It's time Leo Fender got what he deserves!

lpdeluxe

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Bingo. Look in the old tube books and you'll see where Leo got his designs.
But Leo tweaked them in ways that earlier designers had shied away from: he increased voltages, substituted components (so obsessively that Forrest White threatened to fire any of the assemblers who incorporated Leo's ad hoc changes in the assembly line), and, using feedback from working musicians, turned the guitar amplifier into a musical instrument instead of an electronics engineer's little toy. Were it not for Fender, and his ability to surround himself with talented and dedicated people, there would have been no rock and roll as we know it.

On the other side, let's talk about something Leo constantly gets credit for, and had nothing to do with: he did not (despite all the craigslist and eBay listings to the contrary) design the Music Man amps. Tom Walker did that. Leo Fender's involvement, other than financing, was in designing and building the MM guitars and basses. Anyone who has owned a Music Man amplifier (and I did, along with -- currently -- five Fender amps) understands that it is a very different beast from the Fender. The early ones were all solid-state pre, except for a single 12AX7, with a tube power amp; later ones were all s/s preamp.
 

metropolis74

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805
Bingo. Look in the old tube books and you'll see where Leo got his designs.
How far back do you want to go? You got to draw the line somewhere. Thanks Mr. Tesla for AC power so I can plug my amp in the wall socket and make the tubes glow. Thanks Mr. Edison for the Edison Effect so we have tubes. Thanks Mr. Faraday for being a creepy looking old dude with sideburns.:)

And for instruments, let's not forget the not so subtle similarities of Paul Bigsby's headstocks to Fender's for example.

Doesn't matter to me who did what first. Thanks Leo Fender for being the catalyst to bringing together the best of what had already been done before and making it better!
 

Jahn

Listens to Johnny Marr, plays like John Denver
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It's crazy that this old Fender Pro Reverb at my place can still kick out the sweetest cleans I've ever heard. Just my perfect amp. It's so strange to get my guitar back at the shop and run them through the floor amps and just not be able to dial it in just right, fiddling with the guitar's controls...but when I get home and plug into the Pro at the settings I know work, the guitars become plug and play and here comes that gorgeous tone, easily.

Don't underestimate the value of a good amp. And Fender made good amps.
 

aman74

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9,060
It's time? I dunno, it seems like everyone is always talking about how awesome he was. Not that he wasn't, but it's not like he's in some way forgotten.
 

jpervin

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7,637
If we even are going to mention Fender then at least let’s pay dues to

Ray Massie – a long time Fender employee, since the very beginning from Leo’s radio repair shop. Was involved in the design of first Fender products as much as Leo was.

Clayton Kaufman – Another Fender Repair Service employee with significant contribution to first amplifier designs. And yes, those were derived from the tube datasheets or from the Rickenbacker and Gibson amplifiers Fender's shop used to repair.

Dale Hyatt – Another employee involved right from the very beginnings of Fender. Bought Leo’s repair shop and ran it as a side business on Fender’s payroll.

George Fullerton – Significant effort in developing the guitar products.

Louis Lugar – manufactured the cabinetry for all the first Fender amplifiers

Don Randall – Initially one of the main executives of Radio-Tel. Later directly responsible for providing R&D department instructions of what kind of designs and features the market needed. Became Fender’s general manager when the company was sold to CBS.

Forrest White – Production manager. Later vice-president, plant manager and director of manufacturing.

Freddie Tavares – head of Fender’s design department. Likely had hands more on actual designs than Leo ever did. Designed many amplifiers and – based on the critical input of Bill Carson about the Telecaster design - the Stratocaster guitar.

Bill Carson – Another designer of legendary Fender guitars. Stratocaster design was even originally called “The Carson Guitar”. Bill had more to do with guitar design than Leo because Leo actually had trouble playing the new instrument, which was much more refined than the Hawaian guitars or the Telecaster. According to Carson, Leo initially even had trouble tuning the electric guitars the company made.

Francis Hall and Charles Hayes – other former key executives of Radio-Tel and later key executives of Fender sales. Francis later also became a key exec of Rickenbacker.

Talented designer crew including names like

Edward Jahns (Fender’s most acclaimed designer guru)
Robert Haigler (long time employee and chief designer)
William Hughes (ex-Ampeg employee, developer of e.g. SVT series, head of R&D, developer of practically all mid 1980’s to mid 1990’s Fender amplifiers)
Seth Lover (ex-Gibson employee, inventor of the PAF pickup and Fuzztone effect)
Richard Evans (ex-Gibson employee)
Robert Rissi
Paul Spranger
Stephen Bussey
William Hodges
Paul Rivera
Etc.

Can’t forget the people doing the “dirty work” – actually assembling the circuits. These were usually young Mexican immigrant women because women were better and more careful in tedious and repetitive assembly work and because they were cheap labour.
Are any of these people still alive?
 

teemuk

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3,281
Are any of these people still alive?
Yes.

It's time? I dunno, it seems like everyone is always talking about how awesome he was. Not that he wasn't, but it's not like he's in some way forgotten.
Pretty much this. It's almost always Leo this and Leo that - because, like someone said, he gave a name to guitars and amps. What's often forgotten are the legions of talented employees and their work, which continued - and still does - even though Leo sold Fender and eventually died. Everything Fender wasn't conceived by Leo. Just a somewhat tiny bit of it. Ironically, he was sort of disappointed afterwards for choosing to use his name as a trademark - because he eventually had to spend many years competing against the reputation of his very own name. With not too good success.
 

Structo

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9,555
Thanks Leo!

You were a very smart man and I wish I could have sat down and talked about amps with you.

 

lpdeluxe

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1,529
Fender didn't have "legions" of employees in the beginning -- he had George Fullerton and (according to him) three women who assembled the amps. He set the course that his later employees followed, and he was in the middle of amp design, by all accounts, until the sale to CBS.

Ted McCarty considered Gibson to be a guitar company that made amplifiers and Fender to be an amplifier company that made guitars. This is true to some of us, to this day: I own four Fender basses, five Fender amps, and two Gibson electric guitars. I feel like I went to the source for each of them.

In any case, Fender instruments were rudimentary (at least, until Freddie Tavares arrived) but the amps got better and better as the years went on. Gibson never did figure out amps, despite spending much engineering and time developing them, while their electric guitars have been the standard of the world for much of the time there have been electric guitars.
 

Davo17

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2,170
I bought a G&L S500 a while back from a guy who says his uncle works for G&L. He told me that Leo's ghost still roams the halls. Probably still tinkering. :)
 

Hwoltage

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...in ways that earlier designers had shied away from: he increased voltages, substituted components (so obsessively that Forrest White threatened to fire any of the assemblers who incorporated Leo's ad hoc changes in the assembly line)
LOL!!! Go Leo Go!!! :aok:aok
 

Hwoltage

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9,716
I bought a G&L S500 a while back from a guy who says his uncle works for G&L. He told me that Leo's ghost still roams the halls. Probably still tinkering. :)
..probably trying to find the garbage can CBS threw his tone into.
 

Deathmonkey

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2,429
I think its time the engineers for Marconi, RCA, Philips, Mullard, GE, Western Electric, etc... get what they deserve. That is where tube amp topology really comes from.

THIS. DAMMIT. :agree:mob

Reading a lot of amp company histories, and it's shocking how many designs are cribbed directly from tube manuals provided free by RCA and others to promote their tubes. Looks like it worked, too!
 






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