Friday, May 26, 2017

Modern Player- recall (Part 3)

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).

1. Peculiarity
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. 


Errik Wong said...

The entire series is a hit-or-miss. Tonewood choices aside, the QC levels were thoroughly inconsistent: some gems to be found but I also encountered several dogs that were more akin to the lowest squiers. Props to Fender for actually trying, even if it did dilute their brand. They tried to bridge MIC Squier and MIM Fender, but the Classic Vibe and Vintage Modern series did a much better job for quality and pricing. That said, I'd still not buy any of those guitars because the neck profiles are too weedy for my tastes. said...

To me, they shouldn't have tried it extensively. Experimentation on established models like the Strat/Tele wasn't a smart move. They should have focused the project on others, maybe exclusively on the offset models for instance. Was fortunate to have come across models with good QC, wouldn't have bothered otherwise.