Leo Fender life and biography

Leo Fender picture, image, poster

Leo Fender biography

Date of birth : 1909-08-10
Date of death : 1991-03-21
Birthplace : Fullerton, California, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-09-30
Credited as : inventor, Fender Electric Instrument Company, Stratocaster

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Prime mover behind the development of the Fender Stratocaster, invented in 1954.

Clarence Leonidas "Leo" Fender was an American inventor who founded Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company, now known as Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, and later founded MusicMan and G&L Musical Products (G&L Guitars). His guitar, bass, and amplifier designs from the 1940s continue to dominate popular music more than half a century later. Marshall, Mesa Boogie, most boutique amplifier companies and many other guitar amplifier production companies have used Fender instruments as the foundation of their products.

Some of Fender's most widely known and loved contributions to music were developed in the 1970s, after his sale to CBS of his eponymous brand in 1965.: he designed guitars, basses and amplifiers for the Music Man corporation, and in 1976 designed and released another innovative instrument, the StingRay. Though the body design borrowed heavily from the Precision Bass, the StingRay is largely considered to be the first production bass with active electronics. The StingRay's 2-band active equalizer, high output humbucking pickup and smooth satin finished neck went on to become a favorite of many influential bassists, including Louis Johnson, John Deacon and Flea. Later on a 3-band active equalizer was introduced. In 1979 he and old friends George Fullerton and Dale Hyatt started a new company called G&L (George & Leo) Musical Products. G&L guitar designs tended to lean heavily upon the looks of Fender's original guitars such as the Stratocaster and Telecaster, but incorporated innovations such as enhanced tremolo systems and electronics. Despite suffering several minor strokes, Leo Fender continued to produce guitars and basses. While he continued to refine the fundamental designs he had created decades earlier, he also earned many new patents for innovative designs in magnetic pickups, vibrato systems, neck construction, and other areas. Nevertheless, he never learned how to play the guitar.

A friendly, modest and unassuming man (his "coffee mug" was a styrofoam cup with the word "Leo" inked on it), he had the lifelong admiration and devotion of his employees, many of whom have remarked that the best working years of their lives were spent under Leo Fender. An example of frugal living, Fender was once asked why he brought his lunch (egg salad sandwiches) to work every day instead of buying lunch from the local lunch truck. Fender replied, "With the money I save eating these sandwiches, I can buy a handful of resistors." He died March 21, 1991, in Fullerton from complications of Parkinson's disease, and is interred at Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana. His pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. The company which bears his name, Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, is now one of the largest musical instrument conglomerates in the world.

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