The 10 Flashiest Custom Shop Fenders on Reverb Right Now

The Fender Custom Shop celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The flagship workshop of the Fender family came to life in 1987 as part of a major effort to return to the legacy of craft and quality set forth by Leo Fender. Today, the Custom Shop includes a stable of "Master Builders," like Todd Krause and John Cruz, who are sort of like The Avengers of American electric guitar craft.

That original mission of handbuilt excellence has remained absolutely core to Custom Shop team since its founding. Yet over the decades, its output has expanded far beyond the standard '50s Tele Reissues and Clapton "Blackie" Strat tributes to include guitars that are more artwork than instrument.

Oftentimes, these guitars are built as statement pieces for events like NAMM or are commissioned to commemorate some other anniversary or occasion. Some are finished in-house by the likes of inlay master Yuriy Shishkov, while other projects see the Custom Shop teaming up with outside artists to produce extremely limited runs.

These guitars are clearly intended more for collectors to display than for working musicians to play. But since we can never resist showing you some of the more eye-catching instruments we come across, we thought we'd take some time this week to honor the Shop's 30 years with a look at a few of its boldest guitars currently for sale on Reverb.

Click on the images below to see more images and details about each guitar via the original listing.

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Custom "Crash" Stratocaster

This Stratocaster was part of a series of 50 bodies custom painted by graffiti artist John "Crash" Matos. Each body displayed a different original design, one of which was used by Eric Clapton, consequently driving up the notoriety of this particular series. The guitars were completed by renowned Master Builder Todd Krause.


Dave Newman Thunderbird Tele and Smokin Good Strat

Next up, we have another artist collaboration in the form of two guitars designed by Arizona-based painter and collage artist Dave Newman. Newman has an ongoing relationship with the Custom Shop, and a number of guitars have rolled off the line over the years highlighting his particular blend of western motifs and American interstate imagery. Both guitars were constructed by Fender's Greg Fessler.


1994 Harley Davidson 90th Anniversary and 1999 Ford Mustang 35th Anniversary Chrome Strats

In 1994, Fender released a run of chrome-adorned guitars in celebration of the 90th Anniversary of Harley Davidson. The one shown here is number 92 of 109 built. Five years later, the shop released a similar Ford Mustang design for the 35th anniversary of the classic car. They may have been tempted to make it a Mustang rather than a Strat, but naturally, that model doesn't appeal to the Custom Shop crowd quite as much.

"Retro Decor" Series

Yuriy Shishkov is the Master Builder whose name usually shows up on the more ornate guitars coming out of the Custom Shop. Take this recent "Retro Decor" series. Each guitar was inspired by a wallpaper style of the past, including a '70s cross stitching pattern, a vintage stamp pattern, and a '40s floral motif.


Low Rider Stratocaster by Troy Lee Designs

Continuing on the automotive theme, this "Low Rider" Stratocaster was a collaboration between Todd and Troy Lee Designs, a custom painter and designer of motocross helmets and other racing gear. Like Fender, Troy Lee Designs is based in Corona, California, which explains the affinity the two companies have for working together.


2014 Prestige Hermitage Stratocaster by Yuriy Shishkov

Clocking in as the most expensive guitar on the list is this one-of-a-kind guitar finished by Yuriy Shiskov in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Stratocaster and 260th anniversary of the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg. According to the listing, the guitar's festooning incorporates 556 diamonds, 281 emeralds, 100 rubies, 70 sapphires, and 75 feet of 18-karat gold fretwire. Click on the image to see more detailed shots of this guitar and its intricate adornments.


1924 Grand Prix Stratocaster

Not all of Mr. Shishkov's pieces include a collection of jewels worthy of an elaborate, Ocean's 11-style heist. Take this Strat, which honors the Art Deco aesthetic of a '20s era racing poster. This guitar was on hand at NAMM in January and comes packaged with a charming, color-coordinated model roadster.


Greg Fessler "Boot Artwork" Telecaster

Like the Dave Newman guitars shown above, this Greg Fessler build brings a particular western theme to the Tele. As you can see in the images, this "Boot Artwork" replicates a patchwork of various leather pieces and embellishments making it a few notches more countrified than your standard Telecaster.


Madison Roy Florasplash Telecaster

Madison Roy is a relatively new addition to the list of Custom Shop artist collaborators, and a crop of her neo-psychedelic pieces were on display at NAMM. When we talked to Madison then, she told us that some of her Fenders glow under blacklight. This one was completed by Master Builder Greg Fessler.



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