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FDP Forum / Fender Custom Shop / So this is a Custom Shop Strat ??


New Zealand

May 8th, 2012 02:40 PM   Edit   Profile  

Firstly I apologize for starting another thread related to this matter..(see my 1string misses pup)
I recently purchased a Custom shop NOS ex the UK.
It's a Hank Marvin look alike. (theShadows)
I first noticed that the first string missed the bridge pickup very badly. It also sounded very weak on the 1st string.
I also noticed that the 1st string was hard to the edge of the fret board suggesting neck misalignment.
I emailed and sent photos to Fender Customcare. No reply, sent it again ...no reply. Sent it again and got a reply from Michael.
He quickly diagnosed from the pix that the wrong pickup had been fitted to the bridge. ( the poles are further apart on the bridge pup).. He also concurred that the neck needed shifting slightly. He quickly arranged for the NZ agent to look at this but I chose to do the repair myself rather than let someone fiddle with it.
He quickly airfreighted a new pup to NZ. I was also wanting to fit a pearl scratch plate which he kindly donated one to me along with four packs of strings and string winder.

Several issues arise..

Why did it take so long to get a response from ?

Why is a custom made guitar supplied in such a state. Remember we are talking about a guitar that costs three times as much as a standard USA Strat here in NZ. I presume that what we are paying for is that extra care that should be taken in production thus ensuring a superior instrument. In fact mine is worse than my USA and Deluxe models.
Did I just pay three times as much to get a nice V sticker on the headstock ???

So what is a Custom Shop guitar... When it's worse than a standard factory version. ??

I also asked for the email address of the Custom Shop manager this was not responded to. I asked for him to be made aware of this issue.. If they did he didn't bother to respond to me.

I like the guitar other than these issues.

I give Michael in CS customer support a big thumbs up as he made things happen as soon as he realized there was indeed an issue. He also took pro active steps such as high speed freight (not cheap to NZ) and donating the scratch plate.

I do wonder why a Custom Shop guitar ever got out of the factory like this ??? I have no answer for this.
Are these "Custom Shop guitars" really hand prepped or are we paying a massive premium for no real improvement over standard factory.
Such an error as this I could maybe understand on a routine factory run but on a custom shop. Mmmmmmmm !
Two serious faults on a Custom shop guitar which is hand prepped seems way out of whack..... Maybe we just pay a huge premium for the nice V sticker. How would you ever know ?
So even at this level check carefully what you are buying..

I am going on holiday to Anahiem in a few weeks I may try to see the CS manager and ask him how and why this can happen.



Contributing Member

USA/Taos, NM

May 8th, 2012 04:59 PM   Edit   Profile  

I can understand your disappointment. Especially for those overseas, the premium you pay for guitars, and especially a Custom Shop, is very significant.

The folks in the Custom Shop are humans too. And therein lies the problem. I think they, too, wind up with a labyrinth of miscommunication, etc. I purchased a Custom Shop Strat...I don't know...maybe it was 7 years ago or so. It was made beautifully from excellent materials. However, I thought it peculiar that it came with a rag-tag batch of strings some of which were rusted (this guitar had NOT been sold previously, and was new in the box from Sweetwater--a very reputable dealer). Inside the case, in a sealed plastic bag marked "CS Custom Classic," was a tremolo arm for a completely different bridge (the Custom Classic bridge being similar to those on an American Deluxe--i.e., no threads, etc.). Just a few odd things that made me wonder if in fact anyone was really paying attention.

I also own a high-end Guild acoustic, which of course is owned by Fender. When it turned out the truss rod and neck were seriously defective (they have a lifetime warranty), it had to go back to the Guild/Fender lutherie shop in Nashville. A very small workshop with just a few very, very talented craftsmen in it. But my connection for information was through the Fender headquarters phone reps in Scottsdale, AZ. And they were unfortunately clueless and merely rap-talked me on the few times I spoke with them. It was actually quite offensive being addressed like I was a 15 year old (I'm 61). Not that a courteous and respectful 15 year old should be talked-down to either.

But after almost 5 months of being stonewalled, I wrote a respectful but forceful letter to the CEO of Fender, with the entire interaction with his staff detailed in chronological fashion. I sent the letter Certified Mail/Return Receipt. Within a week I got a direct phone call from the manager of the Guild/Fender lutherie shop in Nashville. He apologized profusely and explained the difficulties they were dealing with in the shop at that time. He then spelled out very specifically the schedule of what would be (finally!) happening to my Guild in the following month. He also told me to call him directly any time. Which I told him I would not do; it was my hope that he was telling me the truth and that I had no interest in interrupting his day and the work of his skilled craftsmen just to give me periodic updates.

He kept true to his word and the guitar was ultimately repaired and delivered as promised. An incredibly stellar job, I might add. At which point I then wrote again to the Fender CEO to let him know that the guys working in his shop in Nashville are skilled beyond any measure one could hope for; it was the communication with the client which was lacking. Still, I wanted him to know how much I appreciated the quality work and deliberateness of the Nashville lutherie staff.

These folks have all the skills necessary to do the job right. But sometimes you have to go to extra lengths in the people you contact to make sure the fire gets lit under them.

I agree with your basic premise, though; a guitar, especially coming out of the Custom Shop, should be as near perfect as possible. One would expect that to be one of the highest priorities of the Custom Shop staff.

