If you’re into guitars, you’ve definitely heard of Fender – they’re like the rockstars of the guitar world. These guitars aren’t just instruments; they’re legends, playing a huge part in music history. But have you ever wondered, “Where are Fender guitars made?” It’s a simple question, but the answer takes us on a pretty cool journey around the world.
In this article, we’re going to dive into the world of Fender factories. We’re not just talking about dots on a map; we’re talking about the places where raw wood and metal are turned into the guitars that might end up in your hands. Whether you play a Strat in your garage band, dream of owning a Telecaster, or just love hearing a good guitar riff, understanding where and how these iconic guitars are made is a story worth knowing. To find out the origin of your instrument, use our Fender serial number lookup tool.
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Fender Factories USA
Fender had two factories in the United States, with one of them still in operation.
In 1938, Leo Fender established his audio equipment repair company in Fullerton, Northern Orange County, California. It wasn’t until 1945 that musical instruments, specifically electric lap steel guitars, were added to the company’s offerings. The mass production of guitars, including the Broadcaster (later renamed the Telecaster), commenced in 1950. The iconic Stratocaster was introduced in 1954, followed by the introduction of various other models in the subsequent years.
Following the acquisition of Fender by CBS in 1965, the company changed hands again in 1985. A group of employees and investors, led by director William Schultz in Fullerton, purchased the company and continued its operations as Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC). However, it’s worth noting that the factory in Fullerton was not included in the sale and was subsequently closed in 1985.
In 1985, a new factory was established in Corona, California. Alongside the regular production, a Custom Shop was introduced within the company in 1987. The Corona factory now employs approximately 680 individuals. FMIC’s headquarters were initially based here until 1991, at which point they relocated to Scottsdale, Arizona.
Mexican Fender Factory
In 1987, a new factory was constructed in Ensenada, Mexico. This expansive facility covers an area of over 60,000 square meters and comprises eight buildings dedicated to the production of guitars, electronics (amplifiers), and strings. Electric guitar production commenced at this site in 1989. To ensure the quality of production, a Fender Quality Control team conducts weekly visits to the factory. Currently, the Ensenada factory provides employment for approximately 900 individuals.
Japanese Fender Factories
In 1982, Fender Musical Instruments Corporation initiated a joint venture with two Japanese wholesale companies, Kanda Shokai and Yamano Gakki, and named it Fender Japan, Ltd. The primary purpose of this collaboration was to produce and sell Fender-branded instruments exclusively within the Japanese market. This partnership continued until 2015 when, on April 1, 2015, Fender assumed control of the production line, rebranding it as Fender Music Corporation (Japan).
In 1982, Fender also entered into an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) agreement with the company FujiGen for the production of Fender guitars. FujiGen Gakki is a Japanese musical instrument manufacturer located in Matsumoto, Nagano, named after Mount Fuji. “Gen” in Japanese signifies string instruments, and “Gakki” means musical instrument. By 1983, FujiGen was manufacturing over 14,000 guitars monthly for Fender, with 80% of the production destined for export and the remaining 20% for the Japanese market. However, this contract came to an end in 1997.
Tökai Gakki Factory
In 1997, Fender also entered into an OEM contract with Japanese companies Tökai Gakki and Dyna Gakki. Tökai Gakki had its own instrument manufacturing facility. Prior to this agreement, Tökai Gakki had produced replicas of Fender models in 1977 and 1978, known as “lawsuit guitars,” but these replicas did not have serial numbers.
Korean Fender Factories
Since 1988, Fender has been manufacturing guitars in Korea under the Squier brand, a subsidiary brand of Fender.
Cort Guitars, also known as Cor-Tek Corporation, is a South Korean guitar manufacturing company headquartered in Seoul. Cort’s origins trace back to its founding in 1960, initially focused on importing pianos. Over time, the company transitioned from being a piano importer to becoming a prominent guitar manufacturer. Starting in 1973, Cort primarily produced guitars under OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) contracts for major and renowned brands, including Fender/Squier.
Samick Guitars is indeed one of the largest manufacturers of string instruments globally. They manufacture both acoustic and electric guitars through OEM contracts for numerous major brands, including Fender/Squier. Additionally, Samick produces guitars under its own brand names, which can be found in the market under the Samick brand.
Young Chang and Sung-Eum Factory
Young Chang and Sung-Eum continued to manufacture guitars for Fender until the late 1990s.
Indonesian Fender Factories
Companies like Samick and Cort-tek, operating extensive facilities with thousands of employees, manufacture Fender guitars in Indonesia.
In 1992, Samick moved its production operations to Bogor, Indonesia, where they established a new factory spanning 50 hectares and comprising 11 buildings. This facility provided employment opportunities for approximately 3,000 workers. In 1993, they began producing acoustic models, followed by the introduction of electric guitars, specifically Fender Squier models, by the end of 1994. The guitars manufactured in Indonesia typically offer a similar quality level to those produced in Korea but come at a more affordable price point.
Cort-tek, originally a Korean company, expanded its operations to Indonesia in 1995 by opening a guitar factory in Surabaya. Starting in 1998, Cort Indonesia began producing Fender/Squier models alongside their other guitar productions.
Chinese Fender Factories
Starting in 1994, Yako Musical Instruments Co., based in Zhangzhou, China, became the first factory in China to manufacture Fender/Squier guitars under an OEM contract. Yako’s headquarters is located in Taiwan, where they also have additional factories.
AXL Musical Instruments has a presence throughout China and its headquarters is situated in Shanghai. Aside from their extensive lineup of guitar models, AXL also began producing Fender/Squier guitars from 2009. It’s important to note that these Fender/Squier guitars manufactured by AXL are primarily intended for sale in markets outside of China.