Thoughts on the Fender Custom Shop Jimmy Page Dragon Telecaster - Love it or Hate it

Discussion in 'Fender Custom Shop Tele Forum' started by derrick_numbers, Jan 17, 2019.

  1. EyeOfZorro

    EyeOfZorro TDPRI Member

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    Now that I'm back from NAMM and having seen all of the guitars up close at the Fender booth, I have a few praises, comments and criticisms.

    First the Praises:

    1) Paul Waller selecting Cathedral Grain pattern with a clear plastic template from thousand of feet of ash planks and building the bodies as two piece off center, as on Jimmy's dragon takes a lot of time and effort. As he points out the grain pattern really was very much apart of the character of the guitar. The Dragon is a living object and paying respect to the wood of the guitar is important in my opinion. That took care and craftsmanship. Paul deserves a lot of credit and respect for how the CS tele body came out in this build.

    2) Paul and his team flew to England and measured the neck and the claim here is that the neck is the exact shape as Page's. If this guitar really is "Excalibur" as Jimmy referred to it in his press release interview, then the Neck is the sword. The bow was the wand, but the neck was his sword. If it is the neck from the original, the fact that he pulled if off the guitar and put it on B-Bender a guitar that in his later part of Zeppelin and the Firm, shows how much he loved it. The phrasing on the Chopin Etude on the ARMS concert is an example of how much he evolved with this neck.

    3) The Diffraction grating film under the pickguard is correct. Maybe a little overstated as the film Page used wasn't as strong as this sheet. I hate seeing people build this guitar with aluminum foil or some other garbage. This type of sheet Jimmy Page refers to in the recent Fender Promotional interview as the "7th Element". An interesting reference to Helena Blavatsky. Page as always maintained the Diffraction grating ( a term used for the sheets on CD's) he placed under the perspex pick-guard as giving off Rainbow colors. “Yes. There was work done on it but only afterwards. I painted it; everyone painted their guitars in those days. And I had reflective plastic sheeting underneath the pick guard that gives rainbow colors.” ~ July 77 Guitar World Steve Rosen Interview

    4) Jimmy Page chose, supplied and applied (some of) the colors/paints onto the guitars directly. This is cool as as it should be. Lets face it ta lot of the $25K is for the Autograph. Because a more accurate 59' build does not cost anywhere near this. Hell you can get a real 59 for under $25K. Very close and yes many sell at or above but I own a 58 and 59 and I didnt pay anywhere near that.

    5) Love that both versions of the guitar are offered. As they are linked visually. NO CIRCLES ARE NOT A NOD TO SYD BARRETT. The Circles are a reference to the Dragon. So a "SET" of guitars is a great metophor to their actual significance. And Yes the Mirrored STICKERS were applied before most people ever saw SYD's. I doubt Jimmy Saw SYD's prior to DECEMBER 66, when they were applied not FEB 67 as Fender claims they may have been applied.

    6) Watching the young kids pickup and play the cheaper Dragon was awesome. They loved it. And that to me is the best part of this project.



    The comments/criticisms:

    1) I'm surprise Fender and Jimmy didn't try and go for an as it was look. Relic'ing to some extent like on the Mirror'd version. The under the pickguard ripples, cloudy appearance, bleed through paint, and markings. None of these are present and absolutely could have been achieved with known photos.

    2) The MIRRORS were NOT actual mirrors. They were metal reflective stickers that got stuffed in time and needed to be constantly polished to keep them refecting and they had NO GLASS on them. So why do that now? Just simply not accurate. Also FENDER Does't ship these ON THE GUITAR but rather IN THE CASE. Why because they don't want to be accountable for the double sided sticker to damage the finish. Lame.

    3) The neck doesn't have clay markers on the Custom Shop. Really? Why? That's what JP's neck had.

    4) I'm confused about the Signature on the back of the neck. Is it only on the White Mirrored CS version? Seems as though if you want that awesome graph you need to buy both. Wow! Really? Please correct me if I'm wrong.

    5) The Dragon doesn't seem to be finished. NONE of the Yellow paint between the Red & Green & Orange lines are present. Its just raw wood where there was clearly YELLOW paint on the actual guitar. There isn't even Yellow on the Made in "Ensenada" version.

    6) The MIM version is like a bulky sticker that is raised off the body. I could have been a silk screen or some other option but its dull in color and feels weird.

    7) Lastly, while I get that the drawing was re-illustrated with Page's supervision, its close but off in sections. Out of proportion and the fine lines and corners of the original which to my eye look to have been painted with a razor cut stencil are simply rounded in corners making it look like a bad art students rendition. If the original was done with such accuracy (with what seems to be an easier approach), why was't this one?

