Leo Fender became a rock ‘n’ roll icon quite by accident.
After a brief career as a bookkeeper, Leo opened a radio repair shop in Fullerton, Calif., in 1938, when he was just 29 years old. In 1938, the electronics industry in America was still in its infancy. The vacuum tubes that made amplification possible had been invented just 30 years before, and the First World War put radio into military use. The first radio broadcast licenses were issued in 1920. By 1933, two-thirds of American homes owned a radio and had the electricity to operate it. When he opened his shop, Leo Fender was on the cutting edge of the new electronics industry.
To supplement his income from repairing radios, Fender built, rented and sold public address systems to local music halls and musicians. A steady stream of musicians patronized Fender’s shop. The rudimentary amplifiers, microphones, speakers and guitar pickups of the day were always breaking down, and Leo was the “go-to” guy for getting them fixed.
According to Fender, a musician’s most common request was, “How can I make this louder?” To those of us who have grown up listening to “too-loud” amplified music, this may seem to be a strange request. Volume knobs have spoiled our generation. Can’t hear the T.V., radio or stereo? Grab the knob and turn it up. Too loud? Turn it down. But, it wasn’t too long ago that “turning up the volume” created more problems than it solved. Read More
Originally posted 2013-10-01 19:05:00.