How are the newer Custom Shop Strats? Are they worth it? And...

Jon W

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what do you all think of them compared to pre CBS strats for the price difference. I've been playing a few of the newer ones (wild wood 10s) and some are really good. I've played a few of the pre CBS strats, but it's been a while and I don't remember liking them that much, but I was only playing LPs through old marshalls at the time. Lately I've been playing a lot on my old american standard through an old pro and really starting to meld with it.

Yesterday I played a reissue of a 59 Wild Wood 10 journeyman relic and it kind of got under my skin a bit. And that is why I'm posting this.

So, are the custom shop prices worth it? Are the good ones really that good? Or should I hold out for a player grade pre CBS guitar. Ultimately it's about the instrument and not the value. I've had a few of the mid 80s MIJ and other American Standards, in the past so I know those.
 

Duane_the_tub

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In a word, no. They're Strats. The components are basically the same, whether it's a $450 MIM or a Custom Shop model that costs 10 times that.

Think skin nitro, select woods, hand-wound pickups - it's all marketing jargon. A Squier CV can easily sound just as good as a Masterbuilt CS, and most often does. Expensive Strats are the biggest scam in the game, IMO.
 

CB91710

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Holding out for a CBS is going to be a crap shoot on what you'll get.
CBS was not known for good or consistent quality. There were some real gems, and there were some real stinkers.
My '78 Antigua was a great guitar. My '79 Anniversary was a piece of crap and I returned it after a few days.

Honestly, with the used market having gone crazy over the last year, guitars that you couldn't give away in 1995 are now selling for Custom Shop prices.
I would rather buy new than take my chances with something 40+ years old, particularly with the market flooded with fakes.

The current Custom Shop models are extremely good, but so are the regular production models.
 

my59

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Any one who thinks that there’s no difference between a squire Stratocaster and a master built custom shop Stratocaster has no idea what he's talking about. The custom shop is building great guitars, and have been for a while. They’ve spent the time and money to research what made the best vintage fenders special and build them to great spec so its rare now to get a full-on dog. They also build a wide array of choices.
Anyhow, try out a custom shop and you’ll see how they are high quality professional instruments.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a squire, or any other price point in the fender line. But to state that it’s a scam is ignorance.
 

Jon W

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Any one who thinks that there’s no difference between a squire Stratocaster and a master built custom shop Stratocaster has no idea what he's talking about. The custom shop is building great guitars, and have been for a while. They’ve spent the time and money to research what made the best vintage fenders special and build them to great spec so its rare now to get a full-on dog. They also build a wide array of choices.
Anyhow, try out a custom shop and you’ll see how they are high quality professional instruments.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a squire, or any other price point in the fender line. But to state that it’s a scam is ignorance.
I agree with everything said here.
Squires are not an option. Squire is to CS as Epi is to Historics.

I was really wanting some feedback on the CS guitars compared to the original PRE CBS (before 1965) strats. I played a few of the CS strats and they are good. But I can probably get a player grade PRE CBS for an "affordable price".
 

motowntom

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In a word, no. They're Strats. The components are basically the same, whether it's a $450 MIM or a Custom Shop model that costs 10 times that.

Think skin nitro, select woods, hand-wound pickups - it's all marketing jargon. A Squier CV can easily sound just as good as a Masterbuilt CS, and most often does. Expensive Strats are the biggest scam in the game, IMO.
Dude, put the bottle down........
 

Guy Named Sue

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In a word, no. They're Strats. The components are basically the same, whether it's a $450 MIM or a Custom Shop model that costs 10 times that.

Think skin nitro, select woods, hand-wound pickups - it's all marketing jargon. A Squier CV can easily sound just as good as a Masterbuilt CS, and most often does. Expensive Strats are the biggest scam in the game, IMO.
I'm gonna have to call BS on this, Sorry. I have tried the recent CS's, well some of them. I can say that they've taken huge steps when it comes in quality compared to ten - fifteen years ago. They feel very exclusive, the attention to detail is amazing. You can feel the quality not only see it and hear it. The comfort part, the guitar being an extention of you, that's where I give Fender huge plus points.

