Tadeo Gomez - 1950s Fender Guitar Craftsman
by cfh@provide.net, 5/7/04

My favorite Fender vintage guitar era is the 1950s. The early Telecasters and Stratocasters of this era are what Rock n Roll was invented and perfected on. Also the guitars themselves are basically all hand-made, low production, high quality. It wasn't until the 1960s (and the Beatles) that production volumes increased greatly, forcing Fender (and other makers) to cut corners and produce their guitars faster and in higher volume.

When talk comes to the early days of Fender Electric Instruments, Fender craftsmen always get mentioned. And the one craftsmen that is most famous is Tadeo Gomez. I own and have played a great many vintage Telecasters and Stratocasters from the early to mid 1950s. And my favorites are always the ones that Tadeo Gomez had crafted, and signed his initials on the butt of the neck.

I had alway valued my TAD (or T.G.) marked 1950s Fender necks as the best feeling. And I mentioned this on my Fender web page at GuitarHQ.com. Then one day back in about 2000 I got an email from a James Gomez, claiming that he was Tadeo's grandson. He asked for my phone number, which I gave him. And sure enough he called me. James seemed shocked to learn about his father's little-known (at least to him!) skill as a master Fender craftsman! I was rather surprised by this, as I had known of the TAD/TG initials and what then meant to 1950s Fender vintage guitars.

Tadeo worked at Fender from the late 1940s to about 1957. Apparently he had some falling out with Fender management, so Tadeo quit Fender to work at Disneyland California as a construction employee. This lasted until the mid-1960s, when Tadeo went back to Fender (now owned by CBS as of January 1965) as a maintainence man! This of course was yet another bonehead mistake by the CBS/Fender management of the time, basically demoting a premier neck shaper/craftsmen to a maintainence man. But then again, CBS ruined Leo Fender's company in everything they touched, so I guess that's no big surprise.

Below are some newspaper articles and pictures about Tadeo Gomez. It seems the Latino community really didn't know of Tadeo's hidden skill set either (as documented in the article below).

As a final note, the "Your Old Guitar" video, "Telecasters 1950 to 1969" (available at youroldguitar.com) is dedicated to Tadeo Gomez, who was born on Oct 28, 1902 and died on November 25, 1986 (boy I wish some guitar magazine did an intensive interview with Tadeo before his death, because we really know very little about this great man). Tadeo Gomez died of cardio respiratory arrest (apparently brought on by bronchitis and infection), and was buried at Calvary Cemetery, 4201 Whittier, Los Angeles CA (I have his death certificate, but I don't think it is appropriate to post it). Godspeed Tadeo, I remember you everytime I play up an early to mid-1950s vintage Telecaster or Stratocaster!

Back to the Vintage Guitar Info webpage.

Tadeo is wearing the same style glasses in his 1980s driver's license picture
as he is in the above 1950s Fender picture!