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What would you want to tell the Director of the Fender Custom Shop?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Holdsg, Feb 13, 2020.

  1. Holdsg

    Holdsg Talkbass > Work Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    Alta Loma, CA
    Fender has a job listing posted for Director, Custom Shop Operations currently on its website.
    I'm interested in applying, it would be a cool job, but have no real shot of making the cut.

    But that led me to wonder...if you had a private 30 minute conversation with the Director of the Fender Custom Shop, what would you want to tell him/her?

    I have some ideas myself, but would love to hear from all of TB:
    remember the forum rules and be respectful of each other and the company...now GO.
    Ellery and btmpancake like this.
  2. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    First: be kind to your customers. The current CS operation has isolated itself from customer contact, and is actually pretty nasty if a potential customer gets their phone number and attempts to contact them (personal experience).

    Second, it is possible that the CS is under direction from corporate as to what they can make. And, it has become pretty clear that corporate makes their money off of guitars. Hence, basses are pretty much of an afterthought. So, I am not clear regarding how much leeway a CS director would have in determining product build resources for bass instruments.

    If it were possible to do some bass things, and again I have my doubts, one thing the CS could do would be to build unusual Fender designs to explore potential future production concepts. And, in that context, one would want to look at missed opportunities. Some such concepts could include 24 fret 4 string basses, nailing down a true Fender 5 string bass, and getting an onboard preamp that wasn’t a rats nest mess.

    The first of those would be pretty straightforward, since Fender Korea already took a shot at it.

    The second relies on the fact that Fender has the pieces for a decent 5 string; but, just doesn’t use them. One example is that the Marcus Miller 5 string has far and away the most “Jazz Bass” 5 string neck ever produced. All Fender did was to discontinue them. Wrong answer. Better to propagate that profile into both maple and rosewood board versions and make that an option. Just try it.

    The third should be obvious to anyone who has ever opened the compartment in an active Fender Bass. There are so many options here, it is hard to understand why no one seems to put more than a passing effort at it. If nothing else, work out a licensing agreement with Roger Sadowsky, for crying out loud.

    Most of this stuff is pretty obvious to anyone who actually cares about bass and bass players. Which goes back to the first point. In general, Fender cares about sales, and that means guitars. Basses are down in the 15 % range, maybe, and just aren’t worth the effort. A CS Director MIGHT be able to shed some light in that direction.
  3. WasabiChicken


    Jan 30, 2020
    I expect I'd suggest some gentle experiments with their venerable designs, that they try incorporating recent innovations into their line of basses. Naturally Fender has got one hell of a legacy to maintain, but there's an argument to be made for keeping up with the times or falling into obscurity.

    Some examples I'd like to see Fender takes on includes:
    • Extra long scales. Many companies do multi-scale basses these days with the longest reaching 36 or 37", all for that elusive clear ringing even with a low B string.
    • New necks. It's been a while since the J-bass brought a narrower width at the nut, and people frequently praise e.g. Ibanez SR necks for being "newbie friendly", "easy to play" or "fast". Maybe Fender can make a claim for that throne?
    • EverTune, or similar bridge tech. I haven't actually tried these bridges myself, but I'm totally sold on the idea of them. We should all be tuning less and playing more.
    I'm sure there are lots of other innovations (aluminum necks, headless designs etc), but no need to go all-in immediately. I'm mostly just curious what a Fenderized version of a modern bass could look like, and encourage the custom shop director to let his designers play around a little and see if something lovely emerges.
  4. vid1900


    Dec 12, 2019
    Of course they don't want you calling. Nothing will chew up your day faster than 1000's of calls from the unwashed masses. The dealers earn their money by separating the wheat from the chaff, scaring away the lookyloos. Even when your dealer calls, it can be days until the tiny CS department can get back to them.

    Having only one contact (your dealer) keeps people from saying "Yeah but Yuri said that it would be no problem......". Everything only goes through the official channel.

    Have you seen them lately? 2017, and as clean as all get out:


    If you want something REALLY custom, that makes it a $20,000 bass, rather than a $4,000 bass. If you want 24 frets, that means someone has to program the G-code for the CNC machines - and that's a lot of programming hours for a one off.

    Guitars probably outsell basses 20 to 1 at fender CS, but they still make lots of cool basses.

  5. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    I get that.

    But, a) if I’m actually interested and have money, that makes me a customer, not “unwashed masses;” and b) my local “dealer” is...let’s put it this way, I waited 2 hours for their CS person who was “in the back having lunch” to come out to discuss potential specs. Never showed. I left. Much easier to just contact Sadowsky.

    I’m way familiar with your justification. Their current method restricts access; including from legit potential customers. There simply has to be a better way to sieve out customers from your referenced “Yuri.” Right now, they are tossing wheat WITH the chaff. That was my only point. But, your vote is to keep the current system. Check.

    Nope. Hadn’t seen that. Definite improvement, from what you showed. The big Q is will they keep that and use continuous improvement for the circuit a la Honda / Toyota; or will they simply do the GM thing and go to something completely different in two or three years? My only point being that they need a standard for their active basses that really lays it down. Perhaps, this is it; don’t know, haven’t gigged it.

    BTW, the hookup for the pickups looks none too friendly for changing out to different pickups. FWIW.

