5 Iconic Musicians And The Fenders That Made Them
Few brands have impacted the history of popular music as Fender. Founded in 1946 by Leo Fender, Fender guitars and amplifiers have played a crucial role in shaping the sound of countless musical genres, from rock and roll to blues, jazz, and country.
Today, the Fender brand is synonymous with quality and innovation, and its instruments are prized by musicians worldwide. Here are five iconic musicians who have made their mark on the music industry using Fender guitars and why they chose this legendary brand.
1. Jimi Hendrix
Widely regarded as among the most influential guitarists of all time, Jimi Hendrix is famous for his groundbreaking use of the Fender Stratocaster. Hendrix favoured the Stratocaster for its exceptional playability and versatility. Its contoured body fit comfortably against his chest, and its unique three-pickup design allowed him to switch between clean, rhythm, and lead tones effortlessly.
Hendrix's innovative techniques, such as using the guitar's tremolo arm for pitch manipulation and incorporating feedback into his performances, are now hallmarks of the Fender Stratocaster sound. His legendary performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Woodstock in 1969, played on a white Fender Stratocaster, is a testament to the artist's and the instrument's enduring significance.
2. Eric Clapton
"Slowhand" Eric Clapton is another influential guitarist who has long been associated with Fender. Clapton first rose to fame as a member of the Yardbirds and later Cream, where he played a Gibson Les Paul.
However, in 1970, Clapton transitioned to Fender Stratocasters, which he has used almost exclusively ever since. In particular, his signature model, "Blackie”, a black Fender Stratocaster that he assembled from various vintage parts, is one of the most iconic guitars in music history.
Clapton has cited the Stratocaster's versatility and wide tonal range as reasons for his preference, as well as its comfortable feel and balanced weight. The Fender Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster, which features Clapton's preferred specifications, is a testament to his enduring relationship with the brand.
3. David Gilmour
As the lead guitarist and vocalist for Pink Floyd, David Gilmour is known for his atmospheric and melodic guitar work. His primary instrument of choice has been the Fender Stratocaster, which he has used to create some of the most seminal guitar solos in rock history.
Gilmour's iconic black Stratocaster, a 1969 model, is famous for its heavily worn appearance, resulting from countless hours of playing and modifications made over the years. Gilmour has stated that the Stratocaster's versatility and playability have contributed to his preference for the instrument. In 2019, Gilmour auctioned off his collection of guitars, including his iconic black Stratocaster, raising $21.5 million for charity.
4. Keith Richards
As the guitarist and co-founder of the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards has been a driving force behind the band's distinctive sound. Known for his innovative open tunings and "five-string" technique, where he removes the low E string from his guitar, Richards has relied on Fender guitars throughout his career.
His primary instrument is a 1953 Fender Telecaster, affectionately known as "Micawber", which he acquired in 1971. Richards has praised the Telecaster for its durability, simplicity, and ability to withstand the rigours of touring and its unique tonal characteristics. The Fender Keith Richards Signature Telecaster, a custom model based on "Micawber", pays tribute to this enduring partnership.
5. Bonnie Raitt
Acclaimed blues guitarist and singer-songwriter Bonnie Raitt has been a devoted Fender player since the early days of her career. Raitt's signature instrument is a 1969 Fender Stratocaster, which she acquired in 1969 for $120.
Known for its distinctive "Brownie" sunburst finish, Raitt's Stratocaster has been her constant companion throughout her career. Raitt has praised the Stratocaster for its playability, versatility, and ability to deliver warm, soulful tones and biting blues-rock sounds.
Fender guitars have played a significant role in shaping the sound of modern music. From Jimi Hendrix's electrifying performances to Bonnie Raitt's soulful blues, Fender guitars have been trusted by some of the world's greatest musicians. With their exceptional craftsmanship, iconic designs, and rich history, Fender guitars will continue to inspire and delight musicians for generations.
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