Monthly Archives: March 2017

Popular Guitars: Fender

Back in 1938 in Fullerton California a man named Leo Fender opened Fender’s Radio Service, a company that did repairs to radios, phonographs, musical instrument amplifiers and home audio pieces. Trade was good, and he even sidelined by selling records in his store and also had built company made PA systems that they rented out to groups and individuals alike.

Fast forward a few years and the company branched out and started manufacturing Hawaiian lap steel guitars and amps which they sold in sets. By 1950, however, they introduced the first mass-produced solid body, Spanish style electric guitar which exploded in popularity so they created and sold an electric bass in the same style.

The guitars that we know and associate with the Fender brand first appeared in 1954 with the Stratocaster, affectionately known as The Strat. It immediately became popular because of its comfortable contoured edges and the built in vibrato system, things that just hadn’t been manufactured into a guitar before. The players loved it and sales soared.

Fender Guitars are known for their solid wood bodies, their quality construction and manufacture, and the fact that they give the user minimal feedback, something not found in many imitation guitars. The quality and tonal excellence of the guitars and bass guitars have found many admirers across all musical genres. It’s not just rock musicians that love the Fender brand, but of course many big names do play them.

Famous names like Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Holly, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Brad Paisley, Kurt Cobain and Eric Clapton among scores of others play Fender guitars. Famous bass players Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Adam Clayton of U2 are also famous Fender users.

This is not to say that Fender creates instruments solely for famous people, as this is certainly not true. Anyone can buy one and take in the workmanship and quality aspects for themselves.

The Fender guitar came from humble roots and now boasts many famous models that are touted by many in the know. The notoriety that has come to the brand is something that has taken years to achieve and is amazing when you think that the company started as a humble radio fixing service.

Today there are tours of the factory available which includes a little museum dedicated to the famous guitars and bass guitars that are now household names. Next time you’re in California, look them up!

 

Famous Guitars: Gibson

When you think of guitars, even if you’re not an avid player, a few names come to mind. There are Fender guitars and there are Gibson guitars. Fender got its start back in 1938 when they opened a radio repair store. It wasn’t until 1954 though that the famous Fender Strat guitar hit the market. Gibson, on the other hand was established back in 1902 in Kalamazoo, Michigan by a man named Orville Gibson, and his start wasn’t with fixing radios.

Orville started his company to produce mandolins. Back in 1898 he patented the first single piece mandolin that was durable and also able to be mass marketed. He began to sell his instruments in the late 1800’s and eventually came across a design for an arch top guitar, something that hadn’t been seen before. By the 1930’s the company were making flat top acoustic guitars as well as one of the first commercially available hollow body electric guitars to hit the market.

Sadly, Orville Gibson died a few years after his company was founded in 1902 but his legacy lives on to this day. It is this company, of course, that manufactures the ultra popular and iconic Gibson Les Paul, a guitar named after Les Paul, an influential musician in the 1950’s. Today these guitars are still as legendary as ever and are highly collectible, which of course also means that they are widely imitated.

Today, through various deals and partnerships, Gibson also makes instruments under other brand names like Epiphone, Kramer, and Tobias to name a few. They also manufacture electronic products through household names like Philips and Pioneer.

Think a Gibson is just too expensive? Well, never fear as the company actually produces its own authorized copies of the successful guitar lines. While they don’t have the famous Gibson logo, they are still crafted to their high standard and are more affordable than the main branded ones.

Many famous guitarists play Gibson guitars, but you don’t have to be a highly paid rock star to do so. Those who like quality, history, the collectability factor and want to play like the pros can also get their hands on a Gibson and make beautiful music. Whether you are impressed with the Les Paul model or any of the others, Gibson has been known for generations as one of the best places to get a guitar. From humble beginnings grew great things.