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The Beginning Of The Age Of The Fender Stratocaster

Jul 16, 2008
Perhaps one of the most famous and best known names in the world of electric guitars is that of Fender, and it was in 1946 that Clarence Leonidas Fender, usually referred to simply as Leo Fender, created the design for the first electric guitar to have a solid body, and a pickup that worked through the use of a single magnet. Originally a radio repairman who also created amplifiers for instruments, Fender's design was originally named the Esquire, and was a significant step away from the guitars of the time, as they were still hollow body designs, and generally used more for jazz. Fender's Esquire was immediately popular with the country and western performers, especially in California.

Originally using just a single magnetic pickup, Fender later developed a two pickup version which was originally named the Broadcaster, but when it was later discovered that a drum set manufactured by Gretsch had a name which was very similar (Broadkaster) Fender decided to change the name of his two pickup electric guitar and so the Telecaster was born. As the names of these instruments suggests, this was during the dawn of television, when the western world was waking up to a new phenomenon.

Leo Fender's Telecaster was essentially a solid body guitar made from ash, with a maple neck. The neck of the telecaster was available as either a 21 or a 22 fret version, and this was attached to the ash body using four bolts, with extra strength gained through the use of a steel neck plate. The pickups were two single coils, positioned at both the bridge and the neck of the guitar, and the Telecaster came with two adjustments for both volume and tone. Additionally, the performer could select which pickup or combination to use through the inclusion of a switch. A jack fitted onto the body of the guitar for direct output to the amplifier added to the amount of cabling and wiring embedded in the guitar, and a black pickguard, manufactured from Bakelite, was included to hide the wiring and cables from view.

Although it is sometimes believed that manufacturing a guitar with a solid body in a single piece of wood, including the neck, Leo Fender did not pursue this idea, and the Telecaster had a bolt on neck for a very good reason. It was Fender's belief that creating a guitar in this modular fashion allowed for improved consistency in manufacturing techniques, as well as providing a much easier way of mending or repairing the guitar later in its life. It is partly for this reason that today it is possible to find a very rare example of what is dubbed a 'nocaster'. This is because the creation of these modular guitars was occurring at the same time as the clash of names between the Broadcaster and Broadkaster brands. The modular parts of the guitar were made, and the Fender logo attached, but no model name - as this was in dispute. The very early examples still have Broadcaster stamped on them, and of course later models had telecaster, but a few very rare examples were caught in between, and have no model on them - and these now fetch a very high price if you can find one!

It was seven years after Fender first created his Esquire model that he developed the Stratocaster, which offered a wide range of improvements and technical advancements over the Telecaster. The body design was created from either ash or alder, with the wood very well dried beforehand, and the body shape was a double cutaway creating a very distinctive visual style, as well as providing very comfortable body contours for holding the guitar. An integrated mechanism was created to provide a vibrato effect, named a synchronized tremolo by Fender - a misnomer that has caused no end of confusion ever since, since tremolo and vibrato are quite different - one being volume, the other a rapid pitch change; unfortunately Fender chose the wrong name, but it has stuck ever since! The Stratocaster also included three single coil pickups.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant for guitars, drums, keyboards, sheet music, guitar tab, and home theater audio. You can find the best marketplace at these sites for electric guitars and Fender Stratocasters , sheet music, guitar tab, and home theater audio.
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