History of Fender


V.I.P. Member
Mar 17, 2007
Reaction score
For more than four decades, Fender electric guitars and amplifiers have had a tremendous influence on the way the world composes, plays and listens to music. While guitarists in the early part of this century played country, folk or blues on acoustic guitars, in the 1930's, jazz musicians experimented with amplifying traditional hollow-body guitars so they could play with other instruments at the same sound level. One problem was that the speakers and pickups tended to generate feedback when played at a high level.

In the 1940's, a California inventor named Leo Fender had made some custom guitars and amplifiers in his radio shop. Eventually, Leo would create the world's very first instrument amplifiers with built-in tone controls. More importantly, though, was Leo's vision of better guitar. With his knowledge of existing technologies, he knew he could improve on contemporary amplified hollow-body instruments . . . and improve upon them, he did. In 1951, he introduced the Broadcaster, the prototype solid-body guitar that would eventually become the legendary Telecaster®. The Tele®, as it became affectionately known, was the first solid-body electric Spanish-style guitar ever to go into commercial production. Soon to follow the Tele were the revolutionary Precision Bass® guitar in 1951, and the Stratocaster® in 1954.

In 1965, because of poor health, Leo Fender sold his company to corporate giant CBS. Over the next two decades, Fender Musical Instruments experienced some tremendous growth. But as time wore on, CBS's lack of commitment and real understanding of music and musicians was becoming apparent.

In 1981, CBS recruited a new management team to "re-invent" Fender. William Schultz was soon named President, and was supported by associates William Mendello and Kurt Hemrich. They had developed a five-year business plan based on the idea of increasing Fender's presence in the marketplace by dramatically improving quality and making a significant commitment to research and development. This association continued until CBS decided to divest itself from the non-broadcast media business.

So, in 1985, a group of employees and investors led by William Schultz purchased the company from CBS. This sale put Fender in the hands of a small group of musically dedicated people who have committed their lives to creating the world's best guitars and amplifiers.

The team had to start from scratch - there were no buildings or machines included in the deal. They owned only the name, the patents, and the parts that were left over in stock. Supported by a core group of loyal employees, dealers and suppliers - some of whom had been with the company since Leo Fender began making guitars and amplifiers - Bill Schultz and his colleagues set out to re-build an American icon.

Initially, Fender imported their guitars from offshore manufacturers who had proven their ability to produce affordable, viable instruments. But the quest for even more control over quality soon led to the construction of Fender's flagship domestic factory in Corona, California. Eventually, Fender would build a second modern manufacturing facility in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, with the goal of being able to build quality instruments and offer them at more budget-oriented prices.

In 1987, Fender acquired Sunn, a storied line of amplifiers whose past endorsees have included The Who, Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones. This jump-started Fender's re-entry into the amplifier business by making accessible Sunn's manufacturing facilities in Lake Oswego, Oregon. But this was still an early stage of the "new" Fender, so Schultz put the Sunn line of amps on the shelf until the Fender name had been re-established as the world's leading amplifier.

Fender has always recognized the importance of an open-door policy for the professional musician. When artists first started requesting specific features for their guitars, they were accommodated on an individual basis. These relationships led to the formalizing of Fender's custom operation in 1987. Today, the world's greatest guitarists work with the renowned Fender Custom Shop in Corona, California, to create their dream instruments. Recently, Fender has added amplifiers to the list of custom-made instruments that can be produced at the Custom Shop in Corona.

In 1991, Fender moved its corporate headquarters from Corona to Scottsdale, Arizona. From here, administration, marketing, advertising, sales and export teams oversee the operations of Fender's satellite facilities around the world, which now include the locations in the United States (California, Tennessee, New York and Rhode Island), as well as international operations in: Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico London, England Dusseldorf, Germany Suresnes, France Brussels Japan Korea and China.

Also brought to Scottsdale at this time was Fender's Amplifier and Pro Audio Research & Development. With guitar amplifiers, Fender sets the standard for sound and value. Its R & D staff has pioneered many technological advancements in developing amplifiers that meet the needs of the performing musician. In late 1992, the Amp Custom Shop was opened in Scottsdale, Arizona, to offer custom and limited editions of professional amplifiers for working musicians.

Recognizing that country music and acoustic guitars were increasing in popularity, Fender expanded upon its acoustic guitar line. In addition to working with respected manufacturers in Japan, Korea and China to produce quality acoustic guitars, the company has become the exclusive North American distributor of the prestigious Manuel Rodriguez line of nylon-stringed guitars, which have been hand-crafted in Spain by the Rodriguez family since 1905. These additions have put the company in an excellent position for growth within the acoustic guitar market.

