NAMM 2019: Fender Custom Shop's astonishing Annual collection on show

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NAMM 2019: Fender's Custom Shop offering is always one of the most anticipated attractions at NAMM, and this year's astonishing array of oddball innovation, creativity and out-and-out bling doesn't disappoint.

The Annual collection is an unashamed exercise in one-upmanship, designed to showcase what Fender's top master builders and their teams can achieve when let off the leash.

“The Annual Collections give our Master Builders and Fender Custom Shop Teambuilt craftspeople a chance to experiment with new ideas,” said Mike Lewis, VP of Product Development at Fender Custom Shop. “There’s a reason everyone in the guitar world calls Fender Custom Shop ‘The Dream Factory.’ We create guitars players never thought were possible, and continue to step up our game, surprising them with something new each year.”

In particular, the new Prestige collection is making its debut in Annaheim, featuring more one-of-a-kind 'Masterbuilt' guitars and basses, along with some eye-watering price tags.

“Our Fender Custom Shop Master Builders continue to amaze players with the unique talent and creativity they pour into the annual Prestige Collection,” Lewis said. “In the last year, we’ve added two new Master Builders at the Shop – Ron Thorn and Kyle McMillin, who have added new twists and flavors to our lineup.”

Here, we're showcasing highlights from Fender's Master Builders, in Fender's own words. 

Luna Y Sol by Jason Smith - £10,899.00

Jason Smith’s Luna Y Sol is a custom Precision Bass inspired by his meeting with artist Madeline Hanlon at last year’s Winter NAMM show. Hanlon is known for her artistic style of wood burning, which was integrated into the Mexican folk art sun and moon design. Smith’s favorite aspect of the bass is its overall aesthetic appeal – from the detailed wood-burned image and thematic red coral inlays to the rich, warm wood tones, smooth blend of colours and the feel of the satin lacquer topcoat. “This bass feels amazingly comfortable, has a nice medium weight, and the sound of the Josefina Campos overwound pickups just gives the player a sonic experience like a P-Bass on steroids,” Smith said. “This bass just seems to have it all, style, class, and tone!”

Hawaiian Fish Hook Telecaster by Dennis Galuszka - £14,599.00

Dennis Galuszka’s Hawaiian Fish Hook Telecaster was inspired by Galuszka’s love of Hawaiian culture, where his in-laws are from. The Telecaster features a vintage pickup and rope binding on the hook - the first of its kind on a guitar. “I wanted to build something masculine and tough-looking, but still simple,” Galuszka said. “This instrument is for players that feel in charge when they walk on stage with a minimalist guitar.” 

Spalted Maple Telecaster by Dale Wilson - £6,599.00

Dale Wilson’s Spalted Maple Telecaster was inspired by a singular piece of wood and unique acoustic vibe of Fender Custom Shop Founding Master Builder Fred Stuart’s Founders Design Herringbone Telecaster. The guitar features a Violin Burst that highlights the beauty of the spalted maple top, herringbone binding and P90 pickups in conjunction with a handwound Josephina Broadcaster pickup. Ideal for any player or collector who appreciates exotic wood guitars with a wide range of tones, the Spalted Maple Telecaster makes its debut at Winter NAMM 2019. 

Goldfish Stratocaster by Todd Krause - £12,849.00

Todd Krause’s Goldfish Stratocaster was inspired by two guitars he previously built for NAMM, a Trout guitar and Weiner Dog Stratocaster, with the two ideas colliding into one. The guitar features inlay work from Principal Master Builder Ron Thorn and detailed goldfish-inspired artwork by Sarah Gallenberger. 

Battle of Missionary Ridge Tele by Greg Fessler - £9,349.00

Greg Fessler’s Battle of Missionary Ridge Tele was inspired by the famous Civil War battle fought November 25, 1863 near Chatanooga, Tennessee. The wood tells a unique story and was sourced from Capital Park, which is located alongside the California State Capitol building in Sacramento, Calif. In 1897, The Daughters of the Army of the Grand Republic donated several saplings that were gathered from major battlefields of the Civil War and carefully transplanted into the rich California soil as a lasting memorial to those who lost their lives in the war. Those trees reside in an area of Capitol Park called “Memorial Grove.” This guitar is made from wood derived from tree No. 125, which was removed due to heart rot and instability of limbs. The tree and its memory live on in this exemplary Telecaster guitar. 

Exotic Thinline Stratocaster by John Cruz - £11,299.00

John Cruz’s Exotic Thinline Stratocaster uses beautiful exotic hardwoods with character as well as a custom inlay design. The orientation of the Claro walnut combined with the Inlay scheme help glorify the natural beauty of this wood. Ideal for players and collectors that appreciate breathtaking hardwoods, this guitar combines ultimate playability, a classic body shape and the feel of a Fender Stratocaster. 

Coronado Antigua Burst by Ron Thorn - £15,549.00

Ron Thorn’s Coronado is his fresh take on the classic Coronado model using a laminated/pressed arch top and back with an alder rim and center block. Custom-made pickups were designed specifically for this guitar, while the RSD J-Bridge and tailpiece round out the hardware. A unique dove-tail bolt-on neck joint, tilt-back headstock, and a variety of other refinements make this a finely crafted instrument worthy of the “Custom Shop’s Finest” designation.

Prestige Frosted Duco Tele by Scott Buehl - £8,549.00

There are many compelling features about this Tele starting with the Red frosted duco lacquer finish. Duco finishes were first made popular in the 1930s. As the duco paint dries, it crystalizes and creates a stunning look. The guitar hosts an alder body, mahogany neck, original Blackguard Tele (bridge) and a TV Jones Classic Filtertron (neck) pickups. There is an RSD Tele bridge and Schaller M6 mini tuning machines for ultimate stability and intonation. Buehl added a custom clear pickguard to allow the duco finish to shine through. All these features together create a classic Tele with a host of never-before-seen features.

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NAMM 2019 - all the news

The dust is settling, but our ears are still ringing. You'll find all the stories that counted in our massive news hub. Below, enjoy our editors' findings as we regrouped at the end of the show.

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