Fistfull of Clams


Bethesda, Land of Song
May 18th, 2012 03:04 AM   Edit   Profile  

I understand your frustrations; humans are humans but things like wrong pickups being fitted shouldn't really happen though. Necks needing re-alignment can happen - a knock to the case could result in the neck shifting slightly, but they shouldn't leave the factory like that.

My Rory Strat arrived with cross head screws holding the selector switch in lieu of the slot head screws it really should have been fitted with. However, one email to Fender UK and a replecement set of screws was flown over from the USA to me in a matter of days.

What I think this shows is although Fender CS guitars are by and large premium quality instruments, I expect the staff are under massive pressure to meet order numbers, which ultimately leads to things like this happening every once in a while. Should it happen though? Definitley not - at the risk of being flamed I'd point to PRS's attitude to manufacturing as a benchmark for guitars of this price range.

Contributing Member

Riverside, CA

Surf's Up!
May 20th, 2012 07:13 AM   Edit   Profile  

Wait, the Hank Marvin model is basically a 60's Strat, right?

Are you saying that the bridge pickups have a wider magnet pole spacing than the middle and bridge pickup spacings?

Did the new pickup solve your string alignment? I would have thought that your nut was cut improperly or your bridge was mounted slightly off center. Maybe even the neck was out of adjustment (side to side.)

Good luck walking up to the Custom Shop to speak to the manager. It's darn near saying you plan to talk to The President when you visit the White House. They are so busy and don't have time to field frustration questions from people off the street.

So nobody from Fender suggested sending the guitar back to fix? Isn't that what the warranty is for? I would think Fender's warranty would cover that shipping cost as well?



Jun 13th, 2012 04:32 AM   Edit   Profile  

Hmmm. I have a 56 nos and the bridge pickup poles don't line up properly with the top e string... I've never witnessed the bridge pup having different spacing! Is this really a thing?!

Contributing Member

Chicago, IL USA

Jun 13th, 2012 05:29 AM   Edit   Profile  

The only pickups I can recall that have a wider spacing to match the strat bridge position is the trembucker and they are humbucker styled.



Jun 14th, 2012 12:21 AM   Edit   Profile  

That's what I thought. Pitts - what pickup did they send you?



Jul 3rd, 2012 03:18 AM   Edit   Profile  

I worked with a German Master Luthier for more than a decade: Man we had a laugh when Fender started the Custom Shop Relics... Remember, it´s an alder body with a bolt on neck, put some PU´s, tuners and a tremolo in it and that´s it - you can do this after some hours of learning. The only difficult work is the painting: for this you need technique and experience ! PU´s handrolled by Abigail - "come on...", to ruin the finish ("Relic) is a great marketing trick for those, who can`t afford and can`t (!) play a vintage strat (because of fretboard radius and neck dimension). To buy a custom shop strat is the same as bying a Porsche: most of them have it, but they will never use it as it was meant to be...!
Just my 2 cents for these ridiculously increased prices for these instruments in the last 5 years !!

Contributing Member


Enjoy it while you have it!
Jul 3rd, 2012 08:59 AM   Edit   Profile  

It may be seen as a joke by some, but Fender Custom Shop have been selling their Relics, at "ridiculously increased prices," for 17 years now, and there is no sign of demand slowing down. The Masterbuilders wait times reflect how busy they are!

Marketing trick? Call it what you like, but it isn't any trick! It is a very successful business!

Contributing Member

USA/Taos, NM

Jul 3rd, 2012 09:38 AM   Edit   Profile  

"Marketing trick? Call it what you like, but it isn't any trick! It is a very successful business!"

...just not everybody's "cup of tea."



Jul 4th, 2012 02:45 AM   Edit   Profile  

In Germany the prices are by now nearly 65 per cent higher than 5 years before... And that has nothing to do with things like taxes, freight costs etc. (the strat isn`t brought to me via a personal salesman in a Lear Jet !)!!

And the neck and body are still produced with a CNC-machine - so the craftsmanship refers to putting the guitar together and in the painting/relicing - W O W.

I forgot to say: I love Fender guitars !!

Jim Bob


Jul 12th, 2012 02:17 PM   Edit   Profile  

Sorry to hear of your frustration, but from what you have shared so far I think that maybe much of your anger is misdirected. What is the name of the music store that sold you an expensive guitar without their apparently having looked it over themselves before letting you have it? Do they have no pride in their dealership? Do they not have anyone capable of setting up a guitar correctly? Any guitar that gets shipped halfway around the world being knocked all about with other cargo needs a looking over and likely a setup. As for the wrong pickup being installed, sure anything is possible when humans are involved, but are you positive that is not something that was done later by someone before you bought the guitar? There are a great many people who are obsessed with changing pickups in their guitars with the faint hope they can make them sound better. And isn't your relationship with Fender's UK distributorship office and not the California office in the USA?

In the end it sounds like the US Fender office did more than bend over backwards to be extra nice and make things right for you, but I hear very little gratitude that they did this when the people who should have been doing it is the UK Fender representatives. They are the ones who are jacking up the prices to import Fenders for sale there.

(This message was last edited by Jim Bob at 04:07 PM, Jul 13th, 2012)

FDP Forum / Fender Custom Shop / So this is a Custom Shop Strat ??

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