Happy Birthday to the Grandparent of Guitars – The Fender Esquire!

 The year 2020 marks the 70th birthday of Leo Fender’s first solid-body electric guitar. It was also the first mass-produced electric guitar in history, and laid the initial yellow bricks on the road to Guitar Oz. 

 

In 1946, the Fender Electric Instruments Company was formed in Fullerton, California. Clarence Leonidas Fender had been born in Anaheim in 1909, and at only 37 years old he would start the company that would lay the bedrock for the modern electric guitar. He had opened his first shop, Fender’s Repair Service, 8 years prior in 1938, but was ready to move on. He turned the radio shop over to his friend Dale Hyatt and went fulltime into the music instrument business. By 1949, Fender guitars and amps were firmly established in the music industry. To the left, a photo shows a young Leo Fender (far right) and others with an early Fender guitar model.

The year 1949 was also monumental because Leo and coworker George Fullerton completed the first prototype for the famous Esquire guitar. The prototype (pictured to the left) shared a similar body shape with later guitars of the same vein. The shape was a dreadnaught style with a single cutaway, allowing easy access to the upper frets of the guitar. In the next year, 1950, the Fender Electric Instruments Company officially released the first mass produced guitar ever, the Fender Esquire. The biggest change from the prototype to the first model (seen below) was the headstock shape. The Esquire was a solid-body, single pickup electric guitar – a pickup is a magnet that “picks up” the vibration from the strings and sends it to an amp. The pickups on the first Esquires pictured are the metal boxes at the end of the strings. The guitar also had one knob to control the overall volume and one knob to control the tone, or timbre, of the guitar’s pickup. The first advertised color scheme was a black body with a white pick guard, but later produced Esquires had a blonde body with a black pick guitar (as pictured). This first model also did not have a truss rod. A truss rod is a piece of metal that runs inside and along the neck. The end of the rod can be turned with a tool which will push or pull the neck in one direction or another. This is used to help straighten the neck when the tension from the strings causes it to bend over time. Only about 50 of these first Esquires were made. As orders increased, the needed improvements were recognized by Leo and George. Just months later they set out to revamp their already very popular electric guitar model.

 

Later in 1950, Fender came out with what was shortly known as the Broadcaster (pictured on the left). This model came with a few upgrades which included the addition of a much needed truss rod along with a second pickup, located next to the base of the neck. This pickup, because of its location and construction, had a much rounder and less bright sound. There was also a pickup selector, a switch which would allow the player to turn on one pickup, the other, or both. This variety of tones and combinations made the Broadcaster a much more versatile instrument and the added truss rod made it more durable. At the time, fellow musical instrument company, Gretch, caught popular wind of Fender’s new release and took legal action against the name, due to the conflict of their Gretch Broadkaster drums. Fender agreed to change the name and “Broadcaster” was removed from the Fender headstock. During the time that the company was renaming their flagship guitar, the guitar they were producing had nothing but “Fender” on the headstock. Guitars from this short era are known as Nocasters, hinting to their lack of a visual name. In 1951, Fender rereleased their electric guitar model, and named it the Telecaster. To this day, the Telecaster model still carries its iconic name, form, and sound onto the stage and into the studio through the hands of countless musicians.

Leo did not stop there in 1951. That same year he released his company’s first electric bass model, known as the Precision Bass (a 1952 model to the left). This model is still mass produced today and is one of the most popular and used bass guitars. Next in line came Leo’s second guitar model, that would achieve him even more historic fame and forever make him an icon in the guitar world. The Fender Stratocaster followed the Telecaster in 1954, and took the world by storm. It has stood atop the pillar of modern guitar as the most recognized shape and symbol of the instrument. It has been used on countless famous recordings and is only second in Fender origin to the one and only Telecaster.

 

 

 

In 1964, Fender began producing their first acoustic style guitars. Later that year, the visually distinctive, offset guitar called the Mustang was released. Unfortunately, Leo Fender began developing health problems at age 55 and decided to sell his company. On January 5th, 1965, Fender sold to Columbia Records Distribution Corps. for $13 million. Throughout the years after Leo’s ownership, Fender has undergone many changes. Regardless, they have remained at the top of the list of guitar manufacturing and developing giants. Even though decades of growth and change have coursed through the Fender name, the legendary shape of the original Esquire holds true in what is still known as the Telecaster. Above is a photo of an old guitar factory line. Today, only high end guitars are handmade, a testament to how popular guitar playing has become.

