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1. As you enter the Visitor Center, you are immediately greeted by a wall of Custom Shop replicas of some of the iconic instruments used by the musicians who put Fender on the map: Buddy Holly, Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Ritchie Blackmore, David Gilmour, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Kurt Cobain.
2. Across from the Fender Legends entrance is the Fender Hall of Fame. Plaques pay tribute to the most influential people and bands in Fender’s history, including the company’s founders and notable company employees over the years. The white Strat in the center is signed by all of the living Hall of Fame members.
3. The Birthplace of Innovation wall displays photos of the early factory as well as informational tidbits. We particularly loved the lower-left photo of an employee demonstrating the strength of Fender necks by standing on one balanced between two chairs. In a small theater at the opposite corner of the facility, visitors can view a loop of four films that provide a closer look into the company’s early days and influence.
4. Immediately to the right of the main entrance is a tribute to Leo Fender encased in glass. It’s packed with early Fender-built instruments and candid photos of the man who built the company. (Inset) One of Leo’s first ever instruments, a lap steel baked in his oven.
5. Visitors to the center could spend all day trying out different guitar-amp combinations in the sound room, which is packed with nearly every guitar and bass amp Fender offers. There are a variety of Fender, Jackson, Charvel, Gretsch, and EVH models in the room (including some lefty versions!), but visitors can bring any of the display guitars in for a test drive as well.
6. For anyone who has wished they could customize every option to create their dream Fender, the company has answered that request with the American Design Experience. Inside, visitors can feel and choose different neck shapes and wood configurations, see a wide variety of finish options, and select the pickup-pickguard-switching configuration of their choice. The guitars are ordered right then and there, put into production, and delivered to the buyer’s home in less than a month. The flame maple Tele on the bench serves as one of the examples of what can be ordered.