Musicians tend to develop special relationships with their instruments. Though some rockers famously trash their gear after shows, many cherish particular pieces of equipment for decades. Eric Clapton once wept after selling one of his prized six-strings at auction. Keith Richards is said to own more than 3,000 guitars. Whether it’s one of many or the only one, every guitar is special to the person who’s playing it. And with Fender’s recently launched ModShop, musicians can customize their guitar to their exact standards.
As design objects, guitars inspire strong feelings in owners and critics alike. Chiefly driven by function and performance, aesthetics are nevertheless essential to the love affair owners have with their guitars. Fender made it possible (and easy) to design an instrument that’s wholly unique. Over 70,000 combinations are possible; ensuring the guitar you set out to build is all yours.
“Our instruments have always had a high degree of customizability,” says Fender Digital’s Chief Product Officer and General Manager Ethan Kaplan. “The more personalized an instrument, the more likely someone is to play it, and at Fender we are all about getting people to play.”
The ModShop experience is best suited toward intermediate or advanced players who know exactly what they’re looking for in a guitar. “They want to play an instrument that reflects their musical preferences and meets their advanced aesthetic desires,” Kaplan explains. “They are at the stage where they have strong opinions on what they like and what they don’t like.”
Though the look of the instrument might be part of the draw, nearly all of the component choices have an impact on the sound of the instrument. After choosing from the four Fender models (the Telecaster, Stratocaster, Precision Bass or Jazz Bass) on offer, users start the customization process. In addition to the orientation of the instrument, there are eight options to obsess over from the body to the fingerboard and everything in between.
“Guitars are fun in that every aspect of them contributes to the tone and sound,” explains Kaplan. “From the wood, to paint, bridge choice, neck wood choice, even the nut—the thing that holds the strings in position. If you want a warm sound for instance, a rosewood neck will get you that.”
Opting for the warm sound of the rosewood neck with the streamlined, monotone look of a vintage blonde body and a parchment pickguard, the impeccable tones and sound was only one of the elements of the custom Stratocaster we noticed on first play. The build quality of the instrument is unrivaled at the sub-$2000 price. Every ModShop guitar is hand-built at the company’s Corona, CA workshop and individually inspected for workmanship.
Build your own custom Fender at the ModShop, where turnaround time is roughly 30 days and prices start at $1650.
Workshop images courtesy of Fender, all others by Hans Aschim