Skip to main content

Fender Custom Shop Celebrates 30th Anniversary with Epic Founders Design Collection

When it comes to musical instruments, it doesn’t get much better than Fender.

The Southern California guitar company has been producing the tools of bands everywhere for more than 50 years. While they’re known for quality standards like the Telecaster and Esquire, another side of the company produces some of the most sought-after and specialized instruments around.

The Fender Custom Shop has produced one-of-a-kind pieces for everyone from Eric Clapton to Bob Dylan. Over its 30-year existence, it has cemented itself as the standard bearer of specialized guitars for a who’s who of collectors and master musicians.

“These guitars embody everything the Custom Shop is and represents,” Custom Shop VP Mike Lewis says, speaking about the company’s 2017 Founders Design Collection.

The eight-piece series is a celebration of the original group of designers that built the Custom Shop’s reputation. Each guitar is a Fender model where the only limits were the imagination of the individual designer. One guitar will be released each month starting in March with the Michael Stevens Esquire. Each guitar will be limited to 30 examples.

“When you set these designers free, these guitars end up in the history books and people look at them for years,” Lewis says.

As for the purchasing process, Lewis imagines collectors and musicians alike will be lining up to get their hands on one of these works of musical art. They’ll only be available at high-level Fender dealers and should there be more demand than supply, Fender may implement a lottery system for buyers.

However, Lewis did hint that in this competitive collector’s market, some are already pre-sold.

“It’s a safe assumption,” he says.

Raising the bar further, Fender was able to reassemble most of a founding cast that’s now working in their own shops or on other endeavors. Only George Blanda remains at the company. His Jazzmaster (slated for May) is a unique reflection on 1960s design with a tortoise shell pickguard and rosewood fretboard.

Beyond being musical eye candy, these guitars showcase a number of custom finishes and hardware that set the tone for future Fender releases. Lewis noted the Gene Baker “Stelecaster,” (a past concept, merging the famous Stratocaster and Telecaster styles), but with body contours and cutaways that’re a stark contrast from its early predecessors (not to mention the gorgeous fade finish).

If the $5,000-$8,000 price tags are out of reach, you can still admire the Custom Shop’s work through a retrospective coffee table book recently released as a supplement. Fender Custom Shop at 30 Years by Steve Pitkin includes 72 pictures spanning the Shop’s work with commentary those who created – and played – much of what the Shop created. It’s a welcome complement – especially when you peruse stunning pieces like Buddy Guy’s 2005 Custom Telecaster. It’s a vibrant blue with his signature polka dot style. Each guitar is akin to a new footnote in the history of these important instruments.

For the true music collector, these guitars are a worthy investment. It’s an assembly of work reflecting instruments that shaped the development of modern music. Lewis speaks about these quintessentially Fender guitars in the same tenor as museum-quality pieces.

“When you look at everyone’s work (on these guitars), it’s like a Beatles song,” Lewis says. “They’re all different, but you know the song is a Beatles song.”

Geoff Nudelman
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Geoff is a former contributor to The Manual. He's a native Oregonian who’s always up for a good challenge and a great hike…
This is what would happen if an asteroid hit Earth
Watch this scary video simulation of an asteroid's impact on earth
Earth as seen from outer space

You've seen the scenario in movies and TV shows: There's an asteroid headed for the planet, and it's threatening to wipe out all life on the planet. Of all the mysteries of what's out there in space, there's something uniquely terrifying about the prospect of a chunk of rock heading toward us fast enough to smash into Earth. Now you can enjoy a lovingly rendered video showing the destruction that might occur if such an impact were ever to happen.
Watch what would happen if an asteroid collided with Earth
A now-removed viral post on the Absolute Units subreddit shows what would happen to the planet if the largest known asteroid were to collide with the planet. Unsurprisingly, the 338-mile/545-kilometer-wide space rock would totally annihilate every living thing on Earth, destroying vast landscapes and covering the planet in smoke and fire. You can also view the full video (set to Pink Floyd’s “The Great Gig in the Sky.”)
Massive destruction
An asteroid hitting Earth is called an impact event. And while these are rare, the effects of one would be massively damaging to all life on the planet—and the asteroid wouldn’t need to be 338 miles across to do so. Even smaller asteroids can cause incredible destruction.

Read more
Do UFC fighters wear cups? A rule that changed UFC forever
Israel Adesanya fighting at UFC 234.

Before he appeared as the character Random Task in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and California inmate #AI7266, Joe Son was just an up-and-coming mixed martial arts fighter. The Ultimate Fighting Championship was only a few years old, and making it into the quarterfinals of UFC 4 was a big deal. Son was confident facing off against Keith Hackney. But a recently changed rule was about to end Son's run, contributing to the reformation of the sport and the establishment of all UFC men wearing cups. After the events of the evening, it was definitely for the better.
History of UFC's Cup Rule
When the UFC debuted in 1993, it only had a few rules, one of which was outlawing groin strikes. What would happen if a fighter struck his opponent in the Tractor Supply? It's hard to say, as it never happened. But with pre-internet viral fame of the UFC and its no-holds-barred bad boy image came an even more lax set of rules, and beginning at UFC 2, punches and kicks to the Orange Julius were fair game. It's with this switch that Son and Hackney met head on.

The fight started with the pair exchanging shots, but soon they clenched and Son, the stronger man, cinched a headlock around Hackney's neck, pushing him across the ring. As the two jockeyed for control, they fell to the mat, and Hackney, with his head still trapped in Son's armpit, ended up on top. Son did not want to open himself up to strikes, so he held on, while Hackney made it his priority to escape and take advantage. Thus, the stage was set for the most brutal ground-and-pound ever filmed.

Read more
F1 Bahrain GP live stream: How to watch Formula 1 for free
Formula 1 driver exiting turn.

Formula 1 is back with the first race of the championship underway later today. The Bahrain Grand Prix is sure to be a fantastic start to the 2024 F1 schedule. If you’re keen to check out the F1 Bahrain live stream, you’re in luck. We’ve got everything you need to know about how to watch the Bahrain Grand Prix for free today, along with some insight on what to do if you’re traveling.
How to watch Bahrain Grand Prix for free
If you’re based in Austria or Luxembourg, you can check out the Bahrain Grand Prix for free along with all of the 75th F1 World Championship. That’s thanks to there being free streams through ORF in Austria and RTL Zwee in Luxembourg. If you’re from either country and traveling abroad, you can still access these by using a VPN like NordPN (one of the best VPNs). It’s a good solution for ensuring you can catch the race in your first language rather than being stuck with it in English. It’s entirely safe and legal to do so for residents of the country in question.

If you’re in the US and want to stream it in English, you can sign up for a Fubo free trial. The streaming service is perfect for sports fans with plenty of options including ESPN which is the channel showing the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Fubo free trial lasts seven days so there’s plenty of time to see what else it has to offer with dozens of channels to choose from. Just remember to cancel it before the free trial ends so you don’t pay a cent. Fubo has sports channels like CBS Sports Network, NFL Network, NBA TV, NHL Network, Fox Sports, along with dozens of other TV channels to suit your mood.

Read more