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Archive for July, 2009

RIP George Fullerton

Man, first Bob Bogle, now George Fullerton…

As I’m sure many of you have heard by now, George Fullerton passed away last Saturday of congestive heart failure.  Fullerton was Leo Fender’s right hand, the man who helped launch the Telecaster and Stratocaster into history and who joined up with Leo again in 1980 to create G&L Guitars.

George Fullerton dies at 86; musician helped Leo Fender create his unique guitars (LA Times)

Obviously the entire guitar-playing world owes Mr. Fullerton a debt of gratitude for his work at Fender, taking Leo’s innovations and ideas and devising efficient ways to turn them into tangible, playable instruments, but I think surf guitarists owe him an additional nod;  When the first wave of surf music crashed its way into the early sixties, teenagers across the entire country clamored to get their hands on Fender guitars and start writing the next big instrumental surf hit.  Suffice to say that if Mr. Fullerton hadn’t been the innovator he was, hadn’t helped make Fender guitars both practical, playable and toneful, the classic era of surf music might have sounded very different.

On a personal note, before I became the Gretschified sapien I am, the sound of the Surfecus was pushed along by none other than a G&L Legacy.  For those familiar with the line, mine was one of the Tribute series – guitars made overseas but using USA-made pickups – and I’m still amazed at the quality and tone G&L managed to pack into such an inexpensive guitar.  Any time a discussion comes up about purchasing a first, budget or backup guitar for instrumental surf, the G&L Legacy Tribute is the first recommendo I make.

I think it’s a testament to Mr. Fullerton and his dedication to building better instruments for musicians of all stripes that a full 55 years after the Stratocaster came to life, his designs have not only lived on but have reached a point where musical hopefuls with very little to spend can afford a guitar that will take them wherever their inspiration and fingers lead them.

Here’s to you, Mr. Fullerton.  May you rest in piece knowing that your work has touched nearly every guitarist in the world, and we’re thankful for it.

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