What If Leo Fender Were Still Around?

Imagine today’s “state of the art” possibilities for his instruments

By Jon Liebman
Week of May 13, 2019

In this week’s interview, the ever-exuberant Francisco “Pancho” Tomaselli brings us up to date on his current musical adventures, including the plumb gig that has him writing music for Facebook. The interview, conducted at this year’s NAMM show in January, took place at the G&L booth, where we were surrounded by dozens of exquisite bass guitars, every one of which can be traced back to the ingenuity of the one and only Leo Fender.

Pancho talked effusively about G&L basses (“L” for Leo, of course), and what Fender had envisioned during the ‘60s and ‘70s in his never-ending quest to create the ideal instrument. “The sensitivity of the craftsmanship of the instrument is incredible,” says Pancho, citing generations of Precision basses, Jazz basses, active pickups, passive pickups, Music Man sounds, and more. A most profound moment to Pancho came to light as he recalled a conversation with a Mexican woman who was hand-coiling pickups in the G&L factory. The woman, personally chosen by Fender himself some thirty years ago, proudly told Pancho – in Spanish, of course – “I only put love into my pickups.” Pancho was floored.

What would Leo Fender have thought about the state of his instruments, nearly three decades after his passing?

Pancho is visibly excited about his forthcoming G&L signature bass, throughout which Fender’s influence is unmistakable. Rattling off a list of features and specs, Pancho is most appreciative of the versatility of the instrument, which will enable him to get Precision sounds, Music Man sounds, great settings for slapping, using a pick, and lots more.

Imagine how much further Leo Fender would have taken his creativity if he were still alive. Similarly, what do you think iPhones and Macs would be like today if Steve Jobs were still involved? And can you imagine Henry Ford having a conversation with Elon Musk? Back to the bass, what else do you think Jaco would have come up with had he not met his early demise?

As the pioneers and innovators pass on, it’s up to the rest of us to decide what improvements, if any, need to be made – or can be made – and to what unimaginable lengths someone’s original concept can be taken.

Have a thought on the subject? Leave a comment below. I’d love to know what you think. In the meantime, check out my interview with Pancho here.

Comments on What If Leo Fender Were Still Around?

  1. Churdy Toledo says:

    I think “Leo” would be the “Stradivari” of our days, with little improvements and little changes in the line, just, looking for a better way to get a better goal… maybe, the wood choice, or diferent electronic configurations, if instrument we´respeaking about, cos he´s always thought in be the best in what he was doing, but honestly, he could place his name very hight.

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