Quiet Genius, Damn Loud Guitar

The works of Leo Fender

FMC director Joe Felz and "Shower of Brilliance" curator Richard Smith (author of the finest guitar book out there, Fender: The Sound Heard 'Round the World, Garfish Publishing, 1995) aren't just into artifacts but rather delve into the sociology of Fender's works. The new exhibit, which runs until January 2003, is a distillation of their splendid 1993 exhibition "Five Decades of Fender," put on now to prime the pump for an effort to build a permanent museum extension dedicated to Fender and other California musical-instrument pioneers. (The early 20th-century metal-bodied resonator guitars, the very first electric guitars, and other innovations occurred here as well.)

The exhibition will tell you more about electric guitars than you thought you needed to know and is a fascinating window into Orange County's past, showing you a time when there was so much less here yet so much more seemed possible.

"A Shower of Brilliance: Leo Fender and His Electric Guitars" at Fullerton Museum Center, 301 N. Pomona Ave., Fullerton, (714) 738-6545. Opens Sun. Through January 2003. Jim Washburn is the author with Richard Johnston ofMartin Guitars: An Illustrated Celebration of America's Premier Guitarmaker (Rodale Press).
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