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Fender, In trouble?

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[quote name='Lord Sausage' timestamp='1413732261' post='2581322']
The problem for Fender is simple. Fender Basses and guitars are not the best basses or guitars for metal!

(although joking, there is probably a hint of truth in there)
[/quote]

A reply about Steve Harris, Iron Maiden incoming in 5 .......4.........3.......

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[quote name='spinynorman' timestamp='1413735954' post='2581361']
I've never understood marketing based on where the product is made. The only sensible business strategy is to make it in the location that gives you the biggest profit. The myth that the US produces the best quality musical instruments was exploded in the 1970s by the Japanese, and the only way the myth can be maintained at all is by deliberately reducing the quality in non-US factories by using lower spec components and dropping quality control. And all that does is screw your brand. It might pander to xenophobia in certain parts of the US music fraternity, but I can't see why anyone in Europe would give a damn where their guitar is made.
[/quote]

Very good point. Different pricing based on different quality components is one thing, but different build quality is ludicrous really. Imagine buying a car and being told by the dealership that you could have one built properly for one price or built a bit shoddily for a bit less. Quite an odd marketing model when you think about it.

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[quote name='spinynorman' timestamp='1413735954' post='2581361']
I've never understood marketing based on where the product is made. The only sensible business strategy is to make it in the location that gives you the biggest profit. The myth that the US produces the best quality musical instruments was exploded in the 1970s by the Japanese, and the only way the myth can be maintained at all is by deliberately reducing the quality in non-US factories by using lower spec components and dropping quality control. And all that does is screw your brand. It might pander to xenophobia in certain parts of the US music fraternity, but I can't see why anyone in Europe would give a damn where their guitar is made.
[/quote]

Unfortunately for Fender you've hit the nail on the head. Their home US consumers fiercely believe US made is way beyond anything made anywhere else. The anti foreign made feeling is very strong, this is especially so for Asian manufactured equipment.

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[quote name='flyfisher' timestamp='1413736443' post='2581369']
Very good point. Different pricing based on different quality components is one thing, but different build quality is ludicrous really. Imagine buying a car and being told by the dealership that you could have one built properly for one price or built a bit shoddily for a bit less. Quite an odd marketing model when you think about it.
[/quote]

I'm waiting for the even-more-expensive iPad made in the US. Perhaps a Bono signature limited edition would be popular.

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[quote name='LukeFRC' timestamp='1413735262' post='2581353']
And shutting Genz Benz down was the most daft move ever - get a brand at the height of it's popularity with players, a range of great products and... shut them down...
[/quote]

Shutting Genz down makes perfect sense.

A great amp with 'Fender' written on it is worth far more to Fender than a great amp with 'Genz Benz' written on it.

Unfortunately, they didn't capitalise on it.

('Yet...', maybe?)

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[quote name='Marvin' timestamp='1413736653' post='2581374']
Unfortunately for Fender you've hit the nail on the head. Their home US consumers fiercely believe US made is way beyond anything made anywhere else. The anti foreign made feeling is very strong, this is especially so for Asian manufactured equipment.
[/quote]

^This - the day they move production of Harley-Davidson to China will be a day of national mourning.

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I think chris b made a good point about the bottom end falling out of many instruments.

And in some ways i think there is a natural progression in the world and while i don't have the stats etc. I could say instrument playing in general has declined since, cinema arrived on the scene then radio, tv, personal computers, games consoles, internet, mobile phones, smart phones. And of course music software.
I believe sports has also been affected by these things too. There's just more stuff to do in life.

And i have been thinking this for a while but lots of instruments still look like something from the 50s which to every generation is going to look more and more out of date.
If i was a manufacturing company i would think im going to make my new instruments look modern with modern materials, and not just like the model you can buy 50 years ago. I should add i love old designs and instruments but having a range based on frankly ancient designs is not good business, you wouldn't get that in other business models. In 2003 i owned a triumph herald but would i buy a brand new one today no.

Also as many have mentioned the fact that the quality is much closer between bottom end and top end is a big factor. Fender really has tried to make the newer affinity range cheaper and cheaper but i think there struggling to make a cheap instrument significantly different from there top end models. Especially for first time buyers were you can now get a good instrument that will last many years for under 200 pound and cheaper.

