Fender Custom Shop Buying Guide

Learn what to consider before buying a custom shop model, and explore a collection of the best options.

While Fender and Squier brands offer players fantastic and affordable instruments, Fender Custom Shop instruments are crafted for a more discerning player at a higher price point and largely represent the best of what Fender is capable of.

Master builders craft instruments that honor the traditions of the original Fullerton, CA factory, headed by Leo Fender. The guitars, basses, and amps produced in the Fender Custom Shop are produced in limited quantities and in some cases are one-off instruments designed for an artist or specific player. The best tonewoods, the most skilled builders painstakingly producing instruments with an incredible devotion to detail and craftsmanship.

What to Consider Before You Buy

Price, features, aged or relic'd? Consider this when shopping Custom Shop.

Price Point

  • Fender Custom Shop instruments can vary from $2,000 to well over $10,000 in the case of one-off artist models. Understanding your budget going into the shopping process is key to finding the right instrument for you.

Feature Set

  • Most Custom Shop pieces come with neck radii and contours, pickup configurations, hardware, and finishes you will be familiar with. Checking the specs on the neck or the output rating of the pickups will help you zero in on the instrument you're after.

  • In some cases, players are looking for an instrument as art. To that end, looking to the Artisan Series for exotic woods, figured tops and necks will help you in your quest for something truly unique.

Aging and Relics

  • Just like pre-ripped jeans, some people love it and some people hate it. You'll typically see items listed as "Heavy Relic" or "Light Relic" which suggest the amount of aging done to the guitar.

  • With light aging, expect to see some scuffs, scratches, and dents in the body and some light discoloration of the fretboard. With heavy aging, you'll see much more prominent "wear," like an exposed refinish job showing the "original" color underneath, or heavy marking around the frets.

  • To us, where aging can be the most useful (if less aesthetic) is on the back of the neck. When stripping away the finish on the neck and rubbing with certain antiquing oils, the neck can feel more organic and more like a true vintage guitar.

Availability

  • Fender Custom Shop guitars are often produced in limited numbers and available exclusively through certain retailers. The beauty of shopping for Custom Shop guitars on Reverb is that you can browse all that exclusive inventory as well as last year's models (and the CS models dating back to the late-80s) all in one spot.

  • As always, buying used can save you money on a CS instrument, but more importantly, the breadth in used inventory brings a seemingly limitless amount of options to choose from.

Shop by Model

Recently Listed Used Inventory

Financing available as low as 0%

Current Fender Custom Shop Series

Vintage Custom Series

Recreated and updated early prototypes, as well transitional versions of classic Fender instruments

Artisan Series

Crafted with exotic tonewoods and other artful appointments.

Limited Edition Series

Limited runs with design upgrades typically reserved for artist models.

Postmodern Series

Reimagined vintage Fender designs, with modern features and build materials.

Time Machine Series

Built with period-correct techniques and tools, and relic aging added for extra vintage mojo.

The Dream Factory

Fender Custom Shop from 1987 to 1998.

The Fender Custom Shop was founded in 1987 by Bill Schultz, a few years after CBS sold the company. John Page and Michael Stevens were the first two master builders at the Custom Shop and ushered in an 11-year run referred to as "The Dream Factory."

It’s widely understood that under Page and Stevens’ leadership, the Custom Shop grew into a hotbed of guitar-building creativity. Some of the first relic guitars were produced in this era, alongside collaborations with artists like Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend and brands like Harley Davidson and Playboy.

More importantly, the culture fostered new luthiers to join the Custom Shop—builders like John Suhr, Gene Baker, Mark Kendrick, and many more offered their visions for what a custom Fender instrument could be.

Fender Custom Shop Specialty Shops

Browse exclusive inventory and custom builds from top shops on Reverb.

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Editorial content by Jim Tuerk