Happy Birthday to the Fender Esquire! 2020 marks its 70th year in existence. It still remains one of the most recognized and favored guitars around the world and many competing companies create similar styles. The specific photograph to the right is of the 70th anniversary Esquire model released in 2020. It has a special seafoam green finish, but features the classic white pick guard and single pickup. This rerelease is a passionate ode to an all time classic. The Esquire was the first ever mass produced electric guitar, a huge achievement that paved the way for so much. For such a cornerstone in a moment of guitar history, the shape, sound, and love for the Fender Esquire remains timeless.

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Daily Discovery: Women Who Rock

Post written by  Forrester Tamkun, Music & Sound Lab Assistant.

Daily Discovery: Women Who Rock

Throughout history there has always been amazing and strong women. Here are a few such woman who made their mark in the Music Industry.

Dolly Parton

Dolly Rebecca Parton was born on January 19th, 1946, in Locust Ridge, Tennessee. She was the fourth of twelve children in a poor farming family. However, from a young age she showed a high aptitude toward music and would ultimately pioneer the emergence of fusing the genres of country and pop. Upon high school graduation, Dolly set off toward the music Mecca of Nashville, where here musical career began to blossom.

In Nashville, Parton became the protégée of Porter Wagoner, a star of the Grand Ole Opry. Working with Wagoner gathered attention toward Parton and she quickly became one of country’s most popular singers. Parton launched her solo career in 1974 and released her critically acclaimed song “Jolene.” She was chosen as female singer of the year by the Country Music Association (CMA) for 1975 and 1976. In 1978, Dolly began expressing her poppy side with her song “Here You Come Again,” which won her a Grammy. That same year she was declared entertainer of the year by CMA, speaking odes to her convergence of the two musical styles.

Click here to listen to “Jolene” by Dolly Parton.

Parton would continue to win Grammy’s and awards throughout her musical career and was inducted in 1999 into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Aside from heavy success in the musical realm, Parton has acted in several successful films as well as made guest appearances on many films and television shows.

She has also notably been very charitable in her life as well. In 1988 she created the Dollywood Foundation which aimed to provide educational resources and inspiration for children. She was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress in 2004 for her enrichment of American cultural heritage.

Aretha Franklin

Perhaps one of the most distinguishable female voices in music is Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul was born Aretha Louise Franklin in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 25th, 1942. Her father, C.L. Franklin was a Baptist minister at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit for over thirty years. He was known to have a “Million-Dollar Voice” which seemingly passed onto Aretha as she grew up singing in church and learning to play the piano by ear, culminating in complete understanding of the correct tones and pitches.

Aretha signed with Columbia Records at the mere age of 18 and released her first song and album, reaching up to 10 on the billboard. In 1966 she signed with Atlantic Records and released her monumental hit song “Respect.” She released three more top ten hits through Atlantic Records and won her first two Grammy’s. Not only did Aretha achieve musical success, but she was consistently a voice that spread the importance of equality, peace, and justice for Americans.

Click here to listen to “Respect” by Arethra Franklin.

Aretha set history as the first woman to be inducted in the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame. Her 1972 album, Amazing Grace, is the best-selling gospel album of all time. Franklin collaborated with countless other musicians throughout her life, including George Michael, Elton John, and James Brown. She too appeared in film, most famously alongside Ray Charles and James Brown in the hit feature film The Blues Brothers, in 1980.

The Queen of Soul will always resonate as one of the most powerful voices in music history. Her music and what it stood for will echo the dire importance of racial equality and justice in society.

Joan Jett

Aretha set history as the first woman to be inducted in the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame. Her 1972 album, Amazing Grace, is the best-selling gospel album of all time. Franklin collaborated with countless other musicians throughout her life, including George Michael, Elton John, and James Brown. She too appeared in film, most famously alongside Ray Charles and James Brown in the hit feature film The Blues Brothers, in 1980.

Click here to listen to “I Love Rock n’ Roll by Joan Jett.

The success of The Runaways helped Joan Jett go solo in the late 1970’s. However, it was the band she would form after her solo career that would really help Jett take off in music history. In 1980, Jett formed the group Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. The band’s most famous song, “I Love Rock N’ Roll,” is become a staple in the history of the genre. It was released in 1981 and was the top song on the Billboard charts for seven weeks straight. It is in fact Billboard’s number 56th song of all time and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016.

