Why can't Fender get it right???

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by slegros, Jun 16, 2008.

  1. slegros

    slegros Member

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    Don't get me wrong I love Fenders!!! The basic components are excellent but their final assembly seems to really suck!! Take my 03 JB strat. When I got it used the neck needed to be reset as it wouldn't sit straight in the body. The culprit? Overrun of paint in the neck pocket that wasn't sanded down causing the neck to sit crooked. To compensate they put the nut slightly off center!!! Both issues were easily fixed and the guitar is awesome now. I have tried a ton of Fenders and it seems they are all hit as miss and the issues seem to all be in final assemble. I thought things would be different wit C/S products but In looking at many over the years it seems they have similar issues. I saw one C/S strat that had the WORST set neck I've ever seen on a Fender! The strings nearly were running off the board in the high frets!

    My point is this: when spending nearly 2k for a new guitar (more for C/S)you would expect minor issues that take a few extra minutes to get right during assembly, such as a correctly set neck and nut would betaken care of at the factory. Its ironic that one of the best setup and playing fenders I ever tried at a guitar shop was a MIM Esquire. It shouldn't be necessary to have a tech standing by when buying a Fender to correct all the factory's mistakes.

    Is this just me or have others noticed similar issues with Fenders?
     
  2. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    It's simple, mass production. When you buy a Vinetto or Suhr etc...your paying for these final touches. My Vinetto's neck fit is so tight that I actually had to pry the neck from the body, I have never seen anything like it.
     
  3. Chiba

    Chiba Gold Supporting Member

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    That's pretty much why I won't buy a Fender or Gibson (or any other mass-produced guitar other than a PRS) without playing it first - or I'll buy it from somebody I know personally & trust. It's a crapshoot when you're talking about those assembly-line instruments (other than PRS anyway).

    --chiba
     
  4. GuitarsFromMars

    GuitarsFromMars Member

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    They made them right,you just didn't buy them when they did.
     
  5. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    That's a nice thought, kind of like yearning for world peace, and about as realistic to happen.

    It's manufacturing, it's business, it's wood, it's life. Nothing exclusive to Fender on this. When I was at Elderly's I would say I saw less than one in 50 instruments come through that were even "acceptable setup" straight from the factory. Fender, Martin, Gibson, Taylor, big shops, small shops - some better than others but few were perfect.

    Plus I would estimate about 5%-7% of the instruments we received we would send back as defective because they couldn't be set up, or would require far too much work to be reasonable. The reject rate doesn't change too much from the bottom to the top of the ladder. Of course this means that at stores who just take it off the truck and hang it on the wall, at least 5%-7% of the instruments sold I would have considered defective, the rest still needing at least a good setup. Probably more actually, because that rejection rate was at a store that was already very selective about which lines to carry, having weeded out more of the really bad ones.

    I just had a customer bring in a $6000 guitar from a small boutique custom builder, and it needed a few hundred in work to bring it to where I would call playable. That's the way it is, and the way it's going to be for the foreseeable future.

    Pretty much any instrument you buy, you should go in to it knowing that some final assembly and adjustments are required. You can say it shouldn't be that way, but unless maybe you can organize a union to boycott or strike :mob it's unlikely to change.

    Some that I would rate most reliable out of the box: PRS, Collings, and - get ready for this - Yamaha!
     
  6. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    fender just seems to be poorly connected to what the market is asking for. If they would ever just maker their american standard have a 12" radius fb and 6105 frets they'd eat into the boutique market like crazy. Same with the basses. It's just silly.
     
  7. gtrs

    gtrs Supporting Member

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    Both my Grosh Retro Classic's shipped to me UPS and they played like a dream right out of the box. Other than PRS I've never had that experience with any other guitar company. Grosh will get my $$$ every time!
     
  8. AndrewSimon

    AndrewSimon Member

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    Because they don't have to....
    Sucks but it's the truth.

    :horse
     
  9. AndrewSimon

    AndrewSimon Member

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    Tom Anderson is always perfect, right out of the box!

