The Fender Custom Shop has been showing off again and has just unveiled its unique Prestige Collection and limited edition Annual Collection, and they are surely some of the finest new electric guitars we have seen in 2022.
Where to start with the Prestige Collection? This is something different. There are high-end electric guitars and there are high-end electric guitars, and then you have the Prestige Collection, with each model designed and built by a Master Builder from the Fender Custom Shop. As such, each instrument in the Prestige Collection a one-off, with no spec spared in their construction.
The Annual Collection, meanwhile, offers a dozen-strong special run of top-shelf instruments that introduces the latest innovations from the Custom Shop.
Many of such innovations involve the lacquer treatments and finishes, and the art of making a new guitar that feels and sounds like it was from a bygone era, toured into the ground. But also including new pickups and writing configurations, and instruments that you won’t find in Fender’s mainline series.
Guitars such as the Limited Edition Dual P90 Telecaster Relic, which as the name implies has a pair of Custom Shop P-90 pickups sitting in a Thinline parchment-bound ash body. It’s available in Pink Paisley, Black Paisley and Blue Floral, finishes offset to a T with a single-ply parchment pickguard, and the sawed-off Tele bridge with RSD compensated brass saddles looks pretty neat too.
The Limited Edition Roasted '61 Strat Super Heavy Relic, meanwhile is available in a number of finish options, including Aged 3-color sunburst, Aged Natural, Aged Sherwood Green Over 3-Color Sunburst and Aged Black Over 3-Color Sunburst.
The big news here lies beyond that worn-in aesthetic, with this ’61 Stratocaster comprising a two-piece roasted alder body, with a roasted quartersawn maple neck and a flat-lam 9.5” rosewood fingerboard. Jumbo frets augment the feel, while a trio of Custom Shop hand-wound Texas Special single-coils and 1/2 Blender Strat Wiring with Tone-Saver Bleed offer an off-menu set of tones.
Turning the clock back a decade, to 1954 to be precise, is the Limited Edition Fat ‘50s Strat Relic. Here, you have the soft V profile neck, hand-wound Fat ‘50s Strat single-coils and matching wiring, an alder Body, and a rift-sawn one-piece maple neck. And judging by the pictures, it look like there were a lot of cigarettes smoked in the Custom Shop to get that maple such a shade of yellow.
Those who prefer a more subtle approach to relic’ing might appreciate the Limited Edition ‘50s Twisted Tele Custom Journeyman Relic. It has a two-piece select ash body – again, with parchment binding – with a bolt-on one-piece 2A flame maple neck that has a 1957 Soft "V" profile.
Custom Shop hand-wound Twisted Tele pickups supply the noise, and the finish options comprise Chocolate 3-Color Sunburst, Aged Ocean Turquoise, and Aged Tahitian Coral.
More offbeat is the Limited Edition Cunife Tele Custom Journeyman Relic, which has a Bigsby B5 for vintage wobble, a Cunife Wide-Range humbucker in the neck and a hand-wound Texas Special single-coil at the bridge. The tortoiseshell ‘guard on the roasted pine body looks the bee’s knees – the finish is officially Aged Amber Natural – as does the roasted 2A Birdseye Maple Neck.
The Limited Edition ’55 Bone Tone Strat Relic is another straight of the old-school and partners a two-piece select ash body with a 2A flame maple neck that has a genteel 1954 “Soft V” profile.
The ’55 Bone Tone has a trio of Custom Shop Hand-Wound Master Design “Bone-Tone” Strat single-coils and a Fat '50s 1/2 Blender Strat wiring with five-position blade switch, volume and two tone controls. The gold anodized aluminium pickguard should look good on Instagram. As do the finish options: Aged Honey Blonde, Aged Gold, and Wide Fade 2-Color Sunburst.
Arriving in Aged Black, Aged Gold Sparkle and Aged Magenta Sparkle, the Limited Edition Caballo Tono Ligero Relic looks like a rockabilly punk dream machine, with a pair of TV Jones Classic Pickups on a distressed Thinline Tele body. Like the P-90 Telecaster, it has a cut Tele bridge and single-ply parchment ‘guard. The maple fingerboard has some city miles on it.
If the Fender Custom Shop’s Super Heavy Relic is your speed, the Limited Edition Red Hot Strat is a superlative example of the species. It has a two-piece select alder body, 2A flame maple neck, a trio of hand-wound Red Hot Strat pickups and Vintage Modified #2 Wiring with Tone-Saver Bleed.
That vintage synchronised vibrato is so convincingly aged you might have to resist the urge to give it the once over with an antibacterial wipe before playing. Your finishes, or what’s left of them, include Faded Aged Chocolate 3-Color Sunburst, Aged Dirty White Blonde and Super Faded Aged Lake Placid Blue. Very cool.
Now, here is a model we’d love to see in the Mexican-built Player or Player Plus Series. It’s a Limited Edition HS Telecaster Custom Relic, that has the sharp treble of a Texas Special single-coil at the bridge, and the power and warmth of a Josefina Hand-Wound Paul Waller humbucker at the neck. The roasted 3A flame maple neck is total luxury. Finish options include Aged Charcoal Frost Metallic and 3-Color Sunburst.
The final Annual Collection six-string is the Limited Edition Tomatillo Tele Journeyman Relic, which comes in Natural Blonde, Tomatillo Green and Super Faded Aged Tahitian Coral, and takes its name from its pair of hand-wound Tomatillo single-coils in neck and bridge positions. The wiring conforms to ’51 Modified Nocaster specs. The one-piece rift-sawn maple neck has a ’57-style Soft V profile.
Rounding out the new Annual Collection models we have two bass guitars. The first is a Limited Edition P Bass Special Journeyman Relic that looks the part in 3-Color Sunburst, Aged Dakota Red and Aged Sherwood Green Metallic, and has Custom Shop Hand-Wound '75 Jazz Bass (Bridge) and ’65-’70 Precision Bass pickups.
The second is the Limited Edition Custom Jazz Bass Heavy Relic, which is available in Aged Natural, Aged Black and Faded Aged 3-Color Sunburst.
As for the Prestige Collection, helpfully, the Master Builders behind them have made a video to walk us through the inspiration, build and sounds of their instruments. And here they are…
Greg Fessler Prestige Ghost Town Tele, Relic with Artwork By Dave Newman – £15,699.00 / €18,299 / $17,500
Dennis Galuszka Prestige Moto Jazzmaster in Bronze Sunburst – £13,499 / €15,699 / $15,000
Jason Smith Prestige Electric Sea Gems Esquire – £11,699 / $13,000 / €13,599
Kyle McMillin Prestige Thinline Telecaster in Tobacco Sunburst – £9,899 / €11,499 / $11,000
Todd Krause Prestige Jazzmaster in Olympic White – £10,099 / $11,250 / €11,799
Ron Thorn Prestige Hawaiian Dream Resonator in Natural – £32,699 / €38,099 / $36,500
Yuriy Shishkov Prestige Quilted '60s Stratocaster – £8,599 / €9,999 / $9,500
Vincent Van Trigt 1952 Peacock Precision Bass – £20,199 / €23,499 / $22,500
For more information, head over to the Fender Custom Shop where you can download also download a catalogue of all its 2022 models.