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Fender's ridiculous option limitations


Bluesape

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I personally find it maddening that if you want something slightly different from the ordering guidelines, you pretty much have to go to the Custom Shop and pay outrageous money. Eg: If I want a hardtail HH Strat, any Toronado, Jaguar, Jazzmaster, Telesonic, Stratosonic, or anything with a set neck, I'm stuck with a rosewood board, which I refuse to buy. Nothing really wrong with them, just not what I want when ordering a new instrument. I would likely have grabbed a Jazzmaster years ago if I could get it the way I wanted it, same with the more recent Toronado. I LIKE MAPLE FRETBOARDS ON FENDERS, and will never own one with a rosewood board. I'll change brands first.

 

I understand the sonic logic of rosewood boards married to mahogany bodies for warmth of tone, but I still want it my way or not at all. IMHO, the maple board is one of Fenders greatest contributions. I love the look and feel far better than rosewood. http://www.websmileys.com/sm/fingers/fing12.gif

 

Anyone else have a similar frustration with Fender or other manufacturers? http://www.websmileys.com/sm/mad/1106.gif

Never a DUH! moment! Well, almost never. OK, OK! Sometimes never!
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You need to keep in mind that Fender is in the large scale manufacturing business. Each production run will spit out a bunch (i.e. hundreds or thousands) of HH Strats or Toronados or whatever in a few variations and a number of colours.

 

When you order from a dealer, you are ordering from the stock of completed guitars. Which is why your options are limited. What you want is a custom option which is why you can only get it from the custom shop. And yes, you pay outrageous money because some skilled guy is actually putting a guitar together for you and only you.

 

Fender actually offers a lot MORE options than it ever did in its vintage heyday. In the early-mid 60s, all strats came with rosewood boards. If you wanted a maple board, you were shit out of luck. And there was only one model "Statocaster". Telecasters only came in one colour for years.

"You never can vouch for your own consciousness." - Norman Mailer
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I feel exactly the opposite, and wish that we'd go back to the old days when a Strat was A STRAT!!!!! there seem to be about 34,000 varieties of Strat today. A Strat is ONE THING!!! a Strat, with either a hard tail or vibrato, maple or rosewood neck. It comes in several colors, including sunburts. Persiod. You want something else? Call the Custom Shop!

 

The Fender line...

 

Tele

Strat

Jag

Jazzmaster

Fender V

Fender VI

Fender XII

Precision

Jazz Bass

Mandolin

DuoSonc/Mustang.

 

THAT'S IT!!!! :thu:

 

You can have anything you want. You just have to be willing to pay for it. Thats' where all those pickup, bridge, etc etc choices belong... in the Custom Shop.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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If you want a set-neck version of a Fender, it's somewhat de-Fenderized by not being a bolt-on, and a rosewood fretboard goes sonically hand-in-glove with the set-neck joinery. At least, if it's good rosewood.

 

How do you like pau ferro (sp?), as used on those SRV sig-model Strats? It seems to me to combine some of the tone and feel characteristics of rosewood and maple, nicely bridging that gap...

 

I like both maple and rosewood 'boards on Fenders, depending on other details on the given guitar; it's an ingredient on a recipe, and the total list of ingredients- and the cook- makes all the difference.

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Originally posted by skipclone 1:

To me, the best way to find `your guitar` is to find `your maker`-I search by my instincts, not by whose name is on it.

I absolutely agree. Fender perceived the need to diversify its product line or lose market share. Set necks and humbuckers are emulations of other makers, particularly its arch-rival, Gibson.

 

My issue is that I shouldn't have to get reamed at the Custom Shop of ANY maker when maple boards, pickups, tuners, etc. are right there in the plant that will mount identically to any given model. Fender even limits finishes on certain models.

