Leo Fender – Biography of Leo Fender

Musical instruments designed and manufactured by Leo fender They have revolutionized the history of 20th century music. Today the Fender brand is one of the most glorious and widespread among electric guitar lovers.

Clarence leonidas fender He was born August 10, 1909 near Anaheim, California (USA), to peasant parents. As a young man he took some piano and saxophone lessons but, since 1922, it was electronics, which he learned as a self-taught, his greatest passion.

Leo fender graduated in 1928; at the time he had already built a small radio with some sound amplification systems, which he rented to earn a few dollars to radio amateurs. He did not emerge as a musician, he was not even a luthier or an engineer. His passion was that of a self-taught, a tireless experimenter, curious and determined to achieve the highest quality goals. Eclectic and bright, Fender He was a man of many abilities who knew how to surround himself with the right people. In a brief analysis of his work, from the economic point of view, it can be said that Leo fender he realized before others the importance of production musical instruments for a mass market. In the 1950s and ’60s he was to musical instruments what Henry Ford was to the automobile industry in the’ 20s and ’30s.

After graduation Fender He began working as an accountant for the California State Department of Highways. In 1934 he married Esther Klosky.

Due to the “Great Depression” in the US, he lost his job. But his passion for electronics never died; creative and ingenious person, in 1938, he was not yet thirty years old, when he decided to open in Fullertonel “Fender Radio Service”, a laboratory and electronics store. There he sold and repaired radios and various other electronic devices. All of this occurred at a time in history when the United States was launching itself on an unstoppable race toward technological innovation.

As time passed an increasing number of musicians turned to Fender to repair their electronic amplifiers. Among them was Doc Kauffman, who had worked for Rickenbacker, a guitar maker. Together and conducted various experiments. In 1944 they founded the “K&F Company” to produce Hawaiian guitars and amplifiers. Two years later, in 1946, the company was dissolved.

Leo He then founded the “Fender Electric InstrumentCompany”, and decided to leave radio and small electronics to focus on musical instruments. In 1950, he put on the market a full-body electric guitar (the so-called “solid body”): the Broadcaster model matches that guitar that today is universally known as “Telecaster“.

In 1951 he invented the electric bass “Precision“In 1954, with the company in the process of expansion, he created what can be considered his most emblematic guitar: the”Stratocaster“.

In the following decade, Fender continued to grow: the success was the result of the current economic situation, but also of the work and creativity of its tireless founder, who continued to improve old models instead of producing new ones. The management was increasingly complex and the ever higher investments led Fender to mature the idea of ​​selling the company and its brand to CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System), a multinational interested in expanding in the field of musical instruments. The original staff was confirmed: Leo fender They signed a five-year contract with some of their loyal employees (including George Randall, Don Fullerton, and Forrest White) to ensure continued production.

Between 1965 and 1971, Leo fender worked as a consultant in the “Research and Development” area of ​​the new Fender. His name continued to be the protagonist of other important projects, such as the Rodas electric piano.

Meanwhile, the old comrades one by one left their place on CBS. In 1972, when Forrest White left CBS to found “Music Man” and produce amplifiers, Fender he followed it. His contribution started the production of guitars and basses.

In the 70s the Fender brand and its fame were solid and consolidated, but few were those who knew the history of Leo and its key role in building the brand.

In 1978 his wife Esther died of cancer. The next year, Leo He left Music Man to found a new company, this time with George Fullerton. The mark was “G & L“, or the initials of George and Leo.

Fender He remarried and continued to work tirelessly for the “G & L” until his death. Affected by Parkinson’s disease, Leo fender He died on March 21, 1991.