The first Fender guitar hit the scene 50 years ago-and music hasn’t been the same since. Featuring 200 color photos, this visual chronicle of the premier guitar maker charts every Fender model from 1950 to 2000, accompanied by a parallel timeline of musical highlights. The book celebrates 50 years of Telecasters, Stratocasters, Precision Basses, and other Fenders played by such artists as Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Kurt Cobain

For most collectors, pre-CBS(pre-1966) Fender vintage guitars and amps are the desirable ones. Although CBS purchased Fender (officially) on January 3rd 1965, it took some time till the guitars changed (though by mid 1964, six months before CBS bought Fender, things were already “on the way down”). By the end of 1965, the general look and feel of the Fender guitars had changed significantly.

All collectors feel the quality of their instruments and amps suffered as CBS employed more “mass production” manufacturing processes to the Fender guitars. The “large peghead” (starting in late 1965) as used on the Fender Stratocaster was one example of the (bad)
changes to come. The “custom contoured” bodies Fender was famous for no longer were as sculped and sleek. Newer (and less attractive) plastics were used for the pickguards. Pearl fingerboard inlays replaced the original “clay” dots. Indian rosewood replaced the
beautifully figured Brazilian rosewood on the fingerboards. And by 1968, polyurathane replaced the original nitrocellulose lacquer that was used from Fender’s conception.

By early 1971 the party was truely over. Fender now employed the infamous “3 bolt neck” and one piece die cast bridge on the Strat, ruining it’s tone and feel. Many other models suffered the same miserable fate of being over mass-produced and cheapened by corporate zealots.
Because of this, Fender’s most innocent era of the 1950’s is their most collectible.

This decade produced guitars with one-piece maple necks, single layer pickguards, thin “spaghetti” logos, and tweed cases that seem to capture collectors the most. The early 1960’s Fenders with “slab” rosewood fingerboards are also collectible, but not to the extent of the earlier 1950’s maple-neck era.

Of the rosewood fingerboard models, the “slab” fingerboard (1958/mid-1959 to August 1962) variants are more desirable than the “veneer” fingerboard (August 1962 and later) pre-CBS models.

The “transistion” era (late summer 1964 to December 1965) are the least collectible of the pre-CBS models. This era is known as a “transition” because later summer 1964 to December 1965 was the time when there was a transition from the Leo Fender management to CBS management, and mass-production manufacturing techniques were starting to take a firm hold.

By 1966 (a year after CBS bought Fender), CBS management had really taken hold of Fender’s production facilities and incorporated many changes. The sum of of all these changes had a serious effect on Fender guitars as a whole. 1966 brought an era of “large” pegheads, less contoured bodies, and much higher production numbers.

CBS looked for ways to cut production time and costs, which generally led to much lower quality. Because of this, 1966 and later Fender instruments are considered far less collectible than vintage pre-CBS Fender guitars.

The Esquire was Fender’s first electric spanish guitar. Originally introduced in June of 1950 as a black (and later blond), one or two pickup model, it was discontinued by Fender’s marketing arm in September 1950. Only about 50 of these original Esquires were shipped, though Fender had a backorder of hundreds of units. And many came back to Fender to have the neck (and body!) replaced because of neck warpage, from the lack of a truss rod.

In October 1950, the Broadcaster replaced the Esquire as their two pickup electric spanish guitar, with a truss rod! The Esquire was re-introduced in early 1951 as a single pickup version of the Broadcaster. The 1951 and later Esquire, because of its single pickup, does not have the value today of its two pickup brother, due to its limited tonal range with one pickup.

By February 1951, the Broadcaster was renamed the Telecaster (though the guitars didn’t actually have a “Telecaster” decal on them until the summer of 1951), because of a naming conflict with a trademarked Gretsch drum line.

The Fender Stratocaster (and Telecaster) from the 1950’s put the solidbody electric guitar on the map. The Stratocaster was like no other guitar ever produced. With three pickups, a contoured body that made playing guitar comfortable, and a tremolo built-in and designed correctly for the guitar, made it an instant sucess. Even today, nearly 50 years later, the Stratocaster is the electric guitar by which all others are judged.
From country, to rock and roll, to surf music, Fender found a niche with its instruments.

Especially different for the era was those Fenders with Custom Color finishes. Hence they are more valuable than the standard finish (usually Sunburst, or Blond for the Telecaster/Esquire).

The Jazzmaster, introduced in 1958, became Fender’s “top of the line” instrument (though today’s vintage guitar market does not hold this view; it’s clearly a 3rd class citizen behind the Strat and Tele). Fender truely thought the Jazzmaster would make a sensation in the jazz scene. Instead, it became the main instrument of many Surf-guitar bands of the 1960’s.

Likewise, in 1962 Fender introduced another “top of the line” instrument called the Jaguar. Again, this model quickly lost popularity, starting in 1968 with decreased sales. The short scale length of the Jaquar was one of its major flaws.

Finally the Jaguar and Jazzmaster were discontinued by 1975 and 1982, respectively. Before the death of Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, interest had revived in these models, though no were near the level of Strats and Teles.

Now most collectors interested in these models do so because they can not afford a vintage Strat or Tele.

The Low-end Fender solidbodies such as the DuoSonic, MusicMaster, and the Mustang are not collectable and are considered student models.

Even with the recent popularity of the Mustang, it’s still a short scale, entry level instrument.

All these instruments share that basic problem of a shorter scale length, and lower quality electronics.

Fender Electric Guitars Jazzmaster

Fender’s top of the line when introduced in 1957, with a new offset-waist body & a richer
, deeper sound from the wide coils of the steel guitar like pickups. A long running Fender
model, it remained virtually unchanged until dropped in 1980.

Fender Electric Guitars Jaguar

Has the same styling as the Jazzmaster, but with a shorter scale 22 fret neck, and switches for
pickup on/off & tonal variation. The Jaguar (1961-1975) was Fender’s most expensive solid,
but never a huge success.

Fender Electric Guitars Maverick

A rarer version of the Custom, a hybrid designed to use up leftover parts ( modified Electric XII
bodies & necks and Mustang hardware) & produced between 1969 & 1972.

Fender Electric Guitars Swinger/Musiclander

This model came from a shortlived & small 1969 production run, using surplus cut-down
Musicmaster bodies, necks & hardware.

Fender Electric Guitars Musicmaster

Fender catered for the cheaper end of the market too, and in 1956 launched its first economy models,
the Musicmaster & Duosonic. These continued until 1980 & 1970, undergoing varios design changes,
and were later joined by the Mustang (1964-1981) & the Bronco (1967- 1980). These were in turn
succeeded by the medium priced Lead in 1979, and the original Bullet models in 1981.

Fender Electric Guitars Perormer

High quality American design from 1985, this was the projected flagship of Fender’s new range.
Poor reaction caused early retiement in 1986.

Fender Electric Guitars Katana

This 1985 solid body featured Japanese ideas with heavy metal styling, but it proved a commercial
flop. There was a more basic Squier brand version.

[cj_show_items keywords=”+Fender +Guitar -amp -amplifier -head -combo” records_per_page=”25″ advertiser_ids=”2437969,4131312,1834595″ sort_by=”price” sort_order=”desc”]