 

By no means do I suggest that these inflexible policies are peculiar to Fender, as many makers have similar mandates, but those of us who are exacting in our expectations are motivated to look elsewhere. http://www.websmileys.com/sm/mad/1230.gif

Never a DUH! moment! Well, almost never. OK, OK! Sometimes never!
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Originally posted by Gabriel E.:

You need to keep in mind that Fender is in the large scale manufacturing business.

Yes, but that's no reason why you can't get a Strat made the way you want. We're basically talking about bad or inflexible production processes here.

 

I've heard that you can get a car made on the spot and with your choice of optionals. Surely a car requires a bit more work than a guitar?

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Originally posted by Kramer Ferrington III.:

Yes, but that's no reason why you can't get a Strat made the way you want.

You can get whatever you want from Fender, you just have to pay what it's worth to them. That's a whole lot better than not being able to get what you want at any price, isn't it?

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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Originally posted by Picker:

You can get whatever you want from Fender, you just have to pay what it's worth to them.

I agree, but I still think that there's probably no real reason why you have to pay as much as you do for a "custom" guitar.

 

If you wanted a fancy paint job or unusual woods, sure, I could understand it.

 

But bolting a different pre assembled neck on a pre assembled body shouldn't be a "custom shop" job. That flies in the face of every logistics concept under the sun. A good industrial process is a flexible, adaptable industrial process.

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The key is, in fact, that Fender is such a large manufacturer. They have certain models and finish combinations that they do production runs on. Then they put those in a warehouse and they get shipped to the distributors and to the retailers. In those production runs there are no real provisions for taking a special order guitar and following it through the manufacturing process and then sending it to the end purchaser. That's why the custom shop is there. That's what they do, and there is an upcharge for that service. It costs Fender extra to do that so they have to pass that cost on. They have to do the production runs on the models and finishes that sell the most. As far as I know, getting a maple neck on any Stratocaster isn't a problem. I know I was looking at a white American Strat at GC a while back, but it had a rosewood fingerboard on it. I wanted Maple. They told me they could have me one there in a couple of weeks. It's apparently one of the combinations that Fender will run when they get a few orders, but stopping production to run a one-off just isn't cost effective.

 

As for special-ordering cars, you can't necessarily get anything you want there either. There are certain options that are available. The dealers will get a shipment of whatever sells the most units in that area and they will get a few units that are loaded, more that are middle-of the road, and a few that are stripped. If nothing in stock suits your needs, you can order one with whatever options are available. That doesn't mean that if you want something that's not on the availabel options list that they are going to stop production for you and figure out a way to put whatever gizmo in that you ordered and then track that car for you and make sure it goes to you and not to some dealer somewhere. That is cost-prohibitive. The only U.S. made car that I'm aware of that you can actually custom order and then following personally through the assembly line and take delivery at the factory is the Chevrolet Corvette. It's a $60,000.00 car and the assembly process was designed to allow that. But you can't do that "on the spot"..you order the car and then they tell you what date it will build out, then you go to Bowling Green, Ky. and watch it being built and then take delivery. Even then you can only get options that are on the available options list.

"And so I definitely, when I have a daughter, I have a lot of good advice for her."

~Paris Hilton

 

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Originally posted by Bluesape:

I LIKE MAPLE FRETBOARDS ON FENDERS, and will never own one with a rosewood board. I'll change brands first.

Bluesape,

 

Not that I'm being picky, but I've kinda assumed that your avatar is a photo of you, and I have to wonder what you are playing, given the above comment. :-)

 

But yeah, I prefer maple necks on a Strat or Tele type guitar.

 

Peace,

 

Paul

Peace,

 

Paul

 

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Originally posted by skipclone 1:

To me, the best way to find `your guitar` is to find `your maker`-I search by my instincts, not by whose name is on it.

Exactly. Good grief I've gone through a number of highly touted brand names and some very spendy units. I've become of the opinion that you really need to custom order a guitar to suit your tastes, especially the neck and fretboard. $$$ = :cry:

bbach

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.

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Originally posted by Kramer Ferrington III.:

I agree, but I still think that there's probably no real reason why you have to pay as much as you do for a "custom" guitar.

