First Look at the Fender Custom Shop 2019 Prestige Collection
From exotic finishes to ornate carvings, the Prestige Collection showcased the incredible talents of the Fender Custom Shop.
By Mike Duffy
Every year at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, Calif., the Fender Custom Shop pulls out all the stops with the annual Prestige Collection.
From exotic woods to intricate carvings to eye-popping finishes, the Prestige Collection showcases the unique talents and creativity of the Custom Shop's Master Builders. And this year, the Custom Shop has added two Master Builders - Ron Thorn and Kyle McMillin - to grow the Prestige Collection to 11 incredible instruments.
Get a closer look at the 2019 Prestige Collection below.
(L to R)
Kyle McMillin's Exotic Hybrid
This Exotic Hybrid was inspired by a design Master Builder Kyle McMillin made in his garage nine years ago. "I made some minor changes that I wish I had done back then, and I also redesigned the guitar to incorporate Fender's traditional body shape and headstock," McMillin said. The guitar features a Stratocaster body and Telecaster headstock; a directly mounted TB4 humbucking pickup; and a custom control configuration designed so the switch is out of the way when strumming.
"In the past, I would accidentally hit the selector switch on a Stratocaster while playing," he said. "In this design, the switch is still within the swing of your arm's reach, but just a little further from your standard strumming region, so you can't accidentally bump the switch." The Exotic Hybrid is ideal for players who love an exotic look and variation on Fender's traditional designs.
Dale Wilson's Spalted Maple Telecaster
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.
Ron Thorn's Coronado Antigua Burst
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.
(L to R)
Scott Buehl's Frosted Duco Tele
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.
Jason Smith's Luna y Sol
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 colors 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!"
John Cruz's Exotic Thinline Stratocaster
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.
(L to R)
Dennis Galuzka's Hawaiian Fish Hook Telecaster
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."
Todd Krause's Goldfish Stratocaster
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.
Greg Fessler's Battle of Missionary Ridge Tele
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.
Yuriy Shishkov's Silence
Yuriy Shishkov's Silence Stratocaster is an abstract art guitar piece with watercolor painting, silver cloisonné, rubies, diamonds and sapphires. It can be viewed from 360 degrees, and Shishkov encourages those witnessing it to create their own "meaning" as an observer.