    8- The pick-guard is too big on the top arc and covers the Serpent lower mouth. Hides the essence of the visual object. Covering key parts of the image, hides its meaning. Maybe thats what Page wanted who knows but its more because Fender based this pick-guard off of an actual Telecaster pick-guard shape and not the CUSTOM one made for page. Which was no where to be seen in the onsite Fender visit photos.

    9) That Fullerton 3 way switch in the pics, the 50062 bottom stamped Neck plate (1959-60) and a Feb 58 neck? Really? This guitar is mysteriously a major Mutt/Partscaster. Hard to believe that the neck and NECK PLATE are so far apart. Something smells fishy here. The body has all the grain pattern markings of the real Dragon. But something is fishy to me. Did Page really pull this neck back off of the B-Bender. The paint makings on the neck heel are interesting but who sands off the date stamp INSIDE a pickup cavity and neck cavity? That is some serious sanding that this guitar had. You would think it was a gun used in a murder or something.

    10) Has else noticed the the white rope around the bridge pickup as NO PAINT ON IT WHAT SOEVER? What happened to the myth of the body be being painted over ruining the bridge pickup? Did this pickup get rewound and rewrapped with new cloth? The rosin build up on the magnet poles could not be seen in the video and is not in the relic'ing so.... Those magnet/rubber spacers are cool but simply keep the pickup in place. I'm sure some audiophiles will say the magnets do something. Well lets hopefully see what the custom wind output ends up being when they are in the hands of buyers.

    I think the $2500 Mirrored version is a great guitar. And a silk screen/autograph is worth it to me. I see myself buying one. I'll probably stripe it and paint my own Dragon.
     
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  2. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's

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    "Thoughts on the Fender Custom Shop Jimmy Page Dragon Telecaster... love it or hate it"



    Hmm. I don't HATE it, because that would involve caring a lot. I'm not a huge zep fan and have never understood the Jimmy Page cult, but in general I thin k the idea of getting an exact copy of some other guy's guitar is kind of odd. So I guess if I have to choose love or hate it's "hate."
     
  3. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's

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    "Thoughts on the Fender Custom Shop Jimmy Page Dragon Telecaster... love it or hate it"



    Hmm. I don't HATE it, because that would involve caring a lot. I'm not a huge zep fan and have never understood the Jimmy Page cult, but in general I thin k the idea of getting an exact copy of some other guy's guitar is kind of odd. So I guess if I have to choose love or hate it's "hate."
     
  4. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's

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    You know what i DO hate? That this site is once again slow as mud and causing me to double post. I'll just stop coming if it keeps being annoying. No manifesto, no dramatic goodbyes or any of that, but if it keeps being slow as mud and glitchy...
     
  5. ThroBak

    ThroBak TDPRI Member Vendor Member

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    Here is my interview with Mitch Colby about the new Jimmy Page Signature Sundragon amp at NAMM 2019. We saw the amp first day of NAMM and they did not have a Tele there to demo it. But even with humbuckers I thought it had THE Page tone. I was impressed.

    Matthew and I also give our first impressions of the Fender Jimmy Page Mirrored and Dragon Telecaster. Two interesting details about the Tele bridge pickup shown in the Fender presentation video at the Fender booth are the ceramic magnets on the copper plated steel bridge plate and the fact that the pickup in Jimmy Page's original guitar that they measure, is a grey bottom Tele bridge pickup.

     
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  6. thesjkexperienc

    thesjkexperienc Tele-Holic

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    It’s the 21st century maaan, no one cares what you can do. Just look the part and technology will cover the rest.
     
  7. FRESHMEAT

    FRESHMEAT Tele-Meister

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    I like to have one. They are going for about $1500.
     
  8. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

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    I think it's kind of cool! But not exciting in any way.

    And, I'd never buy such a thing when I can put together my own Fender Teles and Strats that beat any factory-assembled Fender that I've pulled off of a rack.... for reasonable expense, too!
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2019
  9. VillainSean

    VillainSean TDPRI Member

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    Not a fan of this massive marketing ploy. 3 different versions? I guess it's a worldwide demographic...
     