 

The word "custom" is what you pay extra for. Fender is probably manipulating the price by making some features "custom" options, but that is their prerogative. If they end up losing money that way, it'll change, but I doubt they'll lose much

 

Originally posted by Kramer Ferrington III.:

[QB]If you wanted a fancy paint job or unusual woods, sure, I could understand it.

 

But bolting a different pre assembled neck on a pre assembled body shouldn't be a "custom shop" job. That flies in the face of every logistics concept under the sun. A good industrial process is a flexible, adaptable industrial process.

If you want my opinion, it's undoubtedly an accountant's decision. Some guy with a calculator figured out that it's more cost effective and profitable to offer X & Y as standard options, and W & Z as custom options. If they factor in the number of folks who will quit buying their products because what they want is a more expensive custom option and verses the ones who will continue buying despite that and/or to whom that option doesn't matter, and it comes out even or in their favor, why would they spend money retool and refit? Accountants don't think the same way musicians or even consumers think.

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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Well, I've never seen Fender's production setup, but I'm sure it's similar to other production lines.

 

ie you have a guy working on the line and when he starts to run out of components, either he or the system signals some sort of warehouse process that chooses the right components out of all the 1000s of bits and pieces on the "shelves" and passes them to him. Warehouse picking is hardly the latest thing out there.

 

And if somebody can get the exact number of chips and whatnots delivered to him by a warehouse robot, I'm sure he can get a maple neck delivered to him.

 

On a different note: that's a pisser about the Corvette. I'd read about it in some book and thought all car companies made customized models (in small numbers, on certain days and within reason). Just as a party trick of sorts. Oh well.

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Originally posted by Kramer Ferrington III.:

Well, I've never seen Fender's production setup, but I'm sure it's similar to other production lines.

 

ie you have a guy working on the line and when he starts to run out of components, either he or the system signals some sort of warehouse process that chooses the right components out of all the 1000s of bits and pieces on the "shelves" and passes them to him. Warehouse picking is hardly the latest thing out there.

 

And if somebody can get the exact number of chips and whatnots delivered to him by a warehouse robot, I'm sure he can get a maple neck delivered to him.

 

On a different note: that's a pisser about the Corvette. I'd read about it in some book and thought all car companies made customized models (in small numbers, on certain days and within reason). Just as a party trick of sorts. Oh well.

Yeah, it IS kinda cool to watch your car being "born", though...then to know that you're the only person that's ever farted in that driver's seat. :D

"And so I definitely, when I have a daughter, I have a lot of good advice for her."

~Paris Hilton

 

BWAAAHAAAHAAHAAA!!!

 

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Originally posted by Picker:

If you want my opinion, it's undoubtedly an accountant's decision. Some guy with a calculator figured out that it's more cost effective and profitable to offer X & Y as standard options, and W & Z as custom options. If they factor in the number of folks who will quit buying their products because what they want is a more expensive custom option and verses the ones who will continue buying despite that and/or to whom that option doesn't matter, and it comes out even or in their favor, why would they spend money retool and refit? Accountants don't think the same way musicians or even consumers think.

That's exactly right.

"And so I definitely, when I have a daughter, I have a lot of good advice for her."

~Paris Hilton

 

BWAAAHAAAHAAHAAA!!!

 

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Originally posted by Kramer Ferrington III.:

 

But bolting a different pre assembled neck on a pre assembled body shouldn't be a "custom shop" job. .... A good industrial process is a flexible, adaptable industrial process.

Of course it is a custom job. By definition it is a custom job. The whole assembly line process comes to a screaching halt to accomodate this custom job. You guys need to watch Chaplin's "Modern Times" or that famous episode of "I Love Lucy".

 

 

"A good industrial process is a flexible, adaptable industrial process."

 

That may be a Demming quote, but it is missapplied.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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The fact is you guys who think Fender should be able to customize a single guitar at a mass production factory with little cost increase have no clue how much money that costs the company.

