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2015 American Custom Telecaster

TeleLakePlacidBlue

There are a few things that I should not do. One of them is to open email from the Fender Custom Shop. Another is to think that I need to add another guitar.

New for 2015 is the Fender Custom Shop American Custom Telecaster. The one pictured above is a faded Lake Placid Blue two-piece alder body. The neck is a AAA flame maple neck with a large C profile, fast compound-radius maple neck and 22 narrow jumbo frets. The pickguard is a three-ply parchment and the guitar features a custom deluxe Telecast bridge which is quite different from the traditional bridges used in the past.

The instrument looks really, really nice in person.

Artisan Series Okoume Stratocaster

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Well, let’s see what’s new at the Fender Custom Shop this month shall we?

For the 2015 Artisan series, the Fender Custom Shop pushes the envelope in the name of art and still remains true to its roots. Artisan series instruments are custom-built masterpieces, outfitted with special appointments and features unlike any other Custom Shop instruments. Yet with vintage design touches, the foundation and spirit is authentically Fender. Exotic okoume bodies, lustrous gold hardware, premium “roasted” bird”™s-eye maple necks and much more — every high-end feature is fashioned and finished with painstaking attention to detail. No doubt, every Artisan series instrument is a beauty to behold — a culmination of sonic perfection, passion and purity of design, with classic Fender at the core.

Okoume is an interesting choice of wood for tone. Okoume is a hardwood tree that is native to Africa. It is described as a weak wood and it is often used in marine plywood. The wood sounds similar to maple and it is a fairly light. And, from what I understand, it can be difficult to work.

The neck is a one piece Birdseye maple that has been roasted to a deep brown hue and features a “V” profile with a 9.5”³ fingerboard radius.

This video provides a nice overview of the instrument. Although gold hardware is not my thing, the instrument does look — and sound — stunning.

Fender Custom Shop Pine Cone Stratocaster

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What is covered with pine-cone scales — gilded with fine silver and 18-karat gold — and holds 550 high-grade diamonds?

Well, a Fender Stratocaster of course!

This guitar was Master Built by Yuriy Shishkov. The attention to detail is astonishing. The fingerboard is hand-inlaid with 10 feet of 18-karat gold wire trellis into the fingerboard.

More details about the guitar can be found at the Fender Custom Shop site here.

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The guitar was a highlight from this years NAMM. How much? Well, if you have to ask.

Yuriy provides his story on the guitar in this video:

Just Arrived, 1956 NOS Strat

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Yes. This announcement was waiting in my email. The Fender Custom Shop folks letting me know that a new ’56 NOS Strat Master Built by John Cruz had just arrived in Toronto. Just in time for my birthday.

Let’s look at this guitar.

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Stunning. Just stunning. Shoreline gold with a Tobacco burst finish. An incredible figured neck. Gold hardware.

Cosmos Music has it for only $12,500.

Ouch.

Oh well. It was the wrong year anyway. I need a 1958, not a 1956.

1958 Stratocaster

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I turn 58 in a few days. Still living the dream.

Last year was a 57/57 year. Born in 1957 and 57 years old. Surely it was time for a 1957 Fender Stratocaster? Sadly that did not happen. I mean, yes, I turned 57 but no. No 1957 Stratocaster.

Perhaps this is the year. I turn 58 and I could get a 1958 Relic Stratocaster from the Fender Custom Shop. Like the one pictured above. A relic Strat for an old relic like me.

This is what Fender had to say about the guitar:

Perfected into its current form by 1958, the Stratocaster in that year was poised for greatness and had already found its way into the hands of several legendary artists. As a musically wild new decade loomed on the not-so-distant horizon, the already ahead-of-its-time Stratocaster was ready for anything as the 1950s wound to a rocking ‘n’ rolling close.

I called the team at the custom shop and they told me that sorry, we stopped building those guitars in 2011. But there might be one for sale in Sweden.

And sure enough, there it was. An original 1958 Fender Stratocaster. I guess the custom shop folks need to do a bit more work on the relic side of their reissues. This original certainly looks like a relic. The custom shop guitar? Not so much.

1958Stratocaster

But, sold.

How much though?

Well, if you have to ask you can find out here.

Still not satisfied? There was another one here.