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[quote name='flyfisher' timestamp='1413736443' post='2581369']


Very good point. Different pricing based on different quality components is one thing, but different build quality is ludicrous really. Imagine buying a car and being told by the dealership that you could have one built properly for one price or built a bit shoddily for a bit less. Quite an odd marketing model when you think about it.
[/quote]

Exactly that has gone on for years, the trick is keeping the markets separate, SEAT were once cheaply made Fiats, look how that turned out! You can still buy a Hillman Hunter in Iran called a Paykan, it has just replaced the version based on the the Morris Oxford JUST! In this internet age with worldwide shipping it just wouldn't work to sell cheap ones to poorer countries and keep the USA models as a top of the range.

When I bought my first Musicman part of the appeal was the lack of budget versions, you knew that your bass could have been next to one Flea was thrashing on the production line, then came OLP, then SUB, then SBMM and now SUB by Sterling, its a total mess heading the same way as Fender.

I am genuinely looking to buy a Jazz V fairly soon, I've just been looking on guitar guitar's site and Thomann, I have no idea what I'm looking at regarding where they are built and what to expect?

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[quote name='spinynorman' timestamp='1413735954' post='2581361']
I've never understood marketing based on where the product is made.
[/quote]

All Volkswagen Golfs are made in Germany ??

No, think again !!

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Primarily rule of thumb in business - innovate or die. When investors control the company, the numbers become more important and there is a risk of losing touch with their market.

I think Fender have played safe and leveraged far too heavily on their vintage roots and shied away from brand stretching. The result being that 'vintage' associations have become the coffin the company is going to get buried in. If they had played their cards right, they would have used one of their strategic purchases (Takamine, Guild, SWR etc.) to innovate. The Fender group owners could have then shifted their core interest away from a brand with such heavy vintage associations.

They had no choice but to offer budget models because there was a clear market which was being catered for by their japanese competition in the 90's and it was a way of staying competitive in service delivery terms at the least.

I see it as a salutory lesson about the importance of good leadership.

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[quote name='Big_Stu' timestamp='1413737618' post='2581392']
^This - the day they move production of Harley-Davidson to China will be a day of national mourning.
[/quote]

The owner of an independent Harley garage I used to frequent told me that I'd be shocked if you knew just how much of your bike was made in the far East.

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[quote name='Truckstop' timestamp='1413710835' post='2580995']
Over-priced and over-rated dogshit. The only reason anyone would ever buy one over another brand is purely because they want a Fender in their hands.

Even the US ones don't provide much over competing brands of a lower price point.

All the CEO has to do is keep Fenders in the public eye and the jobs done. No need to worry about actually making instruments that sound, look and play better than other brands.

People buy Cadillacs because they're cool cars. Not because they're better than BMW, Audi, Lexus or Mercedes. Nothing wrong with it of course; I'm just saying that these days in brand identity that gets the sales; not the product itself!

Truckstop
[/quote]

I've got two Fender guitars. One's a Richie Kotzen Telecaster and it's absolutely outstanding in every way. I bought it because I like well made, beautiful instruments that sound and look fantastic and play nicely. I've never been particularly swayed by the brand, I've paid over £2k for a Yamaha (more than once) that casual observers think are cheap Asian instruments.

The Kotzen Tele is manufactured by FugiGen Gakki in Japan (MIJ rather than CIJ) so it's not Fender manufactured and it's about the best guitar I've ever played or owned and is even better than then USA Peavey Wolfgang carved flame top I had. I hope they don't start manufacturing this model in house. My other Fender is a 1987 USA Standard Stratocaster, E Serial number and one of the first of the new model and that's a good guitar, not outstanding but I've had it since new so it's got a lot of sentimental value but if the right FugiGen MIJ Strat comes up, it'll be on eBay.

Not everything with the F word on the headstock is dog sh*t.

