Gizmos, Gadgets, and Guitars

The Story of Leo Fender



Christy Ottaviano Books

Henry Holt and Co.

(pub. 9.7.2021) 40 pages

Author: Michael Mahin

Illustrator: Steven Salerno

Character: Leo Fender

Overview: "Leo Fender loved to thinker and tinker and take things apart and put them back together again. When he lost an eye in a childhood accident, he refused to think of himself as broken. With a new pair of magnifying glasses, Leo got back to doing what he loved, fixing machines big and small―even broken instruments.

His inventions―which included the Telecaster and the Stratocaster―would inspire the rock ’n’ roll generation and go on to amplify the talents of legendary guitarists Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Bonnie Raitt, among others. Fender’s brilliant engineering vision connected science and art forever."

Tantalizing taste:

"Western swing bands had cowboyed their way across the country and taken over the Los Angeles area with their super-swinging dance songs and their slip-sliding, electrified lap steel guitars and amplifiers.

These electrified guitars and amps were still new inventions, and good repairmen like Leo were hard to find.

Leo studied their schematics and searched their circuits like a detective looking for clues and connections. He quickly discovered that these instruments were easy to break and hard to fix. No one seemed to be building them with the musicians or repairmen in mind.

Leo thought he could do better."

And something more: Michael Mahin shares in the Author's Note: "As Fender expert Richard R. Smith has written, 'Given the role that music has played in American culture, it is not an exaggeration to say that Leo's instruments were engines of musical and social change, They bridged generations, races, cultures, and musical styles, bringing everyone in the world closer through music.'"