  10. Spiv

    Spiv TDPRI Member

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    Interesting reading here about The Dragon Tele. I had seen press releases regarding this but hadn't looked at it in detail. Below is a link to my build that I done about 5 years ago, and which Jimmy saw when he came over to Thailand for the charity auction.


    http://www.tdpri.com/threads/my-jp-dragon-build.384730/
     
  11. nosuch

    nosuch Friend of Leo's

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    Luckily when young Mr. Page painted a dragon on his plain jane telecaster to give it a psychedelic look (which was the dope at the time) the internet and all the haters didn't exist – he'd never dared.
     
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  12. EyeOfZorro

    EyeOfZorro TDPRI Member

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    So let's get this straight. The guitar Paul Waller inspected and measured had the following details:

    1) Neck dated Feb 58
    2) Neck Plate stamped along the bottom of 50062 - (1959 -1960)
    3) A Bridge pickup with a Grey bottom which until 1964.
    4) Two switches that appear to be 80s Oaks Grigsby 3-way switches as found in Fullerton and later USA reissue Strats and also reissue and USA Standard Teles. But clearly NOT 1452 switches found in 1959 telecasters.
    5) A Body that had been striped to the point of no date in the pickup cavity or neck pocket or anywhere but a convincing grain pattern slightly shifted as they do after sanding.

    Why wasn't the Brown B Bender that the Dragon Neck had been placed on also present there without its neck?

    Maybe because a 1958 Neck was now the new stand-in for the Dragon body that had been sitting around all these years stripped.

    My guess is that the B-Bender neck is still on it with its nice 1959 thin D shape as opposed to the Feb 1958 Oval C shape.

    PS. Jimmy also designed the Zoso Sigil himself.
     
  13. rze99

    rze99 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Great report thank you
     
  14. rze99

    rze99 Poster Extraordinaire

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    The Mirror Guitar (without Mirrors afixed) is a really nice 59 white blonde rosewood type. But it is MIA, not Custom Shop, however, at the near-custom shop price it is not sensibly priced.
     
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  15. NewKid

    NewKid Tele-Meister

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    I don’t know Johnny Marr or his music but I think is signature Jaguar is a great instrument.

    I also like Troy Van Leeuen’s signature Jazzmaster in Oxblood and vintage specs. Don’t know who TVL is either.

    So two great signature guitars I would serious consider for their design.

    I know and love Jimmy Page but he is a Les Paul player. The Tele was not his iconic guitar and there doesn’t seem to be anything different design-wise from a stock Tele in this signature model other than the ugly oversized pickguard.

    I don’t hate it, because as others have written previously, I would have to care about it first.
     
  16. Sax-son

    Sax-son Tele-Meister

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    I initially preordered this guitar because I liked the rosewood neck/swamp ash combo but soon realized it was way overpriced. I can build a similar guitar for less than half of that price. Also, I heard some comments from a person who said they handled one up at the NAMM show. His comments made me nervous. I cancelled my order until I have a chance to play one in person. I will decide after that if I really need one.
     
  17. stanger

    stanger Tele-Meister

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    I think the Led Zep fans are their own category of fanatical.

    When I quit Gibson, I never really quit working for them, even though I lived a state away. I did a lot of custom art work on their acoustic custom shop flat tops off and on for years. The last batch of them I did were all purchased by a huge Led Zep fan, and they cost him a bundle. He had them made on the long off-chance he would get to meet them, and he wanted to give them all a guitar!

    There were a lot of rumors about a reunion tour floating around just then, and the rumors were semi-true, according to my Gibson factory guy; the Zep was discussing a small reunion tour after jamming a few times, but before anything got off the ground, Allison Krause had talked Robert Plant into a supporting tour for her Kicking Sand album.

    Once Plant decided to do the tour, that ended the reunion talk. I caught wind that Plant wasn't going to do it early on, and warned the guy who commissioned the guitars, but he decided to have them built anyway. I was happy he did, too, as I was stone broke and desperately needed the cash!

    I don't hold anything against Page for wanting some bucks from his name and whatever labor he does on these guitars.

    Jimmy doesn't need the money of course, but the acknowledgement that he's still alive and kicking, and hasn't been forgotten must be gratifying to him. He never did as well as Plant in his after-Zep life, and for someone who once received so much adulation, the loss of it must have been tough for him to bear.

    An empty life as an older man is quite often a sad, miserable life. Especially when all the purposes for living are in the past. If making those guitars helps him stay sober and brightens his old age, where's the harm? And if spending a pile on one of them makes the buyer as happy as those Gibsons made my customer, where's the harm there?

    That's the way I see it. I wouldn't own one, but only because I could do one myself if I wanted it. But that doesn't mean I haven't had a big hankering for some of the custom shop Teles I've seen. That shop has done a lot of work I could never do, and has pulled a lot of it off spectacularly well to my eye. If I had the money to indulge in one, I'm sure I would give some serious thought into possession.

