My Japan Trip Escalated Quickly

alexreinhold

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Folks, sorry for starting a new thread but things became epic and I feel like some of you will appreciate what I have to share. Turns out Fender opened it's very first flagship store worldwide 2 weeks ago in Tokyo in a four-story building in Hajakuru (and there have been queues similar to Apple stores ever since).

What's even more crazy though - I always knew that my Japanese friend who I am staying with plays in a band with a great SRV-style guitar player named Shuhei. However, little did I know he's actually Japan's only official Fender guitar tech and on track to become Fender's first Asian Master Builder. So I got a personal invitation to Fender's backstage workshop for international Fender endorsers in Japan. So here's my story:

About 10 minutes from the flagship store in a random street, we arrived here:
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And trust me, I did feel special lol
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The first thing I see upon entering were body blanks signed by all of the most famous Japanese Fender/Jackson/Charvel/Gretsch guitar players out there.
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But I did spot Scott Ian quickly (FYI - Pornograffitti was NOT Nuno as I was told haha). Btw - I did take a picture of a few guitars from famous people but I am not allowed to post them as per Shuhei's request. But one of them was a from a guy who recently had a reunion with his old band in Tokyo (you might know who ;-))
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Then I took a quick photo with Shuhei - of course representing the big W (who he is a HUGE fan of btw)
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Then we went to one of two rehearsal rooms which was filled with Acoustasonics (the other one was used for a meeting with a famous Youtuber unfortunately). Pretty much every famous Fender endorser who made it Japan has been here - we're talking John Mayer et al. For example, Cory Wong will be here next month.
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I asked Shuhei about tone. He said 70% neck, 30% body. He refused to comment on pickups lol
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and I got to play a prototype built by him for a famous Japanese endorser. Not my cup of tea kinda guitar but some of you might love it.
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and then it was workshop time The Gretsch you see is from one of Japan's most famous guitar players.
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Like a kid in Toys R Us
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Interestingly (at least I didn't know that) - the neck blanks he gets from the Nagano factory are super rough. He uses a Yakuza-style knife to carve the wood for perfection.
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All them necks...
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Then of course fretting...
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oh and before I forget. All the stars who go here, have a mirror to test the looks of the guitar for stage effect lol
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then we went to the flagship store - a four-story monster of a guitar shop only dedicated to Fender. What's crazy and what I didn't like: they sell EVERYTHING there, including Jeans, button down shirts (for 300 USD), etc.
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Now we're in the store. All of these guitars were prototyped by Shuhei. Disclaimer: I might have bought one lol
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and finally just a random shot from the staircase.
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What an amazing day!!! At the end, we went to Oshanimizu (the famous guitar street) but I have to say that globalization has taken over here. It's a crazy street given that it only has guitar stores but as a whole, it didn't offer much more than a big guitar store in Europe or the US. Here's a pic:

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Wonderful! PS Now, go out, drink a beer at a yakitori restaurant, go to an onsen, and see some temples and castles. Oh yeah, if you can go to a barber shop, I went to one in Okayama, nothing special, and got the best haircut and shave in my life, and no tip! I tried to give it and the barber refused. He took too much pride in his craft to accept more. PSS At least they have a street with Guitar stores, I really miss the old one in NYC. It's just a memory now.
 
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That's awesome! It's like how I remember, but back then there were a lot of things that you could get that were unheard of in Canada. I bought a Maxim OD pedal at one of those stores 30 years ago before anyone knew what it was ... wish I still had it :(
 
That's awesome! It's like how I remember, but back then there were a lot of things that you could get that were unheard of in Canada. I bought a Maxim OD pedal at one of those stores 30 years ago before anyone knew what it was ... wish I still had it :(
It's still very fascinating but you can definitely feel that things have become more homogeneous. The only big difference I found was the immense pride in the quality of MIJ which so far I can definitely attest to.
Fascinating....great look behind the scenes!

Regarding the mirror: I'm guilty.
Lol - in the privacy of our own room we're all guilty. But in a Fender showroom? 😂
 
I edited my post to include something about workers in Japan (in that case a barber) but workers particularly craftsmen indeed have an immense pride in their work. The product they make is not just another fish to be cleaned, it's a meal for a fellow human being.
 
Awsome posting, thanks! (y) (y) (y)

Tokyo has been on my 'places to go" list for quite some time, and its inching closer to the top now :)
 
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