Fenders are undoubtedly among the most popular guitars due to their superior tone and relative ease of use. They’re commonly used in world-class recording studios and sold-out stages worldwide. But who are some famous Fender guitar players who’ve established solid reputations as beast guitarists?
Some of the famous Fender guitarists include Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, John Mayer, Buddy Holly, Stevie Ray, Dick Dale, Bonnie Raitt, David Gilmour, and Yngwie Malmsteen. These well-known artists have cemented their status as one of the world’s most popular Fender guitar players.
In this article, we’ll look at who plays Fender guitars, focusing on their unique artistry journeys and what makes them stand out as some of the best artists of all time. Ready? Let’s get jamming.
1. Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix’s influence in rock music is undeniable, as he quickly established himself as one of the most influential and popular guitarists of all time. His unique style and ability to integrate different styles made him stand out and cement a solid status as a guitarist legend.
Although one of the most popular artists of the 20th century, Hendrix’s guitar player, more specifically with his Fender Stratocaster, set him miles above his peers. The rock legend played the Fender upside down and even famously restrung it to suit his unique left-handed playing style better.
As if that’s not enough, Hendrix formed a habit of experimenting with amplifiers and effects pedals, which further made his sound more of a signature than enhanced his appeal to millions across the globe.
Many modern-day guitarists cite Hendrix as a major inspiration, especially Fender guitarists who’ve gone ahead to create their unique style with the ultra-popular guitar.
2. Jeff Beck
Not many artists get inducted into the respected Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but Jeff Beck did so twice – both as a solo artist and as a band member (The Yardbirds). In terms of technical skill on the guitar, Jeff Beck was on his own level as he seamlessly blended musical genres be it rock, jazz, and even blues.
While Beck’s combination of lyrical and melodic styles made him stand out, his whammy bar manipulations, harmonic feedback, and fingerpicking established him as one of the best guitarists of all time.
Beck famously used his Fender Stratocaster to create unique sounds from bright to distorted, redesigning how players utilize a guitar’s tonal range. His skill on the effect pedals was god-like, and his ability to create unique sounds made him an inspiration to both up-and-coming and renowned artists.
3. Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton’s name is a sure inclusion when discussing some of the greatest guitarists and songwriters of all time. The English guitarist has won multiple accolades, with some of the most notable being ranking second in Rolling Stone’s ‘100 Guitarists of All Time’ list.
Clapton has played for several bands, such as Cream, The Yardbirds, and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. One thing that stands out about the legendary guitarist is when he pieced together three Stratocasters to assemble his famous guitar, Blackie. The Fender, as expected, influenced a massive part of his style, which became synonymous with his music releases in the 1970s.
His unique grasp of the Fender guitar allowed him to combine rock, jazz, and blues influences to develop a distinctive sound that few, if any, could replicate worldwide.
But if something showcased Clapton’s mastery of the guitar, it was his emotional playing style, which often blended speed and precision. To fans and guitarists worldwide, Eric Clapton is one of the greatest rock and blues artists of all time, and his skill with the Fender guitar is unparalleled.
4. John Mayer
John Mayer is one of the younger guitar maestros on this list, but his impressive skills sit right up there with some of the legends mentioned. Known for his emotional songwriting and deep lyrics, John Mayer is widely viewed as one of the best guitarists of his generation. His skill with the Fender Stratocaster has allowed him to cement his status as a legend in the making.
‘The Black One’, a 1960 Fender Stratocaster, is arguably among Mayer’s most notable Fender guitars. He’s used the powerful guitar in the majority of his recordings and live performances, showcasing his technical prowess and ability to fuse between different styles.
Despite his relatively young age, Mayer is believed to have a massive influence on new-age Fender guitarists, especially those focusing on deep lyrics and emotion-based performances.
Read Also: What Guitar Does John Mayer Play?
