fender and is small workforce in Fullerton, California must have been delighted with the new Telecaster name, is thoroughly modern reference to the emerging medium of television just right for an equally innovative device like the Telecaster, the first commercially marketed solid electric guitar.


The Telecaster usually referred to as ‘Tele” is known for its bright, cutting tone, and straightforward, no-nonsense operation.  The guitar has been used by also sorts of players from all musical backgrounds.  The guitar is able to emulate steel guitar sounds and is used to a great extent in country music.


The secret to the Tele’s sound centers on the bridge.  The strings pass through the body and are anchored at the back by six ferrules, giving solidity and sustain to the resulting sound.  A slanting-back pickup is incorporated into the bridge, enhancing the guitars treble tone.  The Telecaster should continue to survive due to its simplicity, effectiveness and versatility.


The Fender Stratocaster is perhaps the most popular and most emulated solid electric guitar ever.  Launched in early 1954, it was designed by Leo Fender together with his colleague Freddie Tavares.  The two were also helped by the contributions of country musician Bill Carson.


Fender had already pioneered the solid electric with their Telecaster.  The stylish Strat, epitome of 1950s tallfin-flash design, built upon fender’s idea of a guitar engineered for mass-production rather than hand-crafted for individual players.


It had three pickups where most electrics had one or two, there was a vibrato arm to bend the pitch of the strings and return them more or less to accurate tuning.  The strings could also be adjusted at the bridge.  The guitar featured a contoured body for player comfort, and a jack-plug socket recessed into the front of the body.   Fender Strats continue to be a very popular guitar today.  Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughan and many other famous players have used the Strat during their careers.