    That doesn’t make sense. the only basses that cost $20k are Alembic and Ritter. Perhaps I’m leaving someone out. But, there are plenty of bass makers turning out a range of options in the $6k range; too many to list. I’m aware of CNC programming costs; and understand you don’t do that for a one off. You are looking at this the wrong way and misinterpreting my point. The CS should NOT be doing one offs to meet customer whims. They SHOULD be doing one offs to explore and expand their own options, which could lead to useful CNC designs.

    And, there’s a P Bass in a custom color / configuration. Nice; but, I suppose that means you think the CS should basically restrict itself to standard instruments in non-standard colors. That is certainly one opinion. I have a different opinion.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  6. I’d tell a director to keep innovating musical instruments. Fender used to be at the forefront of new guitar and bass technology. Now it just... isn’t
    4StringDave, Low84 and Holdsg like this.
  7. vid1900


    Dec 12, 2019
    They just plug right in, so it's good for nubes who don't solder.

    Gibson has the same thing in it's high end models.

    For installing other brands of pickups, there is a "punch down connector" that you can put on the end of the wires, again without solder.

    Sure, but if you want a 'one off' Fender, it's $20,000+

    Why? Because they are Fender. They could make a dozen CS guitars in the time they would waste doing a 24 fretter.

    This combo is $80,000 custom made from a real Bally Wizard pinball machine:

    This was $18,000:

    This is $11,000 - cheap because it uses the normal CNC code, but with faster spindle speeds.

    Nope, I love all the crazy stuff that Fender does (especially Yuri), but I understand why they charge so much for it (well, most of it, lol).
  8. bluesblaster


    Jan 2, 2008
    So we are to assume the real custom shop customer is a moneys no object type, well thats too bad. Honestly there 2-4K stuff I see on reverb and such doesnt really move me. I know they are capable of so much more by the examples above, but it will set you back a few if you can swing it I guess.
    Holdsg likes this.
  9. Holdsg

    Holdsg Talkbass > Work Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    Alta Loma, CA
    I believe money is always an object. but I acknowledge that for some its more of an object than others.
  10. somebrains

    somebrains Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2017
    Fender has already embraced AWS, now the D of CS needs to leverage the customer sentiment capabilities of the platform to amplify the voices of customers.

    This pretty much goes for any business that is affected by consumer sentiment.
    Holdsg likes this.
  11. vid1900


    Dec 12, 2019
    No matter what, you will never be happy.

    Don't forget that Fender has a Mod Shop that can build you a USA custom bass for ~$1700
    Mod Shop | Fender
  12. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    After the giant load of crap and rudeness I got from those... people... while trying to get a left handed, slightly simplified Rascal bass built a few years ago? I'd tell you what I'd like to tell that...Bozo, but... I'd get banned from TB forever...:cool:
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  14. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    I know what I'd like from the Fender Custom shop... and I think it would be an EASY, reasaonable request.

    Just make different woods available for bodies and necks. I owned an 82 Walnut Precision Special, and it was in MOST ways "just a P"... but they fed a blank of Walnut into the CNC machine instead of Ash or Alder. At worst, they'd have to adjust spindle speeds.

    Necks would be probably easier to do out of different woods. This is exactly why I've assembled several really nice high-end guitars with Warmoth necks, like mahogany with Ebony FB, or a walnut/Ziricote recipe.

    To Fender: Same specs, just different woods.
  15. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    "Make the current CS order form nightmare a FILLABLE pdf file"... :rollno:
  16. Low84

    Low84 Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    Simply give some bassists a reason to consider the Custom Shop for their next custom build.

    Most don't expect (or want) Fender to drastically transform themselves into a high-end, thru-body builder (ex. Alembic)... but take a look at the trends/methods boutique builders and smaller companies are utilizing that have been successful and have folks buzzing... because where there's buzz, there's honey.

    Imagine if the Custom Shop made a classic relic'd P-Bass... but in a 32" scale... or with fanned frets.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020
    GregC, dmt, EatS1stBassist and 3 others like this.
  17. Honkey tonk

    Honkey tonk Turn it up Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2019
    Lower 48
    To me it seems 7ender likes to keep stuff kinda the same .
    it kinda makes Sense, because In A way what they make is now kind of a traditional standard .
    like how fiddles and DB and what nots have been made to look/play kinda the same since all-most forever.
    Fender is, has and will be a big influence to muisc and how it's made...

    The bond between instrument and player is important,
    That said , I would ask what direction or directions might better creativity in music ?
    Equipment that is Digital or analog/mechanical
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020
    Hachimitsu Pie and Holdsg like this.
  18. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    Does the Fender Custom Shop have their own CNC machines or do they just pick components off the regular production line?
    TrustRod, GBBSbassist and Bassdirty like this.
  19. Adam Wright

    Adam Wright Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2002
    Mike Lull Basses, Roscoe Basses, 64 Audio IEM, SIT Strings
    do better fretwork than what you get on the production instruments. Never played a new CS(and most of the used ones too) that didn't need a fret leveling in the upper register. The US production stuff of recent vintage rarely has that issue in my experience.
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  20. Leonid Nidis

    Leonid Nidis

    Jan 1, 2018
    They are not going to change anything so Ill ask for a free sample :)

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