What's left for Fender to do?

Discussion of newer designs, copies and reissue offset-waist instruments.
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loveinathens
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What's left for Fender to do?

Post by loveinathens » Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:53 pm

Saw something Larry Mal said about looking at a newer Fender and instantly knowing what they sound like, and some gears started turning. Tbf, while I think each Fender model has its use, they're currently limited by existing bridge designs and don't do anything remotely interesting as far as pickups go.

I'm sure you could think of other things but tl;dr of it is it's mostly the same shit with different configurations. If you're basic like me, I like having JM pickups with a Strat bridge, or maybe even a Telemaster or an HH JM with TOM and stoptail. I won't ever have to go for a different shape to try a different style pickup out. Fuck getting a Gibson or some shit.

I personally want to see newer types of pickups from them. G&L has MFDs. There's current-based designs like the Lace Alumitone. I'm also convinced active/on-board pickups/preamps might also be worth looking at (think Music Man). Hell maybe an affordable Fender Wide Range with alnico polepieces might tide me over. Hell, new shapes that follow the classic Fender aesthetic/design sense but have never been used before (or pulled out of their asses like the Musiclander/Maverick).

Looking at the prototypes they've put out over the years (the Offset Special with the pickguard comes to mind), their product development people might be just as bored as we are and recent offerings seem more like an attempt by sales/marketing people to cover market gaps without really creating anything new (or at least could put a strain on r&d).

What's left for Fender to do?

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timtam
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Re: What's left for Fender to do?

Post by timtam » Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:23 pm

loveinathens wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:53 pm
What's left for Fender to do?
Agreed, a 'near-proper' reissue WRHB with alnico pole pieces and full size bobbins would be a very good idea. It's not hard. With over a dozen other pickup manufacturers doing them now, there's obviously a demand.

Also, release the 52mm LPB Marr bridge as an aftermarket product, in both 7.25" and 9.5" radii. To relieve some Staytrem angst and quieten the knee-jerk vintage bridge haters.

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wooderson
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Re: What's left for Fender to do?

Post by wooderson » Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:28 pm

The complaint is always that guitar companies don't innovate... but maybe there's not room for real innovation. Partially due to market pressure (vintage fetishism) and partially because the electric guitar is pretty well designed overall. By the mid-60s, there were body shapes and sizes to suit everyone ergonomically and pickups to cover almost everything. By the early '80s, pickups and tremolos for metal are covered.

If there's a place to go, I'd like it to be in mass market non-wood guitars so we can cut back even marginally on lumber production - something like the Dan Armstrong plexi guitars but not back-breakingly heavy and poorly balanced, or EGC/aluminum neck guitars but not $3k.

re: some of the suggestions -
Fender isn't going to invest in WRHB production - an odd-sized curiosity that fits a very small handful of production guitars (is the Starcaster even in production anymore?). Anyone who loves them enough to care is willing to buy aftermarket pickups. Fender would just stop producing bodies that use WRHBs before they make their own 'real' ones.

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Danley
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Re: What's left for Fender to do?

Post by Danley » Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:35 pm

I agree the most room for experimentation is with alternative materials. Other than that, electric guitars are becoming closer to violins or dreadnoughts- converging/dwindling down to a single or reduced set of patterns with everything else as specialty. In that respect there's not a need to innovate, they can still make music- even using a ~1930s technological basis.

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Re: What's left for Fender to do?

Post by Stephen_42 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:45 pm

Reissues of oddball guitars. I'd love a Jag-stang.

Or, for features in general... compound radius fretboards would be cool.

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Danley
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Re: What's left for Fender to do?

Post by Danley » Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:48 pm

Stephen_42 wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:45 pm
Reissues of oddball guitars. I'd love a Jag-stang.

Or, for features in general... compound radius fretboards would be cool.
I thought newer Deluxes/Elites were already compound actually. I'd love to see them make something multi-scale but again that's more 'niche' than 'cutting edge/new' and that sort of thing would work better as a Jackson.

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Re: What's left for Fender to do?

