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Fender Custom Shop

Leo Fender Biography

Leo Fender

Early Life and Education

Born Clarence Leonidas Fender on August 10, 1909, in Anaheim, California. Raised on a farm, he developed a strong work ethic and mechanical aptitude. He attended Anaheim Union High School, showing interest in electrical courses.


Fender Radio Service

Founded in 1933, Fender Radio Service specialized in radio repair and sales, developing a reputation for excellence in electronics.

The Birth of the Electric Guitar

In the early 1940s, Fender began experimenting with electric pickups for Hawaiian lap steel guitars. He designed the Fender Esquire in 1949, the first commercially successful electric guitar with a solid body. The Fender Broadcaster (later renamed Telecaster) was released in 1950, which became an iconic rock and roll guitar.

Fender Electric Instrument Company

Fender co-founded the Fender Electric Instrument Company with George Fullerton in 1946. The company focused on designing, manufacturing, and selling electric guitars, basses, and amplifiers.

The Telecaster

Debuted in 1950, the Fender Telecaster is celebrated as one of the pioneering electric guitars, revered for its simplicity, durability, and iconic single-cutaway design. Renowned for its clear, twangy tones and straightforward control layout, the Telecaster has left an indelible mark on music history, earning the admiration of countless musicians across genres.

The Stratocaster

Introduced in 1954, the Fender Stratocaster quickly became one of the most popular electric guitars in history. It is known for its sleek design, versatility, and distinctive three-pickup configuration.

Fender Guitars Factory

Amplifier Innovations

Fender developed the Fender Twin Reverb amplifier in 1964, setting a new standard for clean, powerful sound. His amplifiers were integral to the development of rock, country, and blues music.

Retirement and Legacy

Fender sold the Fender Electric Instrument Company to CBS in 1965 but continued to work on guitar and amplifier designs as a consultant until his death on March 21, 1991, in Fullerton, California.

Fender Telecaster

Accomplishments and Awards

Considered one of the most influential inventors in the music industry, Fender's electric guitars and amplifiers revolutionized the sound and accessibility of popular music. He received the National Medal of Arts from President George H.W. Bush in 1991 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

Characteristics and Philosophy

Fender was known for his practical, innovative approach to instrument design. He believed in creating affordable, reliable, and user-friendly equipment while avoiding excessive aesthetic flourishes, focusing on functionality and sound quality.

Continuing Impact

Fender guitars and amplifiers remain essential tools for musicians worldwide, inspiring countless other guitar makers and influencing generations of musicians. The legacy of Leo Fender continues to shape the sound and evolution of electric music.

Fender Custom Shop

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