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What made FEndEr Guitar Corporation so successful?

Fender Guitar Corporation, formally Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing


Company, was founded by Clarence Leonidas Leo Fender in Fullerton, California. The
American Company is recognised worldwide for its manufacture of Stringed
Instruments & Ampliers; specically its Solid Body Guitars and Basses.
Fender Guitars are valued dierently depending on where they are manufactured.
Fender guitars are manufactured in America, Japan and Mexico. Fender also
manufacture a series of cheaper guitars under the name Squier . All Squire guitars are
made in Korea and China.
Long before Leo Fender started making guitars, he starts out making ampliers. One of
the rst ampliers made was the Fender Princeton and was released under the Woodie
series of guitars. These were released between 1946 - 1948 and were available in 8 ,
10 and 12 speaker congurations. At the time, Fender used tube amplication
because this was cheaper to manufacture than Solid State amplication which had not
yet taken o. Fender ampliers were manufactured in America and were very powerful
in relation to any other ampliers that were being made at the time. Bigger companies
such as Marshall and Mesa Engineering originally started out by modifying Fender
ampliers and this is one of the reasons both companies were so successful.
From here, Fender developed their ampliers in accordance with what artists wanted by
releasing the Tweed, Blonde, Brownface, Sliverface and Blackface lines being released
from 1946 until the current day. Fender have also released a Pawn Shop series of amps
where the line up changes each year, bringing back uniquely designed amps that are
only available for the year.
Fender introduced its rst Solid-State amplier in 1966 and these were marketed as
the agship models in the Fender lineup and were intended to take over from the tube
amplied units. However, at the time, Fender did not have an extensive knowledge on
transistor power ratings and soldering techniques. As a result of this, Fender backed
away from the idea of Solid-State amplication for another ten years and the solid state
lineup was a failure as they deemed not as reliable as the vacuum tube powered
counterparts. To this day, Fender as still renowned for their tube powered ampliers
branded with the renowned silver face design.

Telecaster - 1950
In the Autumn of 1950, Fender introduced the worlds rst
Solid Body Electric Guitar: the Fender Telecaster. Originally
released as the Fender Broadcaster had a simple two pickup
design that is still present in models of today. A single coil
Lipstick pickup is placed near the neck with a standard single
coil placed at an angle in the ash tray bridge.
Shortly after its release a select number of guitars were
manufactured without a name on the headstock and these
became known as Nocasters . Only a limited number of these
were made and an original Nocaster can be worth up to
$75,000 today. Shortly after this, in Summer of 1951, Fender
changed the name of the guitar to the Fender Telecaster which
we known and love.
Since 1950, the Telecaster has been sold in one form or
another continuously and is still one of the most desired
guitars to own. Other variations or the Telecaster have been
released since it was designed.
These include the Thinline Telecaster which was characterised by having a solid centre
block with hollow wings. Various versions of the Thinline had dierent pickup
arrangements. For example the 72 version was released with two Humbuckers in a
neck and bridge formation.
The Telecaster Deluxe was introduced in 1972 and had a standard Telecaster Solid
Body with two Humbuckers and a larger headstock similar to that of the later
Stratocaster.

Precision Bass - 1950


Also in the Autumn of 1950, Fender
released the Precision Bass or P-Bass. It
was the rst solid body bass guitar to be
recognised globally. From its release in
1950 to 1957, the P-Bass featured one single coil pickup. This was briey known as the
Telecaster Bass as it was released at the same time as the Telecaster and featured the
same smaller headstock. Since 1957, all standard P-Basses have been released with a
single coil split pickup as shown on the image above.
As with the Telecaster, Fender have released a number of dierent versions of the
Precision Bass. The American Standard P-Bass was known for its high mass bridge and
lightweight tuning machines. The American Deluxe featured an additional pickup - a

Jazz Bass style humbucker located in the bridge position with a 3-Band active EQ. The
American Vintage Series feature all the same features of an American Standard except
they are manufactured in Corona, California.

