Posted on by Walter Bryant


 The 2015 Builder Select series celebrates those behind the Dream Factory’s magic—the master builders who craft the Fender Custom Shop’s legendary instruments and push the boundaries of possibility. Inspired by the coveted Fender instruments of yore, every Builder Select guitar is infused with a master builder’s passion, attention to detail and boundless imagination.

These authentic, hallmark Fender instruments reflect the best elements of the past, bearing modern enhancements personally selected and designed by each builder. High-end custom electronics, select pickup configurations and exclusive finish touches coalesce to create guitars that exhibit the ultimate in expressive tone, premium feel and classic Fender style.



Yuriy Shishkov 2015 Builder Select 1963 Stratocaster


This inspired example of Shishkov’s luthiery reflects an instrument that has been played with loving respect versus careless abandon. The Aged Arctic White Journeyman Relic® finish shows the marks of countless gigs over the years. The quartersawn ’60s “C”-shaped maple neck reflects a master’s touch—a smooth, silky finish on the front and lack of finish on the back, where the player’s hands would caress the neck. “The neck is the part handled the most,“ Shishkov said, “so it had to be comfortable and reflect a well-loved instrument.” Using authentic ’60s-era construction techniques, Shishkov created an eminently playable 9.5”-radius round-lam rosewood fingerboard with 21 jumbo frets to top off this exceptional neck.

The Custom Shop Hand-Wound ’60s Strat® Single-Coil pickups include a reverse-wound, reverse polarity middle pickup for hum-free playing while accurately recreating classic Fender tone and dynamic response. In a personal touch, Shishkov included a modern five-way pickup switch along with Vintage Modified Stratocaster wiring. The traditional master volume and neck pickup tone controls are left unmodified, while the second tone control affects the middle and bridge pickups. Period-accurate touches include a responsive six-saddle American Vintage synchronized tremolo, nickel/chrome hardware and nitrocellulose lacquer finish—allowing the guitar’s body to breathe with extra resonance and a more natural sound.

Riffing on a classic—while staying true to Fender’s roots—the Yuriy Shishkov Builder Select 1963 Stratocaster springs from the master’s mind to your waiting hands.









Greg Fessler 2015 Builder Select 1969 Stratocaster


This sterling instrument bears a few Fessler-designed custom modifications, otherwise remaining as period-accurate as possible—from the F-style tuning machines and 6-point tremolo to the mid-60s Oval “C”-shaped maple neck and narrow jumbo frets. The Custom Shop pickup complement is the well-known “Fessler Set” originally developed in 2006—three hand-wound single-coil pickups carefully selected by Fessler for their classic, highly dynamic and reactive tone when used together: a singing Custom ‘69 neck pickup, thick Fat ‘50s middle pickup and hot, high output Texas Special bridge pickup. The wiring is the special sauce that completes this tonal recipe— a treble bleed circuit maintains clarity while adjusting the guitar’s volume knob, retaining crisp clear high end and creating consistent tone while “cleaning up” nicely. The traditional control scheme is also slightly altered—one tone control affects the neck and middle pickups while the second tone control adjusts the bridge pickup for even more tonal variety.

Attention to minute details and master-level craftsmanship are the hallmarks of Greg Fessler’s carefully researched and constructed instruments—the limited edition Greg Fessler Builder Select ’69 Stratocaster is a premier example of his skill and dedication to the art of luthiery.