Fender Musical Instruments filed today for an initial public offering intended to raise $200m. Fender is an amazing, truly iconic brand that has more than rebuilt its reputation since being taken private (purchased from CBS) in 1984 but will it benefit from the quarterly rigours enforced by Wall Street? I’m not sure.
I can’t wait to study the figures, just out of curiosity. How do you drive growth from a company whose main products are all sixty year old designs? Since Bill Schultz bought out the company in ‘84, they re-established quality across the range; they have added a hugely popular budget range (Squier) and equally popular high-end ranges with the Custom Shop. They invented the Signature model market and made an art out of custom ageing. And they have quietly bought up other leading luthiers like Guild, Jackson, Charvel and Sunn.
The last time I counted, there were over 50 different models of the iconic Fender Stratocaster alone. How much growth is left?
I love Fender guitars and amps for their innovate (at the time) design, their sound, their looks, the deceptive simplicity of their construction. But…
I fear that the pressure of maintaining growth might impact quality or the singularity of vision. Let’s wait and see.
And, on the subject of quality, the new “American Standard Hand Stained Ash Stratocaster HSH” looks great but you might have thought they could have found a photographic model with less obvious joins (or better grain-matching) in the body.