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  #1  
Old 07-13-2014, 07:01 PM
ArVeeNiner's Avatar
ArVeeNiner ArVeeNiner is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: San Jose, CA
Posts: 1,103
Thumbs up Trip to the Fender Guitar Factory-Corona, CA

My good friend Paul and I have been eyeing a flight to the Fender Guitar Factory in Corona, CA. We’re both guitar players and both love flying so this was a no brainer. Timing has been an issue but on Monday July 7th, we both found ourselves off on a day when the marine layer was light. This was important since there are two tours per day…one at 10 am and the second one at 11:30 am. For this to work, we’d have to get a fairly early start. We didn’t have the time to spend waiting for the marine layer to burn off.

Our route of choice from my home airport of Reid-Hillview (RHV) in San Jose, CA was down the Salinas Valley, past Paso Robles, over Santa Barbara, down the coast, over Malibu, Santa Monica, and finally to Corona.

We got off the ground at 7:50 am. Here are the two intrepid flyers at the start of the trip. Paul seems a bit tense:




We saw a bit of the marine layer over by Salinas but it didn’t extend too far down the valley:




After about an hour and twenty minutes, we were over Santa Barbara. The marine layer there had moved offshore by the time we arrived. This is Coal Oil Point which is just to the north of the city limits:




In no time at all, we were over the LA area. I had been getting flight following the entire way which turned out to be very easy. This photo was taken after we had passed over Santa Monica and it’s looking north to the San Fernando Valley. The tan spot is Burbank Airport. Lockheed was a big presence there a few years back. My first job out of college was as a Flight Test Engineer at the Skunk Works there in the early 80’s. Now the area is a parking lot. Lots of history gone. Sad:




Hooray for Hollywood

That screwy bally hooey Hollywood…(Don’t blame me, I didn’t write that song!):




This is the city: Los Angeles, California. I work here. I'm a cop (not really):




Dodger’s Stadium (GO GIANTS!):




I was pretty busy flying over the area making sure that I didn’t miss a call or flying into somebody’s airspace. I’d have to say it would have probably been a little bit more enjoyable as a passenger!


Just a few minutes from Dodger’s Stadium, we found ourselves in Corona. It took us about 2 hours and 20 minutes total. What a time machine:




After parking the plane I called up Aircraft Spruce to get a free ride to their facility which just happens to be across the street from the Fender factory. Here’s yours truly in front of the place where I’ve spent a lot of money over the years. I’m sure I paid for at least one of the letters in this sign:



Note: We bought something at Aircraft Spruce to justify our ride in the van after our visit to the factory.


We crossed the street and knew right away we were getting close:

__________________
Kelly Johnson
San Jose, CA
RV-9A

Pink slip issued: 5/7/12

First flight: 5/28/12, Memorial Day.

Phase I Complete: 8/18/12!

2018 donation: complete

Last edited by ArVeeNiner : 07-13-2014 at 11:24 PM.
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  #2  
Old 07-13-2014, 07:04 PM
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ArVeeNiner ArVeeNiner is offline
 
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Default Part 2

There are two buildings at Fender. The first one that you come to is not the one that contains the visitors center…but it does have a couple of giant headstocks in front of it:




If you do wander into this building, you’ll find yourself in a very small waiting area but then you’ll also find this cool guitar/amp tower smack dab in the middle of it. You can’t get the whole thing in the picture. Very cool:




OK, so we found the visitors center. This is in the next building over from the first building you come to. This is the one you want:




Once inside, you’ll find a bunch of displays. Just as you walk in, you’ll see guitars of famous players. It looks like Paul is partial to Richie Blackmore’s Strat:




So the tour costs $10 a head. You register on a computer in the reception area then you pay in the gift shop. You don’t get a receipt, wrist band, nothing. The tour guide doesn’t even ask for any kind of proof. I suppose you can just join a tour for free if you want. Weird.

While waiting for the tour to start there is a lot to do to pass the time. We headed over to the player’s room where you can plug in and try out a multitude of Fender guitars and amps. There were a handful of us in there all jamming away. I found sweet Telecaster that I fortunately did not buy. Here Paul is rocking out:




The next room over is the Custom Shop. See a neck you like? Get it. See a body? Get that too. What kind of hardware would you like, Sir? Oh, and by the way, what is your credit card’s credit limit?






Our tour started at 11:30. They hand out headsets, safety glasses, and you get a tour guide. He’ll explain what you’re seeing wirelessly via the headsets. If you go, remember, there are only two tours per day and only on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. THERE ARE NO TOURS ON WEDNESDAYS OR WEEKENDS!

