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FDP Forum / Fender Bass Guitars and Bass Amps / Leo Fender and the one thing that has always bothered me.

edmonstg

Newberg, Oregon

Fender...never say never.
Aug 4th, 2016 06:44 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

As I recall, Leo was originally trained to be an accountant and worked for a time as an accountant very early in his career.

Accountants keep track of money and the things that money buy, how much of this and how much of that kinds of people.

Its gotta be in your blood to want to do this.

His reputation was that he never wasted anything, never let pieces and parts go unused. He cared about the minutiae and minuscule.

So why did he sit at the head of a giant company like Fender and let the years go by without a paper trail to account for how much they were buying and selling?

Or did he?

George

6G6

Texas

Fender power to the people!
Aug 4th, 2016 07:59 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Given his formal training, he must have kept some kind of records.
My guess would be that once he was past running the show, he didn't retain those records for CBS or anyone else to second guess what he might have done before.

edmonstg

Newberg, Oregon

Fender...never say never.
Aug 4th, 2016 10:05 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Nacho Banos and his landmark book, The Blackguard, the definitive history of the earliest solid body Fender guitars, suggests Leo exhibited certain personality traits in his business dealings which reveal he didn't want to make it easy for anyone to keep track of how much he was making and how much he was selling. Thus, the reason why serial numbers were not issued sequentially.

George

(This message was last edited by edmonstg at 09:45 AM, Aug 5th, 2016)

Maulden7
Contributing Member
********

UK

It's got to be CAR!
Aug 4th, 2016 12:11 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Regarding confusing serial numbers, this is a "tactic" that has been used in other businesses to mislead tax authorities in an attempt to reduce company tax bills.
Here in the UK it is alleged that Lotus Cars i.e. Colin Chapman, the famous owner of the Lotus F1 Team & the Lotus Company generally, adopted exactly this strategy with production vehicle identity numbers.
The factory production records from that period claim that significantly more cars were produced & sold than really were made, & hence the overall production costs were artificially inflated to match these numbers, & the overall profit was reduced, leading to a lower tax bill.
Present day analysis of the vehicle identity numbers shows that there appear to be big spans in the production number sequences, where cars with these numbers never existed.
Perhaps Mr Fender was up to the same wheeze?
It is rumoured that any tax inspector who didn't perform satisfactorily was "rewarded" with the responsibility for the Lotus account!

Bubbalou
Contributing Member
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USA

THE LOW END OF UPPER TEJAS
Aug 4th, 2016 06:59 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

He must have driven some of his more logical thinkers at Fender crazy with non sequential serial numbers etc etc.
The thought of it drives me crazy LOL

uncle stack-knob
Contributing Member
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united kingdom

Aug 5th, 2016 02:43 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Could I be wrong,but a while back now,didn't someone establish that in fact records of one kind or another did,and do,exist,but are incomplete and completely askew from a chronological standpoint.
Was it Tom Wheeler? or Richard Smith?
Anyway,for those who have the task of overseeing companies activities,materials usage would start to give a good idea of what was getting produced.
Leo Fenders' well known account in his notebook of down to the last minute/last cent cost of spraying a finish on a Telecaster gives a good idea of his accountant like thinking.
Don't forget,he was strapped for cash in those early days,and even had to rely on input from his wife's salary to float things along.
Also,he did not operate a 24/7 situation back in the start days.Rather workers would respond to his request to get stuff done when orders arrived,and then there were also lay-off periods for them.He could not afford to keep them on idling if no work was to hand.
Another factor that came to be was the advent of Mr.Forrest White. He had come from an industrial background and was keyed up on production needs.
He was an organiser and tick box checker as well as a true follower of Leo and his inventions,as well as being a pretty good maker/wireman and so on. He apparrently organised the entire operation into a recognizable entity with inventory and stock replenishment methods,logical access to parts for assemblers and so on.
Consider the care taken when numerically annotating a refinish that came through,or a special order for whatever or whoever.That was apparrently Forrest White making sense of it all.

Stack-Knob.

edmonstg

Newberg, Oregon

Fender...never say never.
Aug 5th, 2016 07:50 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Terrific responses everyone.

I would love to get my hands on the papers that show the number of gold guards made in 58. Or the stacks in 1960. Or the gold guard/rosewood boards from 59. Or the....

George

(This message was last edited by edmonstg at 09:51 AM, Aug 5th, 2016)

Peegoo
Contributing Member
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Eat. Sleep. Guitar.

