When inventor Leo Fender started making electric guitars in the '40s and '50s he may never have imagined that two of his creations, the Telecaster and Stratocaster guitars, would become icons ushering in whole new styles of music. And he certainly couldn't have known that Fender Musical Instruments Corporation would become one of the world's foremost makers of guitars, basses, amplifiers, and guitar accessories revered by professional musicians and coveted by amateur players.
Fender started with a desire to meet the needs of rhythm and blues, Western swing, boogie, and honky-tonk players as the popularity of big bands declined. Electric guitars gave a small group of instrumentalists the ability to fill a dance hall or bar with sound the equal of an entire horn section. Fender's designs gave bassists and guitarists instruments that they could afford. His creations made it possible to mass-produce guitars and electric basses that met the needs of gigging musicians.
In 1951 Fender introduced the prototype for what eventually became the Telecaster, a solidbody electric guitar that is still in production and still beloved by country, rock, and blues guitarists. Famous Telecaster masters include Buck Owens, Waylon Jennings, Keith Richards, and Muddy Waters. Today you can still see rockers like Bruce Springsteen, Jonny Lang and James Root of Slipknot and Stone Sour deliver the classic Telecaster guitar sound.
Fender also introduced the Precision Bass in 1951. A split humbucker pickup model that met bassist's needs for a louder, more portable electric bass guitar to replace the acoustic upright double bass, the name "Precision" refers to the bass guitar's frets and neck shape, which allow precise hand placement and articulation. The P-Bass. as it's often called, remains a top choice among bass players today.
In 1960 Fender released the Jazz Bass, a bass guitar with a thinner neck, an offset-waist solid body, and 2 single-coil pickups. The J-Bass was an instant hit, as was its predecessor, the P-Bass.
This was the same era in which Fender introduced the Fender Bassman, a 45W bass amplifier with four 10" speakers. Other classic Fender amps have included the Princeton, Champ, Twin Reverb, Deluxe, and Vibrasonic, as well as many other amplifiers, guitar combos, and amp heads that are prized for their "California" sound.
The Stratocaster is probably the most famous Fender guitar. It gave many electric guitar virtuosos the sound they sought. The Strat also had features such as shape, weight, pickup configuration and construction that pros wanted in their electric guitars. From Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton to Dave Gilmour and Stevie Ray Vaughan, musical artists have found their voices with Fender Stratocaster guitars.
The FMIC line now includes the Charvel, Gretsch, Guild, Jackson, Olympia, Orpheum, SWR, Squier, and Tacoma brands. FMIC also manufactures a complete line of professional audio equipment under the Fender brand, including Passport portable PA sound systems. Fender products include a complete line of accessories, including guitar strings, authorized replacement guitar parts, cases for guitars and basses, straps, rock clothing, shoes, and musical gift items like wristwatches, belt buckles, and more.
To this day Fender Standard Strats and Teles, and the American Deluxe version of these guitars, as well as the famous Fat Strat, are in big demand. So is Fender's Highway One series of Stratocasters and Telecasters. Other popular Fender guitar models are the Jaguar, Jazzmaster, and Showmaster electric guitars. And let's not forget the Jazz Bass, the Precision Bass, those great Frontman and Super Champ amps, or the new Fender G-Dec Entertainment Centers.
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