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Fender, In trouble?

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[quote name='skankdelvar' timestamp='1414640901' post='2591726']
Certain inconvenient facts emerge from the swirl of opinion:

* Fender is the world's leading musical instrument brand with #1 market share in the USA for guitars, basses and amplifiers. FMIC turns over around $700m a year and - in terms of its core brand sales - is perfectly healthy. This at a time when other brands are disappearing or licensing their names to - er - Fender.

* Fender's share of the guitar, bass and amplifier market has continued to grow since the introduction of the multi-model, multi-price point business model, even during the downturn in the musical instrument market dating from around 2011. This would suggest that the 'confusing number of models' has - in fact - been a highly successful business strategy. Buyers seem to like the idea of greater choice and have voted with their wallets.

Events show that those who would have preferred the company to slash itself back to producing only expensive replicas of old designs in a few colours would have backed the wrong horse.

* On annual sales, FMIC [i]as a whole[/i] is only marginally profitable due to faulty corporate strategy enacted by its owners. FMIC would probably have cleared its historic debt overhang with its IPO had the company not put too many of its eggs in the Guitar Centre basket (due to conflicting ownership interests) and not bought the massively over-valued Kaman corporation. There is no problem with the core Fender guitar and bass operation but rather with the implementation of FMIC Group sales and corporate acquisition strategies.

* Fender (like the other great amp brand Marshall) has more or less vacated the bass amplifier market whereas sales of Fender guitar amplifiers have increased dramatically since the early 2000's. The multi-level, multi-price point model has worked well for the guitar amps though there remains a market gap between the Chinese imports and the 'low-end' Mexican and American products.

* Published instances of recurrent or systemic Fender QC problems are vanishingly rare by comparison to Gibson and - only a few years ago - Rickenbacker. A cursory inspection of the numerous forums devoted to Fender and to specific Fender guitars (e.g. TDPRI) supplies proof - were it needed - that Fender guitars and basses are - on the whole - reliable products.


The rumours swirling around FMIC have almost nothing to do with Fender brand guitars / basses / amps or the 'end-user experience'. We think we know what we're talking about. But the fact is that BC comprises a small, closed group of (mostly) hobbyists with narrow opinions based on little more than window-shopping and some experience of a few instruments over the years. We might 'know our Fenders' but we know next to nothing about the industry or the company which puts them in our hands.

And - as recent IPSOS surveys have shown - what we [i]think[/i] we know about [i]anything[/i] is almost always wrong. :)
[/quote]

What I was thinking was of a way for Fender to increase its profits by limiting the range to some of the best selling, then all the esoteric and boutique versions lumped into a special range of limited production, very high-quality guitars. Limited product would make them even more desirable, so they could bump the price up a little, and make even more profit. And all this was, in my mind, a way to get money in the door to pay off the debt.

Of course, another way that could go is people get annoyed by the regression in range and move their custom to Gibson, or similar other big-name electric guitar brands.

I don't know my Fenders - I know what I like, and I know what other people like. I'm not really a connoisseur or Fender enthusiast.

And yes - The IPSOS Mori results today are a bit funny :D But they were on contentious and sensationalised issues, which we know distorts focus and accuracy. I'm not surprised.

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[quote name='skankdelvar' timestamp='1414640901' post='2591726']
But the fact is that BC comprises a small, closed group of (mostly) hobbyists with narrow opinions based on little more than window-shopping and some experience of a few instruments over the years.
[/quote]

Surely we're the largest group of Fender users (for their bass products of course) in the UK? And from my experience of this forum, we have a wide-range of opinions. Also, judging by the quite-often-changing list of basses in people's signatures we've had a bit more than a little bit of window shopping and experience of just a few instruments. I can't honestly think of another group who would have had more experience of Fender bass products.

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Some good FMIC-based debate going on on a GB thread in the Amps/cabs section too. [url="http://basschat.co.uk/topic/248024-calling-all-genz-benz-owners/page__view__findpost__p__2590855"]This, for example[/url].

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[quote name='MiltyG565' timestamp='1414665609' post='2591935']
Of course, another way that could go is people get annoyed by the regression in range and move their custom to Gibson
[/quote]


HA!

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The problem with streamlining the models within each range is, as as been seen on this very thread, people end up saying '..but, I'd to see them do...' which of course means another model.

Fender aren't a boutique or high end manufacturer, they should stick to being a mass manufacturer but make sure they have very good QC. People still buy into the brand so the core of their business is probably quite healthy.

It's the aimless acquisitions that are harming Fender both financially and its reputation. It's cost them a fortune and it's not gone down well with the instrument buying public that good brands have been bought up and shut down.

Bono and The Edge being 'hired', for me, shows that those at the top of FMIC are totally clueless regards the market they are in. It can be regarded as a gimmick at best. Celebrity board members would be all very well if they were synonymous with the brand, but they aren't. They may use Fender but they're not Fender through and through, so it's a nonsense.

FMIC might not survive but the Fender brand will, someone would buy it if the holding company went under.

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[quote name='Marvin' timestamp='1414674806' post='2592096']
The problem with streamlining the models within each range is, as as been seen on this very thread, people end up saying '..but, I'd to see them do...' which of course means another model.