Stratocaster - 1954
In 1954, Leo Fender designed and
released the Fender Stratocaster. The
Stratocaster was the rst guitar to
feature a three pickup design as well
as containing a spring tension tremolo
system. It also had a contoured body
that allowed it to be played more
comfortably by the player which was revolutionary for the likes of Gibson and other
guitar manufactures at the time.
Early Telecasters featured a three-way pickup selector. This was later changed in 1977
to a ve-way selector as players wanted to be able to select more than one pickup at a
time. It is one of the most widely used guitars and is used in almost every genre of
music.
It is available in many dierent pickup combinations. Standard Stratocasters have a
three pickup design with the American Deluxe Series having available any combination
of Humbuckers and Single Coil pickups.

Jazzmaster - 1958
The Fender Jazzmaster was rst released at the 1958 NAMM Show.
It was initially designed as the more expensive relative of the already
widely used Stratocaster. It was intended for use in Jazz as it
featured an Oset-Waist body which was designed to feel more
comfortable when played sitting down - which was how many Jazz
and Blues guitarists prefer to play. Original Jazzmasters featured two
Soapbar pickups in a neck and bridge position. They looked very
similar to P-90 s used by Gibson at the time however were woven
slightly dierently.
The Jazzmaster also features a oating tremolo system which can be
manually activated when a string breaks to prevent the whole guitar
from going out of tune. It was also one of the rst Fender Guitars to
feature a lead and rhythm switching circuit that could be activated by
the switch underneath the neck pickup.
Since its release the Jazzmaster has remained relatively unchanged.

In 2008, Fender introduced the Classic Player Series which is manufactured in Mexico
and varies slightly from the Standard Jazzmaster. One of the main dierences being
that it is tted with special versions of the Gibson P-90.
In 2010, the Mexican Blacktop was introduced with a Duncan Designed Single Coil Neck
pickup and a specialised bridge humbucker pickup as well as a three-way pickup
selector.

Jazz Bass - 1960


The Fender Jazz Bass was the
second bass, designed and
produced by Fender.
It was originally designed as the
Bass version of the Jazzmaster
which also featured an Oset
Waist Body . It was intended to produce a distinct sound from the Precision Bass with
more of a boost in the Mid and High Frequencies due to the Double Single Coil Pickup
arrangement. Each string was given two pickup poles which meant that the Bass could
produce a more punchy overall sound. It was also given a thinner and more rounded
neck that would allow for a better and more comfortable playing style. This was
intended to be more attractive to the Jazz Player of the time.
Early Jazz Basses can often be found with metal Bridge/Tailpiece cover. This was to
hold in place a spring felt mute that sat over the strings at the bridge. As well as this,
early basses featured Stacked Knob controls which had a tone and volume for each
individual pickup & these are now highly valued in todays market.
There are now many versions of the Jazz now available. These include the American
Standard Jazz Bass which features the same smaller radius neck, a thinner coat of
lacquer to allow the body to resonate more as well as 1960, Fender Custom Shop
Pickups. The American Deluxe Jazz Bass features a 3 Band Active EQ which is also
featured on the Deluxe Precision Bass.

Bass VI - 1961
The Fender Bass VI was originally released in 1961 and was released as following the
idea of a Six String Bass tuned E to E. The Fundamentals of the guitar followed that of
the Fender Jazzmaster with the Oset Waist design taken from the Jazzmaster and Jazz
Bass. It also featured the Fender Floating Tremolo which can also be found on the
Jazzmasters. However, the concept of a Six String Bass never caught on and the model
was discontinued.

In 2006, Fender released a recreation of the Bass VI from the Custom Shop Line which
was identical to the originally released Bass VI. in 2013 The Fender Pawn Shop revived
the Bass VI as part of the Pawn Shop Series along with a number of other guitars
from Fenders history. This Pawn Shop Version was released with Two Single
Coil Pickups in the Mid and Neck Positions and a Humbucker at the
bridge. Instead of the original switches for each pickup, the
Pawn Shop Bass VI featured a Strat-style 5-way pickup
selector. Also in 2013, Squire released a Bass VI
under the Vintage Modied Series. This
featured three Single Coil Pickups
along with the switching
system featured on the
original Bass VI s.