We started at the area where they stamp out both metal and plastic parts for the guitars. Many of the machines, stamps, and dies are the same ones that have been in use 60 years ago when the first Stratocaster came out. I’m sure Leo himself used some of these machines! Here is a pick guard for what looks like a Jazz Bass:




The tour guide is showing us a small piece that is on every Strat. This is the piece where the input jack is located. To his right you’ll see a box full of these things. This is one of those parts that has used the same EXACT die since 1954:




I have to say, working in a guitar factory is not very glamourous. I guess just about any job at a place with the word “factory” in the title is not very glamourous. Man, everybody was busy working hard in this place.

These planks will soon be guitar necks. The guy in the background is routing out the slot for the truss rod. The truss rod is imbedded within the necks to counteract the tension of the strings. If you didn’t have a truss rod, the necks would eventually bow towards the strings. The guide is showing a fret board that has been glued to the neck. I guess it doesn’t have to be very straight at this point:

__________________
Kelly Johnson
San Jose, CA
RV-9A

Pink slip issued: 5/7/12

First flight: 5/28/12, Memorial Day.

Phase I Complete: 8/18/12!

2018 donation: complete

Last edited by ArVeeNiner : 07-13-2014 at 11:28 PM.
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  #3  
Old 07-13-2014, 07:07 PM
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ArVeeNiner ArVeeNiner is offline
 
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Location: San Jose, CA
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Default Part 3

After a trip through the CNC machine, you got a pile of necks. They make a lot of guitars in this place…about 350 per day! I just wonder where these guitars are going! I mean, guitars rarely wear out and, except for Pete Townshend’s, aren’t usually disposable:






And now for the bodies. Here’s a bunch of Strat and Tele bodies:




If you think of the bodies as the doughnut holes, these would be the doughnuts I guess:




The guide didn’t talk about these so I’m guessing here. If you look closely, you’ll see names like Dick Dale, Buddy Holly, and Robert Cray written on these. I know that you can buy replicas of famous players’ guitars. I’m guessing that these are replicated necks that are used to set up the machinery for these special guitar runs:




These guys are artists. They shape the bodies perfectly by sanding and buffing by hand. Even though there are CNC machines throughout the plant, it appeared to me that the majority of the work is hands on. There is a reason why they charge so much I guess:




These bodies are ready for paint. There are three coats: a sealer, the color, then the clear coat:




Now they’re starting to look like something. A guitar takes 28 days to complete if I recall correctly, 14 of those days is the time it takes for the paint to cure:




So, where do they put these guitars to cure you ask? They hang them up in the rafters! This is the final assembly room where all the parts come together like pickups, knobs, bridges, strings, etc. Now, look at the top of the picture. This is where the guitars hang for 14 days:



__________________
Kelly Johnson
San Jose, CA
RV-9A

Pink slip issued: 5/7/12

First flight: 5/28/12, Memorial Day.

Phase I Complete: 8/18/12!

2018 donation: complete

Last edited by ArVeeNiner : 07-13-2014 at 07:23 PM.
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  #4  
Old 07-13-2014, 07:09 PM
Mel's Avatar
Mel Mel is online now
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Dallas area
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Default

What; No pictures of Guitars?

I once sold a 1958 Stratocaster for $250. Wish I had it back!

I once took a Telecaster as partial payment for aircraft certification from someone on this forum.

OK, so I type slow!
__________________
Mel Asberry..DAR since last century
A&P/EAA Tech Counselor/Flight Advisor/Nat'l Test Pilot School
Specializing in Amateur-Built and Light-Sport Aircraft
<rvmel(at)icloud.com>
North Texas (8TA5)
RV-6 Flying since 1993, 172hp O-320, 3-Blade Catto (since 2003)
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Last edited by Mel : 07-13-2014 at 07:11 PM.
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  #5  
Old 07-13-2014, 07:10 PM
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ArVeeNiner ArVeeNiner is offline
 
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Default Part 4

The finished product! Guitars in this plant sell for anywhere from around $1000 to the stratosphere. The 4 sunburst Strats in the picture are 1954 model reissues and they go for just over $2K:




If you want to spend the big bucks, you need to go here, the Custom Shop and get a Master Built guitar. This is where the rich and famous go for their guitars. They get a builder assigned to their guitar who builds it from the ground up. The sky is indeed the limit here. On the walls you see gold records, signed posters, and photos of grateful rockers who just spent a bundle on their one of a kind axe.