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[quote name='flyfisher' timestamp='1413736443' post='2581369'] Very good point. Different pricing based on different quality components is one thing, but different build quality is ludicrous really. Imagine buying a car and being told by the dealership that you could have one built properly for one price or built a bit shoddily for a bit less. Quite an odd marketing model when you think about it. [/quote]

Many large companies will try to find a way to get the maximum amount of money out of consumers, which will often mean making different products at different prices. For cars, there are different models at different price points. With basses they can sell more or less identical products except that they are made with more care and with better quality components. With books, they can sell hardcover and softcover editions. Supermarkets will sell the same food products as 'basics', 'normal', and 'premium' versions. I don't think it stands out too much that with basses they can sell essentially the same product with a different quality.

I've seen it said that the Squier Affinity P-Bass is the best selling bass in the world. There seem to be no small numbers of higher quality Squiers, Mexican Fenders, and USA Fenders being sold. If Fender has problems, it's not because they can't sell their products.

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I struggle to understand how people who buy Fender stuff claim its outstanding quality. It seems like they're claiming it's a new thing. Smith, Alembic, Ritter, Shuker, Goodfellow and Wal all offer outstanding quality. Fender has tended to pale in comparison in the past - but that doesn't mean to say it is bad now...just that its difficult to tell how it compares.

Suggested test for quality: Unbolt the neck and see if you can still pick the body up just using the tightness of the neck pocket.

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[quote name='Annoying Twit' timestamp='1413741258' post='2581442']
Many large companies will try to find a way to get the maximum amount of money out of consumers, which will often mean making different products at different prices. For cars, there are different models at different price points. With basses they can sell more or less identical products except that they are made with more care and with better quality components. With books, they can sell hardcover and softcover editions. Supermarkets will sell the same food products as 'basics', 'normal', and 'premium' versions. I don't think it stands out too much that with basses they can sell essentially the same product with a different quality.
[/quote]

I agree with all that as far as specifications are concerned but I wouldn't include build quality under that heading. Thus, cheaper machine heads, less expensive wood, lower spec pickups etc etc can all contribute to a 'lower quality' bass without it being a badly built bass. Paint finishes might be another example. Single colour, one coat plus a lacquer or three colour sunburst with each colour having two coats before another two coats of lacquer. A clear reason for different pricing but no excuse for the cheaper option to have runs in the paintwork - that would be poor quality and would be unacceptable regardless of the price point.

Edited by flyfisher

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[quote name='Kiwi' timestamp='1413743614' post='2581485']
I struggle to understand how people who buy Fender stuff claim its outstanding quality. It seems like they're claiming it's a new thing. Smith, Alembic, Ritter, Shuker, Goodfellow and Wal all offer outstanding quality. Fender has tended to pale in comparison in the past - but that doesn't mean to say it is bad now...just that its difficult to tell how it compares.

Suggested test for quality: Unbolt the neck and see if you can still pick the body up just using the tightness of the neck pocket.
[/quote] I love Fenders in general but I have to agree with Kiwi I find with Fenders you get a fantastic instrument or a dog this goes across the board regardless of where they are made I would imagine the custom shop instruments are very high quality but have never played one. I struggle to see how Fender are in trouble as there instruments aint cheap.Must admit I have not owned a Fender for a while now I do like them but personally I think other manufactures make instruments of a much better consistent quality at far cheaper prices

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Some thoughts:

Fender's lack of innovation: every time Gibson, Fender or RIC bring out something new everybody goes 'Squee! That's awful'. The buyers don't want innovation or we'd all be playing Gus's.

Overseas build quality: I think we've pretty much nailed the 'US is best' thing. Between £500-1000 it isn't best. It's usually 'as good as'.

American xenophobia about overseas products: Much less noticeable than it used to be and - anyway - it's usually about keeping jobs in their country which is the same as when we moan about call centres in Bombay.

Lower quality components: 99% of us couldn't tell a Chinese pot from a US pot until we have to replace it. Woods - 90% of us can't hear the difference. Hardware - no better or worse than US made but might wear out a bit quicker.

Fender - if they go tits up it won't be because of anything we complain about - breadth of range, etc. It will be because the market's contracting (surprise) and their corporate acquisition strategy has left them overstretched.

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[quote name='skankdelvar' timestamp='1413746850' post='2581534']
Fender - if they go tits up it won't be because of anything we complain about - breadth of range, etc. It will be because the market's contracting (surprise) and their corporate acquisition strategy has left them overstretched.
[size=4][/quote][/size]
Good points well presented. :) Goes back to my point about leadership, They've taken their eye off the ball and misjudged the market.

