Fender’s Custom Shop turns loose the Masterbuilders on the unique, exquisite and eco-friendly California Streetwoods Collection

Fender Custom Shop California Streetwoods Collection
(Image credit: Fender)

Every year, the Masterbuilders of the Fender Custom Shop get to work on a special project. Sometimes it is a commercial tie-in. Last year, we saw Hot Wheels-inspired electric guitars and basses, including the return of the Katana for the special run. 

This year the watchword is sustainability as Fender partners with the Street Tree Revival urban wood recycling programme for some seriously high-end electric guitar builds – one-offs for the collector’s market.

The Custom Shop’s Masterbuilders sourced the timber with help from Street Tree Revival’s John Mahoney. As with eco-friendly builds like Taylor’s Urban Ash series, these guitars (and two bass guitars) are made from wood from trees felled during storms, or by disease, wood that would otherwise be headed to landfill and yet holds great promise for making instruments. 

That we tend to see these salvaged materials at high-end price points is perhaps owing to the irregularity of supply, but perhaps in the future these tone woods could be used on more accessibly priced instruments.

Let's take a closer look...

Elm Top Cabronita Relic – Masterbuilt by Dave Brown

The Cabronita has always had a throw-and-go vibe, a rocking take on the Telecaster, but here Fender takes it super high-end, refining the neck profile, the wiring, and applying an elm top to a solid roasted ash-body. 

The one-piece, C-profile neck is something else too. It’s made of pear tree. There is a TV Jones Power’Tron at the bridge and a TV Jones Classic at the neck. The relic oil finish brings out all the detail in that pear top.

Price: £11,399/$11,875

Cedar Telecaster NOS – Masterbuilt by Greg Fessler

Fender Streetwoods Cedar Telecaster NOS – Masterbuilt by Greg Fessler

(Image credit: Fender)

Greg Fessler's decision to go with a Natural lacquer NOS finish is a no-brainer when you see the figuring on that two-piece cedar body. That's why there's no pickguard and the controls are mounted directly.

In keeping with the series' internal logic, this is a feast of tone woods, with AAA roasted flame maple used for the neck, African blackwood for the flat-lam 9.5" radius fingerboard, and 

Other specs include hand-wound Josefina Tele pickups,  58-'63 Tele bridge with brass barrel saddles, vintage-style tuners, 21 narrow tall frets

Price: £9,099 / $9,525

Ficus Stratocaster – NOS, Masterbuilt by Dennis Galuszka

This Green Wash finish is something we’d like to see more of but then this Ficus Strat is all new to us. It’s not every day you see a guitar made out of ficus, which off the top of the head makes us think houseplant. 

But lo, it turns out there are all kinds of ficus trees. This one has met a good end, saved from a landfill burial it houses an intriguing Curtis Novak custom-wound humbucker at the bridge, with a three-position switch and a custom greasebucket circuit to tease all kinds of tones from it.

Other features include a quartersewn neck in a ’69-style U profile, round-lam blonde rosewood fingerboard with abalone dot markers, single-ply ivoroid pickguard, 2-point custom classic tremolo unit and locking tuners.

Price: £10,399 / $10,875

Shou Sugi Ban Redwood Esquire – Masterbuilt by Andy Hicks

Fender applied the Japanese oil treatment Shou Sugi Ban to this redwood Esquire, and it has brought out all the details in the wood top. This, again, is all part of the theme of the collection, of encouraging us all to be good stewards of the environment.

The body is two-piece solid redwood. Once more there is a pear tree neck with a ‘60s style C profile. A Custom Shop Josefina handwound loaded ’51 Nocaster bridge pickup offers a straightforward platform. The Esquire is after all guitar making at its most primitive, no matter the provenance of the woods used. A Closet Classic finish has been applied to ensure it will age gracefully.

Price: £10,999 / $11,525

Himalayan Cedar P-Bass Journeyman Relic – Masterbuilt by Vincent Van Trigt

Who says cork-sniffing for tone wood is a dead end? Finished in 2-Tone Brown stain, this P-Bass is all about the wood, the look, the feel, the very smell of a piece of Himalayan cedar. This particular piece was sourced from an old Christmas tree that was planted in Christmas Tree Lane, Altadena, California. It had been there since 1883.

Now, just as we were beginning to think Fender were getting a little carried away with this project – the smell? – we are reminded that Himalayan cedar is of course famous for the calming properties of its scent. So should you find yourself in a drone band experimenting with Tibetan throat singing, this could get you both the sound and in the zone. 

