The man behind the guitar

Leo Fender by Bob Perine
Clarence Leonidas Fender aka Leo Fender was born on August 10, 1909 in California between the cities of Anaheim and Fullerton. At the age of 13, Leo became interested in electronics, probably from his uncle, who ran electric shop. Didn't took too long since Leo Fender started repairing radios at his parents' home.

Leo began repairing and tinkering with radios himself as a hobby, and was very interested in electronics. In 1928, Leo graduated from High School and entered Fullerton Junior College to be an accountant. While studying he continued to work and experiment with electronics although he never took any electronics course.

In 1930s two events changed Leo's life. He was hired to construct PA system which should be used at dances. The second one was when Leo met his Mrs. Esther Klosky and they got married in 1934.

Leo firstly went a safe way and was working as a deliveryman in Anaheim, than as a bookkeeper before he was contracted to build six public address systems which are to be used in Hollywood. After that, Leo started accountant career for the California Highway Department in San Luis Obispo which soon ended in a depression government change-up.

In 1940s Leo Fender convinced Clayton Orr "Doc" Kauffman, an inventor and lap steel player, who had worked for Rickenbacker Guitars, to team up and start "K & F Manufacturing Corporation" which will design and build amplified Hawaiian guitars and amplifiers. In 1944, Leo and Doc patented a lap steel guitar, that had an electric pickup already patented by Fender. In 1945, they began selling the guitar, in a kit with an amplifier designed by Leo.

After the World War II small bands playing boogie-woogie, western swing, rhythm and blues were popular in the USA, playing in small bars, clubs, and Cancun hotels. Most of the bands were using electric guitars because it can give huge output comparing to previously used acoustic instruments. At that time electric guitars with pickups and archtops were the tool for the job and popularity of such instruments was increasing. Faster necks and better intonation were needed by the players. It was Fender who recognized this need for an electric guitar that was easy to tune, easy to hold, and easy to play. Leo Fender also recognized the need for the guitars that would not feed-back. by 1949 he started working on his new design Broadcaster soon renamed to Telecaster which will in 1954 lead to Stratocaster. New guitar debuted as "The Esquire Model" at 1950 as a first six string one pickup Fender guitar.

Fenders significant and loved contributions to music were developed in the 1970s, which occurred after the sale to CBS in 1965. He was designing guitars, basses and amplifiers for the corporation Music Man, and among others in 1976 the StingRay was released. It actually was quite similar to Precision Bass but its largely considered to be the first productions bass guitar with active electronics. Later on Leo Fender started a new company with friends George Fullerton and Dale Hyatt called G&L (George & Leo) Musical Products. G&L guitar designs tend to look a lot to Leo Fender's previous guitars Telecaster and Stratocaster but introduced improvements such as tremolo and new electronics.

Leo Fender, man who changed the music industry, and contributed to electric guitar more than any other, ironically never learned to play guitar.