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Why does the Fender Custom Shop no longer offer Strat or Tele reissues with 7.25" fingerboard radius and vintage-size frets?

vintage58

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Apr 13, 2003
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Just wondering. For example, is it because Fender assumes there would be low sales on guitars with those specs?

I mean, I could even understand if MOST Fender Custom Shop reissues had a 9.5" radius and bigger frets... but, as of this writing (and to my knowledge), all of them do. That is, NONE of the Fender Custom Shop's current Strat and Tele reissues have a 7.25" radius and vintage-size frets. My point being, they don't offer that combination of specs on even one Custom Shop model — Strat OR Tele — for buyers who specifically prefer same.

I personally find that circumstance to be kind of ironic (ridiculous, really). Like, isn't one huge thrust of any Custom Shop's reissues, the idea that the resulting guitars are supposed to be super-exacting in their historical accuracy? IMO, the fingerboard radius and fret size of Fender's original 1950s and 1960s guitar designs constitute a big part of those guitars' feel, charm, and mystique — a big part of their IDENTITY, if you will. So, for the Fender Custom Shop to surgically remove those specs from its entire product line strikes me as a little weird. I do realize that some 2020s-era guitar buyers might argue that a rounder fingerboard radius is a flawed (or at least unoptimal) design, and that there are playability issues associated with it. And I'm sure there are tons of guitar players these days who prefer large frets. But I gotta say (and this may come as a shock to some): There are also plenty of guitar players who don't like frets that are the size of railroad tracks.

One other huge thing that I truly do not comprehend with the Fender Custom Shop's current offerings is the near-total emphasis on relics and heavy relics. It used to be that there was at least "some" sort of balance between those guitars and N.O.S. guitars. But now, if you go to the websites of the bigger Fender Custom Shop dealers, the inventory listed is typically 90 or 95 percent relics, heavy relics, Journeyman relics, and (if you're lucky) maybe two or three Closet Classics. And then MAYBE there might be a grand total of one N.O.S. guitar out of like eighty Custom Shop Stratocasters listed, and invariably the guitar in question will be finished in some absolutely ridiculous color that no one in their right mind would ever want to buy.

So, I just have to ask: As regards Fender Custom, what ever happened to just making brand-new-looking, UN-"updated" reissues of the guitars that made the original company famous to begin with? I mean, at least with Gibson Custom's Les Paul reissues, the fingerboard radii and fret sizes are in the ballpark of the vintage originals, and you can still usually find a gloss-finish Les Paul reissue if you wanted to (although even with Gibson, gloss seems less frequent lately than VOS or aged or Murphy Lab). But with recent Stratocaster relics, I personally think the finishes on these guitars have gotten a little silly-looking, and IMO a lot of times the fingerboard relic-ing also does not particularly resemble the fingerboard wear that you'd find on an actual old Fender. And just when you think the relic-ing on Custom Shop Stratocasters could not possibly get crazier, now there are all these Strat relics with "Finish A over Finish B," so the guitar will have a huge area of fake arm wear on the lower bout that'll have some totally unrelated color peeking through. Which, of course, brings me back to my original point/question:

Can the Fender Custom Shop simply produce a shiny, NEW-looking Strat or Tele reissue with original specs (as in, 7.25" fingerboard radius and vintage-size frets) anymore??? Or have they somehow become incapable of performing this exceedingly basic function? I mean, I do know that Fender Custom at least USED TO be able to produce tons of N.O.S. Strat and Tele and Nocaster reissues with vintage-accurate fingerboard radii and vintage-size frets. I remember having a 2005 N.O.S. Nocaster reissue, for example, which was a great guitar, and it was from before 9.5" radius with Dunlop 6105 frets and relic-ed parts and finish were evidently mandated by Fender.

So, exactly what happened? :unsure:
 

Keefoman

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Nov 4, 2009
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One thing I’m quite certain of, is that I don’t think Fender assumes anything regarding to what will sell or not. My guess is that they are quite in control of that after 70 years in the business. It could simply be that Fender has experienced that guitars with 7,25” fretboard radius don’t sell well enough to be worth producing them, as the market prefers flatter radiuses. I could be wrong…
 

vintage58

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Apr 13, 2003
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One thing I’m quite certain of, is that I don’t think Fender assumes anything regarding to what will sell or not. My guess is that they are quite in control of that after 70 years in the business. It could simply be that Fender has experienced that guitars with 7,25” fretboard radius don’t sell well enough to be worth producing them, as the market prefers flatter radiuses. I could be wrong…
Fender does currently have the Vintera '50s series and Vintera '60s series of Strats and Teles, and I'm pretty sure both feature a 7.25" radius and vintage-size frets. So, even though those series are not Fender Custom Shop instruments, their continued production at least demonstrates that Fender does apparently believe that a profit remains to be made on guitars with those specs. I just wonder why they don't offer an equivalent Custom Shop product.
 

El Gringo

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Apr 8, 2015
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One thing I’m quite certain of, is that I don’t think Fender assumes anything regarding to what will sell or not. My guess is that they are quite in control of that after 70 years in the business. It could simply be that Fender has experienced that guitars with 7,25” fretboard radius don’t sell well enough to be worth producing them, as the market prefers flatter radiuses. I could be wrong…
I think you hit it right on the head that the guitar buying public prefers larger frets and flatter fret boards with a 9.5 radius , plus the larger profile is easier to play for most . I think it's simply Fender filling a need .
 

El Gringo

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As far as the finishes go it a relic crazy and super aged buyers market out there . People like this because it gives the appearance of a vintage instrument at a more affordable price point . This is not for me as I will not purchase factory aged instruments .
 

jb_abides

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Apr 6, 2005
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3,089
There was the big hubbub about Mayer departing Fender because they weren't going to offer his signature in 7.25 as he wanted...

