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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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Jim­my Page Tells the Sto­ry of “Kash­mir”

Here Comes The Sun: The Lost Gui­tar Solo by George Har­ri­son

A Young Eric Clap­ton Demon­strates the Ele­ments of His Sound

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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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