Logging   Customer Stories  

Rocking the Logs: Fender's Journey to Modern Observability

By Rox Williams  |   Last modified on May 3, 2024


Fender faced challenges with log analysis, finding it slow and complex to navigate, leading to inefficient troubleshooting and a need for a more user-friendly and modern observability solution.

Synonymous with all things rock n’ roll, Fender is the world’s leading guitar manufacturer. To enhance the customer experience, Fender launched their digital apps in 2016 (Fender Tune and Fender Tone) and 2017 (Fender Play) to empower customers in starting and advancing their guitar playing skills.

When Fender initially ventured into digital app development, they implemented centralized log monitoring to assist the engineering team in identifying and addressing issues. However, the team encountered challenges with their tool, finding it slow and complex to navigate. The query syntax was cumbersome, and the user interface lacked user-friendliness. As a result, searching for specific errors or root causes became a laborious task, often leading to frustration. At times, team members resorted to accessing logs directly from machines to streamline the process, bypassing the tool altogether for quicker troubleshooting.

Michael Garski, Director of Platform Engineering at Fender, highlights the impact on engineering: "Our investigation workflow was challenging, often requiring the team to spend considerable time—typically half an hour—sifting through broad log queries to find specific entries of interest. We needed the ability to zero in on relevant information more efficiently."


In Fender’s search for a new solution, Michael looked at Datadog and others, but experienced a breakthrough while attending a conference where Charity Majors, CTO at Honeycomb, discussed the evolution of observability with a modern approach. Recognizing the immense potential value in advancing Fender's capabilities, Michael ultimately chose Honeycomb for several standout reasons:

  • Cost-value ratio
    "With Honeycomb's modern capabilities, ease of use, and positive impact on engineering satisfaction, we’re realizing significant value from Honeycomb at a low total cost of ownership."
  • Simplicity
    "Honeycomb's simplicity aligns perfectly with our strategy of pushing for simplicity in our software design. It makes maintaining our observability and understanding our applications' performance easy and efficient, without extensive digging or time-consuming processes."
  • High cardinality
    "Honeycomb's high cardinality capabilities combined with its index-free, fast search make it incredibly efficient and intuitive for pinpointing specific issues like finding unique customer IDs."
  • SLO alerts
    "Honeycomb's usability with SLOs and the ability to alert on critical indicators have elevated our development processes, allowing us to focus on what truly matters for workload prioritization and improving user experience."


Fast root cause analysis

Shortly after adopting Honeycomb, Fender launched a highly successful ‘Free to Play’ campaign that offered a million people free three-month access to Fender Play. The promotion was a huge success and  the app experienced a 10X increase in traffic. With Honeycomb SLOs tracking Fender’s latency thresholds, the team was immediately alerted to the issue. 

Honeycomb makes debugging so fast and easy that we quickly identified the cause of the latency—a search cluster was slowing down, prompting us to increase its size. Thanks to this rapid alert, debugging analysis, and action, we addressed the issue before it impacted customers,” said Michael, adding that “This was our first big win with Honeycomb, enjoying a night-and-day experience with getting ahead of issues and finding a root cause in just a minute.”

Quote Card: Michael Garski, Director of Software Engineering at Fender

Improved engineering satisfaction

In Fender’s observability journey, Honeycomb has been instrumental in elevating the engineering team's experience, enhancing efficiency, and boosting satisfaction. Honeycomb’s user-friendly and intuitive design have made it easy for Fender’s engineering team to jump in and start using it without feeling overwhelmed. It’s easy to show someone the basics, and they can take it from there, which streamlines onboarding and adoption.

Michael elaborates on the impact: "Honeycomb makes it effortless to understand our code and extract the necessary information. This empowers our team to iterate faster, complete tasks, and avoid the frustration of digging through logs to find that needle in the haystack.” And as for job satisfaction, Michael shares that “Honeycomb enhances developer satisfaction and quality of life by giving us a single source of truth for our observability and allowing us to rapidly pinpoint issues. These intangible Honeycomb benefits are significant and have helped truly transform our dev approach."

Enhanced observability with high-cardinality data

Honeycomb's ability to query high-dimensionality data has been essential for Michael and his team to gain detailed insights into customer adoption and app-specific issues across web and mobile and by Android or iOS version. 

Michael explains, "We include additional metadata into the requests, like the application version and platform, which is crucial for diagnosing issues. For example, we can quickly pinpoint if the Android app is experiencing more frequent 5xx errors than the iOS version, and that helps direct our development resources." 

Honeycomb's robust querying capabilities make it easy for the engineers to understand customer adoption and app-specific issues across diverse platforms and versions, enhancing the team’s ability to optimize app performance and user experience.

Supporting Fender's observability journey with low TCO

With Fender’s observability success, their Honeycomb use cases continue to expand as they plan out new apps for their B2B customer market, as well as explore observability opportunities for the company’s manufacturing operations. Michael explains the several benefits from their observability journey:

Predictable pricing

“We have predictable pricing that lets us do away with the legacy approach of sampling logs to preserve budget. Honeycomb’s event-based pricing empowers us to see every request from every service that comes through.”

Future-proof adaptability 

"With Honeycomb, we've reduced management overhead and significantly increased our engineering team’s time efficiency. Plus, it’s flexible to expand use cases and ramp up users, supporting our go-forward goals as they arise.”

Generous data retention

“Honeycomb’s generous data retention is very helpful and gives us more than enough insights for when we’re analyzing trends and investigating issues.”

Interested in learning more? Book a consultation with our sales team.

Fender and Honeycomb Logos

At a glance


An American icon, Fender was founded in 1946 and has established a global influence that extends from the studio to the stage—and beyond. Everyone from beginners to the world’s most acclaimed artists have used Fender instruments, amps and gear, making the company not only a revered industry leader but a cultural symbol that resonates globally.


Music instruments


Honeycomb platform

Use cases
Central log monitoring

Platform engineering and debugging

Application performance monitoring


  • Rapid debugging with root cause in a minute
  • Enhanced engineering satisfaction and efficiency
  • Gained predictable pricing that eliminates need for data sampling
  • Proactively monitor latency and errors across all services with SLOs

"Honeycomb has been a gamechanger in transforming our observability practices, serving as our central platform of choice for our teams. It makes maintaining our observability a lot easier and helps us truly understand how our applications are performing without spending a lot of time digging into things."

Michael Garski, Director of Platform Engineering at Fender


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