With an illustrious history dating back to 1946, Fender has touched and transformed music worldwide and in nearly every genre: rock ‘n’ roll, country and western, jazz, rhythm and blues and many others. Everyone from beginners and hobbyists to the world’s most acclaimed artists and performers have used Fender instruments and amps, and legendary Fender instruments such as the Telecaster® and Stratocaster® guitars and Precision® and Jazz® bass guitars are universally acclaimed as design classics.
In the 1940s, southern California inventor Leo Fender realized that he could improve on the amplified hollow-body instruments of the day by using an innovative and rather simple solid-body electric guitar design. Further, he realized that he could streamline the process of building them.
In 1951 he introduced a prototype solid-body instrument that would eventually be called the Telecaster® guitar. The Tele®, as it was often called then and still is today, was the first solid-body Spanish-style electric guitar to be commercially mass-produced.
The Stratocaster first appeared in 1954, incorporating many design innovations based on feedback from professional musicians, Fender staff and Leo Fender himself. Its third single-coil pickup offered more tonal possibilities, its sleekly contoured body made it more comfortable, and its double cutaway design made access to upper registers much easier.
Because of poor health, Leo Fender sold the company to CBS in 1965. Fender Musical Instruments experienced tremendous growth over the next 20 years, but a lack of commitment and real understanding of music and musicians by CBS gradually became apparent.
The new Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) had to start from scratch—there were no buildings or machinery included in the sale. Supported by a core group of loyal employees, dealers and suppliers (some of whom had been with the company since Leo Fender founded it), Schultz and his colleagues set out to rebuild an American icon.
The new Fender initially imported its guitars from offshore manufacturers with proven ability to produce affordable and viable instruments, but the move toward greater quality control soon led to the establishment in 1985 of Fender’s flagship U.S. factory in Corona, Calif. A second modern manufacturing facility opened in 1987 in Ensenada, Mexico.
Also in 1987, the renowned Fender Custom Shop opened at the Corona facility, creating dream instruments for professional guitarists and guitar enthusiasts. Fender had always recognized the importance of an open-door policy for professional musicians, accommodating their requests for specific features on an individual basis. The Fender Custom Shop has since become known worldwide and industry-wide as the pinnacle of craftsmanship and sheer instrumental artistry.
FMIC moved its corporate headquarters from Corona to Scottsdale, Ariz., in 1991. From there, Fender coordinates its administration, marketing, advertising, sales and export operations in the United States and its international satellite facilities in England, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.