Fender Master Builder Ron Thorn has made a Custom Shop Tele and Strat out of the rafters from Toronto’s legendary El Mocambo

Fender Custom Shop El Mocambo Stratocaster and Telecaster
(Image credit: Fender)

The Fender Custom Shop has paid tribute to the most legendary nightclub in Canada by doing what it does best and turning some of said nightclub into a pair of high-end electric guitars.

Masterbuilt by Custom Shop stalwart Ron Thorn, the El Mocambo Stratocaster and Telecaster are fashioned from wood recovered from the rafters of the El Mocambo during its 2014 renovation, and are given a Heavy Relic finish to make them look as though they are as old as the woods that made them.

Indeed, this is old wood. The El Mocambo opened its doors in 1948, but the eastern white pine that comprised its rafters is 300 years old. Fender used a metal detecter to search for nails and make the timbre suitable for luthiery. Once that was done Thorn could be turned loose on their design, and he couldn’t have been happier, with the El Mocambo project of special significance.

Fender Custom Shop El Mocambo Stratocaster and Telecaster

(Image credit: Fender)

Thorn, who was born in Brampton on the outskirts of Toronto. Back in the ‘80s when he was living in Toronto, Thorn caught shows by Jeff Healey and Edgar Winter.

“When this project came up it was a gift,” says Thorn. “I had to do it. A car theme or a Canada theme, let me have it, please! These are definite rock guitars. They’re special guitars. And where the timber has been for the last 80 years, it just makes it a little extra special.”

Over the years, the El Mocambo has hosted the likes of Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, Tom Waits, Blondie, U2, the Ramones, Squeeze, Bon Jovi, Joan Jett, Queens of the Stone Age and more. The Rolling Stones and Stevie Ray Vaughan both recorded live albums there.

The guitars themselves are stunning. Those pine bodies have an Aged Natural nitro finish that looks like it has a few stories to tell. The have bolt-on necks of quartersawn maple, carved into a 1959 D profile, with 9.5” radius African blackwood fingerboards, 21 jumbo frets, and bone nuts.

Both benefit from some subtly bling gold hardware, with the Strat outfitted with a Custom Shop vintage synchronized tremolo, and the Tele equipped with a ’58-’63 Tele Bridge with Gatton saddles. Vintage-style tuners complete the look.

The Telecaster has a hand-wound Josefina Campos Twisted Tele at the neck and a Texas Special Tele single-coil at the bridge, and Fat ‘50s Tele wiring. The Strat, meanwhile, has a hand-wound Josefina Campos '69 Strat single-coil at the neck a, Vintage ’65 Strat in the middle, and a Texas Special bridge single-coil, with Fat ‘50s 1/2 blender wiring.

The El Mocambo Strat and Tele ship as a pair, limited to 25 sets, and arrive in lurid green hard-shell cases emblazoned with the El Mocambo Tavern palm tree logo, and filled with an assortment of case candy.

See Fender Custom Shop for more details.

Fender Custom Shop El Mocambo Stratocaster and Telecaster

(Image credit: Fender)
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.