A Fender is a low frame that borders a fireplace that prevents the burning coals from falling out.
Or it could also be referring to part of a car that protects the wheels. Still not the answer you were looking for? Okay, that’s fair, I know what site you’ve clicked on, I know what answer you need, so let me try again.
Fender is the name of one of the most prominent stringed instrument manufacturing companies in the world.
They’re most famous for their Stratocaster electric guitars that have been used by the likes of Eric Clapton, Kurt Cobain, and Jimi Hendrix. No one can deny the quality that Fender has brought to the table for decades or the significance that the name has built for itself.
But just what makes a Fender so impressive?
What do all the great musicians flock to the Fender Stratocaster, and why do all upcoming or newbie guitarists put a Fender on the top of their wishlists?
In this article, we’re going to try and figure out if Fender is really worthy of all the attention and acclaim that it gets – or the price tag.
You’re Buying The Legacy
Sure, in the beginning, Fender had to prove their worth and quality, but nowadays what you’re really paying for when you buy a Fender is the name at the top of the guitar (and the already pre-proven incredible quality).
You buy a Fender because then you can say you play a Fender. You play the same kind of guitar that David Gilmour and Jeff Beck play.
You don’t really need to know much about tonewood, or the electronics involved to know that if legends like Jimi Hendrix trusted the brand, that will be able to as well.
Fender must be high quality or there’s no way that all these incredible musicians would be so heavily associated with them.
This is not to suggest that Fender’s guitars are anything less than fantastic quality, but I think it’s a fair claim to make that the majority of people that boast the infallibility of Fender do so because of the legacy, rather than the company’s attention to detail.
Speaking of the attention to detail, there are a few very important factors that determine a guitar’s quality and overall sound. Along with the electronics, the tonewood is a crucial element that will dictate and change the sound quality of the instrument.
The biggest issue here, and one of the reasons that Fender can justify its particularly high price tag is because it is pretty expensive and difficult to build and acquire top-quality tonewoods.
The tonewood of a guitar categorizes the various types of wood that have been used in the construction of the instrument’s body, neck, and fingerboard.
A different type of wood is going to produce a different quality of sound due to the tonal properties of the wood.
Fender typically uses two main tonewoods: Ash and Alder. Alder is very accessible as it can be found across the US West Coast and is pretty easy to work with.
Ash on the other hand is a little more difficult to acquire, and then once you have it’s pretty difficult to work with.
This is because the manufacturing process has to be completed very quickly in order to preserve the richness of the wood.
It’s also really difficult to have two Ash bodies that sound consistent, which means that they end up needing to use more in order to maintain a consistent tone across their multiple products.
The tonewood is a crucial aspect in determining the price of the guitar and is one of the reasons that Fender can justify their price tag.
Although there are definitely elements of the production process that is automated by machinery, such as cutting the frets or the body/neck, there are also significant aspects that still require the slight hand of a world-class luthier.
If you’ve never heard the word luthier before, that’s okay, neither had I. These are people who specialize in and are masters in creating string instruments.
Sanding and polishing are just two parts of the process that Fender has masters complete, and it’s their precise craftsmanship that explains why these guitars are so expensive.
I also personally believe that the attention to detail that having hands-on work can give you cannot be replaced by any machine.
Obviously, this doesn’t apply to their acoustic guitars, but when it comes to an electric guitar, the quality of the electronics is going to be a major factor in determining the quality of the instrument that you have acquired.
Ever since 1954, when Fender first created its line of electric guitars, the Stratocaster has come with a three single-coil configuration that is optimal for tonal versatility.
This configuration continues to be the most popular of those found in electric guitars.
Fender sells guitars with replicas of the old single-coil pickups so that they sound like guitars from the 50s and 60s, but they also sell guitars with new, modern-sounding tones.
The variety that you can find within Fender’s guitar lines, which include the Luxurious series, Artists series, and Deluxe series, means that if you look for long enough, you’re going to find a guitar that suits you and what you want out of a guitar.
There are many reasons why Fender is as acclaimed as it is, owing mostly to the quality of the parts that they use to manufacture their products and the attention to detail that they show during the creation process.
It’s easy to trust the manufacturers because of the legacy of the musicians that have chosen to use a Fender over the years, but the product itself also really pulls through and proves that it deserves every bit of acclaim that it gets.
Although they are particularly expensive (possibly overpriced, depending on who you ask) you get what you pay for, and if you want a premium-sounding guitar then you have to pay a premium price.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.