Last month I had the pleasure of traveling to Corona California and attending Fender’s Dealer Appreciation Day. Along with some great presentations and sneak peaks at cool new models, the day also included an extensive tour of Fender’s US factory and production facility. With production close to 600 guitars per day, the Corona factory is in many ways the heart and soul of the Fender company.
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Our tour of the factory gave us a detailed look at all aspects of Fender’s production and assembly. Almost every single component within an American made Fender guitar is built in-house at this factory. Pickups, hardware, necks and bodies are all crafted using a combination of traditional presses and modern CNC equipment. I was also pleasantly surprised to see just how much work is still done by hand. Initial body shapes are carved using a CNC machine, but the detailed contouring (like the belly-carve on the back of a strat) are done by hand. Neck pockets are initially cut by machine, but the pocket is then hand-sanded to fit the exact neck that is paired with the body.
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Another stand-out moment on the tour was seeing the size of the final assembly and quality control area. A small army of technicians carefully set up and inspect every single Fender guitar before it leaves the factory. The results of this effort can be seen by visiting any guitar store – Fender instruments are remarkably playable right out of the box, with proper string height, neck angle, and intonation all present.
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We got to see Fender’s Custom Shop as well. The Custom Shop is separated into a few different sections. One station handles the customization of raw parts as they come off the assembly line, such as custom neck profiles. These parts then go to the Custom Shop assembly team, who handles the final construction of the instrument. In addition to the main Custom Shop production, Fender also has several “Master Builders” who create unique, one-of-a-kind masterpieces from scratch.
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