Back in 1938 in Fullerton California a man named Leo Fender opened Fender's Radio Service, a company that did repairs to radios, phonographs, musical instrument amplifiers and home audio pieces. Trade was good, and he even sidelined by selling records in his store and also had built company made PA systems that they rented out to groups and individuals alike.
Fast forward a few years and the company branched out and started manufacturing Hawaiian lap steel guitars and amps which they sold in sets. By 1950, however, they introduced the first mass-produced solid body, Spanish style electric guitar which exploded in popularity so they created and sold an electric bass in the same style.
The guitars that we know and associate with the Fender brand first appeared in 1954 with the Stratocaster, affectionately known as The Strat. It immediately became popular because of its comfortable contoured edges and the built in vibrato system, things that just had not been manufactured into a guitar before. The players loved it and sales soared.
Fender Guitars are known for their solid wood bodies, their quality construction and manufacture, and the fact that they give the user minimal feedback, something not found in many imitation guitars. The quality and tonal excellence of the guitars and bass guitars have found many admirers across all musical genres. It's not just rock musicians that love the Fender brand, but of course many big names do play them.
Famous names like Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Holly, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Brad Paisley, Kurt Cobain and Eric Clapton amongst scores of others play Fender guitars. Famous bass players Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Adam Clayton of U2 are also famous Fender users.
This is not to say that Fender creates instruments solely for famous people, as this is certainly not true. Anyone can buy one and take in the workmanship and quality aspects for themselves.
The Fender guitar came from humble roots and now boasts many famous models that are touted by many in the know. The notoriety that has come to the brand is something that has taken years to achieve and is amazing when you think that the company started as a humble radio fixing service.
Today there are tours of the factory available which includes a little museum dedicated to the famous guitars and bass guitars that are now household names. Next time you're in California, look them up!