Founded in a loft in New York City in 1952, Guild Guitar Company continues to be known for its quality instruments and exceptional value. Faced with internal financial troubles in the early 1990's, Guild management had decided to sell the company. Fender acquired Guild in 1995, signaling a return to ownership by a group of people dedicated to producing the finest value in American-made acoustic and electric guitars. Today, Guilds are still being produced at its historic, 60,000 square-foot facility in Westerly, Rhode Island.

1998 would prove to be a banner year for Fender and its subsidiaries. With Fender amplifiers once again enjoying a very strong presence in the market place, it was now time to dust off the Sunn line of amps. R&D had spent the previous three years studying the original Sunn products and developing prototype models that faithfully replicated the trademark Sunn sound. The timing was right, and Fender introduced the new Sunn line of amplifiers to an immediate industry acclaim.

And for Guild, 1998 brought the expansion of its Custom Shop in Nashville, Tennessee. First opened in 1996, the new Guild Custom Shop boasts an 8,000 square-foot , climate controlled facility near downtown Nashville that allows a great deal of extra space for production and storage of raw materials.

Guild had also introduced DeArmond guitars in 1998. Fender had purchased the DeArmond brand of musical instrument pickups in 1997, and then combined the company with Guild to produce an alternative line of high quality, affordable guitars and basses that are modeled after Guild designs. The guitars themselves are built and assembled in Korea before being sent back to Corona, where they are fitted with American-made DeArmond pickups. Following their successful test runs in European and Asian markets, DeArmond guitars were introduced to American and Canadian consumers and received instant acclaim as an exceptional value.

But the biggest event for Fender in 1998 was the opening of its new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Corona. The 177,000 square-foot facility was built on a nineteen acre site, with over half of that space set aside for future growth, and is the culmination of a vision that at times seemed almost impossible. The entire line of American-made Fender guitars are built at the Corona factory, which is capable of making over 350 guitars each day. In addition, the Corona facility utilizes the innovative UVOXÔ system, which combines ultraviolet light, a special scrubber process, and a carbon bed absorption system to help ensure that the air emitted from the factory is 95% clean. The new factory is not only a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, but a tribute to how a group of dedicated individuals, when they set their minds to it, can create the "impossible".

The Fender Custom Shop also shares space at the new facility. Over fifty artisans now work at the Custom Shop, offering the world's finest custom made instruments to professional musicians, as well as a complete line of hand-crafted replications of classic Fender models. And to complete the Corona operation, the amplifier Custom Shop was brought back from Scottsdale and folded into the guitar Custom Shop.

Simultaneously, a new 70,000 square-foot addition was completed at the Ensenada facility. The extra space was added to bring amplifier production, aside from those produced at the Custom Shop, into one main facility.

During the past decade, Fender has grown dramatically in sales and stature. The company manufactures and distributes virtually everything that a guitarist needs to perform, from the guitar, strings and accessories, to the pro audio products including amplifiers and mixing boards. Today, under Schultz's direction, Fender Musical Instruments Corporation is a world leader in the manufacturing and distribution of electric guitars and amplifiers.

Fender became the world leader by defining the sounds we hear, meeting the needs of musicians, creating quality products and backing them up with service and stability. As Fender Musical Instruments Corporation forges through the 1990's and into the 21st century, its management team will maintain Fender's number-one status through a winning combination of business acumen and a love of music.


V.I.P. Member
Mar 17, 2007
Reaction score
Fender Japan Guitars:

From the early 1950’s through the late 1970’s, Fender USA had little competition in the guitar arena, in the making and
selling of their classic Stratocasters and Telecasters, among other popular models. As many people know, when the
Fender was sold in January 1965 to CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc.), things changed.

A serious amount of money was spent on advertising and sales went up drastically, which, from Fender’s perspective, was a
good thing. But, with more sales came more production, and more production meant less attention to details and a slumping
of quality-control. As Forest White (then manager of electric guitar and amplification production at Fender) put it plainly,
“Profit became paramount.”

This work ethic clashed with what musicians wanted. They were getting more poorly-made instruments as the years went
on and found they were still paying a high price for them. With the introduction of many other versions of the Strat and Tele,
and other less-popular models, guitarists started looking for alternatives to Fender guitars. They wanted the quality and
classic design of the old Fenders, but didn’t want to pay the rising collectible cost of the old 1950’s and 1960’s models.

