Today we have visited the Fender Visitors centre.
Walking in we got strangely eyeballed by a security guard while there were a few people milling about and much talk of NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants Expo – the bees knees in music gear).
We went further in, passing the shop and looked at all the displays, but in under 5 minutes I was creating my own guitar.
Noticing the place seemed quiet a guy suddenly turned up at the door and said “Sorry, We’re shut Wednesdays, we’re only open as we had a group in from NAMM”.
Noticing I had guitar parts out, he suddenly asked “you looking to build?”, I replied, “yes and I’ve kinda come a long way to do it”.
This changed everything, and that change, while I would have been happy to leave – was about to stun the life out of me.
We had originally set off to Fender in the afternoon because they do all the factory tours in the morning and we’ve had enough of factory tours (no offence to Fender)… But what we were about to do was a bit beyond your average tour.
David from Fender was wanting to go for his lunch, so I said it wasn’t a problem and we’d come back next Monday.
He wasn’t having any of this and together we went through the selections of guitar parts and I explained that one of the coolest looking Stratocasters was the one Bonnie Raitt plays, it has no paint or varnish, but had aged in a rustic style that is frankly awesome. The problem is that I wanted a Telecaster.
“Right” David proclaimed, “lets go and see what is laying about in final assembly”.
Moments later we were in the factory and walking through all the places normally prohibited. We searched through hundreds of guitar bodies (and I mean hundreds!) Finally we found a Telecaster body made of Birdseye Maple, but it had a slight defect in the polish and while it hadn’t been buffed up yet – the thing was – I wanted a matte satin finish…
Next the body shop guy, David, Gabby and me looked on as a guy with an evil sander set about making the guitar how I wanted it!!
So… there we were, in a factory and visitors centre that was closed to the public standing over these guys who were bending over backwards for us to make my guitar of choice.
I was humbled!! Because what they were doing wasn’t really any extra cost to a normal guitar and they were really getting behind making me what I wanted..
While looking around I clapped eyes on something strange, a Stratocaster with a body of Burnt Ash and a Walnut neck.
“What is that?!” I exclaimed. “It’s a special limited edition of 100 guitars” said David.
Sometime later I’m playing the Proof of Concept version and while I choked over vast sums… the deal was done.
With a swapping out of the tweed case for a TSA approved SKB case, all that’s left is for the actual guitar to register on the Fender system so money can change hands and for it to arrive in Arkansas in a few days time or be picked up next Monday when we find out if the intensive effort on the Telecaster body can be completed.
It was full on 110% top quality and outstanding customer service from start to finish!!
Of Gibson, Taylor and Fender for quality of customer service, care and attention
1st is Fender (with no official factory tour)
2nd Taylor, purely for the factory tour and absolutely NO wish to go any distance AT ALL to aid, sell or offer any level of customer service face to face.
3rd is Gibson in Memphis who were so useless and S**te I don’t want to talk about them or my time there.
For the very first time in the USA, one company has come forward and offered me exactly what I wanted and more, everyone else has always found one or more issues or not even bothered.
Fender USA was that company and I am a proud and happy customer!
So the only thing left : learn to play the guitar!!