Fender Acoustic Guitar History: The Story of Fender Guitars
Fender’s Acoustic Guitar History is unique in that they began manufacturing electric guitars, before they manufactured acoustic guitars, which at the time was not the normal.
Fender started production and commercialization of acoustic guitars in the 1960s, more than a decade after they had released their first electric guitars.
Fender’s original acoustics were designed to fit with the fun and carefree culture of southern California. A 1969 Fender catalog page shows a wide variation of guitars. Shenandoah 12 string, Concert, Malibu, Kingman, Villager 12 string, Newporter and Palomino with a photo was taken at a desert in a ghost town and photography really simulates in a carefree environment and blends in very.
Pop Culture Influence
Fender, and the guitar in general, had a massive influence on pop-culture in America and other parts of the world. Johnny Cash, George Jones, Buck Owens, Wanda, Robbie Robertson and Elvis Presley all played a huge role in making rock and country a popular genre in the world.
Before, the only viable music genres were classical music and Jazz. Since, music is such an emotional work of art, Rock and country music created a major cultural shift in clothing and slang. In the late 1940s, Fender released a series or electric guitars, basses and amplifiers. In the 1950s and early 1960s Fender began to expand its guitar business with the growth of Folk music and its popularity.
In the 1940s, several cheap prototypes were offered to Radio-Tel, their distributor in Santa Ana, CA. This was more than a decade before the first Fender acoustic model was released.
Enter Roger Rossmeisl
In 1953, the son of a German luthier, Roger Rossmeisl, moved to the United. He would work multiple jobs, showing his managers that he could create innovative guitar designs and they recognized him then as an expert.
He notably worked at Rickenbacker, where he would create the companies most famous designs in the 1950s and 1960s. The important ones to note are the 4001 bass guitar model and created the “cresting wave” body and shape.
Rossmeisl would later work immediately as a designer for Fender.
The First Fender Acoustics
Rossmeisl created the first Fender Acoustic guitar designs, which were:
- The King
- The Concert
- The Classic; and
- The Folk
These were all released in 1963.
The models received positive reception and were described as attractive. They were flat-top models with electric features like bolt-on necks, Stratocaster style head-stocks and screwed-on pickguards.
These first 4 models had a strange bracing system called, “The Broomstick”. It was a bracing system with a rod made out of aircraft aluminum, that ran parallel to string from the front of the body to the back. This stabilizer absorbed the shock that was placed on it from the top by the string tension.
These four major models were produced at a massive Fender factory at 500 S Raymond ave. in Fullerton, Calif. However, within months, in 1964 production was moved to Fender’s new plant at 1560-1580 missle way in nearby Anaheim.
Later that year, a smaller acoustic model called the Palomino was created.
Through the 1960’s
A couple years after their success, Fender wanted to make a new model, so they introduced:
- The Malibu.
This was a budget priced model and was followed by two other models that would release in July of 1965. It is important to note that this was after CBS bought Fender.
The two new models were also budget priced models, namely:
- The Shenandoah; and
- The Villager
These two models featured the iconic “hockey stick design”.
In 1966 the Classic model was discontinued and the “King” was renamed to the “Kingman”.
Due to CBS’s purchase of Fender there was less innovation in their guitar designs and newer models would resemble the more popular models – with the exception of the ultimately unpopular “Wildwood” series.
Fender’s final American-made acoustic guitar model of the 60s was the “Redondo”.
The F-series models, which were made in Japan, were released in 1969.
Fender Acoustic Guitars and the perception of them being an exclusive producer of acoustic instruments began to slowly dissipate. All of the models previously mentioned were discontinued in 1971, except for the F Series, but they were eventually also discontinues in 1979.
The iconic designer Roger Rossmeisl went to Germany in the early 70s after the acoustic models were discontinued. He passed away in Germany in the 1979 at the young age of 52.
The company would take financial hits in the 70s and looked like going out of business in the early 80s – but Fender was able to make a comeback in the mid to late 80s.
The Recovery 80s and 90s
Bringing back the acoustic models proved to be successful and once again made them a threat in the industry.
They marketed themselves on Nostalgia and advertised that carefree, Californian culture. In the 1990s, Fender would offer some new acoustic guitars, namely:
The California seies
The Gemini series
A reinstated F-series
The SX series
In 1996, Fender would offer the DG, CG, JG, BG and GC acoustic instruments. The first acoustic bass models were the BG-29.
2000 to present
In the 2000s they would introduce a number of other series of acoustics, including:
- The Grand series
- The Global Design series
- The J5 Signature
- The Ensenada Series
- The Classic Series
In addition to this they also introduced some artist series models – like the Tim Armstrong Hellcat and the Duane Peters Sonoran SCE ’61.
Fender also branched out into other instruments such as mandolins, ukulele, banjos, resonators.
As they would continue to to expand their audience, they would never forget who they truly were. Even in the toughest of financial losses Fender would never forget where they came from. They believed that the history of Fender acoustic guitars would always represent that California sunshine rock/folk attitude.
Today they produce a wide variety of acoustic guitars – but they are still focused on the lower-end in terms of price. For a detailed look at the guitars on offer at Fender currently check out the link below.