At this time in Japan, the electric guitar was making its great debut, and Fender guitars were highly sought-after. Finding it
very difficult to acquire a real USA-made Fender, and finding it extremely expensive, a team of businessmen, guitar
enthusiasts and Japanese luthiers banded together and started the FujigenGakki guitar factory “lawsuit” division, where
they had brought in a handful of choice original 1950’s and 1960’s Fenders and dismantled them. Pickups were unwound
and studied electronically, wood core samples were taken and exact dimensions of the woods were recorded. Artists were
paid to replicate the logo designs and hardware designs. And then, finally, the Japanese started to manufacture their own
Fender replicas under the names of such companies as Greco, Fernandes, ESP, Joo Dee, Westminster, Heerby,
El Maya, and even Yamaha) so that they could enjoy what America was enjoying, but under their own terms and at their
own cost. And most importantly, these guitars were easily available from local music shops.

This went on for a number of years until it had become so popular that Fender was made aware of the situation and decided
to really take a look at what was going on in Japan. After deliberately getting their hands on a few good copies, they were
astonished (and probably really angry) about how accurate some of the copies were. Enraged at this deliberate copyright
infringement, Fender threatened a lawsuit against many of these companies in the early 1980’s, forcing them to “cease and
desist” production. Many ceased (like El Maya, Heerby, and Joo Dee), but many desisted and kept making these same
guitars with minor changes to the logos and headstock designs. And there were others who just ceased, and then just
picked up and started making them again under a different name.

All this interest in Fender’s classics and the Japanese’s successful efforts at re-introducing the famous Strat and Tele
designs from the 1950’s and 1960’s gave Fender USA a bright idea… making reissues of their OWN classics! What a
great idea! It’s a wonder nobody else thought… well, er, uh…

So, Fender (under the direction of Dan Smith at the Fullerton Plant) started to really get things going prior to 1982 so that
they could release their “vintage” line of reissue guitars, which are still being made today. Since the Japanese were already
so successful, they hired a Fender Japan team (largely made up of Greco’s designers and luthiers) to try to do what they
did best, but by changing the logo to “Fender” and putting Fender USA pickups in them. After a trial period, the USA team
decided to pay the Japanese team a visit and see how things were going. Upon completion of their trip, Dan lamented:
“Everybody came up to inspect them and the guys almost cried, because the Japanese product was so good - it was what
we had been having a hell of a time trying to do."

So, (in my personal opinion) due largely to the Japanese work ethic of leaving/accepting no room for error in their work and
their exceptional attention to detail and focused attitude, these early Fender Japan guitars (JV for Japanese Vintage) started
a successful legacy of real Fenders that continues today.

Fender Japan began in 1982 and their JV line of guitars was halted at the end of 1983. Starting in 1984, the “MIJ” (made in
Japan) decade began and continued through 1994. From 1994 until today, Fender Japan guitars are stamped with the “CIJ”
(crafted in Japan) logo. Fender “Squier” guitars were produced at the same time as the Fenders in Japan, but were made
as cheaper versions of the Fenders, to meet the demand for cheaper guitars in Japan and abroad. Fender “Squier” still
continues to this day.

Fender Japan currently makes more models of Fender guitars than Fender USA does, and most of them are regular
production-line models. Fender Japan also has a Custom Shop and Order-Made division. Many of these models were and
still are for Japan only, and not intended for export, and are difficult to purchase direct from Japan, except through private
collectors such as myself.
History of Fender JAPAN
Fender Japan was officially created in March 1982 as a joint venture company between
Fender USA, Yamano Music Instrument (Fender USA and Gibson Distributor that time) and
Kanda Shoki (Greco's distributor). Around 1976-1980, Many Japanese Guitar MFGs made
the replica of Fender guitars. Specially, Kanda shokai, they were distributing the
Greco brand Guitar made by Fujigen. Fujigen invested several CNC machine to produce
the accurate wood body shape without time consume. The guitars Fujigen made were
distributing with GRECO Brand as super real series. On the other hand, Tokai and other
MFGs are distributing their guitars with high-technical productivity.

The technology of those guitars were evaluated worldwide better quality than original
Fender guitars. It seems that Fender USA established the Fender Japan as one of solution/
decision to protect their brand name and market.

The Fender Japan guitar manufacturing contract was originally going to go to Tokai in
1981/1982 but at the last minute Fender choose Fujigen Gakki instead.
Some Fujigen made Fender replica between 1982 and 1997 have necks made by Atlansia.
Tokai and Dyna Gakki took over the production of the Fender Japan models from Fujigen
in 1996/1997. The Tokai made Fender Japan guitars are not exported from Japan but some
of the Dyna Gakki made Fender Japan guitars are exported.
Dyna Gakki have made various guitars for Kanda Shokai's Greco brand.
Terada made the Fender Japan acoustic guitars such as the Fender Catalina.

