An oldie but a goodie…
This little 8mm film of the Fender factory was shot by Forrest White in 1957.
I love it because it gives insight in how the early Fenders were made. And – just as important – it shows that these instruments were made by HUMANS. Something we almost seem to forget when you hear the stories and myths that surround these guitars.
We see how much handwork was involved in the construction. Very different from the CNC driven factory that puts guitars out by the dozen. Most parts were made inside the factory, parts resellers still had to be invented.
Leo Fender optimized the electric guitar for assembly line production. A modular design with interchangeable parts. His first guitar, the Broadcaster, was made with a slab body, out of materials he could get easy and cheap (maple and ash), although the early models were made with a pine body.
Fender didn’t play guitar himself, he was an engineer. But he listened carefully to the feedback of guitar players. And in 1954 they issued a new model: the Stratocaster.
Today these instruments are highly sought after, and the prices have skyrocketed. Most of these instruments end up in bank vaults, rather than in the hands of musicians.