5. Buddy Holly
If you’re big on rock and roll, then you must have heard of the name, the legend, Buddy Holly. The late American songwriter and singer was known for his guitar skills and is widely viewed as one of the best Fender guitar players ever.
Buddy was known to be a magician with chord progressions and is behind some of the catchiest 50s hits like ‘Oh Boy’, ‘That’ll Be the Day’ and ‘Peggy Sue’. Most people believe that the Fender gained popularity as a rock and roll instrument due to Buddy, and his influence decades after his tragic plane crash.
And it’s not just Buddy’s ability on the guitar that saw him rise to fame, but also his energy during performances that made him grow a cult-like following among the rock and roll faithful.
6. Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray is a household name in the rock and roll genre, rising to fame with hits like ‘Crossfire and ‘Pride and Joy’. His relationship with Fender Stratocasters was sublime, with his 1962 Fender dubbed ‘Number One’ becoming his undisputed favorite.
His intensity, soulfulness, and emotional depth set Stevie Ray Vaughan apart from most notable guitarists. There were virtually no limits to his playing ability once he got a hold of a Fender, much to the amusement of his fans.
Vaughan would blend everything from nuanced passages to screaming leads, which allowed him to coax a diverse range of tones from his Fender. Although the legendary guitarist passed on in 1990 in a helicopter crash, his legacy as a guitar maestro lives on.
7. Dick Dale
Dick Dale, popularly called the ‘King of the Surf Guitar’, was a highly respected American songwriter and guitarist known for his on-stage showmanship. His influence in rock music, more specifically surf rock music, is second to none.
While fans worldwide adored his use of tremolo effects and reverb, his finesse on the Fender Stratocaster elevated him to the enviable position of guitar guru. Dale had energy for days when performing on stage and would occasionally play his guitar with his teeth and behind his head.
Besides contributing enormously to surf rock, Dale was an innovator as he worked with Fender to develop a 100-watt guitar amplifier (the first ever). The amplifier played a massive role in his sound, known for its power and intensity.
8. Bonnie Raitt
All hail one of the greatest female guitarists of all time, Bonnie Raitt, who, despite wowing crowds with her excellent strumming skills, is also a well-known activist. Her reputation as a slide guitarist precedes her, and she’s known as a legitimate Fender maestro.
One of Raitt’s greatest attributes is her ability to blend folk, rock, and blues influences in her singing, strumming, and songwriting. The Telecaster is synonymous with Raitt, which she’s used throughout her unbelievable career.
Bonnie Raitt rightfully (no pun intended) gained recognition due to her unique playing style, cementing her status as one of the best female guitarists of all time. The legend has used her influence to raise awareness on pertinent issues involving gender equality, environmentalism, and social justice.
9. Yngwie Malmsteen
Yngwie Malmsteen, one of the greatest Swedish artists of all time, easily ranks among the top guitar talents of his generation. His relationship with the Fender Stratocaster is intimate, which comes to life whenever he records or performs on stage.
His technical proficiency and virtuosity primarily characterize his unique playing style. In contrast, his intricate style featuring legato runs, alternate picking, and super-fast arpeggios puts him in a class of his own.
Malmsteen has built a reputation for modifying his Fenders extensively by adding features such as hot-rodded pickups and scalloped fretboards to amplify the overall quality of his unique technique.
There’s no denying that Malmsteen is an icon in the shred guitar and metal space, and his technical ability on the guitar has been admired by many across the globe.
10. David Gilmour
Perhaps best known as Pink Floyd’s co-vocalist and lead guitarist, David Gilmour is easily one of the best Fender players the game has ever seen. Gilmour’s use of effects like reverb and delay, coupled with his melodic playing that incorporates emotiveness, has earned him a massive following among rock fans worldwide.
When using the Fender Stratocaster, Gilmour loves to play around with the vibrato system and whammy bar. He also loves using different Fender guitars, like the Jazzmaster and Telecaster, when performing live and during recordings.