Thus the PRS Silver Sky. [Of course the SE version went from 7.25 to 8.5 with Mayer's blessing... supposedly easier to approach for learner level buyers]

Of course, this was pre-Vintera, IIRC.

And I don't know if their Custom Shop will or won't take an order for a 7.25. If true they won't offer, why..? Cost to produce? To keep the vintage market values distinct? that doesn't make much sense for the corporation... even for some indirect halo branding notion.
 

Any Name You Wish

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Apr 15, 2021
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I agree with the OP. Way too many relics on the shelves, and why not some true vintage spec guitars out of the custom shop. Seems strange. However, this would not be the first time I am baffled by what the majority buying public wants. This "relic'd" thing started with jeans, then it moved on to guitars. I am surprised the auto companies have not jumped on the bandwagon and offer "patina" versions of classic remakes.
 

bern1

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Nov 23, 2004
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Yeah I’ll do my own aging on a new guitar, thank you very much.

And yes, I also prefer the 7.25 radius on Fender guitars. It is part of the DNA And quite comfortable to play.
 

golfnut

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Apr 18, 2016
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Yeah I’ll do my own aging on a new guitar, thank you very much.

And yes, I also prefer the 7.25 radius on Fender guitars. It is part of the DNA And quite comfortable to play.
Take a look at Wildwood guitars or Daves guitars all with mostly 9.5 radius CS guitars. Alot of what they have are special custom shop runs for their store. Since they're the ones on the frontlines they must know what they're customers want as they have the most to gain or lose. Those Wildwood 10's are real popular. From what I've read 7.25 wasn't exactly a firm spec as a lot of necks back then were all over the place and some were 9.5. At least thats what I've been told on a few occasions. Me, I like 50's spec guitars but with flatter radius and bigger frets. I like 9.5, 10 and I really like the 12" on my LP. I don't know if thats standard from 50's LP's.
Its very easy to put your own order in for a Fender Custom shop through a store or go to a boutique builder to get exactly what you want. A lot of whining for nothing.
As for the relics, I find the guys saying "I'll age my own guitars" are usually the same guys that don't gig and hold their instrument as a peice of furniture, obsession about dings. Their guitars will look new in a 100 years.
Me, I like a journey man relic, with my CS tele and CS strat are. I find it a great balance between that worn in comfort feel and not looking like it was dragged behind a truck for a hundred miles. Its the only thing about my new LP standard 50's that I don't like. Its purty but it really upstages my Fenders.:D
I'm not crazy about a heavy relic look but the last thing I do is invade every guitar forum post on the subject making my opinion known as I see many posters do. What do I care what the next guy likes. I don't have to understand it.
 

bern1

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Nov 23, 2004
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All it takes is a fret job to level out divots to slightly modify the radius . Sure ok if you playing the guitar the fretboard wears away a little .

I have an AVRI last year reissue (I think, I don’t really keep track) of the ‘59 Strat. Bought it new. They didn’t even use primer on it. Just look at it and the finish starts to chip. I don’t really care, it does get some dings.
I have a 1960 that grew up and lived it’s life in Dallas bars. It looks and still smells like it a little. Lots of scratches and dings. It still looks the same as it did when I bought it, well used 40 some years ago.. I take care of guitars, it’s just way I do it. I don't like fake anything.
 

MadMiller

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Mar 26, 2022
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I have a ‘64 Journeyman two tone sunburst that came home from NAMM 2018, with checked paint, 9.5” & 6105’s :)
I didn’t know the numbers before i picked it up, I hit a chord and didn’t care, it was all over. The thing is a monster, unplugged and plugged.
From a friend who’s shop usually has quite a few CS guitars, the baseball bat 7.5“ skinny fret Tele’s & Strat’s would be on the hanger for a long time compared to the modern C neck 9.5” & 6105 guitars as it’s a minority market, I get to know them quite well 😂, the people coming in with the money seem to want a good player and some checked nitro. They do have a compound 7.5“ to 9.5” on the nocaster still I believe, unless that’s an older spec. But this sales history for this shop is pretty clear which impacts on what he re-orders as that’s a commercial & not sentimental decision.

Its also worth keeping in mind the following;
The normal CS (not master built) is not far off a Les Paul Standard in terms of cost, and Gibson refrain from using the “correct” nitro on (more plasticiser in the standard vs Historic) or the correct (hide) glue, for reasons I don’t understand.
I love my standard (2021 60’s) now that I have put in one of my wiring looms, Wizz PAF clones & Faber hardware, but it cost me more as it sits than my Journeyman. I would be hard pressed to find a better Strat anywhere but have a middle of the road Les Paul.

Nobody on the internet will agree on relic guitars, but they do sell well.
I would love a light relic Lester or 335/345, maybe for my 40th in a number of years as the harder nitro & played in feel i absoloutely love.
I’d better start saving!
 

axeman565758

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Jan 23, 2007
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1,134
I'm just thankful that both Gibson and Fender have Custom Shops that give you the ability to order pretty much any guitar/any way you want.
If I couldn't order a Strat/Tele with a 9.5'/6105/HUGE '51 1" deep Nocaster neck, I may not be playing Fender. Same with Gibson. I was able to spec a 1" thick neck for my two Historic LP's and a CS-336. This was unheard of and unprecedented when I first did it.
 

Hamerfan

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Dec 20, 2004
Messages
775
As i remember Dan Erlewine refretting a vintage guitar. He measured the radius at every fret and used the specific pre-bent fretwire pieces.. They were all over the map, most of them flatter than 7.25
 
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