The Fender Archives: A Scrapbook of Artifacts, Treasures, and Inside Information

Hal Leonard Books is proud to announce The Fender Archives by Tom Wheeler.  In his introduction, Tom describes this unique book which looks at the company from the inside out.  Featuring handwritten letters, production totals, personal logbooks, in-house memos, and much more, The Fender Archives tells the Fender story like never before.

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At the Heart of American Music

Welcome to The Fender Archives. You are invited along on a research expedition, a sort of archeological dig through several sites: well-organized file folders in Fender’s Scottsdale, Arizona, headquarters; the family archives of Don Randall; author/curator Richard Smith’s extensive collections at the Fullerton Museum Center and Fullerton Public Library; the photo galleries of John Peden and Fretted Americana; jammed-to-the-brim metal cabinets in a sweltering Fender warehouse near the Corona factory; and the sunny, art-filled home of the late Bob Perine in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, just blocks from the beach where he and Ned Jacoby took now-iconic photos of clean-cut high-school kids, surfboards, palm trees, and chrome-clad rocketship guitars in Shoreline Gold and Daphne Blue and Candy Apple Red.

This book is part history, part archive, part scrapbook, and for some of us, part treasure chest. In a few cases I offer reconsiderations of familiar topics—the origin of the Telecaster, the iconic imagery of Fender’s mid-’60s promo literature, the dark age of CBS, etc.—but for the most part I resisted the temptation to launch into explanations of facts and perceptions I’ve already shared, and others have shared, in numerous books and magazines. I wrote many articles about Fender during my fourteen years at Guitar Player (the Stratocaster alone received a three-installment series and a mult-part cover story, as well as columns by Robb Lawrence, George Gruhn, and others). I had already written extensively about the Fullerton company in The Guitar Book and American Guitars before tackling lengthy hardcover books devoted exclusively to Fender: The Stratocaster Chronicles (280 pages, 225 photos); The Soul of Tone: Celebrating 60 Years of Fender Amps (512 pages, 430 photos), and The Dream Factory: Fender Custom Shop (592 pages, 600 photos).

So the aim here is not to introduce Fender but rather to revisit it, to go behind now-familiar facts, images, and assumptions and shed new light on the inspirations for these revolutionary instruments and amplifiers, their sometimes difficult births and growing pains, the environment into which they were unleashed upon the world, and the motivations and personalities of key players.

Aside from celebrating the amps and guitars that separated the company from its rivals, The Fender Archives looks at the company from the inside out. Leo Fender’s drawing-board sketches and his penciled notations analyzing the costs of his guitars’ every screw and string ferrule, Don Randall’s revealing handwritten letters imploring Leo to evolve prototypes into production models, Freddie Tavares’ hyper-detailed personal logbooks, in-house memos, and financial reports—such documents are freed here from long confinement in steel-gray filing cabinets and nearly forgotten cardboard boxes, dusted off, and promoted from background to spotlight.

Other items include historic patents, memos debating marketing strategies and product design, a 1946 contract setting up Leo Fender’s first distributorship, and a 1964 report from investment consultants to CBS recommending that while the famed guitar company would be a promising acquisition, Leo Fender himself should be nudged aside in favor of a new breed of buttoned-down corporate managers. Never intended to see the light of day, these documents provide new frames of reference. Several are supplemented with excerpts from my interviews with past and current Fender employees and also with Doc Kauffman, Merle Travis, Ted McCarty, and others.

As Fender CEO Larry Thomas says in these pages: “Fender, it’s not about the guitar. It’s about the music. The guitar helps you to get there; it’s about the emotional connection. Fender is at the heart of American music.” Indeed, Fender is more than a brand. The name conjures an edgy, fuel-injected attitude toward creating and performing music that was born in the late 1940s in small-town Fullerton, California, a place of orange groves and oil wells where Hawaiian music met country, and Western met swing.

