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Fender Custom Shop’s longest serving employee Rogelio Centeno has passed away

Rogelio Centeno
(Image credit: Instagram / Fender Custom Shop)

Former Fender Custom Shop employee and linchpin Rogelio Centeno has passed away according to the company’s social media channels. 

Known as ‘Roger’, Centeno [pictured right, in the image above] first joined the firm in 1960, when it was still helmed by its namesake Leo Fender. He continued to work for the company for more than 60 years before he eventually retired last fall. 

A post from January 8 on the Fender Custom Shop’s Instagram page reads: “We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Rogelio ‘Roger’ Centeno, the longest-tenured Fender Custom Shop employee ever. He joined Fender in February 1960 and retired in September 2021 as "King of the metal shop". Rest in peace, dear Roger.”

A previous 2020 post by Custom Shop builder Yuriy Shishkov shared some of he details of Centeno’s role at Fender. 

“At ninety years old now, he gets up every morning at 1:30AM so he would be at the factory at 4:00AM,” said Shishkov. “He operates the shearing machine, which is standing right behind him. His job is to slice big sheets of plastic and metal to the right dimensions. This material is used later to create our pickguards and other parts for guitars.”

Centeno was highly regarded by his Custom Shop co-workers and had a role in the production of countless beloved Fender instruments. 

As Shiskov stated in 2020: “If you own any Fender guitar, remember that Roger probably touched its components before it was made for you! Thank you Roger for your dedication, kind and humble personality and incredible example of humility!”

Matt Parker

Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.