Fender has collaborated with legendary Hawaiian artist Heath Brown on what might possible be the ultimate electric guitar for surf rock. Just add a spring reverb pedal of your choice and you are all set.
The Art Canvas Esquire Heather Brown sees one of Fender's earliest designs resplendent in a stained-glass style landscape joining sea land and sky in harmony.
These Art Canvas models deliberately blur the line between the art world and playing the guitar. A limited run and available exclusively in Japan, Esquire's such as Brown's and fellow surf artist Yusuke Hanai's will look the part in a gallery space.
But this being Fender, and the Esquire such as it is, these are instruments that can be played. Though you might want to be careful with the finish.
Spec-wise, the Heather Brown Esquire has a solid ash body with a bolt-on maple neck carved into a U profile. The Esquire is as primitive as guitar designs come, with a single pickup design and a switching system that has inspired the likes of Brad Paisley to mod it with a second neck single-coil and mount it under the pickguard.
There is none of that here. The American Vintage '58 Tele single-coil pickup is controlled by a three-way blade switch and master volume and tone controls. But as with similarly minimalist guitar designs, there is a deceptively wide range of tones if you look for them.
In position one, the bridge pickup – or rather, the only pickup is active and the tone control is bypassed. In position two, the tone knob comes into play, while in position three the tone control is once again bypassed and a preset treble roll-off is activated for a pseudo-neck pickup vibe.
The Heather Brown Esquire comes fitted with a three-saddle ashtray-style Tele bridge. It is strung through the body and has a trio of compensated brass saddles. There is also a set of vintage-style chrome tuners, and matching knurled chrome control knobs.
While the top of the guitar is decorated with art, the sides are finished in white, with the back of the instrument is left natural and finished in Satin Polyurethane. The neck, too, has a satin finish.
Guitars such as this and Yusuke Hanai's only add to the growing suspicion that Japan gets all the cool stuff. If you are lucky enough to be based there or visiting, you can pick up one of these for a cool ¥165,000, which is a little over a grand in sterling or dollars. See Fender Japan for more details.