    And as an investment, I do think custom guitars are as good as many other luxuries and better than some others.

    Led Zeppelin is a band I honestly believe has become multi-generational in popularity that will last long after the people have gone. That too insures a pretty sound investment in a luxury item like this. That he's laid his hands on every one of them really adds to their desireablity, I think.

    And for sure, luxury goods are not the same as practical goods. A Fabregé egg is about as worthless an object as there is in any practical view, and while they are quite beautiful, there are many other objects that are equally beautiful.

    But for those who can afford one now, and wants one badly enough, they are the only things that will satisfy the need. We all have that need to some extent, so I can't see the harm in filling it at least once in a lifetime if possible. A good life is a happy life that feels well spent.
    regards,
    stanger
     
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  18. stanger

    stanger Tele-Meister

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    Yup. But there are a few exceptions. The Martin 000 Clapton sig has done very well, and the Johnny Cash black D-35 has done even better.

    You're right though; the best signature guitars seem to be those who have connections to artists who are so popular as to be world-wide in their fame. And even then, the makers have to carefully gauge their appeal to the market. Too many of them built at once can wreck the demand for some, and for others, the demand doesn't always last for a long time.

    So for dealers, some of these guitars are much more attraction tools than guitars. I've seen a couple that were never intended to be for sale, and have been hanging in a display case for so long they are probably unplayable as a working instrument now.

    And you're right about some of them being very difficult re-sales. A second buyer of one of these guitars seems to look at them less as a lust object and more as a practical working guitar in my experience.

    But curiously, the more expensive they are new, the more they are seen as an art object, not as a guitar. That's especially true with a relatively inexpensive custom order, where the guitar itself is a production item and the artwork is just a custom addition.

    I once painted a small batch of Gibson J-200s that were totally stock production guitars. One was a natural blonde, and two were sunbursts. The only thing I added was a cartouche under the bridge of a longhorn steer's head, circled by a horsehair rope with the ends untied, and a length of twining lariat on the upper shoulder. The work itself was far from my fanciest, and wasn't exceptionally hard for me to do.

    The guitars all went back for clear coating, final finish and setup on the production line afterward, and my custom work probably added about $1,000 to the price. The guitars were all selected for nice looking grain pattern but no extra-premium grade wood was used, and the factory bursts were just the same as they are on a standard J-200.

    About 10 years after I did them, I went back to the factory to work full-time again. One of them arrived around the same time as I returned. It had been used only for display all those years, and the top had dried out in the display cabinet and had split, right through the longhorn artwork.
    The owner sent it back to see if it could be repaired. I actually had my original pattern I used, and I still had some of the original paint and the same airbrush I used.

    I talked to the guy on the phone and assured him personally I could replicate my work. And the guy who did the sunburst still worked there, and he could replicate his work, too, if necessary. All the factory paint used was still the same.

    In the end, the owner asked to return the guitar back, as is. He was so boogered about the thought of any change that he just hung it back up in its display case, crack and all. For him, it was just too precious to mess with.

    Go figure. It left us all scratching our heads, and it really bugged me. Eventually, I got a top that had been scrapped and painted the cartouche on it, just to know I hadn't somehow lost my chops. The head luthier at Gibson now has that top hanging in his home workshop. He was Gibson's best inspector, and he could not see any difference at all in the artwork. That made me a very happy guy.
    regards,
    stanger
     
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  19. chemobrain

    chemobrain Friend of Leo's

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    Call me old fashioned out of step, dumb, myopic, uninformed and unenlightened indulge yourselves it's on the house, my treat.
    using ERIC or JIMMY , Fred, Ernest, John Frank, Malcolm et al:to use cult of personality to sell products is to me underhanded and unethical in that it manipulates the customer/victims unconscious needs.
    You'll notice there's no Sid Vicious P-Bass on offer.
     
  20. stanger

    stanger Tele-Meister

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    I agree, but it's a fact of life that people want the same things their idols have or use. Ford sells every Bullit Mustang it makes, and Steve McQueen died in 1980! In the movie, he chose to use a Mustang because has part was a working-man cop who couldn't afford a Corvette. (That's what he said in an interview.)

    I think it's due to memories that leave a lasting impression on some folks. Playing a guitar that is just like Jimmy Page may bring back the most memorable memory of a middle-aged man's youth.

    My brother is like that, but I'm not at all and never have been. Go figure.
    regards,
    stanger
     
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