This is one beauty that I had a hard time letting go of in the store when I was trying. I wish I had taken pictures of the others too, they were all great. If I remember correctly, this one had a walnut top and we're not talking veneer it's solid top. Artisan serie


I'm very excited about the stuff Fender CS is releasing these days. Another thing I want to point out is they've really upped their game when it comes to fretjobs. They're using Jescar on more of the recent models, the polishing job is absolutely top notch, no sharp edged anywhere and very nicely done.

Found another pic, I tried all of these on this picture as well. All great, the burst with black guard I want to say was an Ancho Poblano, beefy and comfortable neck to me.
 
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CB91710

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Yep.
Squier = CS and Epiphone = Historic is like saying Pinto = Lincoln Town Car.
Sure... the Squier or Epiphone can SOUND as nice as a guitar costing 20x as much, just as both the Pinto and the Lincoln can get you to work.

But the fit, finish, build quality, and feel simply can not compare... and this is something that someone who has never had their hands wrapped around a high-end model can't "get" any more than someone who has never ridden in or driven a Lincoln, Mercedes (not the 190), or Porsche (not the 914) can "get" the differences there.

Luxury items are not about utility. They are about quality.... and yes... there is some "image" or ego associated. I'm not going to deny that, but at the same time, if it inspires the owner to spend more time playing it, then that's not a bad thing.
It's his money, whether or not you feel it is wasted is irrelevant.

Jon,
On a pre-CBS, even a "player grade" model, I still think you're going to have a hard time finding one at a lower price than a "team build" Custom Shop model.
OTOH, I do think the current CS models are still overall better than the original models.
Pre-CBS are highly sought after, but the fact is that, when they were being made, they were nothing special.
Heck, even in the 70s, they were just "used guitars"... they were sought after not because they were so good, but because what CBS was doing was so inconsistent.
Some pre-CBS may have sucked, but CBS sucked more :rofl: at least that was popular opinion.

Modern construction methods ensure consistency that we did not enjoy in the days when things were 100% hand-cut and shaped.
There's still a lot of hand work that goes into current production, but the basic shapes are now done by CNC so there is far less variation.

Would I love to have a "birth year" Strat? Absolutely. Will I ever want to put that much money into a guitar? Absolutely not.
 

Sp8ctre

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I've owned 3 CS Strats and I can tell you from my hands on experience they are NOT worth the extra cash. Of course they are better than a Squier, but nowhere near the value VS cost margin.

I have never owned a Vintage Strat so I can't comment on those, but I'd never ever lay down the $$$ they want for a CS Strat. Maybe a Signature model or an American Vintage under $2K

Best Strat I ever owned I made myself from a MIM body, Warmoth Neck and high quality electronics...
 

NotScott

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The CBS Strats, particularly those 3-bolt neck abominations of the mid to late 70s vary wildly in quality and that era produced some of the weakest and nastiest sounding pickups Fender ever produced. Back in the early 80s, nobody was buying Les Pauls and Strats. We were all buying Charvels and Jacksons. It wasn't until Dan Smith and a few others from Yamaha came onboard in 1981 that Fender finally wised up and started making better quality instruments.

I haven't been in the new Fender market for 20 years but I find it hard to believe that the latest CS guitars are THAT much better than the guitars from 20 years ago. It is great if they are though! I have two Cunettos from the late 90s and two team built Fender CS guitars I speced from right around 2000 and they all hold their own against even the nicest vintage examples.

With vintage Strats, it is really a crapshoot locating a good one at a good price. With CS models, your odds of finding "the one" are much greater.
 

motowntom

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Yep.
Squier = CS and Epiphone = Historic is like saying Pinto = Lincoln Town Car.
Sure... the Squier or Epiphone can SOUND as nice as a guitar costing 20x as much, just as both the Pinto and the Lincoln can get you to work.

