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

NotScott

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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.
When the relic thing started, Fender farmed out the process to Vince Cunetto. He would receive finished parts from Fender, age them and then send them back to Fender for final assembly. Also at that time, there was only one level of relicing available and Vince was VERY good at it. All of the parts were aged and identified as being intended for a single guitar assembly by Vince but, Fender often mismatched the parts and didn't pay much attention to Vince's eye for attention to detail. Cunetto's are sought out by collectors primarily for their looks but also the 9.5" radius that was used at that time by Fender. Cunetto's didn't have the belt sander thing going on and many were very convincing.

Sometime around 97 some artists began to request lightly reliced guitars that looked more like they sat under a bed for years rather being road dogs. I have one of the first ones Vince did and it definitely looks the part, but these were special orders and there aren't many around.

Around 99 with management changes at the CS, Fender decided to bring the process in-house, Many people (myself included) thought that Fender's relic process was overdone and not realistic looking. Eventually, Fender offered the Closet Classics and other levels of relicing as a response. These lighter relics look good to my eyes.

It is a contentious topic for many players but I am just glad we have these options available.
 

Tenorsaxman

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I find it funny that people want to pay extra for a new guitar that someone intentionally beat the crap out of. It’s like the people that buy new jeans with holes in them. What’s the point?
 

Duane_the_tub

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Artificial aging is just one of those things: Either you like it or you don't, but lots of people do and the guitar companies make millions off them. I will say that some aged guitars do have a better feel, more broken in, especially the necks. Sure, it's a popular opinion that wear should be "earned," but whatever. If people like it and that's how they want to spend their money, more power to them.
 

Thrill

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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.
You could say the same thing about any custom shop vs regular production guitar of a given company. Fender, Gibson, PRS, Ibanez, ESP, etc. The whole Custom Shop thing is about better woods, better electronics, better finishes, and more attention to details. Thats what a custom shop does, any custom shop.
 

Jon W

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Thanks for the input everyone. I think that I'm going to go with a custom shop strat. I just can't get my head around the prices of the vintage ones and as a tool they are not as good of a bang for the buck as a use custom shop model for 2500-3000. that sounds very close. And probably plays better as the fretboard radius is flattened out, And I think I have found one. It is a relic (never liked the relic idea) but it plays and sounds extremely good.
 

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pmonk

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David Gilmour is on record saying Fender have made replica ones that they sell, and I have two or three of those that are absolutely perfect. One of those might be my future guitar of choice.
 

rogue3

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The few Custom Shop relic'd Telecasters i have picked up are a thing of beauty.The sound was heavenly.I see and hear A lot of care into the wood choice,pickups,and neck fitting and finish.They have a unique vibe to them. I quickly put them back on the rack when i looked at the price sticker.:shock:. But if i had the quid, i would reconsider.
 
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ArchEtech

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The newer custom shop guitars are fantastic. I’ve never played one that wasn’t. They use better electronics, higher quality woods, and spend way more time with dressing and finishes. That does not mean that it’s necessarily that much of a step above a good USA model or worth it to everyone. It’s worth it to me. It’s not worth it to me to pay exorbitant prices for certain “special“ master builders.

I don’t particularly like the old beat up relic looking versions that have ridiculous amounts of play wear on the fingerboard. I wouldn’t even wanna vintage guitar that’s beat up like that. Some people like that though. I also don’t get the relic guitars that show multiple layers of paint. I simply don’t buy those.

I’ve had a couple of light relics and I kind of like them because they have a broken in feeling, generally use a much thinner finish, and you don’t have to worry about that first little ding.
 
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Dogbreath

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My main Fender is a Custom Shop new old stock finish 1960 Strat made in 2008. I will never give it up. It’s always been a winner.
 

Jon W

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Well I never thought I'd sell a les Paul to buy a strat, but I'm about to do it. Hope I don't regret it. I've always viewed the gibson set-neck guitars as a much higher level of workmanship than the bolt together fenders. But the custom shop fenders are quite good and I need the fender sound for a lot of what I'm playing now. Guess its Just a tool to be used and you need the right tool for the job.
 

Duane_the_tub

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VERY nice! Is that Lake Placid Blue? I had a CS Strat in that color and thought it looked wicked.

That is some serious amplification behind it as well! I bet that guitar can make those two Supers absolutely SING...
 

Jon W

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It is Lake Placid. And yes it makes these old supers howl. The pickups are really good and not as spikey as the fat 50s that I hate.

Now we need the venues to open back up.
 

dandood

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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.

Fender Custom Shop Strats are really nice! I have a couple of relic Strats, and a "lush closet classic".... love them!
 
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CB91710

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Fender Custom Shop Strats are really nice! I have a couple of relic Strats, and a "lush closet classic".... love them!
Ya, if I ever buy a Fender CS, it'll be a Closet Classic.
I'm just not into the whole "relic" thing. I can tolerate Gibson's VOS, but that's my limit.
I certainly appreciate the work and skill that goes into a Murphy or Fender CS relic job... but I don't want to pay to have someone else beat the snot out of my guitars.
 

dandood

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Ya, if I ever buy a Fender CS, it'll be a Closet Classic.
I'm just not into the whole "relic" thing. I can tolerate Gibson's VOS, but that's my limit.
I certainly appreciate the work and skill that goes into a Murphy or Fender CS relic job... but I don't want to pay to have someone else beat the snot out of my guitars.
I don't get hung up on the " somebody else beat up my guitar" thing with relics. I see them more as a work of art. Some look really cool IMO... some don't.

I like all kinds of looks for guitars whether its nos, closet classics, relics, or whatever. On the days that I was shopping for Strats (and Telecasters), the best ones I could find..... the ones that had the specs I prefer, that played best to me, that sounded best, were relics (and 1 time it was a Lush Closet Classic).

A great guitar is a great guitar.
 
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pmonk

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A few minor bumps and bruises I can handle but the it looks like it was dragged behind a pickup truck look is a bit too much.
 

Jim Klein

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i just got a wildwood 10 heavy relic its so light weight..can't put it down . i can take or leave the relic thing but its the guitar that speaks to me.. best strat i've played.might be retiring a couple suhrs.. now if gigs would come back......sounds so sweet thru the tremolux or the victory head on the Z cab. and both!! forget about it..
 

Jon W

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i just got a wildwood 10 heavy relic its so light weight..can't put it down . i can take or leave the relic thing but its the guitar that speaks to me.. best strat i've played.might be retiring a couple suhrs.. now if gigs would come back......sounds so sweet thru the tremolux or the victory head on the Z cab. and both!! forget about it..
They are good. I haven't played my lps much since I got my ww 10. Maybe some day I'll get another. Need to sell some gear first.
 

Harleytech

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I just picked up one today... A 63' Journeyman relic in Sonic Blue.. Best single coil pickups that I have played...
It really play's great.. The relic is very subtle.. that's the way I like it... It just ticked all the boxes for me..
Quartersawn neck.. etc..
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