Leo Fender’s work left a thumbprint on modern music that will never be forgotten. Born in 1909, Fender was interested in electronics and worked as a radio repairman, where guitar-playing customers began asking him to repair their external guitar pickups. Before Fender, guitars were amplified by attaching pickups to the exterior of hollowbody guitars. Fender’s innovations in the world of musical instruments essentially armed the world for what would become known as Rock -n- Roll. In 1948, Leo introduced the Broadcaster, the first successfully marketed and mass-produced solid-body electric guitar. After a dispute with Gretsch over naming rights, the Broadcaster was renamed the Telecaster in 1950, and went on to become a country and rock favorite. Later that year, Fender would introduce another groundbreaking instrument – the Precision Bass – which was the world’s first electric bass and freed bassists from the tethers of the cumbersome acoustic upright basses common in those days.
Following the success of the Telecaster and Precision Bass, Fender designed the Stratocaster and Jazz Bass, which became classics in their own right. Fender instruments were the essential blocks in the foundation of what would become the music of the ’60s – Fender basses held down the low end on the majority of Motown records in the hands of James Jamerson, among others – and the Strat was most famously wielded by Jimi Hendrix. Thanks to Leo Fender’s innovative mass-production of these instruments, electric guitars and basses became accessible to the masses. Due to poor health, Leo Fender sold his company to CBS in 1965. Leo Fender went on to design guitars for Music Man, and later formed G & L guitars. Fender passed away in 1991.