For more than four decades, Fender electric guitars and amplifiers have had a tremendous influence on the way the world composes, plays and listens
to music. While guitarists in the early part of this century played country, folk or blues on acoustic guitars, in the 1930’s, jazz musicians experimented
with amplifying traditional hollow-body guitars so they could play with other
instruments at the same sound level.
In the 1940’s, a California inventor named Leo Fender had made some custom guitars and amplifiers in his radio shop. Eventually, Leo would create the world’s very first instrument amplifiers with built-in tone controls.
More importantly, though, was Leo’s vision of better guitar. With his knowledge of existing technologies, he knew he could improve on contemporary amplified hollow-body instruments . . . and improve upon them, he did. In 1951, he introduced the Broadcaster, the prototype solid-body guitar that would
eventually become the legendary Telecaster®.
The Tele®, as it became affectionately known, was the first solid-body electric Spanish-style guitar ever to go into commercial production. Soon to follow the Tele were the revolutionary Precision Bass® guitar in 1951, and the Stratocaster® in
Beautiful beaches, fast cars, and gorgeous women. This was the image associated with California during the 60’s. After WWII, California’s population grew by more than 10 million. Major magazines like Life and Newsweek promoted life in California by calling it “unassuming and carefree” with “plenty” of houses and a “wide open” job market.
Movies like “Slippery When Wet,” “Barefoot Adventure,” “Beach Party,” and “Bikini Beach” also promoted California’s “surf image.” But the biggest aspect of the surf culture was the music. The surf sound originated when Dale of the
Del-tones and Leo Fender, creator of Fender guitars, teamed up to develop an amplifier that would give the fuzzy surf sound. In 1961 “Let’s Go Trippin'” was released by the Del-Tones. This was the first surf song. Soon after songs like “Wipeout,” “Surfin’ Safari,” “Pipeline,” “and “Surfin’ USA” brought the surf culture to the world.
There were two different types of surf music. There were songs with vocals by groups like the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean, and then there were intrumentals. The instrumentals usually had extended electric guitar solos. “Pipeline” by Dale and the Del-Tones, and “Walk Don’t Run” by the Ventures are good examples of
instrumental surf songs. Chuck Berry was a big influence on the surf sound. Jan and Dean used his guitar riffs in two of their songs “Surf City” and “Dead Man’s Curve.” The Beach Boys also used Chuck Berry’s songs in their music.