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Fender Manufacturing?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by edbass, Dec 15, 2011.


  1. edbass

    edbass

    Nov 8, 2004
    I tried a search, but only managed to get sporadic and inconsistent results.
    I’ve heard lots of conflicting info about where certain Fender products are manufactured, as well as stories such as “Japanese/Mexican/Chinese Fenders/Squiers are only assembled overseas from US parts, or painted and assembled in Mexico/Asia/Indonesia from US parts”.

    I could see the logistics feasibility of sending parts from the US to a Mexican facility.
    However from my point of view adding the expense of two way shipping parts to/from Asia sounds ridiculous and would likely exceed the cost of an Asian made part, while on the other hand recycling necks, bodies, etc. that for some reason “didn’t makes the grade” for MIA or MIM to Asian facilities would make some sense vs. just trashing them.

    Of course, a few years ago I saw a documentary depicting how raw timber from the US Pacific Northwest is shipped to Asia for milling and then shipped back to the US to be sold as finished lumber, so I suppose the concept wouldn’t be unprecedented… :D

    So; who knows? Who knows the facts regarding Fender manufacturing? What is built where and from what parts?

    I don’t think that any nation has better or worse manufacturing quality; you can get crap or cream from any continent. I’m just curious about the veil of secrecy.
    As expected, I never received an answer from FMIC regarding my query. ;)
     
  2. Fender builds hardware here in Corona, ship to Mexico for MIMs. Chrome is done in LA, they said it's a messy process.
    Wood comes in ready to go at the Corona factory, so u might be right about the wood.

    I'm not sure about the Asian factories, they didn't mention them on the tour.

    If you are in SoCal sometime, go to Fender for the factory tour!!
     
  3. edbass

    edbass

    Nov 8, 2004
    Thanks for the insight Buslady! I’m in SoCal fairly frequently; in fact I’ll probably be in Anaheim in late January. Maybe I’ll have an opportunity to slide over to Corona, I’m certain it would be quite interesting.

    The lumber industry documentary I was referencing was about lumber for the residential/commercial construction industry. Obviously it was at least 3 years ago, when there still was a construction industry in the US... :bawl:
    I have no idea where the wood for Fenders comes from; which was the reason for my OP.

    Where are all the “expert” Fender fanboys/bashers that usually take every opportunity to dazzle us with their in depth knowledge of all things Fender? :D
    Doesn’t anyone know where or how these things are made, other than the MIA models? :confused:
     
  4. skychief

    skychief

    Apr 27, 2011
    South Bay
    Really?

    Not me. If had 2 basses to choose from, and they were identical in all aspects, except on was made in USA and one was made in China.

    Id pick the made in USA without a thought.
     
  5. edbass

    edbass

    Nov 8, 2004
    So would I, skychief; however I stand by my statement. Maybe "ability" would be a more appropriate word choice than "quality" though.
     
  6. TRichardsbass

    TRichardsbass Banned Commercial User

    Jun 3, 2009
    Between Muscle Shoals and Nashville
    Bassgearu, Music Industry Consulting and Sales. Tech 21, NBE Corp, Sonosphere.
    The manufacturing for Fender is pretty simple once you think of it.

    MIA, well, mostly out of Corona and the Custom Shop in AZ. Think, individual craftsmanship. Things like hardware that is economical to make in the US is made in bulk here and then when needed shipped to Mexico.

    MIM. Last I looked, maybe 50% manufactured in Mexico, another 30% in the US and the rest from overseas. Parts are assembled in Mexico (cheaper labor) and inspected by US guys, so you get a level above just import plus the benefit of some US manufacture.

    MIJ/China/Asia-All manufacturing in the Panpacific region, assembled and inspected there and shipped worldwide.

    Interesting thing is that the quality of the Squier line has come up significantly with the introduction of the Vintage Modified Series, and if you were to compare the 1950-1955 Fender factory quality to these you'd be surprised how close they are.

    Biggest differences is in wood quality and kiln drying/aging. Often MIJ/MIC has decent quality neck wood but drying and aging is done mechanically and therefore you can see some fret issues and neck warpage due to continued shrinkage.
     
  7. I'd pick the one that felt good in my hands, If as you say, "and they were identical in all aspects, except on was made in USA and one was made in China."

    'cause there would be little or no difference :D
     
  8. bmc

    bmc

    Nov 15, 2003
    Switzerland
    If they were identical in all aspects, I would grab the lowest priced one. Why pay more for the exact same thing?
     
  9. Lowbrow

    Lowbrow Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA!
    With plenty of thought, I've sold both my '08 MIA Precisions, but will never sell my China-made Squier CV Precision.
     
  10. Catbuster

    Catbuster Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2010
    Louisville, KY.
    Alder is a trash tree. It's found anywhere in the Pacific NW. The Maple could come from anywhere. My guess is that it's big leaf Maple from Canada or SE Alaska.
     