Joan Jett herself was inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. Her albums have achieved either gold or platinum awards. On top of achieved monumental fame and success in the music, she is also an inspiration for other realms. She has consistently been a prominent feminist icon and animal activist throughout her life. She will forever be a symbol of Rock N’ Rock and feminine strength that helped push the fresh roots of rock music into Earth.

Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell was a Canadian experimental singer-songwriter who was once described as the “Yang to Bob Dylan’s Yin, equaling him in richness and profusion of imagery.” She was born on November 7, 1943, under the original name Roberta Joan Anderson, in Fort McLeod, Alberta, Canada. She studied art in her hometown until 1964 when she moved to Toronto. There she began performing at local clubs and coffeehouses, and had a brief manage to folksinger Chuck Mitchell. In 1967, Joni Mitchell relocated to New York City where she made her debut album, Songs to Seagull. Her first album was produced by David Crosby and was a massive success with much attention paid toward its maturity of lyrics.

With each following release Mitchell’s popularity and following grew. Clouds in 1969 won a Grammy for best folk performance and Blue in 1971 was her first million-selling album. Mitchell’s career has not slowed throughout her life. She has released a total of 19 studio albums and 3 live albums. She is without a doubt one of the first women in modern rock to achieve a longevity of critical recognition. She inspired countless artists including Bob Dylan, Prince, Suzanne Vega, and Alanis Morissette. She was inducted into the Rock N’ Roll hall of fame in 1997 and in 2002 won a Grammy Award for a lifetime achievement.

Click here to listen to “The Circle Game” by Joni Mitchell.

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Educational opportunities like this are supported in part by Bohemian.

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Daily Discovery: Women Who Changed the Music Industry

Post written by  Goose Seifert, Music & Sound Lab Assistant.

Daily Discovery: Women Who Changed the Music Industry

Historically, women and their contributions to music have been very overlooked in the music industry. Let’s take a look at a few women who molded various genres and eras with their music!

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown is a singer, songwriter, and actress born in Portsmouth, Virginia in 1928. Ruth started singing in nightclubs and performing with Lucky Millinder’s orchestra in 1945, taking a different path than her church choir director father, who did not want his daughter listening to “the devil’s music.” After a disc jockey saw Ruth play with Duke Ellington, he told the higher ups at Atlantic Records what talent he had seen. Not long after, Ruth suffered from a car crash and signed to Atlantic Records while in bed at the hospital! After recovering, she released her first song, “So Long” which reached #6 on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart. Following that in 1950, Ruth peaked the charts as #1 with the new release “Teardrops from my Eyes.” After this, Ruth was acknowledged as the queen of R&B, as well as “Miss Rhythm.” Her releases afterwards continued to top the R&B charts, and they stayed up there for a while. Because of Ruth’s great success, she became a household name and was responsible for Atlantic being the foremost label of the genre.

Patsy Cline

Patsy Cline was a country singer born in Winchester, Virginia in 1932. Patsy began performing on the local radio station at age 15, and in a local band occasionally appearing on country television channels. After performing “Walkin’ After Midnight” on CBS’s Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts, she had her first hit on country and pop charts, gaining national recognition. She began to work under Decca Records in 1960, which led to her first country billboard chart #1- “I Fall to Pieces” released in 1961. Next, she released “Crazy,” which also became a huge hit. Patsy also performed regularly on the Grand Ole Opry country radio broadcasts in Nashville. As her success was rising, the country music industry competed with the rock and roll industry, adopting more pop elements to appeal to more mainstream audiences. Patsy, who favored traditional country, continued to dress in western clothing and include yodeling in her music, bridging traditional country music with modern pop successfully. Patsy’s life ended suddenly in a plane crash in 1963, while she was 30 years old, however her legacy lives on, as she was the first woman inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame, documentaries about her life have been produced, and her childhood home was turned into a museum.

Diana Ross

Diana Ross is a singer, actress, and record producer born in Detroit, Michigan in 1944. Her success emerged as lead vocalist of the Supremes, a vocal trio signed to Motown that quickly became the first U.S. group to have five songs in a row reach #1. The group went on to have 12 total chart toppers, the most billboard #1’s that an American group had in history! Around 1969, Diana left The Supremes to start a solo career, and continued her success by reaching #1 with “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Following that, she had three other tracks reach #1 in the 70’s as she was also branching out and acting. In 1976, Billboard Magazine titled her as “Female Entertainer of the Century.” Diana continued to release pop records in the 80’s with a few more chart toppers, and returned to Motown for a couple records producing singles that gained international success. She sang lead on a top 75 hit for 33 consecutive years in the U.K. from 1964 to 1996. In 1993, she was declared the most successful female musician in history by the Guiness Book of World Records for her total of 70 hit singles in the Supremes and as a solo artist!