Otherwise, think of this as a stripped-down bass guitar that's redolent of early '50s style, with a 60s style oval "C" profile neck, Custom Shop Josefina hand-wound '51 P-Bass pickup, Babicz z-series FCH-4 bridge, and Gotoh GB640 tuners. 

Price: £11,499 / $11,900

Shamel Ash Telecaster – Masterbuilt by Todd Krause

Todd Krause's Shamel ash Telecaster has a four-piece body with a maple top, and it has a NOS Natural finish, showing off that grain. Visitors to Disneyland might have recognised that body wood. In another life it was a tree offering shade and respite for those tired from queueing in Anaheim's Disneyland. 

It has 21 medium vintage frets, Custom Shop Josefina handwound '51 Nocaster pickups, modern Tele casterwiring, three-way pickup selector, a single-ply black phenolic pickguard and an RSD Tele bridge with compensated brass saddles.

Price: £9,999 / $10,425 

The Shamel ash used for this Green Tea Burst Strat was also taken from Disneyland and that’s not even the most remarkable thing about this Yuri Shishkov build. Put it under a black light and the Chinese Pistache fingerboard glows green thanks to a phenolic compound of flavonoids. 

The neck is lemon-scented eucalyptus so once more we have a guitar that smells as good as it looks. The Josefina Strat pickups, synchronised vintage tremoloe, 4-ply aged white pearloid pickguard complete the look. 

Price: £10,299 / $10,650

Bookmatched Telecaster – Masterbuilt by Kyle McMillin

This maple-topped elm Telecaster looks the bee's knees from the front with its bookmatched silver maple top, but you should see the skunk stripe on the back. An Amber Natural finish is all it needs to set it off.

Headline spec items on this one include a AAA flame maple neck with a '57 style soft V profile, a Josefina handwound bridge pickup, a Twisted Tele at the neck, RSD Tele bridge with compensated brass saddles, vintage-style tuning machines and a bone nut.

Price: £11,699, $12,150 

Blonde Rosewood Telecaster Thinline – Masterbuilt by Austin MacNutt

Featuring an ash back and sides with blonde rosewood on top, this has an acacia neck, pickups as per the Bookmatched Telecaster, and a four-ply tortoiseshell guard that sets the whole thing off.  A little NOS lacquer has been applied but it's the wood that's doing all the talking.

Price: £10,999 / $11,425

Quilted Maple Telecaster – Masterbuilt by Levi Perry

This has got a contemporary boutique build vibe going on and very little to pull focus away from that quilted maple top. But look closer and there are some very player-friendly details, such as the belly cut to enhance comfort.

This has a flat-lam ebony fingerboard, a rift-sawn maple neck, a Josefina Nocaster at the bridge and a Twisted Tele at the neck, with far '50s wiring under the hood.

Price: £10,199 / $10,550

Roasted Ash and Elm Precision Bass – Masterbuilt by Jason Smith 

Fender says the inspiration behind this build was to apply contemporary features to the primitive format of the slab-bodied Precision Bass. 

So you’ve got the body profile of a none-more-old-school bass guitar design but then the 9.5 radius, medium jumbo frets, lightweight Hipshot tuners and the hi-mass RSD bass bridge that you might find on a production line model from 2023.Pear tree wood has been used for the neck.

Price: £8,899 / $9,200

Redwood Telecaster – Masterbuilt by Paul Waller

You wait years for Fender to offer a Telecaster made from Californian redwood and then two come along at once. The caveat being that, as with all of these instruments, they are one-offs.

This calls to mind George Harrison's rosewood Telecaster, with Paul Waller letting the wood take centre stage. The body is two-piece redwood. The neck is eucalyptus. Brown shell binding finishes it off nicely.

Price: £9,899 / $10,275

Fender Silver Maple Telecaster Thinline – Masterbuilt by Dale Wilson

The second Telecaster Thinline in the collection and it is appropriately given a Violin Burst finish and the time machine vibe courtesy of its light relic finish. This is a love letter to silver maple. It has been used for the body, neck and fretboard. 

This Thinline shares the Josefina/Twisted Tele pickup combo of its Streetwoods siblings above, and has a ’67 Telecaster bridge with ‘Gatton’ saddles, vintage-style F-branded tuners, and that four-ply white pearloid pickguard complements the finish nicely.

Price: £10,899 / $11,350

The Fender Custom Shop Streetwoods Collection is out now. Head over to the Fender Custom Shop for more spec details and to learn about its builders.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.