Repeat
Aug 7th, 2016 08:39 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I've read just about everything available re: the history of Fender.

Leo was a tightwad and despised wasting anything. This came from his meager upbringing; his parents had little money, so his money habits were ingrained at a very young age.

In the early days of the company, he operated on a shoestring, relying on credit from his suppliers and also his wife's income to cover the weekly wages of his few employees.

He was also probably OCD (before the term existed) when it came to detail and doing things the way he wanted them done.

Leo had very little in the way of 'people skills'. He was known to walk up onstage and tweak a player's amp in the middle of a song, and that drove players nuts.

Leo was a rather solitary creature. He was perfectly happy to stay in his lab and tinker. He loved tools and he loved playing with them. He loved electronics and he would sit and solder for many hours at a stretch--often into the early mornings. He was also continuously in fairly poor health, so I would imagine depression was also an issue for him.

His accounting training did make him focus on the bottom line. However, he had no real business acumen, e.g., how to manage employees, production, QC, inventory, marketing, etc.

Leo also was not a musician, but he was smart enough to know he needed help. He brought in pedal steel player Freddie Tavares as an adviser. Freddie is the guy who famously played that intro swoop on the Buggs Bunny Merry Melodies theme song. He also brought in Bill Carson, a Texas swing guitar player who was instrumental (heh!) in the design of the Stratocaster.

Leo brought in Don Randall to create Fender Sales. Don conducted all the business with outside agencies on behalf of Leo, because Don was very good at things like negotiating contracts, etc. Leo had no experience with any of this--and he showed absolutely no interest in learning about it.

As described by Uncle Stack-Knob above, Forrest White is the guy Leo brought in. Forrest transformed Fender from a large garage operation into a titan manufacturing concern.

Bob Perine--an artist, photographer and far-thinking commercial design guy, was brought in to do the advertising.

Perine originally worked at a private ad agency, and did several ads for Rickenbacker. The Fender team took notice and "bought" Perine to work exclusively for Fender. I'm certain Fender's success owes much more to Bob's catalogs, advertising, and print media than many others believe. Perine applied a fresh, modern image to electric instruments and his ads made people want to be part of that culture.



uncle stack-knob
Contributing Member
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united kingdom

Aug 7th, 2016 12:22 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Peegoo......... Remarkable and detailed account there.

Stack-Knob.

Peegoo
Contributing Member
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Eat. Sleep. Guitar.

Repeat
Aug 7th, 2016 12:36 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Thanks Uncle S-K.

Like most inventors, Leo was very focused. His skills, combined with the people he brought in, are what made the company a success.

Here's another example. Prior to Fender, virtually all musical instrument advertising was aimed at musicians. Perine and Randall changed that. They marketed guitars, basses, keyboards, and amps to the general public. So there's some genius there too.

Danny Nader

usa

You should have been there!
Aug 8th, 2016 04:38 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Peegoo & Uncle Stack nailed it. As w/ almost any endeavor, marketing is what makes you a success. Finding your audience, expanding your demographic base & all the other bits that go into creating awareness are paramount to success.

Danny

edmonstg

Newberg, Oregon

Fender...never say never.
Aug 8th, 2016 06:16 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Yes.

I would still love to know how many stacks were made in 1960.

George

Bubbalou
Contributing Member
**********
****

USA

THE LOW END OF UPPER TEJAS
Aug 9th, 2016 10:06 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

What a great story Peegoo and Stack. Peegoo, you should write a book in collaboration with Stack and George. The knowledge and history in your combined heads is staggering as witnessed here and in previous posts. Thank you for posting and thank you George for starting this post.

Steve Dallman
Contributing Member
*********

Merrill, Wisconsin

Age is just a number...mine is big
Aug 11th, 2016 09:53 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I worked in a manufacturing plant that dated back to the 1930's. There was a storage room with plant production and lab records going back to the beginning.

Until the 70's they were written in pencil, and some in pen...cursive, and not necessarily easy to read. This was a large company, started by JC Penny himself and when I worked there was owned by Foremost-McCesson from California.

Records were as good as the person who recorded them, and the media and storage used. I'm sure Fender is typical. I'm surprised the records are as good as they are.

In our company, when the building those records were in was torn down in the 90's, the records went to the landfill with it.

FDP Forum / Fender Bass Guitars and Bass Amps / Leo Fender and the one thing that has always bothered me.




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