 

Guitar manufacturing (at least at the Gibson plant) is not conducive to switching from one neck to another or one body color to another at a moment's notice. Comparing an electronics manufacturer, that uses many times the number of identical parts that can be plugged in vs. a guitar manufacturing plant that is far more labor intensive is naive. And even that electronics manufacturer will rarely produce a single item on spec without it being built by a craftsman off the line at considerable upcharge.

 

Bill is right, Vince. In our world that quote is misapplied. It would be appropriate if you were talking about a manufacturing plant's ability to change tooling for one mass run to another. Not to accomodate an individual, custom order. Again, the nature of guitar manufacturing has a lot to do with this, as opposed to, say, computer manufacturing, where most every option is designed to simply plug in to one of a few, standard chassis.

 

Lefty's have made this same arguement for years. "Why can't _____ make me a lefty instrument with my desired options at or near the price of righty instruments that are always available how I want mine?" It costs them a lot of money to re-tool some of these machines from one jig to another. If you don't want the mass marketed product, you have to pay the piper or build it yourself.

 

That's all there is to it.

 

I just don't understand why anyone would assume that the complexities of operating a large, manufacturing business are so simple that they know enough to say what's fair for Fender or Gibson or anyone else to provide. :confused: Bitch about the price if you must, but don't believe you could make it work.

 

Or think you can and go into the guitar building business. There are certainly those who have joined the industry determined to make changes others thought impossible.

 

Some of them even succeeded. ;)

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

Soundclick

fntstcsnd

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Originally posted by Bill@Welcome Home Studios:

Of course it is a custom job. By definition it is a custom job. The whole assembly line process comes to a screaching halt to accomodate this custom job. You guys need to watch Chaplin's "Modern Times" or that famous episode of "I Love Lucy".

Err... no. All that happens is that the guys putting together the guitars simply send a different order to the warehouse. Instead of asking for 50 new rosewoods, they ask for 25 maple, 25 rosewood. Then they bolt either neck on as normal. End of problem.

 

 

Well, anyway... that's how it'd work if I was in charge of their demand/supply chain. God only knows how it works in real life.

 

Neil: Your comments on Gibson are interesting, but then a glued neck is going to require more work than a bolt on.

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Originally posted by rockincyanblues:

Originally posted by Bluesape:

I LIKE MAPLE FRETBOARDS ON FENDERS, and will never own one with a rosewood board. I'll change brands first.

Bluesape,

 

Not that I'm being picky, but I've kinda assumed that your avatar is a photo of you, and I have to wonder what you are playing, given the above comment. :-)

 

But yeah, I prefer maple necks on a Strat or Tele type guitar.

 

Peace,

 

Paul

Actually Paul, that ESP in my avatar has an ebony board, which I like as well as maple in terms of feel. And yeah, I'm being picky. Lots of great players prefer rosewood, so there's no right or wrong. An ebony board request would automatically make it a Custom Shop job, which I can understand with it being a quasi-exotic wood, as would cocobolo, koa, lacewood, etc.

 

I'm not even specifically in the market for a new guitar, I just hate the maze of inflexible sets of features that you must navigate to get what you want. Fender currently doesn't build an "off the rack" guitar that I would buy. I already have 3 of those, and they'll all been enhanced at my choice with pickups, 5-ways, knobs, etc. I just don't see why they won't even offer, say, a Jazzmaster or Stratosonic or Toronado with maple.

 

Godin has some of the same rigidity with its line, which will likely prevent me from getting another of their products, excellent though they are.

 

I can see why companies like Warmouth are doing well, because they offer great quality and a much wider range of choices to people like me, who might want, oh, a chambered Tele with 3 P90s, Sperzels, and a birdseye neck for example. :thu:

Never a DUH! moment! Well, almost never. OK, OK! Sometimes never!
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Originally posted by Kramer Ferrington III.:

Originally posted by Bill@Welcome Home Studios:

Of course it is a custom job. By definition it is a custom job. The whole assembly line process comes to a screaching halt to accomodate this custom job. You guys need to watch Chaplin's "Modern Times" or that famous episode of "I Love Lucy".