Fender aren't a boutique or high end manufacturer, they should stick to being a mass manufacturer but make sure they have very good QC. People still buy into the brand so the core of their business is probably quite healthy.
[/quote]

Fender are a high-end manufacturer. They make a lot of very expensive, very nice guitars. They've diversified over the years to try and capitalise on the beginner/hobbyist market.

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Build quality and reliability are not the same thing and often at the route of fender debates, fanbois getting shirty because their 70s P bass has never let them down in forty years so it must be well built, no that's reliability it can still have a massive neck pocket allowing lateral movement of the neck, a truss rod that won't allow a very low action, bad fret work from new etc, that is the build quality. Some arm chair internet speculation does go on but the majority of people suggesting try before you buy even on deluxe USA models are mainly just trying to help out fellow bass chatters, often the person suggesting poor build quality has a whole range of fender instruments they love but also know it took a bit of filtering to get there.

All is good then after all so no chance of Genz being sold off and put back into production then?! Damn.

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I'm not claiming to be an expert, but I bought an American standard jazz bass last year, and I have to say that I'm very happy with it. Build quality seems very good (I admit I'm no expert though), the neck pocket could not be more flush, plays exceptionally well, etc.
Yes there are probably better quality bespoke instruments available if you have the cash to spend, but for me, when choosing an instrument, my primary concern is the sound it makes. And what a sound! IMO Fender basses have that classic sound synonymous with countless classic albums (especially with CS 60's pick-ups they now come with), and watching a live band, or an episode of Jools Holland shows that the majority of players are still choosing Fenders, and I think there's a reason for that. Just saying.

As a GB Streamliner owner, I'm not overly impressed by their aggressive take over antics though.

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[quote name='Mornats' timestamp='1414671713' post='2592028']
Surely we're the largest group of Fender users (for their bass products of course) in the UK? And from my experience of this forum, we have a wide-range of opinions. Also, judging by the quite-often-changing list of basses in people's signatures we've had a bit more than a little bit of window shopping and experience of just a few instruments. I can't honestly think of another group who would have had more experience of Fender bass products.
[/quote]

:) All of which is entirely true. As I said above, we might know our Fenders (basses) but we know next to nothing about the workings of the musical instrument industry and Fender, the company which puts those basses in our hands.

For one thing, we seem unable to distinguish between three separate trading entities: Fender (the guitar and bass brand), the brand's parent corporation FMIC and the owners of FMIC who are yet another set of companies.

Like I say, the current problems have little to do with the Fender brand and much to do with corporate shenanigans at FMIC and its former majority shareholder Western Presidio. Hence there's little point in us attributing blame to breadth of range, product features, sales of particular models and QC when the problems demonstrably exist at stratospheric corporate levels.

In a way, it's a bit like blaming the global banking crisis on the confusing number of savings accounts available from the average high street bank. :)

Edited by skankdelvar

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[quote name='skankdelvar' timestamp='1414696972' post='2592441']
:) All of which is entirely true. As I said above, we might know our Fenders (basses) but we know next to nothing about the workings of the musical instrument industry and Fender, the company which puts those basses in our hands.
[/quote]

Ah yes indeed, I see what you mean now. Whilst we're quite well-versed with their basses, we don't know what's going on behind the scenes.

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[quote name='Mornats' timestamp='1414697486' post='2592451']
Ah yes indeed, I see what you mean now. Whilst we're quite well-versed with their basses, we don't know what's going on behind the scenes.
[/quote]

Exactamundo!

BassChat is probably the world's leading repository of [i]useful[/i] information about Fender basses. A certain other bass forum may go deeper into the subject but many observers believe that forum's usefulness to be compromised by other factors.

And - in my view - FMIC's choke-hold on information surpasses regulatory requirements, bordering instead on the clandestine. For one thing, it's always been difficult to find out the names and backgrounds of Fender's management and FMIC's corporate officers. Juskiewicz (Gibson), Hall (RIC), Paul Reed Smith and Chris Martin (CF Martin) are household names in our world.

But can any of us immediately name the top person at Fender Guitars? Or FMIC's CEO? The last one to put his face about was Bill Schulz and he's been dead for [i]years[/i].

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[quote name='skankdelvar' timestamp='1414696972' post='2592441']
In a way, it's a bit like blaming the global banking crisis on the confusing number of savings accounts available from the average high street bank. :)
[/quote]

But that [i]is[/i] what caused it! I can't find a suitable savings account for the life of me! Meanwhile, a small mountain of pennies accumulates on my desk.

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[quote name='MiltyG565' timestamp='1414700390' post='2592491']
But that [i]is[/i] what caused it! I can't find a suitable savings account for the life of me! Meanwhile, a small mountain of pennies accumulates on my desk.
[/quote]

Check them with a magnet. The non-magnetic ones are worth more in metal than the face value. I suspect the coin machines you see in supermarkets are harvesting old copper coins and charging you 8%. Copper is over £4000 per tonne, a tonne of coins has a face value of £2808

Edited by pfretrock

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[quote name='skankdelvar' timestamp='1414698630' post='2592470']
Exactamundo!