In the surrounding metro community, America’s post-war economy was being invigorated by the roll-up-your-sleeves, can-do attitudes of returning World War II G.I.s; the mechanical intuition of suburban toolshed tinkerers; and the brainy enthusiasm of aerospace engineers in horn-rims and short- sleeved shirts communing with their slide rules and looking toward the moon. It was the site of America’s first commercial drag strip, and a place where Detroit auto designers came to tap into the hotrod/speedway esthetic when dreaming up what came to be called muscle cars. Like other American cities, Fullerton felt the comfort of “I Like Ike” and Father Knows Best morphing into the zing and zest of Camelot and Carnaby Street; it felt the rock-ribbed red, white, and blue traditions of thrift and economy merging with the fashion and futurism of a Jet Age rapidly

evolving into a Space Age. It was Southern California, a state of mind as much as a geographical location, home to Hollywood, West Coast Cool, the Magic Kingdom, and Tomorrowland. The sun, surf, and tire-smoking hotrod vibe fueled its own twist on a nationwide phenomenon, as pop met a feisty blend of roadhouse blues and hillbilly bop soon to be dubbed “rock and roll.”

Thrown together by the fates, aspects of these seemingly random, combustible elements would tangle and mingle at the Fender flashpoint, ultimately igniting new musical styles, new attitudes, and new cultures across Orange County, across America, across the world. It all happened in ways no one could have predicted.

History, chronicle, scrapbook—perhaps in some way The Fender Archives is also part memoir. While readers of any of my books will get a hint of my perspectives and tastes, this one is more intimate. It reflects more of my personal experience with Fender instruments, a reimagining of musical possibilities during my own formative years, and my scores of conversations with the people who founded the company, resurrected it, and carry it forward.

Many of my tastes and viewpoints are shared by the global guitar community, of course—we revere our Telecasters and Deluxe Reverbs—but the emphasis here on, say, early and mid-’60s Fender lore admittedly reflects one impressionable teenager’s fascination with a world of gleaming, swoop-body guitars and a distant Southern California as evoked by visionary marketers and an arty photographer with photogenic daughters, a bitchin’ T-Bird convertible, and ready access to the beach.

I approached my previous books the way any historian works, sifting and prioritizing facts and attempting to provide context. I’ve done the same here, while also acting as a sort of museum curator—selecting and arranging artifacts so as to let them speak for themselves, sometimes emphatically. In addition to text and photos, dozens of artifacts are embraced here in envelopes and sleeves, some chosen for historical value, others for dazzle, nostalgia, or sheer fun. A note on organization: the Table of Contents is merely a listing of major topics; dozens of subtopics are scattered throughout in scrapbook fashion.

I believe that taken together, these bits and pieces reveal new insights into what Leo Fender and his colleagues and descendants contributed and continue to contribute to guitar, to music, and to world culture. Putting this book together revealed many new insights for me while evoking a flood of memories. Perhaps it will do the same for you.

—Tom Wheeler

4 Steps To Improve your chances for a successful music career

Bobby Borg, author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musician, whips up some more wisdom in this article from Echoes!

 

In my 15 years of teaching and consulting, I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a young musician say, “I just do what I do, and if anyone likes it, they’ll buy it.

“My reply? Congratulations, you’re a true artist.”

But as you get a little older and your responsibilities increase with a mortgage, spouse, and kids, this attitude is dangerous unless you have another source of income or you’re just a hobbyist. Make no mistake, music is an art, but having a successful music career and making money at it is a serious business.

What follows are a few tips that might help improve your chances for having a successful music career without compromising your integrity.

Have a clear vision

Success starts with a vision – and a vision statement. A vision statement is a declaration of where you’d like your career to be in seven to ten years down the road. With this defined and in place, it’s far easier to map out the directions for how you’re going to get to your desired destination.

A vision statement summarizes what you are truly passionate about, and includes everything from the type of music you’d like to create, the products you might release, and the overall brand image you might like to impart on your intended audience.

Long before Marilyn Manson hit the scene, he envisioned himself as being a “pop star who would shock the world.” He kept drawings of costumes and stage set designs along with other business and creative details in a personal notebook. This was Manson’s “North Star” – his guiding light. Several platinum albums later, he truly succeeded at bringing his vision to fruition.

