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THE ROOTS OF ROCK GUITARClick here for pictures of the Roots of Rock guitar
Arguably, one of the most significant cultural phenomena of the 20th century was the advent of rock music. This loud raucous and joyous sound was conceived by young Americans who cut their teeth and honed their skills on the Rhythm and Blues and Country Music styles of rural America, and managed to fuse these two idioms into something fresh, new and exciting. Songs inspired by love, fun and freedom with a loud driving beat and a sexual undertone launched a sonic assault which inspired youth around the world to pursue the guitar and emulate their musical heroes who gave them this wonderful new music.
Meanwhile, in Southern California a radio repair man by the name of Leo Fender was listening to the problems musicians were facing in their quest for more volume and better tone, developed new innovations in guitars and amplifiers whose designs have withstood the test of time and are still being used to this very day.
In 1997 Tony Melman commissioned Fender Musical Instruments to design and build a guitar that would pay tribute to the pioneers of rock music and to the design legacy left to us by Leo Fender. This guitar was to be called “The Roots of Rock.”
Carver, George Amicay and master builder, Fred Stuart at Fender submitted a design for the guitar where a Fender Stratocaster was relief carved to resemble the root system of a tree surrounding small stones, which bear the names of those who were instrumental in developing the music. Dr. Melman also wanted the tremolo cover plate inscribed with a dedication to those at Fender responsible for the Stratocasters design and development and also to acknowledge those of us who were involved in the “Roots of Rock” project. Fret markers on the guitar are monoliths which show milestones in the history of Fender, while the back of the neck is etched to resemble a tree trunk and the American flag inlaid into the headstock pays tribute to the country that brought us this music and the instruments which were so important in creating it.
To create such a spectacular and detailed piece of art is a time consuming and sometimes frustrating process. Quoting George Amicay’s note to Tony Melman, which he included with the guitar when it was delivered in June of 2000 “This project was the most challenging for me from the first root to the last letter engraved on the rocks”.
As you can see the results were spectacular and the guitar says it all.
Ray Kopko, 2003