Amazing 1950s Footage From Inside the Fender Factory — Video



Have a look at the video clip below for some fantastic rare footage of the Fender guitar factory from the late 1950s.

Shot inside Fender’s original Fullerton, California home in 1959 according to the uploader, film restoration company CinePost. It’s a unique look into the early days of the iconic American guitar makers, and even features shots of Leo Fender, Freddie Taveres and Abigail Yabarra (who still wound pickups for the Custom Shop until 2013, and you can read more about here)

Although at this point, Fender had around one hundred employees and their guitars were in the hands of many of world’s most famous players, it was still a relatively small company compared to the massive corporation it is today.

The 8mm film also highlights the majority of work being carried out by hand and at times with some questionable health and safety measures.

Some say, “They don’t make them like this anymore”, well in Fender’s defence, they probably wouldn’t even be allowed too.


22 Comments on Amazing 1950s Footage From Inside the Fender Factory — Video

  1. Em emm // - at 9:08 pm // Reply

    Always ready for fender history. Do you guys answer questions related to fenders?


  2. Curtis White // - at 4:32 am // Reply

    My dad, Forrest White, is the person who shot that ’59 Fender factory footage.


    • Curtis, would love to hear from you again. There was other great footage that your dad shot that could be shared here. Please give me a call to discuss….Myron


  3. who’s playing guitar on the background music?


  4. Chris // - at 8:51 pm // Reply

    Just amazing would love to know who the employees were , the original custom shop all done by hand each one made in such a simple way but the achievement is just mind blowing a great find thanks for sharing


  5. Eric Friedman // - at 12:16 am // Reply

    Not what I pictured in my head. Looked like a hot, nasty place to work, but then again, it was the 50’s. You could never see guys working shirtless with women on the premises these days. Very interesting to watch though. My thanks for posting this.


  6. Robert DiPadwua // - at 1:46 am // Reply

    That would be the ultimate job for me!! I could smell that sawdust now! Heaven! And then be able to try and test them when completed. This is some classic footage! Thank you for sharing it!


  7. Lloyd // - at 7:59 am // Reply

    Magnificent , thank you very much. Recently we did a tour of the
    Gibson factory in Memphis, it is still a labour intensive operation. I figure Fender would be the same, little would have changed, only the machinery up dated. Classic brands that will live forever. The look a likes dont sound the same!!


  8. A strat nut // - at 8:37 am // Reply

    Now I really know what makes my strat worth it Those people just loved what they were doin


  9. Vance Albright // - at 4:28 pm // Reply

    The strat is definitely like the Corvet of electric guitars with its timeless beauty and symbolism. Ihave a very old one and still can’t stop playing and looking at at it like a sorts car i’m hooked plus Jimmy always played one,enough said.


  10. Bill Jason // - at 7:56 pm // Reply

    Fantastic,thanks foe sharing


  11. Mary Ann Fitzsimmons // - at 4:20 am // Reply

    All made with care. I wonder how many workers were also guitar players. Guitars have to be made with love. factory building not of the 50’s more the 30’s. Would like a present day comparison.


  12. These people loved their work and I can see it every time I play guitar. Thanks for showing this!


  13. Absolutely wonderful footage and informative.


  14. Jonathan Devirian // - at 8:10 am // Reply

    In the 50’s Los Angeles television station broadcasted, usually on Friiday nights, a show called “City at Night”, The show would go to various manufacturers and other sundry businesses that would operate overnight or well into the evening. One of the shows was a tour of the Fender Factory in Fullerton. The show, hosted by Ken Graue and Dorthy Gardiner , closely followed the production line to the point of having very informative dialogue with representatives at each production level. I could not find any of the footage online, but, it may exist in the archives of KTLA. Possibly, Mr. Fulerton would know of where and how to retrieve this material or just the sound portion, which could be synced with the footage herein.


  15. Bob Greenhow // - at 4:24 pm // Reply

    Unlike the comment above, I enjoy the background guitar music. Does anyone know who it is?


  16. Rod Hodges // - at 10:16 am // Reply

    I hear you. Nice blues playing. The guy who complained obviously is not a guitarist.


  17. Raymond Robar // - at 2:05 pm // Reply

    That was awesome! You can see the passion these workers have. Those painters though……..
    No masks! Was there a “Labor Board” back then?


  18. Mike Briant // - at 12:20 am // Reply

    “Some say, “They don’t make them like this anymore”, well in Fender’s defence, they probably wouldn’t even be allowed too.”
    Fender may not, but G&L does … or at least they were 19 years ago. In 1997 I was a little obsessed with collecting vintage Fender tube amps and while visiting a friend in San Marcos, CA, I drove one afternoon to Fullerton to see the old Fender factory which was still there. His Fender’s new owners had moved years ago, but Leo had moved his G&L business back to the same buildings and they were still there building G&L guitars. I was able to walk along the row of buildings (which now share a joined roof), stand right at one of those open garage doors and look into the same concrete block structures shown in this video and watch them cutting G&L’s tele equivalent bodies on those very same jigsaws. Chatted with guys working there and they confirmed that G&L uses pretty much all the original equipment and methods from the fender days. Fender’s head offices were apparently still in Fullerton somewhere, but I couldn’t even find a phone number for them, let alone an address.


  19. bunny gamalinda // - at 11:57 pm // Reply

    Thank you for this. I will visit Fullerton next year. Leo, George, Taveres, Ybarra, and all the Fender factory personnel, what an amazing group of people! They will be remembered forever!


  20. Joe Perez // - at 4:05 pm // Reply

    Both my mother and father are in this film (Jose Perez and Carrie S. Perez noted in the footage). They met while working at Leo Fender’s Fullerton factory. Since neither one is wearing a wedding ring in the film, and they were married in January 1959, it leads me to believe the film is pre-1959. They were both very hard-working people. Mom went on to use her wiring/assembly skills at Collins Radio, south of Fullerton, in Newport Beach, California. She did assembly work for radio systems used in the NASA Space Programs. Collins became Rockwell Collins, which made GPS unit, too. Dad became a union Construction worker in Orange County, California. Both were very proud of their Fender years and told me and my siblings many stories about that time. I still look at this film from time to time, as it reminds me of them both.


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