It would be nearly impossible to estimate the number of guitar teachers on FindAGuitarTeacher who
own a Fender guitar or bass and/or suggest to their guitar students to purchase one. The Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster guitars, as well as their Precision and Jazz basses have taken a god-like position in the minds of countless guitarists – accomplished and aspiring alike, and it’s safe to say that these iconic models, along with the Gibson Les Paul and ES series, are as easily identifiable as any model of any type of product in existence.
James Berry, a guitarist, musical artist, and guitar teacher, residing and giving guitar lessons in Brooklyn, NYC, visited the Fender Factory in Corona, California this past spring, and he has written a descriptive account of what he witnessed and experienced while taking the tour. Many of the guitar teachers on FindAGuitarTeacher.com know James from the interviews he’s done with them for our guitar teacher video profiles and are certain to relate to the perceptions and perspective that James expresses in his article, which you can read below.
A Visit to the Fender Factory
by James Berry
Earlier this spring, I visited the Fender Music Factory in Corona, CA. Even though I’ve played guitar for many years, it was the first time I had gone behind the scenes and watched how guitars are put together.
In the waiting area, there were displays celebrating famous musicians who have used Fender guitars—Keith Richards, Bruce Springsteen, Jimi Hendrix, and many others—but the display that really grabbed my attention focused on Leo Fender, who started the company in 1946 in Fullerton, 20 miles west of Corona. The display also contained a few early electric guitar prototypes that look nothing at all like later Fenders!
When the tour began, I saw different areas of the factory, and the main thing that struck me was the vast amounts of machinery and raw material (wood and metal) in every direction. I saw large clear plastic bags filled with guitar necks by the dozens lying here and there on the factory floor. I saw, on tables I passed, stacks of unfinished Telecaster and Stratocaster bodies awaiting the next stage of the building process. I felt the industry of it all.
I was impressed by certain production techniques that have come into being over time. One technique uses fire hoses to flatten the strips of wood that will become the guitar necks. This process formerly required metal clamps and much more time, but the new technique allows for greater productivity.
Another technique involves the newly painted guitar bodies that need up to a week to dry fully. The factory, using its available space very efficiently, suspends the guitar bodies high in the air above the floor of one of the larger rooms. It was a strange sight to look up and see, through a net that hung from wall to wall across the entire room, dozens of colorful Fender guitar bodies hanging in the shadows near the ceiling.
Fender moved to Corona in 1985, and the new factory initially produced about four guitars per day. The daily total now is about four hundred. Fender has created probably as good a balance between artistry and mass production as is possible with a musical instrument; as a guitar teacher who wants to offer guidance to my students about the purchase of a guitar, it’s nice to have an option as tried and true as a Fender. Leo Fender created an instrument that looks and sounds great, and the Fender Factory makes it financially possible for any aspiring guitarist to play essentially the same instrument as the guitarists he or she likes. The rest is up to the aspiring guitarist!