Jaguar - 1962
The Fender Jaguar was released

in 1962 and is made unique by

its two separate circuits for


the Jazzmaster in design and was

rhythm and lead. It is very similar to


released as a top-of-the-line

model intended to lure many players over from Gibson. The Jaguar
was rst produced from 1962 - 1975. After various upgrades
including pearl inlays and a bound neck, the Jaguar was discontinued
after 13 years of production due to the expensive design not
catching on.
The Jaguar was originally popular with the Surf Scene however later
became a hit with Indie & Rock musicians due to the resonance that
the bridge on the Jaguar oered. As well as this, when the strings
behind the bridge are strummed, this oers a unique sound that
some artist later used in albums & records.
In 1999, Fender reissued the Jaguar as part of its American Vintage
Series which proved more successful than the original run of Jaguars
in 62. Since its re-release in 99, Fender have released variations.
These include the 50th Anniversary Jaguar which was released in
2012. This was set apart by a number of slight neck adjustments and
a specially designed single coil neck pickup that was intended to
produce a fatter tone and produce a higher output than the Standard.
Along with the 50th Anniversary Jaguar, Fender released both a Kurt Cobain and a
Johnny Marr signature models. The Kurt Cobain signature featured DiMarzio
humbuckers, and an active preamp system. The Johnny Marr signature was tted with a

four way pickup selector that allowed for all the usual selections that a three way would
oer, with the added capability of running the pickups in series or parallel. These were
just some of the variations released by Fender.

Mustang - 1964
In 1964 Fender released the
Mustang. This was released
as a redesign of the already
available less expensive
student models: the DuoSonic and Musicmaster.
The Mustang was produced until 1982 when production was stopped. It was rereleased in 1990 and became very popular with alternative rock bands due to its unique
elongated body. The original Mustang featured two single coil pickups at an angle (as
pictured above) to increase tone in the bass and treble end of the guitar. It also had ono-on switches for each pickup. The second on feature allowed for the phase of the
second pickup to be reversed when the pickups run in parallel. This was very unusual
for a guitar of the time to have the option to change the phase of a pickup as well as
have individual pickup switches instead of a normal pickup switch.
The Mustang also featured a Fender Dynamic Vibrato tailpiece which was combined
with the oating bridge system found on previous Fenders. It is noted as being a very
sensitive vibrato which is why the sprung tremolo from the Stratocaster is preferred.
When rst released, the Mustang was available in two dierent scale
lengths: the short scale 24 or even smaller 22.5 . The 24 was a lot more
popular and so when the Mustang was re-released in 1990, the 3/4 22.5
scale length was scrapped.

Mustang Bass - 1966


In 1966, the Fender Mustang Bass was released alongside the Mustang
itself. It was designed as a short scale bass and was the last bass
designed entirely by Leo Fender. The original Mustangs had a split single
coil design similar to that of the Precision Bass with strings held with
through body routing. The early Mustangs were released with string
mutes, however most musicians removed these.
The Standard nishes of the basses were red and white. In 1969, the
Mustang guitar and basses were released in Competition nishes with a
variety of stripes. Later, it was released in the more popular black and
sunburst colours.

Production was continuous from 1966 until 1981. It was re-released in 2002 by Fender
Japan and has been produced since then. The Musicmaster Bass was a popular variant
which was released in the mid 60 s as a cheaper version of the Mustang bass. Over
time, this has evolved into the Squier series selection of guitars.
In 2013, Fender launched three new Mustang Basses as part of the Pawn Shop Series.
They sport the original Candy Red, Olympic White and three colour sunburst colour
schemes as well as the original staggered single coil pickups.

