When theFender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Companylaunched in 1946 in a sleepy suburb of Fullerton, California, little did it know how much of animprint Fender the brand would have on the history of music.
Over 70 years, the brand has been virtually unchanged, left alone to build classic Stratocasters, Telecasters and other guitars that went out the door in search of a home.It was a business model that was never broken, and never fixed.
That is, until now.
Enter the Fender Mod Shop, where players can now build their dream guitars from the ground up much like ordering a new car from the manufacturer.
The brand, under the direction of new CEO Andy Mooney, wants to modernize the look and feel for a digital audience.
Mooney, who came onboard to Fender in 2015 from Quicksilver, was at the launch of Nike’s own customization program, ID. A guitar enthusiast, he wanted to jumpstart the same model, but for Fender and its consumers.
After nine months, the brand is launching its Mod Shop store Tuesday. The store allows consumers to design a fully customized axe, with choices in wood (maple or the heavier rosewood), body colors and fingerboards, among other features.
Four guitars are available for a base price starting at $1649. Add-ons like hardwood color is an additional $200. The entire process from order to delivery takes 30 days, and the instrument is manufactured in California.
“We have a loyal following but our customers are increasingly looking for something unique to them,” says Mooney to Mashable. “I think that’s even bigger now with the social media generation. All artists want to portray who they are and their guitars speak volumes to their personality and brand.”
What Mooney learned most from his days at Nike, was that consumers want to feel as if they’re unique and Fender offers more than 70,000 versions of guitar.
“What I learned most is that color is important,” he says. “This is so invaluable to us to learn what our customers are wanting in terms of aesthetic. From fashion, we know where color trends are coming from. But with guitars, it’s coming from many different inspirations and it’s not as clear.”
But unlike with sneakers, customizing guitars has a very big differnce: sound.
“Maple sounds different from rosewood, and the different options can make it another instrument altogether,” Mooney says.
For instance, Fender’s classic design has a crisp sound, while its rosewood is rounder and fuller.
Fender has partnered with retailers like Guitar Center as well as smaller music stores across the country to carry these customizations. Consumers can test them out in store and order there, or head to Fender’s site and customize on their own.
Mooney says the idea won’t start and end with its guitars.
“We’re going to keep offering this and broaden it with more amplifiers by next year,” he explains. “Ideally, a few years from now, you can customize your guitar amp, foot pedals, to everything in between.”
Creating every piece of your brand from the unique sound, color and everything in between to express your own personal brand, you say?
Sounds very millennial, if you ask us.
Customize your own Fender guitar at the brand’s Mod Shop, which just launched today.
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