Post by timtam » Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:52 pm

wooderson wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:28 pm
Fender isn't going to invest in WRHB production - an odd-sized curiosity that fits a very small handful of production guitars (is the Starcaster even in production anymore?). Anyone who loves them enough to care is willing to buy aftermarket pickups. Fender would just stop producing bodies that use WRHBs before they make their own 'real' ones.
Tele Custom, Tele Thinline, Tele Deluxe. Chances are the current WRHB reissues are made in some big Asian factory. The Squier WRHBs (with Fender covers) are supposedly done by G&B in Korea. A lot has changed since Fender designed their poor reissues. Cunife has been shown to be non-feasible moving forward (Telenator is out of business), so the options are simpler. Threaded alnico pole pieces are available. Bobbins are supposedly about the same size as Tele bridge bobbins. An amateur builder can basically build one these days. All Fender would need to do would be tell one of their Asian factories to 'do this'. A simple way for Fender to deflect some original reissue WRHB hate by looking like they're doing something.
Last edited by timtam on Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Larry Mal
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Re: What's left for Fender to do?

Post by Larry Mal » Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:59 pm

Well, I guess I can participate in this discussion.

Fender seems to have given it some thought, and they are trying to compete in the upscale acoustic market more seriously.

And I'll disagree with the idea that the electric guitar is too well designed for improvement. I think its design is not really all that great, it's just that the kind of music it's associated most with, rock and roll, has been the dominant force forever.

Why do I say it's not that good of a design? People hate me for saying this, but your electric guitar pickups are basically functioning like microphones- but they are very bad microphones.

Imagine you are recording a singer. She says, what kind of microphone will we be using? And you say, oh, I have this old one from the thirties, it's very noisy and will add hum to all the recordings, and is totally going to pick up all kinds of electrical interference because it's not at all shielded, so there's going to be a ton of noise on there. Also, it brutally truncates the sound spectrum around 4k, so it's not going to sound natural in any way because of that.

Do you think she would want to use that microphone? No. That's an awful microphone.

And that's basically the state of electrical guitar pickups, which is what you would expect from 80 year old technology that has never really been able to evolve because the people that use it for whatever reason prefer the unnatural sound it puts out.

Don't get me wrong- there are a lot of things that the electric guitar is good at, live amplification is a huge strength. And we are all used to the sound of it and like it from hearing it all these years, but let me ask you, if you were going to invent the electric guitar from scratch, wouldn't you come up with a noise free system that outputted the full range of the sound that the instrument is producing?

Of course you would. Anyway, people hate hearing that, but the fact is the electric guitar is kind of a time piece in my mind.

If you are Fender, what do you do? Well, no one wants any next level technology from them, that's for sure. Whatever instrument takes over from the electric guitar we don't know yet, but it'll happen, and it won't be coming from Fender.

So I figure that they'll just keep making the stuff that makes them money for as long as they can, with periodic things like the Meteora that keep them from going insane.
Back in those days, everyone knew that if you were talking about Destiny's Child, you were talking about Beyonce, LaTavia, LeToya, and Larry.

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Re: What's left for Fender to do?

Post by Danley » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:10 pm

If the guitar was totally re-designed today we'd probably wind up with some sort of active piezo setup. Then the rest of the energy would be spent on modeling the tone of the crappy '30s tech amps & pickups in software :D

Jokes aside, noisy single coils can still be made to perform well enough in the studio using all the other tech. infrastructure they incurred over the years. Costs are already sunk into all that so there's not much drive for a pickup to be any more than it is. Come to think of it there's been a ton of innovation in how guitar is played over the last fifteen/twenty years but for better or worse- It never affected *the guitar* .

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Re: What's left for Fender to do?

Post by wooderson » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:12 pm

timtam wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:52 pm
Tele Custom, Tele Thinline, Tele Deluxe. Chances are the current WRHB reissues are made in some big Asian factory. The Squier WRHBs (with Fender covers) are supposedly done by G&B in Korea. A lot has changed since Fender designed their poor reissues. Cunife has been shown to be non-feasible moving forward, so the options are simpler. Threaded alnico pole pieces are available. Bobbins are supposedly about the same size as Tele bridge bobbins. An amateur builder can basically build one these days. All Fender would need to do would be tell one of their Asian factories to 'do this'. A simple way for Fender to deflect some original reissue WRHB hate by looking like they're doing something.
... yes, but why would they do it? What's the upside? Are the current humbuckers hurting sales? Would the OEM equivalent of Lollar Regals suddenly make '72 Deluxe sales take off?

