Founding Fender Custom Shop luthier George Blanda retires after 35 years

He was responsible for many artist signature models as well.

George Blanda

Image: Fender

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Fender has announced that one of the founder members of the Fender Custom shop, and current Chief Design Engineer for its guitars, will retire on 3 April after a 35-year career.

Blanda joined Fender in 1985 as a Senior Design Engineer in the newly created Fender Custom Shop. He was initially tasked with making artist signature models, but less than a year in, his role changed to meet a growing demand for U.S.-made products. In a statement about his retirement, Blanda said: “It’s hard to believe how much time has gone by. I’m going to miss the people the most, but I’m grateful to take all the memories with me.”

Blanda spearheaded countless projects over the years, including signature models for Yngwie Malmsteen, James Burton, Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.

Fender CEO Andy Mooney said: “Fender’s Custom Shop has earned the title ‘Dream Factory,’ and for 35 years, George Blanda has made the dreams of thousands of players come true. We will miss seeing George in Corona every day, but George’s legacy at Fender will last forever. I wish George the very best for his retirement and want to thank him for the enormous contribution he has made to Fender.”

Read our interview with Blanda here, where he talks in-depth about his 30th anniversary Founder Design Jazzmaster.

For more on that guitar, take a look at Fender’s video below:

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