Coronado - 1966
In 1966, Fender released the Coronado. A double cutaway thin-line hollow
electric guitar that was unlike anything Fender had ever released. The guitar
designed by Roger Rossmeisl and was released as a rival to popular
hollow body guitars at the time such as the Epiphone Casino which
were being used by The Beatles and so made them very popular.
Three version of the Coronado were released from 1966 until
it was discontinued in 1972. The Coronado I was a single
pickup design and was discontinued in 1970. The Fender
Coronado II had a two pickup design and this has remained
the same until the current day. Another version that was
released was the Coronado XII which is a 12 string version of the
Coronado. This was released in 1967 and was discontinued in 1972.
A limited number of Coronado I and II s were released in a special Wildwood nish. This
is manufactured by injecting a dye into a tree whilst it still grows and this stains the
wood whilst still growing. As well as the other usual Fender colours, one Blonde
Coronado exists and this is being kept in a museum in California. Unusually, early
Coronado s were built using pickups manufactured by Gretsch. The hollow body guitar
was re-released in 2013 in
the original colours, with an
almost unchanged design.

Coronado Bass - 1968


The Coronado Bass was
released in 1968 and was
simply the bass version of
the earlier Coronado, released two years previous. It was the same hollow body design
with Gretsch pickups. Like the Coronado, it features a oating F tailpiece, Pickup

selector switch and tone and volume controls for each pickup. It was also discontinued
in 1972 and then re-released in 2013.

Starcaster - 1976
The Fender Starcaster is a Semi-hollow guitar designed
and released by Fender Musical Instruments
Corporation. It was designed, like the
Coronado as a rival to the popular
Gibson ES-335 and other such
Semi-Hollows at the time.
It was designed at a time when Fender

had

lowered its standards of manufacture

and so many of the

original Starcasters were not of Fender


Unlike many Semi-hollows at the time,

quality that we know today.


Fender used bolt on necks for the

Starcaster rather than the set in necks of Gibson and Gretsch.


The Starcaster was an unpopular guitar as Fender at the time was viewed a company
renowned for their solid body single coil guitars and Gibson were the owners of the
Semi-Hollow Humbucker notation. The unique enlarged headstock design was loved by
some but not by others and is still the only guitar to use this design. It featured two
hum buckers with individual volume and tone control for each, a pickup selector and a
master volume knob. This was discontinued in 1982.
In 2013, Fender reissued the Starcaster as part of the Modern Player series. The new
version was reasonably the same apart from a few minors changes that included the
removal of the master volume control, removal of the through body string bridge
(replaced with a tune-o-metic), new four screw neck plate and most importantly, a
centre block, making this a semi-hollow guitar.

Fender Bullet - 1981


In 1981 Fender released the Bullet . It was originally intended to take over from
the Mustang and

Jaguar Bass - 2006


The Jaguar Bass is simply a bass version of the previously released Fender Jaguar. In
design, it is almost identical to the original Jaguar with the exception of the neck being
taken from a Jazz Bass and the pickups from a combination of the Precision and Jazz

Basses. Rather than the standard dot inlays on the neck, Fender opted for pearl block
inlays which was usually only featured on Deluxe models. The bass also features an
onboard preamp with bass and treble rollers which are located at the top of the
pickguard. The lower pick guard holds an on/o switch for each pickup and then a third
switch to toggle between parallel and series wiring and the master jack plate holds the
master volume and master tone.
The rst generation of the Jaguar bass was sold from 2006-2010 and manufactured in
Japan and was available in Hot Rod Red and Black. Only right handed version of this
bass were available. In 2011, the second generation of Jaguar Bass was released, also
made in Japan and available in a larger variety of colours, but still only available in right
handed versions. In 2014, Fender released the American Jaguar Bass which was
available in 3-Tone Sunburst, Black, White and Candy Apple Red. Both the Second
generation of Japan Jaguar Basses and American Jaguar Basses are still in production
to this day.

Dimension Bass - 2013


The Fender Dimension Bass is a very unique instrument. It is one of the
basses manufactured by Fender thats body shape is not based on a
previously released guitar and so this makes the Dimension bass the rst
newly designed bass since 1950. It bares similar resemblance to the Musicman
Stingray and Leo Fenders involvement could have had an inuence in the design
of this bass as similarly it features a humbucker pickup (some models are
available with double humbuckers). It also features a high mass bridge and is
available in a number of colours and nishes. There are both four and ve
string versions of the bass available.

The dimension basses are manufactured across and number of lines


including an American Standard Series, a Modern Player Series that is
made in China, and a Deluxe and Standard Series that are both made in
Mexico. IN addition to this, Fender has released a series of Squier
Dimension basses that are manufactured in Indonesia.