As the saying goes, “If you don’t stand for something, you can surely fall for anything.” So what’s guiding your music career? If you haven’t thought about it before, now is a good time.

Identify opportunities or needs

While keeping your vision at heart, it’s time to examine what’s going on in the world around to ensure that your vision actually fills a need and represents a true opportunity – from a creative and marketing standpoint. As previously stated, Marilyn Manson had a clear vision of being a pop star who would shock the world. But he also identified and filled a specific void in the marketplace – and perhaps even a specific societal need – for an entertaining and horrifically dramatic “new” stage personality, similar to what a now aging Alice Cooper had done decades earlier. In other words, the commercial marketplace was ripe for an artist like Marilyn Manson, and he capitalized on the opportunity unlike any other artist.

A valuable tool to help you examine the external (and internal) environments of the marketplace is called a “SWOT analysis.” SWOT is an acronym that stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The idea is to identify external needs and opportunities that match your internal strengths while also considering your internal weaknesses and the external risks (e.g. competition) that could impede your ability to succeed. While all this might sound like business school jargon, the most successful companies, both big and small, use the SWOT model. And with a little training, so can you!

Don’t worry whether Lil Dr. Dre, or anyone else, knew this stuff

Make no mistake – successful people in all fields apply marketing and business principles to get their desired results, whether they know it or not. From jazz guitarist Pat Metheny who advanced traditional jazz music into the future with the use of synthesizers and robotics, to Nirvana who stamped out cookie-cutter hair metal and created a whole new genre of music called grunge, new trails were forged that filled a very specific market need. The advantage of being consciously aware of certain marketing principles up front is that you don’t have to find your path by chance. Rather, you can use these helpful tools at your own discretion to help you achieve your vision.

Be an innovator

Be clear that the marketing approach that I am discussing here is not asking you to compromise your artistic integrity and to “sell out,” but rather to adjust with the world around you, be more unique and innovative, and to “buy in.” Let’s face it, creating art is a beautiful thing, but creating a sound and style that is new and fresh, having it enjoyed by a large audience, and receiving compensation so that you can quite your day job is simply awesome! Remember, creating music in a vacuum and simply hoping it is successful can be a risky proposition if you intend to be more than a hobbyist.

In closing…

Always stay true your vision, but be willing to adjust that vision to fill a specific need or void in the marketplace that matches your strengths. If you can fill that need first and do it better than anyone else, the rest just might be your amazing history.

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The Borg DIY Marketing Method

In this interview on DIY Convention, Bobby Borg gives some insights into the marketing methods he’s written about in Music Marketing for the DIY Musician.

Read the rest of the interview here!

Tell us about Music Marketing For the DIY Musician.

Essentially, the book is a step-by-step guide to producing a fully integrated, customized, low-budget plan of attack 00124611for artists marketing their own music. The goal is to help artists take control of their own destinies, save money and time, and eventually draw the full attention of top music industry professionals. It’s ultimately about making music that matters—and music that gets heard!

How is Music Marketing For The DIY Musician different from other books in the genre?

The biggest difference is that it is written specifically for DIY musicians by a musician with DIY, indie, and major label success, making it a more credible, focused, practical, and relatable resource for artists. Also, It covers the complete marketing process—from vision through execution—with handy templates and samples in each chapter to help artists create fully-customized marketing plans. And finally, it introduces sophisticated business and research tools (SWOT, SMART, AIDA, and PFB Charts) not found in most music marketing books, enabling artists to choose more confidently and even scientifically the right strategies for their own career path.

Provide one crucial tip from the book?

Do not create music in a vacuum with the intention of just throwing it out there and hoping for success. Hope is not a strategy! Instead, have a clear sense of what you stand for, while also trying to uncover where the world is going. Look for ways where you can be unique and do something that has never been done before. As hockey legend Wayne Gretzky said, “The key to success is to skate where the puck’s going, not where it’s been.”

If you ain’t measuring, you ain’t marketing – Advice from Bobby Borg

In Music Marketing for the DIY Musicianself-made artist and entrepreneur Bobby Borg outlines the best business methods to help up-and-coming musicians effectively achieve their goals. In this article he wrote for Echoes, Bobby emphasizes the importance of “measuring” in the music marketplace. Read more here!

