NAMM 2018: Fender Reveals Custom Shop Annual + Prestige Collections

The doors of the Fender Custom Shop have been blown off their hinges with the arrival of the Annual and Prestige collections, as well as the first set of artist signature models. Here’s everything you need to know from Fender…

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HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (January 24, 2018) — Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) today announced the introduction of its Annual and Prestige collections, including a Prestige Collection 9-Neck Guitar and a Pinball Telecaster and “Wizard” amplifier set to debut at Winter NAMM in Anaheim, Calif. 2018 also marks 30 years of the first artist signature models born out of the Custom Shop–then built in the Fender factory and released on a wider scale.

With a handful of artist signature models set for release throughout 2018, the first ones unveiled at Winter NAMM include: the Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Child™ Stratocaster®; Limited Edition Eric Clapton 30th Anniversary Stratocaster®–including a custom-built version and master-built option with only 30 made by Todd Krause; and a special Vaughan Brothers set master-built by John Cruz. The Vaughan Brothers set includes a Limited Edition Jimmie Vaughan Strat® guitar and the Limited Edition Stevie Ray Vaughan Strat®, an earlier, less-beat-up version of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Number One Stratocaster® guitar.

Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Child Journeymen Relic
custom shop
Limited Clapton Journeymen Strat

Priced at $80,000, Yuriy Shishkov’s Pinball Telecaster® guitar and matching “Wizard” amplifier built by Fender’s custom amp expert Jim Dolmage are true pop culture memorabilia–using parts and materials from a vintage pinball machine. A showpiece that will appeal to guitar, pinball machine, movie memorabilia and Americana collectors alike–the guitar features the game’s original colored plastic playfield inserts that actually light up in a random pattern with battery-powered LEDs.

Movable flippers and a spring-loaded ball shooter add a fun factor to this otherwise operational instrument, and plastic painted game trim pieces on the body and headstock complete the instrument’s pinball theme. Rounding off the guitar is a vintage-style maple neck; a Fender Custom Shop Nocaster® neck pickup; a chromed pinball volume knob; chrome wraparound bridge/tailpiece; as well as plywood from the 40-year old Bally® pinball machine, which was used to hand-build the body–a challenge in itself.

The matching Wizard amplifier’s enclosure is constructed entirely from wood and metal recycled from the pinball machine’s cabinetry. The original vintage stenciled paintwork gives off an almost “carnival” atmosphere with a rattlesnake motif inside and out. The heavy plywood and metal trim lend a significant “attack” to the expressive sound of the ’57 Custom Pro-Amp circuitry, which is warmed up by the stout 15-inch Eminence® speaker.

Also debuting at Winter NAMM 2018 is the 2018 Prestige Collection, featuring one-of-a-kind master-built guitars and basses from the Shop’s most-esteemed master builders, as well as annual collections. “The Prestige Collection is the foundation of the Fender Custom Shop,” said Mike Lewis, VP Product Development, Fender Custom Shop. “It’s really what we’re all about–continually pushing the envelope of design innovation and craftsmanship to create one-of-a-kind playable works of art. Our Annual Collection models are conceived in the shop to showcase new developments—pickup designs, wiring innovations, finish processes, wood combinations and more. It’s also a way for the Shop to surprise and delight players with something they didn’t know they wanted or inspire new custom builds.”

Among the eight innovative Prestige Collection models is Paul Waller’s Prestige 9-Neck Guitar, which features popular pre-CBS model necks Fender produced before 1965. Necks featured include those from a four-string mandolin, Mustang®, Jaguar®, Telecaster®, Stratocaster®, Jazzmaster®, Bass VI, Jazz Bass® and Precision Bass®. According to Waller, the biggest challenge was trying to get all the different body shapes to flow into one seamless design.

Annual collections making their debut at Winter NAMM are the Limited Edition, Time Machine and Postmodern, as well as Vintage Custom—the newest addition paying homage to Fender’s roots with a selection of models representing the earliest, rarest guitars, or a “first” of something. Some models in the collection boast extremely rare–but very functional features for today’s players–while others have been slightly modified to further enhance the instrument’s overall appeal.

2018 Prestige Collection

Paul Waller: Prestige 9-Neck Guitar – $96,000

Paul Waller’s Prestige 9-Neck Guitar features nine popular pre-CBS models and scales Fender produced before 1965. Necks featured include those from a four-string mandolin, Mustang, Jaguar, Telecaster, Stratocaster, Jazzmaster, Bass VI, Jazz Bass and Precision Bass.

Jason Smith: California Mission PJ Bass – $7,400

Jason Smith’s California Mission PJ Bass is an homage to the California Missions lining the coast of the Golden State. The inspiration for this came from Jason Smith’s son studying the California Mission Trail in school, which led to a summer vacation trip up the coast of California to see all 21 missions.

This bass is inspired by the San Francisco Mission in particular, as Smith was drawn to the hand painted pattern of the ceiling and ceiling beams. Featuring a reclaimed roasted pine body, and roasted maple neck–this bass has a very warm, resonate tone, reminiscent of a vintage bass.

The hand-painted body and position markers on the neck show brush strokes, which give the bass a one-of-a-kind look and style. With its unique features, the California Mission PJ Bass will appeal to bassists wanting something different and to anyone interested in California history.

Dennis Galuszka: The Boardwalk Telecaster – $15,000

Dennis Galuszka’s The Boardwalk Telecaster is for beach and wood-lovers alike. Inspired by some reclaimed redwood from the Santa Cruz pier, the guitar features a perfectly matched roasted maple neck, as well as a carving of an old weathered boardwalk on the top, by V. Lee Cabanilla.

Dale Wilson: Buckeye Burl Top Tele – $11,000

Dale Wilson’s Buckeye Burl Top Tele pairs a buckeye burl top with a lightly flamed mahogany body and Ivroid-bound mahogany neck. This high-end natural wood guitar features an open sound with a Curtis Novak gold foil pickup in the neck position.

Todd Krause: Fire Pit Strat – $10,000

Todd Krause’s Fire Pit Stratocaster is inspired by the glowing embers of a camp fire. This guitar includes several custom features, including the color, a highly figured quilt top and “roasted” flame maple neck–ideal for players that favor a modern look with vintage sound.

Greg Fessler – Australian Myrtle Tele – $7,500

Greg Fessler’s Australian Myrtle Tele was born from a unique piece of Blackwood that Fessler had never heard of before. Ideal for figured wood aficionados and players alike, this guitar features

P-90 pickups, a vintage Strat hardtail bridge and AAAA roasted flame maple neck with a Blackwood fingerboard.

John Cruz Custom Hand Tooled Paisley Leather Tele – $29,000

John Cruz’s Custom Hand Tooled Paisley Leather Tele builds on the resurgence of paisley designs. Cruz was inspired by friend Dru Whitefeather to create a leather guitar. Something new and unique to the Fender Custom Shop, the guitar features a leather covering, paisley design and custom inlay work that will surely appeal to collectors, artists and players.

Yuriy Shishkov: Prehistoric Tele – $11,000

Yuriy Shishkov’s Prehistoric Telecaster guitar’s body and fingerboard are made from nearly 5,000-year-old, Jet Black “Bog Oak”–coming from a tree that grew before the Egyptian Pyramids were built. This wood was submerged in the swamp for thousands of years, getting a Jet Black color because it’s one step away from becoming coal. The Telecaster also features a custom tailpiece, making it even more of a “one-of-a-kind“ instrument.

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