    :cool:
     
  10. GtrDr

    GtrDr Member

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    When the Eric Johnson's came out we got 5 of them. 3 had to go back because the neck was crooked on the body & 1 had a bad tongue rise. I called Fender & asked how these guitars got out of the factory in the first place. They blamed it on shipping. Of all the stuff you find in a typical music store, PRS's are pretty well set up. Dave C is right about Yamaha, they really are well adjusted out of the box.
     
  11. Chiba

    Chiba Gold Supporting Member

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    I find this unbelievably unacceptable. If I was that customer, I would have been seriously and inconsolably pissed off at the builder. For a boutique builder to deliver a brand-new instrument to its first owner in anything but perfectly playable condition is, if you ask me, utterly unacceptable.

    Of course, there's a difference in what I consider "unplayable" and what other people consider "unplayable", but a brand-new, high-end boutique guitar shouldn't need anything other than a simple action adjustment (and maybe a follow-up intonation tweak) out of the box.

    I've purchased USED boutique guitars that didn't need a "few hundred in work"; if I bought a new one that did, I'd be supremely and probably insanely pissed off.

    --chiba
     
  12. gtrs

    gtrs Supporting Member

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    Yup, I don't have one yet but I agree. Never played a TA that was a dud.
     
  13. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    absolutely! i live on the front lines of this issue, as the store i work at is a big, full-line music store, and one of our primary selling points is guaranteeing the set-ups on all instruments sold here, new or used, for life to the original purchaser. that means i do a lot of set-ups.

    all new factory guitars need it, no matter how pricey. bigger bucks gets you better fretwork, nicer woods, tighter construction, and better tones, but it doesn't seem to get you perfectly cut, low and frictionless nut slots or accurate intonation. (with the possible exceptions of PRS and taylor, but even then, the nut is typically cut to what i would call "medium", rather than "low".)

    that said, a $6000 boutique-built guitar that wasn't absolutely perfect except for shipping-induced truss rod tweaks would infuriate me too.
     
  14. Flyin' Brian

    Flyin' Brian Member

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    It's such an incredible crap shoot you just have to try em all. I played a Suhr Tele and was considering a new one, then I tried a new Am Stnd Tele. I bought the AM Std...a $900 guitar. It was almost set up (I changed the string gauge and did one tiny tweak on the truss rod), it sounded really good trough my Vicky Regal, even with that crazy Strat type 6 saddle bridge that they have.
    Sometimes you're the pigeon and sometimes you're the statue.
     
  15. The Pup

    The Pup Supporting Member

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    I've been at it for well over 40 years and guitars on the wall today are better than they were back in the day. However, the typical new instrument setup was the catalyst that got me started on the way to doing my own work many decades ago.

    ...I suppose it's a silver lining derived out of necessity.
     
  16. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    I certainly agree on this case I mentioned - I was actually quite surprised at how accepting the customer was of all it's issues.

    This one was an extreme example, but not isolated. With the surge in small high end and custom builders in recent years, I've noticed an unfortunate trend. In the past it seemed as though more builders came from a repair background than not. Lately there are tons of people starting from lutherie schools or books and videos, and working toward producing a high end line without ever spending their due time in the trenches.

    In spending at least a few years in repair, you work directly with musicians and learn how to really fine tune setups for the most demanding players. You also get the opportunity to intimately see how different designs age, and get to deal with all the failures and things that don't work. When someone goes directly in to some romantic notion of building, they miss so many of the vital lessons that help you understand how the instrument really works, in all the tiny details.

    It's from these builders that I so consistently find mediocre to acceptable fretwork, but not often perfect. Poorly cut nuts, setups from okay to not so okay, and various aspects of design that I can see won't hold up well over time. There may be the occasional builder that gets things right a bit quicker, but so many new builders without the repair experience seem to be lacking in a lot of critical areas.
     
  17. skeeterbuck

    skeeterbuck Member

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    I recently was in my local CG which I use just to check out different new guitars etc. I saw a Gibson R8 and gave it a try. These are some of the guitars that Gibson is giving the Plek treatment. The guitar was set up perfect for me. The neck had just a hint of relief and the action was rather low. I was easy to fret in all positions on the neck. May have needed some minor intonation adjustment, buy it was basically ready to go.
    Several years this would have not been the case for a Gibson.
     

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