The Dream Factory: An Inside Look at the Fender Custom Shop

October 19th, 2017

Classic Rocker

This Prestige model is inspired by an instrument Master Builder Stephen Stern designed with Dan Smith for NAMM in 1999 and that was later named the Classic Rocker in the Custom Shop. Stern’s new version features a 17-inch electric hollow body, Trans Red finish and curly maple body and neck. Additional touches include diamond-pattern fingerboard inlays (inspired by a photo of an old lap steel guitar sporting similar fretboard markers), a pickguard featuring the 30th Anniversary logo, an inner label from the Shop’s product development guru Ralph Esposito that can be viewed through the f-hole and a guitar strap made by designer Dru Whitefeather.

Gold Leaf Telecaster

Yuriy Shishkov conceived the Gold Leaf Telecaster as a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Custom Shop. “I wanted to create something that referenced the Custom Shop’s beginnings, and at the very beginning it was focused on offering different types of unique finishes,” he says. “One of the first completely different types of finishes was the gold leaf.” Shishkov’s creation boasts double-bound binding with a gold leaf finish and a gold leaf neck, a first for a Telecaster. Other features include a Texas Special bridge pickup, TV Jones Power’tron neck pickup and custom single-ply tortoiseshell pickguard. “I like to use tortoiseshell. It’s just really striking to see the gold leaf outlined with a different type of material,” Shishkov says, adding that the guitar “is very lavish looking and one of my favorites.”

Limited Edition Robbie Robertson Last Waltz Stratocaster

Robbie Robertson’s bronze Stratocaster, played by the Band guitarist in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz, is, in the words of Master Builder Todd Krause, “what I believe to be one of the most iconic and unusual Strat guitars to date.” Krause replicated the instrument down to every last unique detail, from the NOS tone capacitors and knobs with the same tension as the original, to the airbrushed headplug and “wear beneath the wear” on the neck, to the three single-coil pickups arranged, per Robertson’s original, with the middle pickup moved down toward the bridge. The finish, meanwhile, expertly emulates Robertson’s guitar, which he famously had dipped in bronze, “Old World style.” The stunning replica is limited to just 40 examples.

Pacific Battle Tele/Pacific Battle Strat

Inspired by the B-25 Mitchell bomber, the Pacific Battle Strat and Tele feature lacquer-finished transparent green stains, tarnished brass knobs and hardware, and a pickguard crafted from the aluminum skin of a B-25 to evoke a military-style, battle-worn appearance. Other features include a two-piece select ash body, lacquer-finished C-shaped mahogany neck and a 9.5”-radius ebony fingerboard with 6105 frets. Pickups are a pair of hand-wound Custom Shop Texas Specials for the Tele, while the Strat is loaded with Custom Shop Fat ’50s, including a reverse-wound/reverse-polarity middle pickup for superior hum-cancellation when combined with the bridge or neck pickup. A custom army-green deluxe hardshell case and a B-25 model plane round out the package.

30th Anniversary Esquire C.C. MBJS

Master Builder Jason Smith’s 30th Anniversary Esquire pays tribute to three founding Master Builders before him. “The inspiration for the guitar came from my love of old western California ghost towns, as well as some of the early Master Built, western-themed guitars from Mike Stevens, Fred Stuart and Alan Hamel,” he says. The three-piece reclaimed/roasted pine body wood recalls a run of black-painted pine body Esquires by Stuart, while the western theme includes shotgun-shell knobs, a .30 caliber switch tip and a rustic “30” placed below the bridge to acknowledge the Custom Shop’s three decades of guitar building. “The idea behind this guitar was to honor the builders of the past and to show how they had influenced my guitar-building career,” Smith says.

Pages: 1 2 3

  • John G Mitchell