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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 June, 2004, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
Guitar maker Fender 'up for sale'
Tony Blair
Tony Blair rocks out with a Fender Telecaster
Fender, supplier of electric guitars to top rock stars since the 1950s, has put itself up for sale, the Financial Times has reported.

The company has appointed Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs to help it find a buyer, and is thought likely to fetch $500m (300m), according to the FT.

Arizona-based Fender is one of the music industry's best-known brands.

Its guitars are closely identified with rock icons such as Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, and Kurt Cobain.

The company's best-known product is the Fender Stratocaster, which set a new quality benchmark for electric guitars when it was introduced in 1954.

High note

The firm also makes a range of electric basses and amplifiers.

Fender is currently in private ownership, having been bought out by a group of employees and private investors nearly 20 years ago.

The company had previously been owned by US television network CBS, which bought it from founder Leo Fender in 1965.

The firm has been expanding steadily in recent years, opening a hi-tech manufacturing plant in California in 1998, and acquiring rival guitar maker Gretsch in 2003.

Although Fender is best-known for its association with the rock aristocracy, its instruments have also attracted a following in the upper echelons of the British government.

In January 2002, Fender was reported to have donated a guitar to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, who famously played in a rock band during his university days.

The company declined to comment on the FT report.

Gideon Coe, BBC Six Music
"This is no ordinary guitar company"

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