  11. Deepwoods

    Deepwoods Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2003
    St. Louis
    I found this virtual factory tour

    Fender Guitars Factory Tour

    I did not realize that so much of the manufacturing process was manual. It makes me think that even the American Standard pricing is a real bargain. I think that they do a fantastic job on quality control especially in the past 3 or 4 years. Even the MIM line seems to be stepping it up lately.
     
  12. Bongolation

    Bongolation

    Nov 9, 2001
    California
    No Bogus Endorsements
    You have much to learn, starting with the concept of "nondisclosure" as it relates to sourcing and contracts.

    Add to this that probably no single person at FMIC knows from month to month a clear picture of this for their whole product line, as it is incredibly volatile.
    They certainly don't know at Customer Service, and they couldn't tell you if they did.

    I had a long discussion about this with FMIC's manager of amp production a few years ago and even intelligently explaining the question is beyond the scope of a TalkBass post, much less answering it.

    I know where a lot of FMIC's contracted Asian import stuff comes from, Cor-Tek, PT, Dyna-Gakki, etc., but that's easy. Sourcing MIA and to some extent MIM materials, parts and labor is far more complex and fluid, and it's all covered by nondisclosure.
     
  13. edbass

    edbass

    Nov 8, 2004

    So to summarize your post; you have absolutely no idea where or by whom specific Fender products are manufactured.
    Is that correct?

    Thanks for posting... :rolleyes:

    I'm sure someone in TB land besides Buslady7803 and TRichardsbass does have a clue, share the knowledge!
     
  14. Bongolation

    Bongolation

    Nov 9, 2001
    California
    No Bogus Endorsements
    No.

    Read my post again.
     
  15. 48thStreetCustom

    48thStreetCustom

    Nov 30, 2005
    Colorado
    I'm not sure what the extent is (if it's metal parts, bodies, assembly, etc) but some Fenders products are made at the Cor-Teq factory in Korea. "A sizable portion of Cort’s production is for Fender. The percentage is not known exactly at this time, but the Cort workers estimated it could be as high as 50% of Cort’s orders."

    Not to get all Bono on you, but it's worth it for consumers to be aware of the worker's treatment at Cort factories and that your Gibson, Fender or Ibanez might contain parts made there.

    The word from Fender… « Cort Guitar Workers ACTION!
     
  16. Bongolation

    Bongolation

    Nov 9, 2001
    California
    No Bogus Endorsements
    It's Cor-Tek.

    Your information linked is two years old, which is ancient history here. This stuff changes from month to month, as I pointed out previously.

    Cor-Tek makes completed instruments for FMIC, but as far as I know does not currently supply components to FMIC for any foreign or domestic Fenders. To the best of my knowledge, the imported metal parts are all coming out of China now.

    If the instrument says "MADE IN KOREA" on it and made since Samick's demise, it's from Cor-Tek to a virtual certainty, irrespective of the brand name -- Ibanez, Schecter, Yamaha, etc. They were the world's largest producers of electric guitars, and may still be, but probably not for long.

    Cor-Tek still makes some Fenders (the MIK "Special" series instruments), but their share is shrinking in favor of Chinese contractors who get it done for less. Korean workers have priced themselves out of competitiveness in the world labor market.

    I'm seeing some excellent product (within the limitations of their production routines) coming out of PT Indonesia. I don't know if PT is currently making Fenders, but they were briefly.
     
  17. skychief

    skychief

    Apr 27, 2011
    South Bay
    Identical in price. Which one would you choose?
     
  18. 48thStreetCustom

    48thStreetCustom

    Nov 30, 2005
    Colorado
    Oh, i feel so reassured knowing the parts are made in China with their superior working conditions.
     
  19. I heard that the MIM instruments were cheaper to paint and finish because of the lack of environmental regulations in Mexico. They can just dump any toxic sludge in to a river or something. Even the Highway Ones were finished in Mexico and shipped back across the border to be "Made in USA".

    I suppose that would be true for many parts of Asia as well.
     
  20. The only work done in Mexico with Highway Ones is the nitro finish, the rest is done in USA. And yes, that's because of the environmental laws in USA concerning nitro use in manufacturing.

    Otherwise, the reason Fender makes guitars in Mexico or outside USA is due to manufacturing costs, i.e. labor. That's a large part of the cost with a product. Then again you get a product that is not as well crafted as something in USA where the MIA stamp is a sign of a well-made product (otherwise even those would not be manufactured there.)

    Me thinks the labor costs around the world will increase due to the natural causes of countries evolving (see Korea) so not so far in future the labor costs will be very much equal and thus MIA production work in large scale makes sense again.

    Frankly speaking the mass production of instruments in large scale have made them very impersonal. There's something cool about older MIA instruments where each run had its own personality due to people working on them, the available components at that day and so on. Or, for example old Marshall amps each had their own personality as the shop used whatever components was around at that week.
     

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