Vintage Fender Guitars

Guitars, basses and amps made by Fender

Vintage Fender guitars

Vintage Fender guitars for sale in a vintage guitar store

Fender, or the Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company, as it was properly known, was started in 1946, in Fullerton, California, by Leo Fender. The early designs effectively wrote the book on the solid body guitar manufacture; his approach of simple guitars using quality parts, easily assembled (most specifically the replaceable neck) proved an immediate sucess. Guitars like the Fender Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jaguar and Precision bass have barely changed since their very first inception; Fender simply got it right first time round.

Along with Gibson, Fender was probably one of the best known guitar manufacturers in the world. They were right at the forefront of the guitar boom of the 1950s and 60s, and have managed to maintain aleading positions ever since.

However, these two companies were not always in as direct competition as might be assumed; yes they both made guitars, basses and amplifiers, but both tended to play to their strengths; Gibson's expertise was it's luthierie; they stuck to high end electric-acoustics, semi-acoustics and skillfully made solid bodies, whilst Fender excelled at electronics; they made amplifiers and easily built solid body basses and guitars.

Fender guitars

1953 Fender advertisement for the Telecaster guitar, Precision bass, Twin and Bassman amplifiers
1953 Fender advertisement for the Telecaster guitar, Precision bass, Twin and Bassman amplifiers. See more vintage Fender adverts

Gibson did not take Fender too seriously at first; Fender were just an amplifier company that made a few guitars. They didn't regard the solid-body Broadcaster launched in 1950 as a serious musical instrument, lacking the depth of tone of a Gibson electric-acoustic. But music was changing, guitarists wanted different sounds, and music was getting louder. Fenders instruments proved to be more appropriate for the emerging musical scenes. Over the next decade Fender created a number of solid-body guitars that defined genres. Guitars like the Stratocaster, Telecaster and Precision and Jazz basses proved to be exceptionally popular and have stayed in production ever since.

Others came and went, but still very nice guitars: the Electric XII, Coronado and Starcaster for example.

But of course the biggest sellers would always be the lower priced models, the Mustang, Duo-Sonic, Musicmaster and Bronco

You could argue that it was the Stratocaster weilding Jimi Hendrix that was the biggest advertisement for Fender guitars; after seeing, and hearing one in the hands of Jimi, a lot of guitarists, including Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton swapped to a strat!

Fender bass guitars

Fender invented the solid body electric bass, and have made a variety of different models. Like the guitars they were exceptionally simple; typically an ash body, with a bolt-on maple neck and single coil pickups. Simple, but very well-done simple. Read more about Fender bass guitars here.

Fender amplifiers

Older Fender amplifiers have a great reputation and still have a lot of users today. Vintage Fender valve amps like the Fender Bassman, Fender Deluxe and Fender Twin Reverb are really highly regarded guitar amplifiers, offering rich vintage tones that modern amps can't easily replicate, both for live and studio use.

Latest Fender Updates

1972 Fender PrecisionA detailed look at an early 1970s Fender Precision bass guitar in custom black finish, with rosewood fretboard. 1972 list price, $307.50. The Fender Precision had been shipping since at least very early 1952 - with just one re-design circa 1957. This example, then, shows a model already two decades old, but barely changed since the '57 revamp. Fender got it right first time around, and although there are numerous minor cosmetic differences, the essence of this bass is effectively the same as it was in '52: a simple, single pickup instrument with a GREAT sound. Check out the demo video through an old Ampeg B15. It's no wonder this is the bass that everybody wants!
Fender 1963 catalogue"The Choice of Professional and Student Musicians Everywhere" This eight page catalogue was included as an insert in the 1963 annual "school music" issue of Downbeat magazine (September 1963). As well as keyboards and pedal steels, this catalog contains seven guitars, three basses and ten amplifiers - from student guitars such as the Musicmaster and Duotone to professional models like the new Jaguar.
1969 Fender Mustang bass, Competition Red finish The Mustang bass debuted in 1966 as (along with the Coronado) Fender's first shortscale bass, however the Competition finishes were not seen until 1969. It was effectively the same instrument, with sports stripes, and initially a matching coloured headstock. The competition colours were Red, Orange and Blue (although blue was officially called Burgundy). Have a closer look at this 1969 Fender and check out the soundclips through various vintage amplifiers.
1973 Fender Musicmaster bassPictures, description and soundclips from a 1973 Fender Musicmaster bass. The Musicmaster bass changed very little between it's introduction in 1970, and it's deletion in the early 1980s. Although often regarded as a student bass, the Musicmaster was of high enough quality, both in terms of components and build, to sell to student guitarists and more advanced players looking for an affordable shortscale bass.
Fender 1964 catalogueEntitled Fine Electric Instruments, the 1964 1965 Fender catalogue was circulated from mid 1964, and despite being just eight pages long, contained a large number of guitars, amplifiers and other instruments. This was the first catalogue to show the new Fender Mustang guitar, which was available in normal or 3/4 scale at that time. This catalogue was included in the 1964 annual guitar issue of Down Beat magazine (July), massively increasing the potential readership, both in America and worldwide.
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