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Fender Custom Shop quality control?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Fendarr, Feb 28, 2021.

  1. Fendarr

    Fendarr Tele-Meister

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    I’ve been thinking about possibly taking the plunge and buying a CS Tele or Strat. I did a little browsing and found a couple CS Strats at a nearby Guitar Center.

    The first guitar I tried was a medium relic 55 Strat that had one of the worst fret jobs I’ve ever encountered! We’re talking fret ends that felt like tips of nails! It also had super high action and and one tone knob was stripped where you couldn’t turn it.

    The second was a heavy relic 59 Strat but was soon informed that it needed to come off the wall anyway to be sent back because a customer returned it because of a twisted neck ( not sure why they had it hanging on the wall?).

    Is this common for the Custom Shop? I mean...$4300 and $4500 is A lot of dough to drop on a guitar.​
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2021
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  2. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

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    I currently own three Custom Shop guitars: 57 NOS Strat, 61 Relic Strat, NOS 63 Tele. Hands down the finest instruments I’ve ever owned. Previously I had two other CS Teles. Again, beautifully made guitars.
    That’s my experience.
     
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  3. BramptonRob1958

    BramptonRob1958 Tele-Meister

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    I can't speak to the fret end issue, however, it's highly unlikely, that the guitar was delivered with a stripped tone knob. More than likely it happened while in inventory at Guitar Centre. The twisted neck? Who knows, while I have some suspicions, it's anybody's guess as to what the actual story is.... or why GC would have 3-4000 dollars in returns hanging on a wall?

    I own one CS Tele (used) that was built about 7 months prior to my purchase this year. Honestly, it's the best Tele hands down that I have ever played or owned. Setup, workmanship and playability are all first class and the tones are fantastic
    In my personal opinion I think your concerns have far more to do with the experience at Guitar Centre being your intro of Fender CS than the current state of QC at Fender........ Neither of those guitars should have ever been displayed to the public.... period.....

    Think about it.... if you owned or managed a retail music store of any kind, would you stock or display a problem guitar especially a custom shop.... I get it an inexpensive guitar may have an issue with poorly dressed frets and high action. However, Custom Shop guitars are in a different class. Twisted necks? Don't even get me started on that.

    You might be better off ordering so you get the specs you want, unless you happen to find one on the shelf that ticks off all your boxes.

    Good Luck!
     
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  4. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Quality Control is something that takes place during the manufacturing and setup process. Once an instrument is shipped to a distributor or seller, problems are out of their hands and in the hands of the seller and end-user. Then the Warranty program takes over.

    If a guitar leaving a factory with 55% humidity levels is displayed in a store with 30% humidity, you will get fret sprout. $10 guitar or $10k guitar - wood is wood and will shrink when dried out. Any guitar on display will accrue damage and wear. Then it depends on the consumer carefully inspecting the instrument and bringing any issues noted to the attention of the seller and negotiate accordingly. Once it is on a rack in a store, it is essentially "used". If a seller is displaying instruments without proper room humidity, it is damaging instruments.
     
  5. Deeve

    Deeve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    While the ability to TOUCH the instrument is a positive factor for shopping at the local GC, I'm not sure they are the place I'd go for an instrument that will cost over $4k
    I use Satan's Own Big Box Store primarily for items that arrive in sealed containers, like a box of strings.
    YMMV
    Peace - Deeve
     
  6. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Automobile retailers learned this a long time ago. They have a demonstrator so that a new car at least appears fresh with less than 10 miles on the odo. Then they sell the demonstrator at a discount. I would be hesitant to pay list price for a demonstrator that has been hanging for several months - even if it is a cheap guitar.

    IMO, new strings and a complete setup should be standard for any floor model instrument. It was back when I started buying 40 years ago - even on cheap guitars.
     
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  7. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

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    My FCS ‘69 Stratocaster came in perfect condition. A few adjustments for a setup to my liking and it was good to go. But...

    My experience and the level of attention my guitar received were far from typical. I got it at the last stop of the 2019 Fender Custom Shop Road Show. It had the attention of master builders at each stop.

    0D2FCBF3-4D93-4AB3-8058-8B043FE3B697.jpeg
     
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  8. srblue5

    srblue5 Tele-Meister

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    Years ago I owned a ‘56 CS reissue Strat that was just awful, particularly with weak sounding pickups and poor fret work. I don’t know (and highly doubt) if actual 1956 Strats were like that but this reissue was just not a good guitar at all. It’s possible it was laying in a warehouse for years until somebody finally put it up in the store and I was the sucker who fell for the price. After coming to terms with the fact that I had a dud, I later sold it and bought a MIM Classic 50s Strat. No regrets.

    A friend of mine has a CS Tele that he loves. I’ve played it a couple times and it is an excellent instrument. He’s had some work done to it but I don’t know if it was necessary setup work or just modding/customizing.

    I guess luck-of-the-draw, YMMV, and all that.
     
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  9. Dan German

    Dan German Doctor of Teleocity

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    “I’d like a discount on this Custom Shop Heavy Relic—it’s a display model, and clearly has some shop wear!”
     
  10. posttoastie

    posttoastie Tele-Afflicted

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    So then does that mean that the Custom Shop uses wood to make guitars that is still not dry? Is that the reason for Fret sprout? I would hope that the Custom Shop would leave the wet wood for all the other guitars that are way less expensive.
    Guitar Center by me had a Custom Shop Tele a few years ago. It had a crooked neck but they were still trying to sell it.
     
  11. Richie Cunningham

    Richie Cunningham Tele-Afflicted

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    I suspect the reason the one guitar was still hanging on the wall goes something like this:

    “I’m gonna have to send this back to Fender. That’s a lot of paperwork. Can’t do it now. Busy Saturday. I’m supposed to put it in the case and stash it somewhere out of the way, but I don’t have time for that, either, and the guitar is likely to walk. I’ll just tuck it up on the wall to keep it safe for now.”

    A few days later.

    “Oh, shucky-dern, I forgot to pack up that Custom Shop that needs to go back.”

    Unless I’m being naive.
     
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  12. adjason

    adjason Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    years ago I had two custom shop strats. Both were set up perfectly and played perfectly from the factory.
     
  13. twangking

    twangking Tele-Afflicted

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    Play them first. They are hit and miss for me.
     
  14. Jared Purdy

    Jared Purdy Friend of Leo's

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    I have one CS Strat, a 2011 Custom Deluxe. Beautifully made. Flawless.
     
  15. donrichfan

    donrichfan Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    My two blackguard CS guitars have more than exceeded my expectations. Both were set up perfectly right out of the box. I didn't buy them from GC, so I don't have experience with that, but as far as quality build, attention to detail with great-sounding pickups my CS guitars are hard to beat.

    upload_2021-2-28_14-16-58.png
     
  16. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    No, it isn't what it means.
     
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  17. Electric Warrior

    Electric Warrior Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    I can't judge those guitars, who knows what life they've had. I've played so many terrible guitars at Guitar Center. Some stuff hangs there forever, up high and roasting. Wildly bowed necks, dirty, and "scratched and dented." When I buy new at GC, it is only guitars that either just hit the floor or were brought from the back.
     
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