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Fender launches top-tier Custom Shop signature Stratocaster for Johnny A.

Fender Johnny A Signature Stratocaster
(Image credit: Fender)

The Fender Custom Shop has spec’d up a signature Stratocaster with Johnny A and Master Builder Ron Thorn, a model that might just represent the acme of high-end electric guitars – at least for Strat fans.

And Johnny A., aka John Antonopoulos, is very much a Strat fan. Like many aficionados of Fender’s most-famous double-cut, the Malden, Massachusetts guitar legend has a favourite period in mind when thinking vintage Stratocasters, with his new signature guitar inspired by models made between 1963 and ’66. 

Offered in Time Capsule Lydian Gold Metallic and Sunset Glow Metallic, both equally easy on the eye, the Johnny A. Signature Stratocasters have two-piece alder bodies with an off-centre seam, and a quite exquisite neck of AAA birdseye maple that’s carved into a ’65-style Oval C profile, and topped with a 7.25” radius round-lam rosewood fingerboard that seats 21 medium-jumbo frets.

Johnny A.'s reputation precedes him as a solo artist with a formidable discography, and as one of the finest rock, blues and jazz sidemen in the business, having played with the likes of Delaney and Bonnie, Derek and the Dominos keyboardist Bobby Whitlock and CCR drummer Doug Clifford. 

In 2003, Gibson produced a Johnny A. signature model – a stately double-cut semi designed to combine the sounds of Les Paul with the jazz guitar sounds of his 295. The Strat soon came together with plenty of input from the man himself.

“I had a lot of discussions about pickups to match my tone and style,” says Antonopoulos, “I was really able to go in and sculpt and dial in the specs for these guitars. I’m hoping that when the guitars are released to the public, it's the specs people enjoy,” 

Fender Johnny A Signature Stratocaster

(Image credit: Fender)

As ever with the Fender Custom Shop models, attention to detail is everything. Its trio of pickups are mounted on a three-ply mint green pickguard, and comprise hand-wound 11/56 single-coils, with the bridge pickup incorporating a steel plate on the bottom that expands the pickup’s frequency response and gives it that little extra oomph. 

These are selected via a five-way switch, and controlled with Strat Blender wiring with Tone-Saver bleed circuitry. The Closet Classic chrome hardware adds to the vintage vibe – the look as though the instrument has been preserved since the ‘60s and is just now coming out for some air.

It is fitted with a Custom Shop synchronized tremolo, vintage-style tuners, has a bone nut and wing string tree with tall metal spacer.

These super-premium instruments ship in a deluxe hard-shell guitar case, inside which you will find a custom guitar strap and a certificate of authenticity. The Lydian Gold Metallic model is priced $5,200. The Sunset Glow Metallic model is priced $5,450.

See the Fender Custom Shop (opens in new tab) for more details.

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.