Fender Custom Shop Set Neck Stratocaster

Hi Folks,
I have a Fender Custom Shop Set Neck Stratocaster, it has a mahogany body with a flame maple overlay, ebony fret board and Ultra electrics. I do not know anything about the history of these guitars. Can anyone enlighten me about their history and the number made etc. My guitar has the serial number: N1910016. Someone told me that this is the 16th Custom shop guitar ever made. Is this b.s.?

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Okay, your suspicions are correct. The "set neck strat" was not the 16th ever produced in the custom shop. At that time, the custom shop was really cranking up, and they were producing not only custom instruments, but also very limited edition instruments, such as your set-neck strat. I believe the serial number corresponds to 1991 and guitar #16 of that year, since '91 is about the right time for the set-neck Stratocaster. If I recall properly, I bought one in '92 from a Fender dealer--it was a new instrument at the time, and the retail was about $2,300.

Around that same time, there was a Stevie Ray Vaughn model with a big SRV routed into the pick guard. Shortly after that series, they produced the Harley Davidson Commemorative Strat, with an engraved aluminum body. As I remember it, you could design your own guitar, working through a retail store and a sales representative who would communicate between you and the luthier. But the limited production models were a little different, in that the guys in the custom shop would decide what they wanted to build, and then would produce a limited number. It stands to reason that they would produce more of the models that sold well.

The set neck Stratocaster probably didn't sell that well, as it was a significant departure for Fender from their typical "don't like this neck, bolt on another" philosophy. However, it appealed to acoustic guitar players who were going electric and Gibson players who wanted to get the Fender sound with the tone and sustain benefits of a set neck guitar.

That's about all I can tell you, off the top of my head. I'm far from a Fender or Strat expert, but I did own one of the guitars (actually, still do) and was around when they were being made.

Tim

Hello Bulsara, nice to see you back. Thanks to Tim for taking the time to reply. I'm no font of knowledge either, but what I know pretty much ties in. Starting with the serial, only the "N1" indicates 1991 (Nineties +1) and this could sometimes be fitted to an early '92 body but, as yours is a setneck, I reckon your guitar is a 1991. After the N1 is a standard, six-digit Fender serial; I think the fact it starts "91" is just coincidence. So, I don't see this as necessarily the 16th guitar of that year even, never mind the 16th ever to come out of the Custom Shop.

Just adding to what Tim says, I had a copy of Fender Frontline magazine around about 1993 (might still have it somewhere). It did a big feature on the CS work and there was even a fax/post form at the back of the magazine where you could specify body shape, body woods, headstock shape etc etc etc to get the exact guitar you wanted.

They also had a big feature on the CS tribute models replicating endorsing artists and "dead people can't sue" former users. I remember the SRV, plus some extremely ugly things and the frankly bizarre. SRV may like an upside-down trem arm but I don't. You could also pay a heap of money for a lefty white Strat strung upside down. It had an etching of Jimi on the neckplate to convince you it was $3k well spent instead of just buying a Squier and turning it over yourself. My fave was the Jaco bass. A rosewood neck with frets put in, then ripped out again and lashings of yacht varnish slapped on in an attempt to protect the unsuitable fingerboard. They also were commisioned to do commemorative Disney, Shelby Cobra etc specials that have appeared often in our "ugly" threads.

Much less was mentioned of the type of CS guitar you own, but they were done and pretty much as Indiana Tim described. Much the best of the CS guitars to own, along with some of the better-thought individual orders.

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