Starcaster Bass - 2013


The Fender Starcaster Bass is a Semi-hollow bass manufactured in China by Fender
Musical Instrument Corporation. Although various designs for the Starcaster bass were
released in 1976 with the original Starcaster, no models were ever manufactured and
the name Starcaster Bass was never conrmed. So in 2013, Fender opted for just the
Fender on the headstock and so this name has never really been conrmed.

The basses are tted


with Fender humbucker style pickups as well as a selector switch
and volume and tone controls for each pickup. The bass also
features a high mass bridge and paddle tuners. Only three colours are available
in the Starcaster - Black, Cherry Burst and Natural with all three featuring maple
fretboards. It features the same oset waist that are present in many other Fender
guitars. In similar fashion to the Coronado Bass, the Starcaster also features a fourscrew bolt on neck.
Fender has now grown to be one of the biggest guitar manufactures in the world with
an estimated net worth of 700 million. The company now manufactures Guitars,
Basses, Ampliers, Mandolins, Ukele, Guitar Pedals and Accessories. Due to Fender
manufacturing in a number of dierent countries, they are able to manufacture using
cheaper materials. This makes them attractive to a wide range of customers and
Fender dominate the market with a guitars starting from 100 to 2000. This means
that anybody, no matter what budget can aord a Fender guitar. This is not the same
with other brands such as the likes of Gretsch and Gibson have an increased price
making them more the higher range guitar companies in price. As well as the pricing,
Fender owes its success to its fantastic build quality and choice of materials and
marketing techniques.
Whilst reading online blogs, I was able to nd that many guitarists and bassists prefer
Fender to other guitar manufactures because of their history. Fender was the rst
company to make a solid body electrical guitar that uses pickups to amplify the signal.
User kickupthejam from talkbass.com said
I nd fender make the easiest basses to play, for me anyway. Plus a genuine
fender is kind of special, but that could be said for heaps of other makes as
well.
Another reason Fender could be considered so popular is because of the famous
players that have chosen Fender. For the last nearly 60 years, Fender guitars have been
featured on hundreds of thousands of records and have been the go-to guitar for
many players and engineers. They are the workhorse of any studio and their robustness
makes them an amazing choice no matter what genre of music.
In my opinion, i believe that Fender Musical Instrument Corporation is as successful as
it is due to the customer base that it covers with all the products that it provides. No
matter what the customer is looking for, Fender are able to provide a product that ts
what the user needs and this, is what I believe makes Fender as successful a company
as it is.

Bibliography
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVs98GmcrU4

- Fender Factory Tour. This video allowed me to see the dierent techniques used to
build Fender guitars in their California factory. All of the American built Fender
Guitars are manufactured here and the dierent techniques used in the building
processes are shown in this clip.
http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20140904-fender-stratocaster-guitar-hero
- A video on the Fender Stratocaster celebrating its 60th year of production. This video
looked back on the guitar starting out and how and why it became so popular over
other manufacturers at the time.
https://www.talkbass.com/threads/why-is-fender-so-popular.415798/

- To get a wider opinion on why Fender is so popular, I decided to search on a popular


bass and guitar blog site talkbass.com . There was already a thread asking what
made Fender so popular and this site allowed users to give their personal opinions on
why they preferred Fender over other guitar manufacturers.
http://forums.fender.com/viewtopic.php?p=416967

- I also used another forum on the Fender website to nd out why people prefer
Fenders. This gave a good reliable source of information and people were helpful on
both forums in an attempt to help people nd the best from their guitars.
My Uncle (Music Producer)

- I spoke to my uncle who owns most of the current Fender and Gibson lineup and
asked him simply why does he think Fender were so successful. His information was
of very good quality as he was honest with me on a talking level as only after did I tell
him it was for a project. This allowed me to receive the best information about him
without him being bias given the title of my project.
Emails to Fender

- Along the way, I emailed Fender on a couple of occasions to conrm questions that
appeared online to have a couple of answers. I thought it best to email straight to
Fender as between them they may be able to nd a more reliable answer than other
sources.