 

Want to increase the effectiveness of your music promotions? The importance of measuring when marketing your music can’t be ignored.

Measure Marketing

A student recently approached me with a complaint that only six people showed up to his live performance. He sent out an email to 1,000 names, posted on a few social networks, and told his friends and family. Feeling like a promotion loser (his words), he was ready to call it quits.

But after using some basic analytical tools, we quickly discovered that fewer than 10 of the 1,000 people on his list were opening his emails. We focused on re-writing his emails with catchier headlines, more benefits, and a specific “call to action.”

At his next gig, not only did 628 people open his email, 66 people showed up and paid. That’s a pretty strong increase!

So make no mistake, marketing your music – in fact, any marketing – is not about “doing things,” it’s about “doing the right things.” This is the essence of marketing measurement and why it is so important to your career.

How to measure

Measuring is the process of creating systems to collect, analyze, and act on information that is relevant to the goals of your marketing plan. These “systems” can include anything from using web analytical tools (like the ones on Facebook and YouTube that tell you the geographic regions in which people are most interested in your music), counting your sales every night and analyzing thoroughly why you experienced an increase or decrease in revenue, or just asking people at your gigs, “How did you hear about us?” In the latter case, if no one responds with, “We saw your ad in the paper,” then you had better stop placing ads in that paper. It’s that simple!

What to measure

You can measure virtually anything you want. For instance, measuring your customers’ awareness of your brand, and whether you’re at the “top of their minds” when discussing a certain category (such as “local bands in L.A.” or “studios in Nashville”) can be helpful in determining the success of your public relations strategies.

Measuring your fans’ attitudes about your products and services can help you determine their level of satisfaction with you and their likelihood to recommend you to friends and family. And paying attention and measuring how well your products and services perform in each of your distribution outlets can help you see where you’re generating the most sales and where you’re wasting the most time.

Read the rest of the article here.

Watch: Pensado Papers Promo

The Pensado Papers takes readers behind the scenes on the journey that Dave Pensado has shared with his manager and best friend, Herb Trawick, all the way from death’s door to platinum records to Internet sensation. It features unique insights into the engineering regime of a recording genius, a creative philosophy that results in achievement and success, examples of Dave and Herb’s powerful and inspirational friendship, amazing teachings from guests on Pensado’s Place, and above all, fun! Here, Herb and Dave discuss the making of the book.

Marketing tips from Bobby Borg: Getting approval from your fans

In Music Marketing for the DIY Musician, Bobby Borg provides tons of tips on how to promote and distribute your work as a musician. Bobby recently wrote an article for Sonicbids Blog on one of the best (and most affordable) resources you can use to prep your music before sending it out to any record labels - fans! Read more here. 

Testing and Feedback: 5 Steps to Getting Approval From Your Fans Before Committing Your Valuable Resources

Testing and feedback is the process of getting your music into presentable form, trying it out on your most likely fans, and making necessary improvements before committing your time and money manufacturing, distributing, and 00124611promoting it. Without market research, you could easily spend thousands of your hard-earned dollars recording music that’s unmarketable to music supervisors, labels, radio stations, and even your own target fans – and that would be tragic! Make no mistake: testing and feedback increases your chances for success. Remember that creating music in a vacuum and simply hoping that people will love it is like shooting in the dark.

1. Develop and demo your products and services

The first step in the testing and feedback process is to get your music (or other products) into presentable form so you can test them on your target audience. This could mean simply putting together a pitch to present your ideas conceptually, or creating an “inexpensive”demo/prototype. Whatever approach you take, just be willing to pay some dues! Don’t rush the process. If needed, you might even enlist the professional advice of consultants, co-writers, and others to set you on track. This is crucial! Great marketing campaigns start with great songs first and foremost.

2. Test your products/services out on your most likely fans

Once you’ve invested the necessary effort to get your products and services into presentable form, it’s time to craft a variety of simple survey questions. Your questions might include: “On a scale from one to five, how unique do you think my style is?” or “On a scale of one to five, do you think this song should be included on my forthcoming debut EP?” Whatever it is you want to test, just make your questions precise so that you collect the most accurate and unbiased results.