This one is a “road worn” Stratocaster that I think is selling for about $8K. They take a perfectly good guitar and age it by chipping, sanding, and scuffing it up. I guess it’s like buying pre ripped jeans. I’m sorry, I just don’t get it!! Call me old fashioned but if I ever get the chance to buy a brand new guitar, I’d want it pristine:




So it was finally time to head back to the airport and we were hungry. There isn’t any place to eat near the factory since it is in an indutrial park. The nearest place is here. This place was good and it appears to have a lot of business. It’s nice to see an airport restaurant that is busy:




Corona has the absolutely coolest fuel pump I’ve ever seen. You taxi up like an automotive gas station and you get to fill up in the shade. I half expected service station attendants to show up to wash my windshield:




We took the route depicted on the LA Flyaway chart from Corona to the coast. It was easy peasy. Here we are passing over the “Happiest Place on Earth”, Disneyland. The Magic Kingdom looks much less magical from 4,500 feet:




The airport straight ahead is Los Alamitos and to the right, Long Beach/Daugherey. Long Beach Harbor is straight ahead:




Long Beach Harbor. There are 4 artificial islands out there. They are called THUMS Islands and they are there to tap into the underwater oil field. Three of the islands are named after the three astronauts that perished in the Apollo 1 fire. This is also where Howard Hughes had his “accidental” Spruce Goose flight:




Here’s a shot of the Queen Mary, a Carnival ship, and the white dome. The white dome is where they housed the Spruce Goose for many years until it moved up to McMinnville, Oregon. The Queen Mary is actually a floating hotel but beware. It is rumored to be haunted! I actually spent the night on board once. Good thing I didn’t know about that rumor:




We turned right and flew through the LA Special VFR corridor over LAX. What a trip seeing jets take off underneath you! And, you do this without talking to ANYBODY! Northbound you fly at 4,500, squawk 1201, and fly through. There is also an advisory frequency that you use to call out your position in the blind:




This is the famous Santa Monica Pier. Scores of movies and TV shows have shot scenes here. It’s not very big and there aren’t many rides but it’s cool that it has survived all these years:

__________________
Kelly Johnson
San Jose, CA
RV-9A

Pink slip issued: 5/7/12

First flight: 5/28/12, Memorial Day.

Phase I Complete: 8/18/12!

2018 donation: complete

Last edited by ArVeeNiner : 07-16-2014 at 08:58 AM.
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  #6  
Old 07-13-2014, 07:12 PM
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ArVeeNiner ArVeeNiner is offline
 
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Location: San Jose, CA
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Default Part 5-Last

The remaining route was the inverse of the one going down there. This is the beautiful water somewhere near Santa Barbara:




Here is a shot of some of the sisters near San Luis Obispo. These are a chain of volcanic hills that extend from SLO to Morro Bay. I always thought there were 7 sisters but I’ve seen both 7 and 9 on the internet so I’m not sure. Maybe 2 are mistreated step sisters. I dunno:




These hills are cool! They are located just to the east of King City in the Salinas Valley. How did they form?



What a fantastic trip! I’m so glad I got to do this. Thanks for taking the time to read this excessively long post. I literally took 390 pictures so it was very tough to cut the number down.

Keep pounding those rivets and your RV will allow you to explore your world!!
__________________
Kelly Johnson
San Jose, CA
RV-9A

Pink slip issued: 5/7/12

First flight: 5/28/12, Memorial Day.

Phase I Complete: 8/18/12!

2018 donation: complete

Last edited by ArVeeNiner : 07-16-2014 at 09:02 AM.
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  #7  
Old 07-13-2014, 08:03 PM
paul mosher
 
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Nice writeup! Thanks
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  #8  
Old 07-13-2014, 08:05 PM
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bruceh bruceh is offline
 
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Kelly, thanks for the writeup. You'll have to plan another trip down to Gillespie in El Cajon. The Taylor Guitar factory is very close to the airport.
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RV-9A N5771H flown over 600 hours!
http://www.overthehills.com/RV-9A-Project
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  #9  
Old 07-13-2014, 08:09 PM
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Jeff Vaughan Jeff Vaughan is offline
 
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Location: West Chester, Pa
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Thanks for sharing.
Great write up and photos!
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RV 12 N237VW ELSA
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West Chester Pa

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  #10  
Old 07-13-2014, 08:12 PM
crabandy crabandy is offline
 
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Thanks for the write up, cool trip indeed!
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