Suzi Quatro

Suzi Quatro is a musician and actress born into a musical family in Detroit, Michigan in 1950. Suzi was raised studying classical piano and percussion, and started a band with her older sister at age 14, fronting the band with vocals and bass. This band toured and released singles over a few years, until Suzi accepted a solo contract from producer Mickie Most. From there, Suzi worked with songwriters Chinn and Chapman to produce “Can the Can,” which reached #1 in 1973 and sold 2.5 million copies. She continued to release hits and was featured in the British Charts for 101 weeks between 1973 and 1980. Suzi then expanded her career into acting where she played roles in TV series and then hosted her own talk show. Throughout the 90’s, Suzi continued to release records, and began a radio career with BBC in 1999 that still continues today. In 2006, Suzi was nominated for broadcaster of the year at the Sony awards. While Suzi is successful in multiple areas of her career, she is widely recognized as the first female frontwoman to also play bass in rock and roll, paving the way for more female rock pioneers such as the Runaways and Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads.

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At Home Music Resources

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant.

At Home Music Resources

Here at FCMoD, we believe in the importance of music. And during times like this, we want to provide resources to continue discovery.

In this blog post, we’ve compiled a list of our recommended education resources during this time. Learn more below!

  • A list of live virtual concerts to watch during the shutdown!
  • Follow the NOCO Live from Home Show to support local Northern Colorado artists.
  • Create your own instruments at home through our #dailydiscovery blog series!
  • Here are some tips for gigging musicians!
  • Moog and Korg make synth apps free to help musicians stuck at home.
  • Smart Music is offering free virtual tutorials and online subscription access until June 30, 2020.

Even though the museum is closed, we want to continue to inspire creativity and encourage hands-on learning for all!

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Daily Discovery: Make Your Own Maraca!/Descubrimiento en casa: Construye tu propio instrumento musical – ¡maracas!

Post written by Eisen Tamkun, Music Education Lead.

Daily Discovery: Make Your Own Maraca!

Shake shake shake, shake it! Create your very own maraca using household items!

Supplies:

  • Tape – any kind will do (the more colorful the better)!
  • Spoons – disposable work best
  • Filler – rice, beans, or dried corn
  • Scissors
  • Plastic Easter Egg

Instructions:

  1. Gather all the supplies.
  2. Start by insertion your filler in the egg. Only fill it half way so there is plenty of room for it to rattle around.
  3. Tape the spoon handles together keeping the bowls of each spoon facing each other.
  4. Secure the egg between the two spoons with some tape.
  5. Lastly, continue wrapping up and around the entire egg

Now that you’ve made your very own maraca, try rocking out to some of your favorite songs! Shake your maraca along to the rhythm!

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

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Image credit: fun365

Traducido por Károl de Rueda y Laura Vilaret-Tuma.

Descubrimiento en casa: Construye tu propio instrumento musical – ¡maracas!

Crea tu propia maraca usando simplemente lo que tienes en tu casa, y suena, suena, ¡suénala!

Artículos necesarios:

  • Cinta adhesiva—la que tengas disponible. Si tienes de colores, ¡mejor!
  • Dos cucharas desechables
  • Arroz, frijoles, lentejas, maíz crudo o piedritas pequeñas
  • Tijeras
  • Huevo de pascua plástico

Instrucciones:

  1. Reúne todos tus materiales.
  2. Llena la mitad del huevo con el relleno de tu preferencia, asegurándote que haya bastante espacio para que este pueda moverse haciendo ruido, y ciérralo.
  3. Con la cinta adhesiva, une los extremos de las dos cucharas desechables para hacer el mango de tu maraca.
  4. Sujeta tu huevo entre las dos cucharas con la cinta adhesiva.
  5. Finalmente, sigue envolviendo el huevo con más cinta adhesiva hasta que esté completamente fijo y no se mueva.

¡Ahora que hiciste tu propia maraca, trata de sonarla al ritmo de tus canciones favoritas!

¿Te gustaría descargar esta actividad? Haz clic aquí para obtener un archivo PDF.

Para encontrar actividades, ideas y mucho más descubrimiento en casa, ¡síguenos!

Educational opportunities like this are supported in part by Bohemian.

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