For starters, leading musical instrument industry news magazine Music & Sound Retailer (M&SR) distinguished Fender with four big awards at the January NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show in Anaheim, Calif. At the show’s M&SR ceremony, dealers, manufacturers and sales representatives voted Fender as “Manufacturer of the Year” for the second consecutive year, and also named the American Series 60th Anniversary Stratocaster® and Super-Sonic™ amp its guitar and amp of the year, respectively.
“On behalf of the 2,500 Fender family members worldwide, I accept this award,” said Fender President and Chief Operating Officer, Matt Janopaul, after accepting the “Manufacturer of the Year” award. “Thank you to the music retailers—you made this possible for us, and the best is yet to come.”
Shane Nicholas, senior marketing manager for Fender guitar amps, accepted the “Guitar Amp of the Year” award, saying “The Super-Sonic was a dream-come-true project for me, because I worked closely with our R&D engineers to combine three of the coolest Fender amp tones into one easy-to-use professional tube amp.”
M&SR also presented a special lifetime achievement award for industry legend William “Bill” Schultz, the beloved Fender CEO who, sadly, passed away in September 2006. Current Fender Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Mendello stepped up to the microphone to accept the award.
“Bill would have been very honored and humbled by this award,” Mendello graciously told the hushed audience. “I worked with Bill for 25 years, and there is no one more deserving in the industry than Bill Schultz. He was an amazing person. He was my mentor and my friend, and Fender would not be what it is today if it wasn’t for Bill Schultz. Bill, thank you for everything you’ve done, and thank you to the retailers for this award.”
The NAMM show itself had an award for Fender—nothing less than its “Best in Show” award for the revolutionary new VG Stratocaster guitar, the joint Fender/Roland® take on the Strat® that delivers dozens of different guitar sounds in one instrument.
“We’re excited,” stated Justin Norvell, Fender’s senior marketing manager for electric guitars. “At the show, we called the VG an “industry-transforming” product. It’s not just a technology piece and it’s not just a Stratocaster, so you get the best of everything while sacrificing nothing.”
The NAMM “Best in Show” award was shared with the Boss® Legend Series Fender amp pedals, which recreate the sound of classic “50s and “60s Fender amps with a mere tap of the foot.
Also during the show, the 14th annual Music Merchandise Review Dealer’s Choice Awards bestowed its “Electric Bass Line of the Year” award on Fender, saying that while the Stratocaster® guitar has made the company a frequent Dealer’s Choice winner over the years, “Fender struck gold with its equally famed basses in this year’s voting against some strong competition.”
Fender’s Jay Piccirillo, senior marketing manager for bass products, called the honor especially gratifying. “We put a lot of passion, energy and effort into making great basses,” he said. “Being recognized this way only makes us want to work harder.”
Across the pond, “cheers” to our mates at prestigious U.K. trade magazine MI Pro, which had its own quartet of awards for Fender. The MI Pro Retail Survey Awards named the American Series Stratocaster the “Best Electric Guitar” over £500, the Squier® Standard Stratocaster the “Best Electric Guitar” under £500, the Fender American Series Jazz Bass® guitar the “Best Bass Guitar” over £500, and the Fender Standard Series Jazz Bass it’s the “Best Bass Guitar” under £500. Cheers, indeed.