6th Form

Fender Guitars

In the 1950s Leo Fender set out to create a new kind of guitar. Attempts had already been made by others to create an electric guitar, but Leo's visions was to create something new, replaceable, functional and aesthetically pleasing. His first fully electric production guitar was the Broadcaster. Someone had already copyrighted this name for a drumkit though and the name had to be changed. Thus was born the Telecaster.


Design and construction:

bolt-on neck - four bolts in the back keep the neck in place - this was Leo Fender's idea - it meant that the neck could be replaced easily if there was a problem.

 pickup configuration; two pick ups - neck (warm jazzy sound) and bridge (Trebly harsher sound) gave more tonal variety.

 hard-tail the bridge was fixed in place underneath a cover. Today many Teles do not have a bridge cover as most players took them off. The fixed bridge increased sustain. Originally strings were adjusted in pairs - this lead to tuning difficulties. These days strings have their own adjustable saddles.

 materials: woods originally the Tele was offered with a Maple neck. Maple is a very hard wood that can take the strain of the metal strings. Leo Fender demonstrated this by putting a neck between two chairs and standing on it! Original early guitars by Fender had pine bodies. These were replaced with Ash. This made it a bright sounding instrument compared, for example, with a Les Paul, and the body was considerably lighter. This made it easier to wear for a whole gig.

 plastics; carbon fibre; laminate



Musical influences:

With the Telecaster a quality, production based, replaceable, guitar was born. It was a loud guitar for the time and could cut through a big band or Jazz combo in a way that a big bodied acoustic jazz guitar couldn't.feedback problems were almost never a problem because of the solid construction - compared to a big bodied jazz guitar


The Tele though had little in the way of comfort for the guitarist - a slab body and single cutaway.  The Stratocaster aimed to address these problems. The back of the guitar was chamfered to fit the player's belly.

 aesthetics; came first with a design which borrowed from cadillacs. Car paint spray finishes brought a lot of choice to the guitarist. An Upper "fin" came directly form the cadillac. 



                                                                                                       Cadillac Eldorado - Front Angle, 1957, 800x600, 1 of 7

Playability was increased with an upper cutaway and longer lower cutaway.Considerations of tonal range were increased by adding a middle pick up. A three way selecter switch gave way to a five way switch with two treble controls which gave the guitarist an unprecedently wide range of sounds from which to choose.A vibrato was addded that made playing more expressive. 


Later versions of  the strat were offered with active pick ups which are supposed to add even greater tonal flexibility, and a louder, cleaner signal. Set neck (where the neck is glued rather than bolted) were provided (the idea being that glued necks offer greater sustain) Cheaper models offered laminate bodies, where a thin layer of good sounding tonewood is placed  on top of a cheaper plywood (although the sound deteriorates and sustain is reduced.



When it happens... it happens at Holly Lodge


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