Vintage Vault

The family resemblance between these popular Fender models is obvious. Both are leaning on a relative: a 1958 Bassman, which won the favor of both bassists and guitarists.

This pair—a Precision bass and Stratocaster from 1959—have much in common besides their iconic status.

If any of you have delved into the history of Fender—and how can you play guitar and ignore it?—you probably know that Leo Fenderintroduced the Precision bass in late 1951, following the success of his radical electric 6-string solidbody, the Telecaster. The P bass proved to be even more groundbreaking. The new-fangled guitar-sized instrument was widely embraced by bassists and guit-pickers alike, following its early appearance in the band of jazz vibist Lionel Hampton and, in rock, in the hands of Bill Black, who used one while supporting Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock.

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The covers to these PAF humbuckers had never been removed until this guitar was evaluated for sale.

A see-through cherry factory-finish 1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom? You bet your meatballs!

Ted McCarty, the man most responsible for the creation of the Gibson Les Paul and the president of the company during its golden era, never spared his criticism of the competition at Fender. He sniped to guitar writer Tony Bacon that Fender didn’t even own a carving machine, adding, “they joined their neck with a plate in the back of the guitar!” In another interview, he told author Tom Wheeler, “It didn’t take a great deal of skill to build a plank guitar”—an insult that, for some, still carries a barb all these decades later.

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A blind horse wouldn’t be impressed, but this beautiful, double-horned instrument with one-of-a-kind engravings helped make luthier Tony Zemaitis famous.

Though they never reached the commercial success of some of their peers, the Faces have no doubt earned a place as one of the seminal rock ’n’ roll bands of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Combining influences as varied as instrumental funk à la the Meters, traditional folk music, and a heavy dose of rhythm and blues, the Faces brand of rock ’n’ roll can be heard in some way or another in the music of countless bands that followed. After the Faces folded in 1975, all five members went on to continue making great music, but their chemistry together was undeniable.

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Team Fender: This Telecaster Custom and Pro-Amp both hail from the same year, although the Tele looks like it has considerably more mileage

A slab rosewood fretboard, binding, and a sunburst finish made the 1960 Custom model a classic alternative template for Leo’s senior solidbody.

In 1959, Alaska and Hawaii became the 49th and 50th states in the U.S. But guitar fans know ’59 as a legendary year for both Les Pauls and Telecasters—two favorite flavors among meat-and-potatoes 6-string aficionados. On the Fender side of the menu, that’s the year the Telecaster and Esquire Custom models debuted, at the NAMM show in June.

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