Fender marries the best of the old and the new in their American Original Series.
How many times have you found a piece of equipment from 50 years ago that you held off from buying because of neck profile issues, or pickup selector issues—and then felt pangs of regret knowing you walked away from killer tone?
The recently announced Fender American Original Series offers an intriguing option for players who’ve had to ask themselves this kind of question. Developed by Fender’s team, the 2018 series offers “best-of-the-decade” versions of Fender’s most iconic instruments produced from the 1950s-1970s, including the Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jazzmaster, Jaguar, Precision Bass, and Jazz Bass.
While each instrument varies, the team paid a deep attention to ensure both neck profiles and pickups were period-accurate. To get a sense of this effort, workers at Fender used original-era construction techniques to carve and fasten each instrument’s fingerboards.
It’s no wonder that the original instruments, developed during the heyday of the mid-century modern design movement in the United States, have retained a timelessness that’s particularly attractive to players. With the updates made by Fender, these instruments live up to their slogan of “classic guitars made new.”
In honor of this series, She Shreds would like to highlight some pioneering woman guitar players who first played these instruments during the eras.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Mary Kaye was a singer and guitarist whose performances helped cement the Las Vegas Strip’s reputation as a place for top notch playing. A player of a mid-50s stratocaster, Mary Kaye and her bandmates were known for developing a distinctive lounge music sound during their Las Vegas residency. Their act caught the attention of Fender reps, who took an iconic promotional photo of Kaye with a translucent white stratocaster in 1956.
A native and current resident of Beaumont, Texas, Barbara Lynn’s prodigious talent has led her to produce billboard-charting hits, tour with Otis Redding, James Brown, Ike and Tina Turner, and B.B. King. Active since the 60s, Lynn’s work has continued to influence modern artists, including Lil Wayne, who sampled Lynn’s “I’m a Good Woman” on his “Days and Days” in 2013.
Mary Lou Ball of Garage Rock band the Pleasure Seekers was known for playing a telecaster throughout the Pleasure Seekers’ tenure. As one of the first all female garage rock bands signed to a major label, the Detroit-based Pleasure Seekers brief career was packed with a number of criminally underrated singles, including “Never Thought You’d Leave Me” a track that showcases their tight playing and haunting melodies.
Chiyo and The Crescents was known as one of the only surf bands to include a female lead guitarist. Additionally, Chiyo was known to be incredibly mysterious and very little is known of her other than she owned a guitar store in Oxnard, CA in the early ’60s named “Chiyo’s Guitars and Drums,” in which she sold Fender instruments exclusively.
As lead guitarist for the group, Chiyo was known for playing a white Jaguar. When she wasn’t playing with the group, Chiyo ran the guitar shop above where she also taught guitar, steel guitar, accordion, and piano.
Originally a bebop jazz guitarist, Carol Kaye found her way into doing studio sessions to support her family. Her precise technique and signature Fender bass sound led her to being snapped up to play on records ranging from the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds to soundtracks for Steven Spielberg.
Originally born in Manila, Phillipines, sisters Jean and June Millington began their career as musicians quickly after moving to the United States in 1961. In high school, the sisters had a vision to form an “all-girl” band which came to fruition as the Svelts. By the early 1970s, Fanny formed and became one of the first and most notable pioneering bands made up of entirely women to sign to a major record label and hit Billboard’s Hot 100. Jean Millington’s 1963 Precision Bass continues to be her number one bass.