Err... no. All that happens is that the guys putting together the guitars simply send a different order to the warehouse. Instead of asking for 50 new rosewoods, they ask for 25 maple, 25 rosewood. Then they bolt either neck on as normal. End of problem.

 

 

Well, anyway... that's how it'd work if I was in charge of their demand/supply chain. God only knows how it works in real life.

 

Neil: Your comments on Gibson are interesting, but then a glued neck is going to require more work than a bolt on.

It does seem like it should be that simple...but that's just not the reality.

"And so I definitely, when I have a daughter, I have a lot of good advice for her."

~Paris Hilton

 

BWAAAHAAAHAAHAAA!!!

 

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Originally posted by Kramer Ferrington III.:

Originally posted by Bill@Welcome Home Studios:

Of course it is a custom job. By definition it is a custom job. The whole assembly line process comes to a screaching halt to accomodate this custom job. You guys need to watch Chaplin's "Modern Times" or that famous episode of "I Love Lucy".

Err... no. All that happens is that the guys putting together the guitars simply send a different order to the warehouse. Instead of asking for 50 new rosewoods, they ask for 25 maple, 25 rosewood. Then they bolt either neck on as normal. End of problem.

 

 

Well, anyway... that's how it'd work if I was in charge of their demand/supply chain. God only knows how it works in real life.

 

Neil: Your comments on Gibson are interesting, but then a glued neck is going to require more work than a bolt on.

I agree with Vince that simply ordering 25 of each rather than 50 of one shouldn't be an issue, nor an excuse to gouge the customer. Why would the assembly line come to a screeching halt over some thing this easy to do? I coud live with the rest of the guitar, just give me the neck I prefer. :mad:
Never a DUH! moment! Well, almost never. OK, OK! Sometimes never!
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Originally posted by Kramer Ferrington III.:

]Err... no. All that happens is that the guys putting together the guitars simply send a different order to the warehouse. Instead of asking for 50 new rosewoods, they ask for 25 maple, 25 rosewood. ....
You are thinking small. That is not how it is done.

 

I'm all for custom guitars, and I also happen to dig maple fretboards (though my luthier refuses to build one for me, saying that they are far too unstable... he refuses to use anything but ebony), but this is not an assembly line request. It's not four guys who have boxes of parts on the shelf and they pull out the pieces for what they are going to build today. It is a line, where pieces pop out of machines and go to the next station, where someone else does a single operation and passes the thing on to the next station, rinse and repeat. Nobody is thinking about "Bill's guitar" or "Fred's guitar"... they're probably thinking about lunch or whatever line assembly people think about.

 

A few years ago I saw a 1 hour special on Martin guitars. It was made in their old place, a small brick building in Nasareth. Lots of hand assembly and carving, a row of people with templates and spoke shaves carving necks, for example.

 

Then I took a tour of the huge new Martin plant, which is imense. A convertered baseball bat machine spits out five necks at a time every few seconds, on to an assembly line belt..... get the idea? on to the next station where a drone does a drone piece of work, and on to the next station.... (seriously, watch "Modern Times". you'll get a kick out of it....) The artists at Martin work in the custom area doing custom work. Everyone else is pumping out product using a method designed to improve profits and lower costs, so as to keep the selling price reasonable.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Originally posted by Bill@Welcome Home Studios:

It's not four guys who have boxes of parts on the shelf and they pull out the pieces for what they are going to build today. It is a line, where pieces pop out of machines and go to the next station, where someone else does a single operation and passes the thing on to the next station, rinse and repeat. Nobody is thinking about "Bill's guitar" or "Fred's guitar"... they're probably thinking about lunch or whatever line assembly people think about.

Well, I'd be surprised if the guitar building process was one long "stream" (I'm talking about mass produced guitars here) where they start with a few hunks of wood and finish up with a strat.

