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Fender: Now Selling Direct to You

Fender American Design Experience Sunset Burst Metallic Tele Final AssemblyUntil recently, if you wanted a Fender Telecaster made to your specs, you had a couple of options: pony up the big bucks for a Custom Shop (base price $4400); buy off the shelf and upgrade it yourself with different pickups, paint, etc.; or make your way out to Corona, California and specialize your order in person with the Fender American Design Experience.

Now, there’s a new option: the American Design Experience is available online. Which means you can now get your own “Artist Model” for a base price of $1499.

There are many options, including body and neck woods and designs, color finishes, pickup and electronics configurations, bridges, tuners, hardware finishes, custom neck plates and cases.

Fender Design Exp Tele

For inspiration, you can see how many notable players customized their Teles, like Butch Walker, The Cult’s Billy Duffy, Joe Robinson, Dave Keuning from The Killers, and Austin picker Dale Watson.

Dale Watson

Use your mouse to make your choices, place your order, and in 90 days the Tele of your dreams will be at your door.

Create your own design right now at

We can’t make this announcement without adding that when Leo Fender created Fender he setup the company to use the distribution system of many other manufacturers – goods are sold to DEALERS and dealers sell to the public. In fact, in all these 60+ years Fender has never sold to individuals, only to dealers. And this includes Custom Shop models – you have to go to a dealer to order your custom shop model.

This new program marks a major change in how Fender sells guitars and who it sells them to. Of course, Leo wasn’t around when the internet took over the world and caused major disruption in all forms of commerce – but this new service is definitely a major change and no doubt causing major disruption at dealers all across the country.

Epiphone Century Amp – inspired by 1939

Epiphone Century CloseupIf you found yourself on a bandstand in 1939, chances are you’d be playing your jazz box through an Epiphone Electar Century Amp. There’s just something about that Art Deco cabinet that says “swing, baby!” Designed by Nat Daniels (who later founded Danelectro), the Century was endorsed by Al Hendrickson of the Artie Shaw Band, Lloyd Gillson with Sammy Kaye and his Orchestra, Harold Aloma with the Tommy Dorsey Band, and George Van Eps. In 1939, The Century would have set you back $62.25.


You don’t have to travel back in time to buy one in pristine condition. Epiphone has “reissued” the Century—sort of. Outside, the 2014 model looks much like the original: laminated maple cabinet, bent rims, vintage-style grill cloth and an all-metal handle.


Inside, things are a bit different:

  • 18 watts.  Powered by two 6V6 and two 12AX7 tubes
  • Internal Bias Adjustment allows you to make fine adjustments to the output of the 6V6 tubes
  • 12″ Electar speaker
  • Three inputs: bright, normal, dark
  • Master volume has a push/pull boost mode for higher gain
  • Master tone control
  • Extension speaker out


The “1939″ Century Amplifier has a limited run of 3,000. MSRP is $665. An optional footswitch is sold separately.

Sorry Stratocaster—Springsteen’s a Tele Man

bruce-springsteen-born-to-runWhen it comes to seriously iconic Telecasters (and Esquires), a few immediately spring to mind: George Harrison’s rosewood. Roy Buchanan’s Nancy. Keith Richard’s Micawber. Jeff Beck’s ’54. Steve Cropper’s ’63. The list goes on an on, and it’s fun debating which one is number one.  Somewhere near the top, though, is Bruce Springsteen’s well-worn Fender Esquire.

On 1975′s “Born to Run,” Bruce shares the cover with Clarence Clemmons and the Esquire, proving that both were vital to his sound. 

Bruce purchased the ’53 or ’54 model in 1972, just after signing his contract with Columbia.  The serial number has an asterisk, indicating that the Esquire was a factory reject. Reject or not, Bruce learned how to make this guitar talk, and he’s been associated with it ever since.

Apparently, The Los Angeles Times didn’t get the message. In 2004, Times staff writer Randy Lewis asked Mr. Springsteen if he’d like to share some thoughts about the 50th anniversary of the Stratocaster. And here is Bruce’s response in no uncertain terms:


P.S. Don’t write an article about Bruce’s love for Schwinn Bicycles. He’s probably a Huffy man.


Are 3-D Printed T-Styles the Future?

steampunk-3-1smallMuch of the time, the Winter NAMM show provides pretty much what you expect-a lot of cool guitars, rockstars and wannabe rockstars and the combined din of 300 Guitar Centers on a Saturday morning. But then, sometimes you run into something that can only be described as “odd.” Like Olaf Diegel, whom we ran into downstairs on the first day of NAMM 2014. Olaf loves music from the ‘50s and ’60s, but when it comes to guitars, he’s all modern—no surprise for a guy who has worked in and taught product design for decades. His brand is called ODD Guitars; an appropriate name if you believe guitars should only be constructed from wood.

Diegel’s T-styles are made from Duraform PA, a super-strong form of nylon also used in car dashboards and bumpers. And, what’s “odd” is he makes them on a 3D-printer. That’s right, he prints out guitars from a 3D-printer. And while home 3D printers can now be had for a couple grand, Diegel uses an $250,000 industrial model. (Relax, he doesn’t own it.) It takes 11 hours to print one body.


The body is not 100% nylon; a wooden inner core of mahogany or maple joins the guitar bridge to the neck. ODD Guitars generally come with maple necks (Warmoth), but that, like pickups, is at the customer’s discretion.

The Americana model features New York landmarks inside the guitar, like the Chrysler Building, Guggenheim, Statue of Liberty, etc.


Most interesting at this year’s NAMM show was The Steampunk T-Style. Not only is it very interesting with everything going on below the surface, but it also has moving gears and pistons:

The gears are driven by a very small motor and a 9-volt battery. Plan on a week or two of battery life with the gears running continuously. 

Diegel has sold several Steampunk models to people who don’t even play guitar—they just want them as “eye candy for their man caves.”

He says the great thing about 3D printing is that it allows lots of customization “without adding much cost.”  “Much cost” is debatable: The ODD Steampunk sells for $4000.

Find out more and see his other “odd” guitars at: 

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