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Leo Fender, inventor of one of the most popular electric guitar brands in the world, Fender Guitars, never learned how to play guitar. In addition to that, he actually was an accountant before losing his job in the Great Depression. When he lost his job, he decided to turn his hobby of tinkering with electronics, radios, amplifiers, and the like, into a business, “Fender Radio and Record Shop”, which eventually led to what is now known as the “Fender Musical Instruments Corporation” and the creation of his now famous guitars and amplifiers.

Despite designing the first commercially successful solid-body electric guitar, the Telecaster, and the most influential of all electric guitars, the Stratocaster, and inventing the solid-body electric bass guitar, the Precision bass, Clarence Leonidas “Leo” Fender was an engineer, not a musician and he couldn’t get himself to play a lick of guitar! As such, he had to bring in musicians to properly test out the prototypes of his guitars.

Fender’s fascination with electronics started when he was 14 years old. His uncle had built a radio from spare parts and the loud music coming from the speaker impressed Leo. Later, repairing radios became a hobby for Fender.During his college years, Fender studied to be an accountant while continuing to teach himself electronics as a hobby, never taking any electronics courses while in college. For quite some time after graduating, Fender worked as an accountant. After losing his job due to the Great Depression, he opened the Fender Radio and Record Shop in Fullerton, CA where he was able to combine his love of music and tinkering with electronics. Part of the service he offered at his shop was amplifier repair.

Bonus Facts:

  • The company created by Leo Fender was purchased by CBS in 1965 for $13 million, which was around $2 million more than CBS payed for the New York Yankees just two years before.

  • The company was later bought from CBS by the employees of the company in 1985 at which point it was renamed the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, which today is the world’s number one manufacturer of stringed instruments with annual sales of around $200 million.

  • Lap guitars were originally developed by Hawaiian musicians and only much later became fixtures of country-western music.

  • Leo Fender was building his amps and guitars for around a decade before rock ‘n roll artists began to popularly use Fender’s instruments. Initially, it was country musicians that first discovered an began popularly using Fender guitars.

  • The Fender Stratocaster is still the most popular and copied electric guitar in the world.

  • Similar to Fender, Laurens Hammond, the American engineer who designed and built the famous Hammond organ and the world’s first polyphonic musical synthesizer had to hire employees with musical background to help to refine and test his inventions as he didn’t know how to play the organ!

  • G&L on another hand is a guitar design and production company founded by Leo Fender, George Fullerton, and Dale Hyatt in the late 1970s. Fender sold his company named Fender in 1965. He designed and produced instruments for Music Man in the 1970s through his company CLF Research. When relations with Music Man soured, G&L was created to continue operations outside of Music Man. The G&L name comes from the initials of George (Fullerton) and Leo (Fender).


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