Read the rest of the article on Sonicbids.

The Art and Science of Sound Recording – The Book

More than simply the book of the award-winning DVD set,  Art & Science of Sound Recording, the Book takes legendary engineer, producer, and artist Alan Parsons’ approaches to sound recording to the next level. In book form, Parsons has the space to include more technical background information, more detailed diagrams, plus a complete set of course notes on each of the 24 topics, from “The Brief History of Recording” to the now-classic “Dealing with Disasters.” Get a taste for what Parsons is all about in the excerpt below!

Hello there!
 Is this hello for the very first time, or have you got the video series as well? If the former, we also produced a video series entitled Alan Parsons’ Art & Science of Sound Recording, and this book is both based upon and an extension of territory we covered in the videos. We hope you will find one to be a good companion to the other. Alan Parsons’ Art & 00333735Science of Sound Recording—The Book is a complete rewrite and reappraisal of the original video version. Because it is a book and not an audio-visual experience, we’ve been able to examine all of the topics in greater detail. With the videos we strove to keep you visually and aurally entertained. Now, you can be reading this at home, or in a busy Starbucks, or on a plane . . . you can read one page at a sitting, or one chapter, or just dive in here and there using the index or the glossary. Ingest the words, look at the pictures and diagrams, and if something is not clear first time around, well, read it again. It’ll make sense eventually; promise.
 The great thing about a book is that you can go at your own pace. Plus it’s the ultimate in nonlinear formatting. You can flip from here to page 145 in less than a heartbeat. Eat your heart out, modern media! (Readers of the ebook version possibly have the best of all worlds, of course.)

For the book, we have kept the same basic tone as the video. We hope it is both intriguing for the new- comer to recording and interesting to the seasoned professional. We’ve dug a little deeper into all aspects of recording technology. Chapter 1, “A Brief History of Recording,” may still be a relatively brief version, but it’s now not quite so “on a pinhead.”

A question that often cropped up on the video series was, “How do I use the videos? What order should I view them in?” Sensing potential for the same line of enquiry here, here’s what we recommend you do.

This book does have a logical flow of chapters. First we look at how sound is created and how it behaves, before moving onto the different sources, components, and equipment involved in making and reproducing sound recordings. With these pieces of the puzzle in play, we then look at all the processes involved in manipulating sound recordings, such as EQ, reverbs, delays, compression, and so on. Then we look at how the various types of sound sources respond to the various processes and how they are best applied for particular sonic needs.

The rubber truly hits the road when human beings are tossed into the mix and we actually have to record real live musicians sitting there right in front of us. We look at drummers, guitarists, bass players, singers, choirs, keyboard players . . . all of whom can have very different mindsets, roles, temperaments, and functionalities.

Finally, even though the word “mix” is now more of a formality than the “performance” process it used to be in the days of analog technology, the mix is still the point where decisions and choices have to be made. And that, in itself, is an art and a science.

So if you can, read this book from here . . . right through to the end—at least once.

Learning anything—especially something as nuanced as sound recording—is a journey, and that journey is half the fun. You can fly from Paris to Istanbul, or you could take in the delights of Lausanne, Milan, Venice, Belgrade, and Sofia along the way by traveling on the Orient Express—same destination, but a very different experience.

As with the Orient Express, a top-to-toe read of this book will introduce you to topics you may not fully appreciate the first time around. But you can always come back to Venice and look at its sights and virtues. Although we will try not to dazzle you with clever-sounding words and concepts, important messages can be missed if you speed by too quickly.

Finally, a great debt of gratitude is owed to the many engineers, producers, and artists we interviewed for the video series, whose words of wisdom are included here. Music is so often best when it’s a team sport, and although there are actually some incontrovertibly bad ideas (e.g., don’t try recording a kick drum with a ribbon mic), sound recording is definitely NOT a place for closed minds.

Experimentation—within some context of tried and tested sound practices—should always be on the menu.

You’re in good company. So enjoy your journey.