July 8, 2009

Fender guitar pioneer Fullerton dies

U.S. musician, artist and technician George Fullerton, who played a big role in the success of the electric guitar, has died at age 86, his son said.

Fullerton died Saturday of heart failure at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, Calif., his son Geoff told Wednesday's Los Angeles Times.

The newspaper said Fullerton worked closely with Leo Fender, the inventor of the Stratocaster and Telecaster electric guitars, instruments that revolutionized popular music with their adoption by rock 'n' roll pioneers in the 1950s. While Fender tinkered with the guitars' designs, Fullerton translated them into a manufacturing process at their Orange County production facility starting in the late 1940s.

Leo's domain was the lab: innovation, getting ideas together on the conceptual level. George's domain was the shop, Richard Smith, curator of the Leo Fender Gallery at the Fullerton Museum Center, told the Times. Fullerton, he said, made the machine that threaded the guitar necks. He came up with the neck shaper and all these unique tools they used. If Leo had problems, (Fullerton) needed to solve them.

The newspaper said that besides his son, Fullerton is survived by a daughter, Diane, and two grandchildren.