I don't think so, at all. Sales seem to be fine with those models as-is, given that they've been in production continuously, anyone who cares buys a set of vintage WRHBs or aftermarket pickups and wiring. You're greatly overestimating the 'hate' - Fender doesn't give a damn about message board opinions.

I'd also point to every new Fender model that comes out having PAF-sized humbuckers - they're clearly not terribly concerned with the WRHB line. Those of us who are into WRHBs are a very niche market.

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Re: What's left for Fender to do?

Post by dinosaurkale-> » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:14 pm

-bass ix
-stratoguar
-telenado
-bass ii
-monosonic
-torostang
-maraudocaster

there's plenty left for them to do

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Re: What's left for Fender to do?

Post by wooderson » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:21 pm

Larry Mal wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:59 pm
And I'll disagree with the idea that the electric guitar is too well designed for improvement. I think its design is not really all that great, it's just that the kind of music it's associated most with, rock and roll, has been the dominant force forever.

Why do I say it's not that good of a design? People hate me for saying this, but your electric guitar pickups are basically functioning like microphones- but they are very bad microphones.
[...]
And we are all used to the sound of it and like it from hearing it all these years, but let me ask you, if you were going to invent the electric guitar from scratch, wouldn't you come up with a noise free system that outputted the full range of the sound that the instrument is producing?
Your first point is about electronics, not guitar design - you could have new technology electronics in a Broadcaster body.

To the second, no, I don't necessarily think so. Humans haven't necessarily shown a preference for perfect technology in artistic endeavors - for instance small sensor cameras (with near infinite depth of field) are seen as inferior to larger sensors and film, with the limitations of depth of field, greater likelihood of vignetting, bulkier bodies and lenses.

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Re: What's left for Fender to do?

Post by timtam » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:31 pm

wooderson wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:12 pm
I don't think so, at all. Sales seem to be fine with those models as-is, given that they've been in production continuously, anyone who cares buys a set of vintage WRHBs or aftermarket pickups and wiring. You're greatly overestimating the 'hate' - Fender doesn't give a damn about message board opinions.

I'd also point to every new Fender model that comes out having PAF-sized humbuckers - they're clearly not terribly concerned with the WRHB line. Those of us who are into WRHBs are a very niche market.
Maybe it's not a big deal, maybe it is. I just think it would be easy for them to make a better attempt to re-institute a component that they pioneered and actually has some mojo (mystical or otherwise). I mean do they actually have a single current HB that anyone thinks is really good ? And I do believe that Fender loses Tele Custom/Deluxe/Thinline sales every time someone reads that their current WRHB is crap. Which pretty much every review says. Just like they lose offset sales when people read that you're going to need to buy an expensive Mastery for your new offset to make it work properly (hence my LPB Marr bridge release suggestion).

But who understands Fender's mind ? I mean how much work must have gone into figuring out how to make the Jag-Strat work ? Or most of the parallel universe range. For what ?

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Re: What's left for Fender to do?

Post by sunburster » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:37 pm

They should bring back the AVRI series. Those are the best guitars they've made in the past 30 years, outside the custom shop.

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Re: What's left for Fender to do?

Post by mbene085 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:55 pm

This is an interesting point.

I do think that pickups are the way to keep electric guitars interesting. Personally, all I want from Fender is for them to make attractive guitars that play well. I prefer to take care of the "keeping the tone interesting" part myself.

Things I have put into Fenders or partscasters: Electric XII pickups, '61 Bass VI pickups (the baseplate/metal surround ones), G&L MFD z-coils, Burns tri-sonics, Guyatone goldfoils, Wilde (Bill Lawrence) noiseless singlecoils, Filtertrons, EMG actives, Alnico-pole P90s, lipsticks...these have kept all my "Fenders" from sounding anything but homogenous. Otherwise, I'd probably own about 10 fewer guitars because there would be no point.

It would be cool if Fender did more experimentation with pickups themselves, but the aftermarket winders offer such a bewildering array of options that I'd be perfectly happy if Fender just focused on making some pretty guitars in colours other than black, white, sunburst, and red.

To their credit, V-mods and the multiple iterations of noiseless pickups have shown that they're still trying to do something different with their pickups, at least a tiny bit. The grease bucket circuit also shows that they haven't completely given up on working on the electronics, too. They're just...not going far enough for my tastes.

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