And, if you don’t want to click through the links, a 1958 Stratocaster can sell for about $60,000. Unless it has been played by someone really famous. Then it could be much higher. Or, if it has been signed by someone famous. And then the age of the guitar really doesn’t matter.

The more signatures, though, the better.

This 2004 Fender Standard Stratocaster fetched a staggering $2.8 million as part of an auction to aid victims of the 2004 tsunami disaster.

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It was signed by Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Brian May, Liam Gallagher, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Ray Davies, David Gilmour, Bryan Adams, Tony Iommi, Mark Knopfler, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Paul McCartney, Sting and Noel Gallagher.

I believe it still holds the record as the most expensive guitar ever sold.

By comparison, $60,000 for a 1958 Stratocaster seems pretty cheap.

I’m not getting my hopes up though. I thought I had made it pretty clear last year about a 1957 Stratocaster for my birthday. But this is what I got instead:

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Colourful.

Not a Strat.

Drat.

Crook Vintage Pink Paisley

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Bill Crook builds custom guitars. Paisley Telecaster style guitars mostly. He does other styles as well but he is best known for his Paisleys.

He got started by building a Paisley for Brad Paisley. Brad’s “Old Pink” is an original 1968 Fender Pink Paisley. You can see it in the video he did for Fender here:

Fender decided to make a “hippie” version of their guitars and basses during the late 60s. It was, after all, the era of flower power.

TDPRI has a good summary on Paisley Teles. The Fender Custom Shop has put out a few Masterbuilt Paisleys over the years. The last one I have seen was this 2012 Custom Shop Masterbuilt Stratocaster — a relic reissue of a 1969 Gold and Pink Paisley. Some great tones from Gregor Hilden:

I have a Fender Select Tele but there are a few issues with the build. If I were to look at a new one, Bill would be the first guy I would contact. He is the one that can create an outstanding Paisley in a wide range of colours. I like the vintage pink one though. Very cool.

Build Your Own Boutique Stratocaster

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The Fender Custom shop released this 1954 Heavy Relic Stratocaster in 2014. The instrument had an MSRP of about $4,700USD. It celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster. George Gruhn sold the first production Stratocaster guitar made in 1954 for $250,000USD last year. I guess a guitar can be a worthwhile investment. If you pick the right one.

But how much would it cost to build your own boutique Strat?

We would need a neck and a body. MusiKraft is a logical candidate. It is Fender licensed and it offers high quality components that you can customize to your own needs.

I would order a 10” radius neck with heavily rolled edges and a bone nut at a cost of $395. And a one piece swamp ash body for $475.

Since I want the same kind of relic treatment as the 1954 Strat, I would have them send the body over to MJT Custom Aged Guitar Finishes with a shipping charge of $40. I would have to spend about $500 to relic the neck and body.

I would need to get some distressed hardware and Callaham Vintage Parts would be able to help me out for about $300. And about $20 for shipping.

I still need some pickups and for those I would head over to Sliders. A nice set of Classic 57s would do. Roughly $350. Plus shipping.

A bit of wiring and assembly, and a really nice G&G guitar case, and I should be able to finish things off for another $250.

So, let’s see. We would likely close in on $2,500 for an overall cost of the parts.

Whether it would play as well as a Custom Shop Stratocaster is another question. They do nothing but build amazing instruments. I, on the other hand, have only ever assembled one guitar from parts.

And I don’t play that one.

Fender Custom Shop Zombie Stratocaster

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My son is a big fan of the Walking Dead. And a big fan of zombies generally. So this post is for him.

At the 2015 NAMM, the Fender Custom Shop highlighted some of their more unique instruments:

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The second guitar from the left is a bit hard to make out so perhaps a closer view is in order:

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Ah yes. A Zombie Stratocaster. Handbuilt by John Cruz. He is the individual pictured just to the right of the guitar.

John Cruz started working at Fender in 1987 and went over to the custom shop in 1993. He has been a master builder since 2003. I’ve played a few of his guitars and they are awesome.

This is what John had to say about the Fender Custom Shop Zombie Stratocaster:

“It”™s my tribute to The Walking Dead series, which I”™m a big fan of,” said Cruz. “Even though it”™s not really the characters, it”™s a tribute to that genre. I wanted to show a different side of me, that I could do some artistic type of stuff, as well. And something that caters to different musical forms.”

Joaquin Lopez did the painting and Ron Thorn did the inlays. In this video, John talks about the instrument: