Open your mind and try and forget everything you know and feel about guitars. Now, here is a concept: Leo Fender left his company in 1964. You know most of this history, but now look at it from a manufacturing standpoint and what you consider a real Fender guitar. Those factories are all gone. Leo Fender is dead, most of the people that put those guitars together are long gone. Virtually every facet of making a Fender guitar is different, completely different, than it was back in Leo’s days. So what we have is something called a Fender Stratocaster that other than the shape of the body and headstock and some layout shares almost nothing with the “real” Fender Stratocaster as it was designed and made in the early days..
No one has made a real Fender guitar since 1964. FMIC, may hold copyrights and trademarks to some names and designs, but they certainly do not make real Fender guitars
Now, when someone buys a Made in Mexico Fender Telecaster, is it really a FenCould you consider that FMIC is actually making Fender copies, and sometimes not very well? Some of the Fender reissues made by the Custom Shop are much more on target, however they are still hobbled by many factors, such as paint, pickups, hardware and other parts that are still made from more modern designs or elements.
So, for many people who buy our guitars, we put something in their hands, something that is better to their liking – and may just do Leo a bit more justice. I hope so. Look at a thing for only what it is. Right here right now.
FYI, I own several post 64 Fenders myself so do not think I am trashing them. I do buy them with different expectations than I did years ago. I know they are copies and or replicas. My favorites are the MIJ reissues. Should I think just because FMIC holds the control of the name, that a guitar made in Japan, Mexico or China is actually a REAL Fender?
Now, so you do not think I am trashing Fender specifically, I feel that there are many makers that have put out guitars with their company name, model name and logos that share little with the “original” guitars. Gretsch comes to mind easily as they make a fantastic line of reissues, however except for the USA custom shop stuff, all of them are made in the orient. I think of these as copies commissioned for the holder of the trade name and though they may look and sound much like their vintage brothers, they are certainly a whole different instrument. Is a current Hamer Sunburst anywhere near the guitar that was the 1981 Hamer Sunburst? I think Rickenbacker is the only guitar maker from the old days that could actually claim that they are much the same as they once were, as they have not been bought, sold, moved, re-tooled, commissioned Asian factories and all the other things most makers have done. Gibson falls in a mid point as they certainly have been bought and sold many times and moved factories etc, but the end product in most cases has come full circle and in my opinion they make guitars as good if not better than they did in the 50s. This of course depends on model as there are certainly examples of questionable guitars in their line. My only complaint is that the guitars generally need a complete fret dressing and some other mods when they come out of the factory.
Bottom line is that there are many Fender inspired guitar builders who make guitars that are better than the ones either made or commissioned by FMIC. I may or not be one of them, but I can say that Callaham, Anderson, Suhr, Grosch and several others would certainly be in this category.
As Expressed by Bill Nash circa 2004