Not too long ago, we wished for mass-customization options from guitar makers. Basically the same thing you get when you build a car online rather than buy what is on the lot. And with the launch of the Mod Shop, Fender is doing just that. So is it everything we wanted?
I attempted to build my dream telecaster, here’s how it went and what I noticed.
I hope it’s worth it… Starting price is $1,649.99.
Orientation options! Lefties rejoice, you can pick left-handed as an option.
Body choices leave much to be desired. Can only pick one type of wood, which changes based on your color selection (between alder and ash). Have nine color choices. Nothing for different routing choices or anything funky like that.
Electronics choices, kinda. Four options for pickups, all standard Tele configuration (no humbucker option, no alternate wiring a la esquire or nashville mod). For what it’s worth, there are some options for bridge humbuckers on the strat.
Vintage pickups, no vintage hardware. You can get some classic looking colors for your body and pickup, you can get ’52 series pickups, but only American standard tuners (or locking). The vintage style tuners that come on several stock Teles would be nice. Same goes for the bridge.
Wasted Steps. You only have one option for strings, but it’s still a step. Maybe there’s other configurations where you can pick heavier/lighter strings? I couldn’t find any combo that made a difference here.
Wait… did I miss a step? Nothing for neck shape or fret wire. I don’t expect to be able to get as detailed as getting my own radius choice or a non-standard nut width, but not every production Tele/Strat has the same neck profile, so why not offer the basics here?
I give this a failing grade. I’d do incomplete, as there’s potential for it to get a lot better, but you’d hope Fender has the brain power and resources to do a lot with this out of the gate. I am sure they did enough research to know the potential interest in this and what kind of impact it may have on their production process, so if this is just them dipping their toes in that seems like a really poorly planned venture. If I’m going to pay a 20% premium for a near-custom Fender, I should be able to get some configurations that aren’t available at every major guitar store already. Too bad…