The grand opening this evening of the Fender Visitor Center in Corona, California, was a hugely fun event. The expansive new facility is a remarkable tribute to the legacy of Fender guitars and amps. Located near Fender’s historical Southern California birthplace, the 8,600-square-foot facility features exhibits, interactive displays of modern Fender musical products, historic instruments, rare photographs and artifacts, video presentations on the evolution of the electric guitar (including rare archival footage), and much more. At the event, Fender also opened it doors to the factory, giving guided tours to all who wanted to see the inner workings of the production and Custom Shop facilities.
It was a blast to hang out with the Fender guys—Richard McDonald, Mike Eldred, Joe Carducci, Shane Nicholas, Justin Norvell, and Jason Farrell—and also get to check out some of the latest products, such as the soon to-be-released Eric Clapton signature amplifiers. The entertainment was top notch too, with Dave Mason, Raphael Saddiq, and Buddy Guy all turning in amazing performances on the outdoor stage. Keynote speakers included Tom Wheeler, Richard Smith, and Fender's CEO, Larry Thomas.
The Visitor Center officially opens to the public on Monday September 19, so if you're in the area, make plans to stop by and check it out. This is a guitar nut's paradise! —Art Thompson