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A nice pre-Christmas gift came my way, courtesy of Hal Leonard Books — “
.” The short, for those of you heading out for a holiday event — if you like “knowing” about guitars, and the name Fender is synonymous with guitar — then this book is for you (and cheap at $45 and assuming you haven’t read really deep books by Nacho Banos or Richard Smith).
Author Tom Wheeler chose to create something more like a scrapbook. It includes lots of material from previous interviews with Fender principals such as Don Randall, Freddy Tavares and Leo Fender. And it has plenty of pictures of old guitars, amps, relevant documents and drawings by Fender himself. There isn’t an overriding theme but rather a collection of Fenderiana.
“The Fender Archives” also includes facsimiles like Fred Gretsch’s Feb. 1951 telegram to Don Randall at Fender to stop calling Fender’s early electric guitar “Broadcaster,” so as not to conflict with Gretsch’s “Broadkaster” drum line (the solution — rename it “Telecaster,” and history was made); an early Fender product price list (remembering that those are prices from 65 years ago, it’s shocking how expensive Fender equipment must have been back then); and letters from the road by salesmen and Randall. There are also many posters detailing guitars, amps, ads and people.
There’s also a great deal of recounting the business ups and downs and inside dope (such as Fender’s attempts to keep manufacturing costs under control). It also has sections on neglected guitars such as Precision basses, Jazzmaster and Jaguars, in addition to Fender’s long and influential line of amplifiers.
The Fender fan should be quite happy with this (and then be in the mood to go out and buy a new guitar).