 

Quality Assurance/Control emphasizes that one should build each piece separately, checking each one before the final assembly. The idea is not to compromise the finished product by a defect in some small part. And that's whether you are building sofas or helicopters or whatevers.

 

As I said... I'm guessing here, but I'd be highly surprised if Fender didn't simply have a warehouse full of parts which they use as necessary. That's probably why certain bits and pieces keep coming back into use (the "pointy" headstock on the new Starcaster comes to mind) but as I said I'm just guessing.

 

I don't think that the workers are conscious of working on "Fred Nurk's guitar" they just know that they've received a 394 type order from a dealer and that request is sent to the warehouse, where the robot picks each element required and delivers the elements to each "island" on the production line (not just to an individual guy) as necessary (do they use the kanban system in American factories?)

 

Sorry to go on about this, but I find logistics and warehousing really fascinating (here's where some of us turn out to have "day jobs") :D;)

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Well..in the final analysis, it just doesn't matter about what should be. It is what it is. I really doubt if Fender's CEO is going to read this thread and say "You know, they're right! We need to change the way we operate our business and make Bluesape and Kramer Ferrington happy!" :D

"And so I definitely, when I have a daughter, I have a lot of good advice for her."

~Paris Hilton

 

BWAAAHAAAHAAHAAA!!!

 

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Originally posted by Sasquatch51:

I really doubt if Fender's CEO is going to read this thread and say "You know, they're right! We need to change the way we operate our business and make Bluesape and Kramer Ferrington happy!" :D

*DANG!* Well, I guess that's just more proof that real life is not like the movies! :D

 

Seriously though. If you have all the bits ready and painted and all that. And assuming you have a Dremel...

 

How long DOES it take to put a standard Strat together?

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Originally posted by Kramer Ferrington III.:

Originally posted by Sasquatch51:

I really doubt if Fender's CEO is going to read this thread and say "You know, they're right! We need to change the way we operate our business and make Bluesape and Kramer Ferrington happy!" :D

*DANG!* Well, I guess that's just more proof that real life is not like the movies! :D

 

Seriously though. If you have all the bits ready and painted and all that. And assuming you have a Dremel...

 

How long DOES it take to put a standard Strat together?

You're still thinking too small. It's not a matter of how much time does it take to make custom changes to one single guitar. If you accepted orders like that, you'd get a TON of them...it wouldn't be just Bluesapes little order or just Kramer F.'s little order or just Fred's little order...it would be all of them plus a hundred more.

 

That's why they have to let the assembly line handle just the production run guitars and have a custom shop where people can pay extra to "have it their way".

"And so I definitely, when I have a daughter, I have a lot of good advice for her."

~Paris Hilton

 

BWAAAHAAAHAAHAAA!!!

 

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Originally posted by Sasquatch51:

You're still thinking too small. It's not a matter of how much time does it take to make custom changes to one single guitar. If you accepted orders like that, you'd get a TON of them...it wouldn't be just Bluesapes little order or just Kramer F.'s little order or just Fred's little order...it would be all of them plus a hundred more.

Yes, but there's a limited number of possibilities in the Fender catalog.

 

It really wouldn't take a lot to have an online form with a bunch of check options (colour, headstock and so on) and then you simply put together the guitars as required, with all the pieces coming from a centralized warehouse (on site). How many possible variations are there? 100?

 

I'm sure there'd be quite a few people who (by dint of the law of averages) would wind up asking for the exact same guitar. or a close enough guitar that would simplify the whs picking.

 

Anyway... if anything, I'm thinking big, not small. The economy of scales thing. :)

 

 

My question about how long does it take to put together a strat had nothing to do with this thread. I was just curious: Leo Fender was famous for trying to streamline production as much as possible (bless him) and I was wondering how long does it actually take to assemble a Fender guitar. (I'm going on about Fenders because Gibsons are a bit more complex)

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