How Fender Guitars Are Made, Then (1959) and Nowadays (2012)

When you think rock ‘n’ roll, you think electric guitars. And when you think electric guitars, you think about Fenders and all of those Telecasters and Stratocasters played by legendary musicians, from Jimi Hendrix, George Harrison, and Keith Richards, to Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. The Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company first started operations in Fullerton, California in 1946, but didn’t start making Teles (originally called Broadcasters) until 1950, and Stratocasters until 1954. And they’re still making them today.

The first video above, “A Strat is Born,” takes you through the making of a contemporary Stratocaster in four timelapse minutes. The action all takes place at Fender’s factory in Corona, California. The second video below offers a vintage 1959 tour of the Fender factory in Fullerton, CA. Put the two videos side by side, and you can see how much times have … or haven’t … changed.

Epilogue: Jim Marshall, a pioneer amplifier maker, died yesterday at 88. May he rest in peace.

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Comments (4)
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  • Jay says:

    The factory would be at Corona, Ca; not Coronado.

  • Lee says:

    I own and have owned more than my fair share of Fender guitars and amps. I have a vintage Esquire from 1961, a Stratocaster from 1973, and several more recent examples. I must say, unlike Gibson, whose quality has noticeably deteriorated through the years while their prices have soared, Fender continues to make great products at affordable prices. Even though they have undergone a lot of changes in ownership the last ten years, I hope that they continue to be around for a long, long time. Fender guitars are truly an American icon.

  • Back in 1995 I traded for an old Fender Strat which has been pieced together. I have no idea what years the parts are. The logo on the peghead is the thin letters with two sets of patent numbers. The neck is maple and on the butt end is written in pencel “12/57 TG”. The tuners do not have any name on them, just thin lines. The body is a dark colored blue and on the insid of the body is written “1968 TG”, the pickups are an off white color compared to the bright white volume/tone knobs. I call my Fender a “Frankenstrat”. It sounds pretty good. You can hear it on YouTube whereas I have a music video and play this guitar on it. To access the video, type the following into the YouTube search box ” BOBBY GOODWIN – MUSTANG SALLY’S GOT THE BLUES”.

  • Stephen Pate says:

    Cool story. Interesting how much hand work still done. What’s with the no-shirt no mask thing in the 50’s!

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