Larry Mal wrote: ↑
Sat Jan 16, 2021 11:04 am
On the bass side, they did the Dimension bass, and while you can clearly see what they were trying to compete with they did it in an original way and it's a great looking bass. Someone on here pointed out recently that bass players actually embrace new and innovative stuff, though, while guitar players talk about how great the Beano album is in 2020.
I hear you 100% on this -- I actually really loved the Dimension bass, and I'm cooking up a project that might involve a Dimension 5 body (if I can fit a Warmoth neck on it). You see bass players with stuff like optical pickups, proper active electronics that don't clip themselves to shit like the EMG 81/85, proper ergonomic and functional designs prioritized over "it looks vintage dood", and really push the gear forward technologically. There's a camp, especially in the studio and covers scene (ala half of Talkbass), who are as stuck as guitarists, but generally it's "I don't like this" instead of "this is bad and you should feel bad for liking it" like a lot of guitar players do (see the other thread down a bit from this one about MyLesPaul).
I know I'm going to sound like exactly the Beano album person I just mocked, but when Leo Fender ran the company there were distinct guitars all of which had new technology and were specific and original designs. The Telecaster and the Stratocaster are very different. The Jazzmaster is even more different still, and the Mustang had it's own sound, vibrato, design and purpose despite being an entry level instrument.
There were all complete instrument designs from the ground up. They weren't just mishmashes of whatever Fender had laying around. He talked to people, musicians, and he went home and started thinking about how to incorporate all he had learned into a whole new product.
Completely agree with this -- the Mustang is actually what got me into Fender offsets, because when I heard McLaughlin playing one on Bitches Brew
,it kinda blew my mind that a weirdo tiny guitar from the 60s on a then-68-year-old album was getting pretty much the tone and response I wanted out of my fancy headless modern ergo whatever guitars. I don't think the big four Fenders are perfect -- it could be argued that they have one good bridge pickup between them -- and I'm very much up to stuff whatever guts in them I need because I find that they're cohesive enough designs that a Strat or JM or 'Stang with P90s and original hardware still sounds, plays, and responds like a Strat, JM, or 'Stang, just with a different tonal profile. The mishmashiness of making a ToM carved-top JM with humbuckers means it doesn't feel like a JM, doesn't sound like one, and barely plays like one -- same with the Troublemaker Tele, or the Jim Root sigs.
I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, but I also don't disagree with you. Some of my favorite Fenders are mishmashes: the Sixty-Six is the best Strat they've done, the Offset Telecaster is the best Tele, the Player series are crazy good mod platforms (all IMO of course), you get the idea. Sticking an assortment of random decent/good parts together will generally still get you a pretty good result as long as you don't go overboard, and while they're not necessarily gonna be as great
as something purposefully designed for a specific thing ala the original S/T/JM/Jag/'Stang, sometimes all you need is "good enough" to get some sales across the board and some goodwill and free marketing from people who think it's the coolest thing since sliced bread.
And now we get a Telecaster but with a P90s... fucking please. A 70 year old guitar with an 80 year old pickup bolted to it in a failed attempt to lure people away from its equally old, but much better, competitor.
I fail to think that Fender is having a dialogue with musicians and they are telling them, shit, what we really need out here is a Telecaster but it's actually a Les Paul Junior.
I mean IDK part of it (like the Troublemaker Tele, the Toro reissue, the new humbucker Jags, and others) is they're clearly trying to steal some of the Gibson market, and while they're not really for me, I don't begrudge Fender the right and opportunity to do that because the big G hasn't done great at earning goodwill in the community and market in the last little while (not a knock on the guitars necessarily -- some are exceptional, most are okay if not spectacular, some are total dogs, like everybody else's). I don't think they're "having a dialogue" so much as they're hitting up Reverb statistics and social media to see what's getting talked about, and implementing it into platforms they know are solid and liked and will end up as "good enough" guitars -- if you go back a couple of years on guitar Youtube, forums, and SM, P90s have been coming back in full force among the heavy guys (who want more clarity than a humbucker), the vintage guys (because "muh touch sensitivitay"), and the practical guys (it's generally a pretty balanced pickup that works pretty well in whatever you put it in for whatever kind of tones). This series just offers a pretty easy way for Fender folks and the Fender-curious to have a cool addition to the toolbox in a proven package, by a proven brand -- and if they're the same P90s they've been using for a while, they're actually some damn good pickups too.
I don't wanna sound like I'm knocking you on your opinion here -- shit, I agree that most of the crap they're putting out looks fugly and kinda random, but I also think it's functional, quirky, and fun (which is what we're all here for, right?
). I think the cool actually-new designs like the Dimension, Powercaster, and Meteora end up being hamstrung by Fender's perception of the buying public ("they hate anything remotely innovative we put out") because the non-buying public is always bitching about stuff, and the community's perception of Fender ("they put out all this crap I
don't specifically want so I'm gonna not buy it and chew them out on socials"). Fender doesn't wanna make actually new
stuff because they think nobody's gonna buy it, and when they start something kinda
new that might evolve later into more of its own thing, they get a ton of negative responses from the people who already weren't gonna buy it anyway
, and, since they can't correlate "talking shit" with "buying/not buying", they end up undercooking stuff to appeal to the mass market, when they'd probably have more success by just making something niche. Half-assing something mass-market is always gonna have less staying power than whole-assing something niche -- heck, we're on Offset
Guitars.com right now; this shit is super niche, but since it's whole-assed and stands as its own thing, it gets a lot of love.
/rant, I guess -- thought I was gonna drop in to leave a
but ended up writing my undergrad Anthro thesis on "is Fender bad? yes, but no, but maybe, but no, but yes, but it's complicated"