A Musical Day Trip to the Fullerton Museum Center


I am intrigued by the beginnings of things; how the perfect combination of fortune and fate sparks creation of something revolutionary.

It seems strange that a local farmer’s son in the sleepy citrus town of Fullerton could produce the first, solid body electric guitar that would become the choice of rock and roll legends like Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones – and he couldn’t even play one himself.

Leo Fender (1901 - 1990)
Leo Fender (1901 – 1990)

Leo Fender was a tinkerer, a self-taught engineer who loved to take things apart so he could find a better way to put them back together.

In his radio repair shop on Harbor Blvd he fixed all kinds of things, usually making improvements with his own innovations. Occasionally, musicians would come to his shop, needing repair for their electric instruments.
Fender listened to their concerns. He looked at guitars and amplifiers not as a musician, but as an engineer trying to create the most durable and effective tools for playing and amplifying music.

The rest, they say, is history.


Recently, I made a rock and roll road trip to Fullerton to visit the exhibit on display at the Fullerton Museum Center, Solid Design: Leo Fender’s Telecaster. The museum has an extensive collection of vintage Fender guitars on display, as well as testimonials from the guitar legends that put them on the musical map. But my favorite part of the exhibit was watching the documentary on Leo Fender himself, showing how his curiosity and ability to solve problems led to his remarkable success.

Fullerton Museum Center

Afterwards, we walked a few blocks south for Sunday brunch at the center of Fullerton’s current music scene, The Slidebar Rock and Roll Kitchen.

Slidebar Rock n Roll Cafe

At night, this place rocks with the live sounds of the latest local bands but, by day, it’s a great spot to enjoy lunch surrounded by rock and roll memorabilia. The menu features mimosas and an ample breakfast buffet, plus tender bbq meats smoked out on the front patio.

We spent the next hour walking down Harbor Blvd., soaking up the strong musical influence that’s still felt all over Downtown Fullerton. Downtown Fullerton

The building where Leo Fender repaired radios and tinkered with guitar designs is still standing. One block down the street is Mo’s Fullerton Music Center, where you can purchase your very own guitar if you feel so inspired. Across the street, at Black Hole Records, you can browse through an eclectic assortment of vintage vinyl that is sure to bring back memories of your old record collection.Downtown Fullerton Shops


There’s a hip, indie vibe in Fullerton that can be found in the funky boutiques and vintage clothes shops that line Harbor Blvd. If you’d like to complete your rock and roll fantasy with a brand new tattoo, downtown Fullerton can accommodate you.

So if you’re looking to change the beat and try something new, Fullerton rocks.

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