BassChat is probably the world's leading repository of [i]useful[/i] information about Fender basses. A certain other bass forum may go deeper into the subject but many observers believe that forum's usefulness to be compromised by other factors.

And - in my view - FMIC's choke-hold on information surpasses regulatory requirements, bordering instead on the clandestine. For one thing, it's always been difficult to find out the names and backgrounds of Fender's management and FMIC's corporate officers. Juskiewicz (Gibson), Hall (RIC), Paul Reed Smith and Chris Martin (CF Martin) are household names in our world.

But can any of us immediately name the top person at Fender Guitars? Or FMIC's CEO? The last one to put his face about was Bill Schulz and he's been dead for [i]years[/i].
[/quote]

Does it matter? I can't name the President of Switzerland, but they seem to do ok. They also do a very nice line in savings accounts.

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[quote name='spinynorman' timestamp='1416272465' post='2608658']
Does it matter?
[/quote]

:) To an obsessive such as myself? Why, yes indeedy!

TBH, I find the corporate ins and outs far more interesting than the products. So when Fender keep a lid on things it drives me bonkers. :rolleyes:

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I've had more Jazz Basses than I can shake a stick at. It was ten at the last count ranging from Squiers through to USA Deluxe models and to be fair, they were all great basses one way or another. I've just re-bought my old Squier VM Jazz as it was such a good example!

And there-in lies the rub for me with all Fender instruments: Consistancy. I've played lots of lovely examples as well as some that were only fit for firewood irrespective of what origin or price tag was hung off them. It seems to be a Fender condition as most companies basses seem to be far more consistant -and don't get me wrong I know all of them make the odd dog- for example, I've never played a (what I percieved to be at least) bad Status which are in the same price range as the top line Fenders.

Arguably it might be a bad setup or indeed my taste but I think there's more to it than that.

I hope Fender don't go down the pan as Leo Fender and his designs are as legendary as the name. We all know the contribution they've to 'modern' music etc..

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[quote]Arguably it might be a bad setup or indeed my taste but I think there's more to it than that.
[/quote]

I doubt you'll find an off-the-shelf Status with a bad setup.

Whereas you'll be lucky to find an off-the-shelf Fender with *any* sort of setup.

This doesn't help their reputation one jot.

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[quote name='wateroftyne' timestamp='1416292473' post='2608678']
I doubt you'll find an off-the-shelf Status with a bad setup.

Whereas you'll be lucky to find an off-the-shelf Fender with *any* sort of setup.

This doesn't help their reputation one jot.
[/quote]

I never get this. Pretty much every Ibanez I've played has been set up brilliantly in the shop (or before it got to the shop) and they're consistently very good. But it's completely hit or miss with Fenders/Squiers.

Incidentally, my dad used to be the guy who set up every Ibanez guitar and bass that landed in the North East back in the 70s/80s (can't remember which decade he said).

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One thing I`ve noticed recently, it`s rather rare to see a post 2008 Mex Jazz up for sale (and I`ve been looking). Either no-one buys them in the first place or they do, but then don`t sell them on. That has to be saying something methinks.

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I got a mex 50s strat a couple of months back from GAK. it arrived in the same unopened packaging it left the factory... Was perfectly set up and pretty much still in tune.

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Going through this topic and reading comments about the variable quality of instruments it's made me wonder. What (if any) quality control is done in the factories and also shouldn't the shops do some kind of QC before hanging a bass up for sale?

Since most guitars are going to come off a production line of a factory on the other side of the world and then get shipped (literally) in a relatively basic box in a container so the chances of them arriving in the UK retaining any factory set up (assuming that some is done) are pretty slim. Maybe I'm being naive but shouldn't the shop do some basic checks that the bass/guitar is of a saleable quality and at least has a basic setup to ensure that it's playable prior to selling? Plus if a guitar has obvious neck/body fit issues one would hope that it never makes it out of the factory in the first place or at least gets rejected in the shop before going on sale.

Perhaps this should be a separate topic?

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[quote name='DrBike' timestamp='1416316616' post='2608932']
Going through this topic and reading comments about the variable quality of instruments it's made me wonder. What (if any) quality control is done in the factories and also shouldn't the shops do some kind of QC before hanging a bass up for sale?

Since most guitars are going to come off a production line of a factory on the other side of the world and then get shipped (literally) in a relatively basic box in a container so the chances of them arriving in the UK retaining any factory set up (assuming that some is done) are pretty slim. Maybe I'm being naive but shouldn't the shop do some basic checks that the bass/guitar is of a saleable quality and at least has a basic setup to ensure that it's playable prior to selling? Plus if a guitar has obvious neck/body fit issues one would hope that it never makes it out of the factory in the first place or at least gets rejected in the shop before going on sale.

Perhaps this should be a separate topic?
[/quote]

True... although a huge number of new basses are sold by internet retailers who would not even take the bass out of the original box before shipping on to the customer.

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I've sat through and read all this thread - I need a lay down now...

My question is why are Gibson not in the same position?

They've produced the same old Gold/tabacco burst Les Pauls for years and they too have the cheap Epiphones and Studio versions of all their gear.

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