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[quote name='Kiwi' timestamp='1413747345' post='2581545']
[/size]
Goes back to my point about leadership, They've taken their eye off the ball and misjudged the market.
[/quote]

It's not just leadership within the company, though pressurising dealers, setting up a direct sales arm, making endorsement deals 'Fender Exclusive' when the artist is performing and letting some top people go from the custom shop are symptomatic of such.

Many of Fender's travails lie outside the company and with its ownership.

For example, did we know that VC Western Presidio at one time owned a majority of Fender and a large chunk of Guitar Center, the idea being to own both ends of the manufacturer / retailer chain? That Guitar Center has been in trouble for a while and owing money to Fender. That following the postponement of the Fender IPO a chastened WP sold out last year to TPG Growth and Servco, the two companies who now own the majority of Fender?

Did we know that TPG and Servco believe that the future lies in internet sales and Fender-branded headphones; and that it was a friend of the CEO of one of the afore-mentioned VC's who brokered the deal to get Bono and Edge onto the board?

Fact is, we've got a (sort of) repeat of the CBS situation. New spods on the block. Meetings behind closed doors. 'Stunt' board appointments. Newcomers who 'know best'.

It will get worse before it gets better and it will have f**k-all to do with whether one can get a particular instrument in Candy Apple Red.

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[quote name='skankdelvar' timestamp='1413746850' post='2581534']
Fender's lack of innovation: every time Gibson, Fender or RIC bring out something new everybody goes 'Squee! That's awful'. The buyers don't want innovation or we'd all be playing Gus's.
[/quote]

Damned if they do, damned if they don't and all that. Gibson look like they're about to retreat back into their shell next year, only the SG and the Thunderbird announced so far as 2015 models. I fear for the EB - first time they've done a bass exclusive model in some time and as far as I can tell, had as many detractors as admirers (I'd call that a win, personally). So it hasn't outsold the Precision, so it'll get binned. Not surprised in the least. Ho hum.

Fender in bother? Won't be the last time. Didn't CBS run it into the ground, just as Norlin did to Gibson? They'll be back, don't worry.

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[quote name='stingrayPete1977' timestamp='1413739834' post='2581424']
I am genuinely looking to buy a Jazz V fairly soon, I've just been looking on guitar guitar's site and Thomann, I have no idea what I'm looking at regarding where they are built and what to expect?
[/quote] I think if I were looking for a great 4 string Jazz I would be looking to find either a Japanese vintage reissue or the older american vintage reissue series, the '75ri or the '62ri. The Roadworns were good and I had a soft spot for the Highway ones too.

If I were looking for a great 5 string Jazz I probably wouldn't even look at anything that said Fender on it. Overwater/Valenti/Sadowsky/Lakland/whatever ....

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[quote name='tonybassplayer' timestamp='1413739943' post='2581425']
All Volkswagen Golfs are made in Germany ??

No, think again !!
[/quote]

Yes, they make Golfs in various places around the world, but I don't think they're marketing a Golf made in Germany as a superior product to one made in Slovakia, or Mexico.

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[quote name='LukeFRC' timestamp='1413754872' post='2581641']
I think if I were looking for a great 4 string Jazz I would be looking to find either a Japanese vintage reissue or the older american vintage reissue series, the '75ri or the '62ri. The Roadworns were good and I had a soft spot for the Highway ones too.

If I were looking for a great 5 string Jazz I probably wouldn't even look at anything that said Fender on it. Overwater/Valenti/Sadowsky/Lakland/whatever ....
[/quote]
I think I like the idea of owning a fender again but as it will be a fiver I suspect it will not be one as you have pointed out, I'm going to try a deluxe V again but there's a good chance it's going to be a lakland 55-60 or even a 95-14.

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Awww
this thread answers a lot of questions that I was confused about with Fender, over the last 5 years I've picked up a few Fenders in shops & have been less than impressed. Especially when you consider the other basses that had a lower price tag that played much better.

I often wondered what the fuss was all about because most I'd picked up was not great for the money.

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