But the fit, finish, build quality, and feel simply can not compare... and this is something that someone who has never had their hands wrapped around a high-end model can't "get" any more than someone who has never ridden in or driven a Lincoln, Mercedes (not the 190), or Porsche (not the 914) can "get" the differences there.

Luxury items are not about utility. They are about quality.... and yes... there is some "image" or ego associated. I'm not going to deny that, but at the same time, if it inspires the owner to spend more time playing it, then that's not a bad thing.
It's his money, whether or not you feel it is wasted is irrelevant.

Jon,
On a pre-CBS, even a "player grade" model, I still think you're going to have a hard time finding one at a lower price than a "team build" Custom Shop model.
OTOH, I do think the current CS models are still overall better than the original models.
Pre-CBS are highly sought after, but the fact is that, when they were being made, they were nothing special.
Heck, even in the 70s, they were just "used guitars"... they were sought after not because they were so good, but because what CBS was doing was so inconsistent.
Some pre-CBS may have sucked, but CBS sucked more :rofl: at least that was popular opinion.

Modern construction methods ensure consistency that we did not enjoy in the days when things were 100% hand-cut and shaped.
There's still a lot of hand work that goes into current production, but the basic shapes are now done by CNC so there is far less variation.

Would I love to have a "birth year" Strat? Absolutely. Will I ever want to put that much money into a guitar? Absolutely not.
I beg to differ on the 914, my dad had a track 914 in the eighty's that would scare you on a road circuit.... great sports racer.
Cheers
 

rich85

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My god I have compared so many Strats and Teles. Squier Classic Vibe wins for the price. Custom Shop just wins if you can afford it. They just have a tone that makes you stop playing and go ohhhhh crap I need this guitar......

In my opinion of course. I dont see much value in the Pro 2 series. I have played some very average sounding and playing ones.

So yes. Its worth it. It is actually amazing how good the average custom shop Fender sounds.
 

Sp8ctre

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My god I have compared so many Strats and Teles. Squier Classic Vibe wins for the price. Custom Shop just wins if you can afford it. They just have a tone that makes you stop playing and go ohhhhh crap I need this guitar......

In my opinion of course. I dont see much value in the Pro 2 series. I have played some very average sounding and playing ones.

So yes. Its worth it. It is actually amazing how good the average custom shop Fender sounds.
I have yet to hear "That" tone from a CS Strat. One of mine had Abby wound pickups and another Josefina wound and neither blew me away. I did get a very large amount of cash for the Abby guitar though...

I guess it's subjective, but I'll never drop the cash for another CS Strat...
 

CB91710

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Maybe a Signature model or an American Vintage under $2K
That's getting harder and harder.... True "vintage" you're not going to find even a player grade CBS for much under $2500 right now. The market has gone nuts in the last year.
When people start getting out of their houses again, we'll start to see the used market flooded and might se some good deals on CBS and post-FMIC models... but the days of reasonable prices on anything older than 1970 are long gone.

On "new" models, they just had a price increase, and while the Clapton has pretty much always been the least expensive of the US-made sig models, it jumped by $200 to $1850 this week.
KWS and Eric Johnson are now over $2100. The American Original is still hovering just below $2k... but I'd expect an increase next year.

But the American Professional-II is still at $1500. That's the standard production model and includes HSC.

The best deals are, and always have been, recent year gently used... 2005 to 2015 is probably the sweet spot for scoring a US-made model for under $1k.
 

Jon W

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That's getting harder and harder.... True "vintage" you're not going to find even a player grade CBS for much under $2500 right now. The market has gone nuts in the last year.
When people start getting out of their houses again, we'll start to see the used market flooded and might se some good deals on CBS and post-FMIC models... but the days of reasonable prices on anything older than 1970 are long gone.

