Back to Blog

Harmonix & Fender: Partners for this Decade and Beyond

I got my first electric guitar when I was 13 or 14, back when I knew nothing about brands or manufacturers. I had been taking lessons on a nylon string acoustic for a couple years, all the while begging my parents for an electric. Finally, they said that if I could pay for half, they'd help out with the rest. After saving up some lawn mowing money, my dad and I went to the music store. They had two used electrics hanging on the wall that were more-or-less in our price range. For my dad, the cheaper one was the obvious choice. But for me, the other one, the cool-looking one, the more expensive one was the one I had to have. It was a gorgeous, curvy, sexy-as-anything, bright red guitar. After a little bit of discussion about being responsible ("this is not a toy"), my dad also admitted that it actually was pretty sweet, and so we got it. It was a candy apple red Fender Jaguar with a matching red headstock. It had what seemed to me like a million buttons, plus a whammy bar (whatever that was).

Fender Red Jaguar Guitar
This isn't the same guitar as my first one, but you get the idea!

I played that guitar a ton over the next few years. Soon, Van Halen's first record came out and, because I was a typical kid, I had to have a guitar like Eddie's. And, because I was a typically stupid kid, I sold the Jag so I could get one. Yikes. I learned later that the Jag’s serial number, which I remember starting with an “L” and being relatively low, dated it likely between 1963-65. I still regret selling that guitar.

Since then, I've owned multiple Fender guitars and amplifiers. I’ve had other brands too, but I keep coming back to the Fenders. I don’t know if it’s the twang of the single coils pickups (which I prefer over humbuckers), or the volume control right there at your fingertips, or the effortless playability, but I’m most at home with a Fender.

It’s probably no coincidence that many of my personal guitar heroes primarily play Fenders, especially Stratocasters: Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, David Gilmore, Richie Blackmore (I was a huge Deep Purple fan in high-school), and especially my all-time favorite guitarist: Jeff Beck. All these players have very unique, recognizable guitar sounds and styles that come from, of course, their own amazing abilities, but also through their guitars. Their Strats are flexible enough to let each player’s sound come through. Jeff Beck is the master at making his Strat sing, bellow, cry, sting, scream, moan, crush, whatever… mainly just with his hands and his Strat.

Fender Guitar in Rock Band 4

Fender and Rock Band

I’ve been at Harmonix for quite a while and have worked every Rock Band game, as well as the original Guitar Hero games. Many people at Harmonix, including artists, programmers, and senior management, are active musicians and/or involved with the music scene outside of work. It’s always been important for our games to be authentic as well as entertaining. Fender’s been around since the dawn of rock and roll. Even today, it’s as popular as ever. When you see a band in a club or on the big stage, you’ll find Fender guitars and amps there more often than not.

So Fender and Rock Band was, and still is, a perfect fit. They’ve been our long-standing partner since the very beginning of the Rock Band franchise, almost 10 years ago. Fender helps bring the authenticity we desire to the game.

Our artists have accurately modeled a ton of Fender equipment that your character can play within the game: Fender guitars (Stratocasters, Telecasters, Jaguars, Mustangs, Jazz Masters, etc.), basses (Precisions, Jazz Basses, Jaguars, Dimensions, etc.), amps (Twins, Deluxes, Princetons, Super Sonics, Bassmans, Bandmasters, etc.), and many models from its subsidiary companies like Gretsch and Jackson. The equipment your Rock Band characters play looks very much like the equipment you’ll see on any stage.

Fender Guitar in Rock Band 4

The Rock Band controller has been modeled after a Strat since the beginning. The Strat’s iconic shape has probably been copied, cloned, and imitated by other guitar manufactures more than any other guitar. Again, it’s the perfect fit.

Rock Band’s extensive song catalog features many, many artists who use Fender equipment and many, many songs with iconic riffs that were played on Fenders: Jimi’s “Foxy Lady” and “Fire,” Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy” and “Texas Flood,” Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” and “Highway Star,” and songs by Iron Maiden, Dire Straits, Smashing Pumpkins, plus so many more.

Rock Band wouldn’t be the same without Fender, so here’s looking forward to another 10 years of Rock Band, Fender and rock and roll.