I'm still having a go at the Fender Modern Player series. Don't get me wrong, these are some of the best value-for-money Fender, period (I own more than one instrument from the series, rather unfortunate that they met an obscure demise with much misunderstanding. Here's my take on the series' COD (you have every right to disagree, it's a personal take).
The Modern Player models were downright estranged, even the 'Fender' monicker failed to extend a saving grace to keep them in perpetual production. Take the HSH mahogany Strat for instance (preceding pic); if it isn't a Fender, the mahogany body per se would invite serious interest from tone dweebs. What's that? Keep the alder body, you say? Well, the alder HSS version didn't generate much interest even in that outstanding silverburst finish. Mind you, a Les Paul in silverbust at that same period of time was arguably on top of everyone's want list. A humbucking Jazzmaster, a Jaguar with tune-o-matic bridge, dual humbucking P/J basses, a HSS Tele with a Strat middle pickup- players were not ready to embrace these alien specs. Newbies want a 'real' Fender for keep's sake, not something twisted hiding behind an acclaimed brand name. The seasoned professionals stick to their 'real' Fenders as well- why embrace controversy, yes?
2. Made in China
No offence to Chinese blog readers & friends but the Chinese label effectively de-Fender everything from the buyers' perspective. Prior to this experience, Fender had some excellent models made in Korea with outstanding QC but generated diminished interest (eg: Lite Ash Strat). Keeping this in mind, why would a Chinese label enthused them differently? Some enterprising sleuths connected the Squier brand name to the Chinese Modern Players & that spelt doom for the brand name. The uninitiated camp went so far as to conclude the fact that Fender had then shifted production to China entirely. Aw, damn.
3. Miserable support
This cut both ways. Firstly, when the instruments debuted, can you recall the artists who actually endorsed the Modern Player instruments? Can't think of any? Exactly- no pros gave a hoot about them. Secondly, do you recall any distributors/ retailers who actually promoted the Modern Player models? Ditto- nobody cared. They somehow knew these instruments were plagued by the country of origin dilemma & feature quirky specs & failed to put owners at ease.
So there you go, the sure demise of Fender's Modern Player models. Despite the controversies, I'm actually alright with the bizarre specs as well as them being manufactured in a country where food items are actually semi-edibles in disguise. I know they were well-made after personal encounters in store & they sound perfectly acceptable without outstanding electronics. Still, players were simply not ready for Fender's non-conventional manifestations despite manufacturing these instruments in good faith. It seems that bona fide admiration for the Modern Players weren't enough to pull them through.