"Made in Japan" and "Crafted in Japan" and its rumors

According to a Fender representative, it was in the Fender Japan contract that
if there was a change of manufacturer from Fujigen Gakki to another guitar factory then
the logo would be changed from MIJ ("Made in Japan") to CIJ ("Crafted in Japan").
The first CIJ Fenders start around 1992 but most of the Japanese Fenders up till
1996/1997 are MIJ Fenders. In 1991/1992 Fujigen were expanding their factory operations
by establishing Fujigen Hirooka Inc. to be able to take on additional set neck
(Gibson like necks) contracts (such as the Orville by Gibson contract).
At the result of production delay during this Fujigen new facility expansion,
Dyna Gakki took over some of the production of the Japanese Fender models which
resulted in a CIJ logo being used on some Japanese Fenders instead of a MIJ logo.
CIJ is mostly used on Fenders from 1996/1997 until recently due to Tokai and Dyna Gakki
taking over the Fender Japan manufacturing contract from Fujigen Gakki in 1996/1997.
The Fender Squire were also brought into line to be in sync with the Japanese Fenders
at around the same time (1996/1997) with 'Crafted' rather than 'Made' being used.
"Made in Japan" is used on some current Fender Japan models (2007) instead of
"Crafted in Japan".

1982: Fender Japan starts production with Fujigen Gakki having the manufacturing contract.
The "Made in Japan" (MIJ) logo is used.
1984: CBS sells Fender to its current owners and while waiting for a new USA factory
to begin production, Fender Japan models and leftover USA stock were mostly sold
in the USA for a few years.
1992: The first "Crafted in Japan" (CIJ) models start appearing due to Dyna Gakki taking
over some of the manufacturing while Fujigen were expanding their operations.
1996/1997: "Crafted in Japan" (CIJ) is used instead of "Made in Japan" (MIJ).
Tokai and Dyna Gakki took over the manufacturing contract from Fujigen Gakki.

There are still many rumors that "Crafted in Japan" marked are not assembled in Japan.
The Japanese users said, all wooden works are done out side of Japan, Tokai or Dyna
just assemble them ! I think it just rumors. To think about the production process,
if Fender Japan done so, they had better assemble all in China or Indonesia.
They should think about the cost effectiveness.
The freight between Japan and China/Indonesia could not allow them to do.
I think they are still asking the Japanese Guitar Manufacturers.
However, the parts should be came from outside of Japan. Like Tuner(Korean made, Japanese
MFG license products !), other hard ware and Pick-Up (Mexican made, possibly !)

I have seen many Fender Japan, the wood materials, to compare with vintage and current
at same pricing level, vintage Fender Japan are absolutely better.
The end-user said JV serial, Fender Japan and Squire are great.
The pricing of these JV serial has been vry high. Well, these are early stage of
Fender Japan made by Fujigen. It is exactly same with Greco Stratocaster.
I have heard that at the beginning, Fujigen took off Greco logo and put Fender logo.
They just change the hardware's which Fender Japan provided.
I'm not sure this is rumor again !


V.I.P. Member
Mar 17, 2007
Reaction score
When CBS shed its non-broadcast media businesses in the 1980s, a group of employees and investors led by Schultz bought Fender from CBS in 1985. The sale put the Fender name back into the hands of a small group of dedicated people committed to creating the world’s best guitars and amplifiers.

The new Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) had to start from scratch—there were no buildings or machinery included in the sale. FMIC owned only the name, patents and some leftover parts. Supported by a core group of loyal employees, dealers and suppliers (some of whom had been with the company since Leo Fender founded it), Schultz and his colleagues set out to rebuild an American icon.

The new Fender initially imported its guitars from offshore manufacturers with proven ability to produce affordable and viable instruments, but the move toward greater quality control soon led to the establishment in 1985 of Fender’s flagship U.S. factory in Corona, Calif. A second modern manufacturing facility opened in 1987 in Ensenada, Mexico.

Also in 1987, the renowned Fender Custom Shop opened at the Corona facility, creating dream instruments for professional guitarists and guitar enthusiasts. Fender had always recognized the importance of an open-door policy for professional musicians, accommodating their requests for specific features on an individual basis. The Fender Custom Shop has since become known worldwide and industry-wide as the pinnacle of craftsmanship and sheer instrumental artistry.

FMIC moved its corporate headquarters from Corona to Scottsdale, Ariz., in 1991. From there, Fender coordinates its administration, marketing, advertising, sales and export operations in the United States and its international satellite facilities in England, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

Latest Threads