On "new" models, they just had a price increase, and while the Clapton has pretty much always been the least expensive of the US-made sig models, it jumped by $200 to $1850 this week.
KWS and Eric Johnson are now over $2100. The American Original is still hovering just below $2k... but I'd expect an increase next year.

But the American Professional-II is still at $1500. That's the standard production model and includes HSC.

The best deals are, and always have been, recent year gently used... 2005 to 2015 is probably the sweet spot for scoring a US-made model for under $1k.
Yep. I have an 08 Am std with fralins and it's good but not great. The CS i played the other day is like Rich85 said, I need this guitar.

But if at twice the price of a custom shop gtr, i could get a 59-64 player (mainly body, neck and bridge and would be nice to get original pu) i'd jump on it, if it were a good sounding piece of wood. Otherwise I'd take the easier and cheaper route of the CS strat.
 

Tenorsaxman

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I’m picking up a 2019 custom shop tele today that I ran across on local Craigslist. I’m interested to see if it’s worth the hype. I wasn’t actually looking to buy anything, I was trying to price out a PRS that I’m about to sell and I came across this one. It’s your typical mid-life crisis guy with money that bought it new and played it a couple of times without even removing the stickers, so it’s pretty much a new guitar.

As a side note, the PRS Custom 24 is the most boring guitar I’ve ever owned. It’s fun to look at and made flawlessly, but it’s got no character whatsoever.
 

Jon W

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I’m picking up a 2019 custom shop tele today that I ran across on local Craigslist. I’m interested to see if it’s worth the hype. I wasn’t actually looking to buy anything, I was trying to price out a PRS that I’m about to sell and I came across this one. It’s your typical mid-life crisis guy with money that bought it new and played it a couple of times without even removing the stickers, so it’s pretty much a new guitar.

As a side note, the PRS Custom 24 is the most boring guitar I’ve ever owned. It’s fun to look at and made flawlessly, but it’s got no character whatsoever.
I got a new avri thin skin tele and its extremely good. I imagine your CS tele will be even better. Let us know.

On a side note, how much is a player grade 59-64 strat going for. I'm about to put our some feelers. I can get a nice 59 for 23k but I'd have to sell my truck.
 

pmonk

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The beauty of Fenders is you can always swap bodies with a good neck. I bought a American Special Strat a few years back and put a rosewood 62 reissue neck. I also got my hands on a EJ Strat body and put a maple 57 v-neck reissue to create a less expensive "Blackie:. Both are just great guitars.

That said, I wouldn't think twice dropping serious $$$$ on either a masterbuilt 1955 Strat or one of the 1969 Reissues or the Izeballa Strat

My biggest beef with the Fender CS is the overboard relic jobs.
 

CB91710

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My biggest beef with the Fender CS is the overboard relic jobs.
This.
That whole thing started with people wanting to look like SRV.
A friend of mine worked for the CS, we toured the original CS with him in the mid 90s.
They had gotten into the swing of things by that point, but the first few months, sales was not happy with the level of relicing the guys were doing. They were simply too gentle with the hammers and screwdrivers.

If I ever buy a Fender CS, it will be an NOS, or at most a "Closet Classic", which is the lowest level of "relic"... the Gibson VOS is probably around the same level. It looks like an old guitar, but well cared for and rarely played.
The NOS level is as it sounds... no relic work at all.


It's such a hot topic and polarizing thing that Strat Talk will pretty quickly shut down any negative posts directed toward relics.
They are what they are and some people like them... same with Gibson.
I don't get it. I appreciate the love and work performed by a true naturally aged guitar that has honest wear.
Relic? It's purchased "Mojo".
I appreciate the effort and skill that goes into creating a good looking relic... but IMHO, it's like taking out a 2nd mortgage on your house to buy a Rolex and driving home in your Corolla.
 

Jon W

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Yeah the relic thing is lost on me. I try to keep my gtrs nice.
 


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