New Fender Vintera II Series: Who’s the Target Market?

Fender just launched a new product line, and all the usual YouTube influencers are buzzing. With an average MSRP of CAD $1,689.99, though, I must ask: who is the target market of the Vintera II Series?

I was pretty darn excited when the first images of Fender’s new Vintera II series leaked online a few months ago. That sonic blue Jazzmaster was calling my name! Then I noticed the price tag — cue the sound of a needle dragging across a record. “Surely not?” I thought. “Surely Fender doesn’t intend to sell MIM (Made in Mexico) guitars for almost two grand?” I felt certain that there was some sort of mistake, that the Vintera II line would launch in the budget-friendly price range Fender fans have come to expect from the Ensenada factory.

Unfortunately, the leaked prices were correct. That sonic blue Jazzmaster I had my eye on retails for an eye-watering $1719.99 before tax here in Canada. After tax, we’re looking at approximately CAD $2k for a Fender that was not manufactured in the United States. The guitars look beautiful, to be sure, but that price tag begs the question: who is Fender hoping to target with this new range?

Consumer Reactions to the Vintera II’s Pricing

Predictably, most of the influencers on YouTube who received these guitars during Fender’s initial marketing blitz have glossed over their tremendous expense. The rest of us? Well, we are all still a little shocked, based on what I’ve seen so far on various social media platforms and gear forums.

One statement I saw on Reddit stood out to me in particular:

It stood out to me, because it reminded me that I purchased a brand new Fender American Performer for around CAD $1.6k back in 2021. It’s the gorgeous Telecaster pictured at the beginning of this post. I could personally never justify dropping a cool $1719.99 on a MIM Fender, knowing that I bought a brand new American-made Fender for less money than that just over two years ago.

Vintera II: Replacing the American Performer?

Fender’s Mexican-made guitars have, traditionally, been the go-to range of guitars for those of us who want decent Fender instruments at an affordable price. As little as six years ago, it was possible to pick up a brand new Fender MIM Standard for around CAD $600-800. On the used market? You were looking at CAD $300-400, easily.

I understand that prices are up across the board for all products, but to more than double the price of Mexican-made guitars in less than a decade? Something’s not right here, and it can’t simply be explained away with “oh, it’s just inflation, everything’s more expensive these days.”

My Fender American Performer Telecaster — one of the finest instruments in my possession.

One theory I’ve seen floated around is that Fender plans to phase out their cheaper MIA guitars — in other words, the American Performer line — in favour of higher-end MIM guitars like the Vintera II. I don’t see it happening any time soon, but I guess it would make a certain amount of sense. After the latest round of price hikes, the Performer series is only slightly more expensive than the Vintera II line. It doesn’t really seem wise to have two similarly-priced product ranges competing for sales. Why would anyone buy a MIM Fender when they could buy a MIA Fender for an extra $200?

The Vintera II does, of course, feature more period-correct appointments than the Performer range, which may matter to some customers. If given the choice, though, I’d be willing to bet that most of us would go for the American-made guitar every time, even if it doesn’t have proper vintage specs.

… Really, Who’s the Target Market?

The likeliest case scenario is that Fender will simply raise the price of the Performer series, yet again, to make the Vintera II’s steep starting price range look more appealing. Even if they do, though, the question remains: who’s actually going to buy a Vintera II?

Budget-conscious folks who’ve been playing guitar for a while tend to follow new and used guitar prices closely. We all know that American-made Fender guitars were priced in the under CAD $2k range in recent times. We also know that American-made Fenders tend to hold more of their value on the used market compared to Mexican-made Fenders. As a group of informed consumers, I think it’s safe to say that we are much less likely on the whole to drop that kind of cash on a MIM guitar.

Beginners? There are always exceptions, of course, but newbies are very unlikely to spend just shy of $2k on a guitar, irrespective of where it was manufactured. When beginners ask for Fender-related recommendations online, more experienced guitarists like myself almost always encourage them to check out the higher-end Indonesian-made Squiers, or the cheapest available MIM tier, the Fender Player series.

That leaves … who, exactly? Folks with plenty of disposable income to blow will most likely spend it on Custom Shop Fenders or the American Vintage Reissue series. Collectors might be interested in the Vintera II line, but they represent a smaller piece of the guitar-purchasing pie. Impulse buyers who crave the novelty of new gear? They might buy them, but again, a smaller piece of the pie.

Final Thoughts

I’m sure Fender’s number crunchers did the math and they have a clear target market in mind. As a Fender fan and guitarist in general, however, I find the Vintera II’s pricing baffling. It’s especially baffling in light of the company’s recent claims that 2022 featured “almost $100 million worth of cancelled orders.” Surely they’d want to offset those losses by selling more guitars? It’s difficult to see how raising prices on the traditional budget guitar line could possibly work in Fender’s favour during this time of global economic uncertainty.

I might have purchased that sonic blue Vintera II Jazzmaster if it had been priced sensibly. It’s priced senselessly, though, so I’ll wait for a good used deal instead. Of course, the chances of anyone letting a $1719.99 guitar go for less than $1k are slim, so alas, I’ll probably never own one. It’s a shame, as they do seem like really nice guitars.

On the bright side … more time to spend with the guitars I already have, I guess?


Questions?

Do you have a question about the subject matter of this blog post that I didn’t answer above? Feel free to leave a public comment on my YouTube channel by clicking on the button below, and I’ll get back to you there as soon as I can.

See Also: