Fender: New Artisan/Master Series Strats

6c33d22d769f94f3a8be4d1b5d47c76d-7With 68-years under its belt, Fender has certainly earned the right to rest on its laurels. Fortunately for us, they continue to look forward. There’s always something new cooking, particularly when it comes to the Custom Shop. And, they have just released two new series of Stratocasters, the Artisan Series and the Master Design Series — both drool-worthy and deserving your full attention.

The Artisan Series is inspired by instruments built for 2013’s Tokyo Guitar Show. This series is team-built, and features fine woods, hand-rubbed stains and urethane finishes. Pickups are Custom Shop Fat ’50s with lipstick covers. The chrome tuners have ebony buttons. Available with either a one-piece maple neck and fingerboard, or a rosewood fingerboard.

This Artisan Series Quilt Maple-Top Stratocaster has a “tiger eye burst” finish.

Quilt Maple Top Artisan Strat

The Artisan Series Spalted Maple-Top Stratocaster has a “buckeye” finish:

Spalted Maple with Rosewood

The Artisan Series Walnut-Top Stratocaster also has a buckeye finish.

Walnut Top Artisan

Next up is the Custom Shop’s Master Design Series. These guitars are also team built, but their design is what “master builders would build for themselves given the opportunity,” according to Fender’s PR Dept.

todd5 Master Builder Todd Krause has spent more than two decades at Fender, building guitars for Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, and Roger Waters. His Custom Shop Master Design 1950s Relic Stratocaster “evokes” that decade, but has modern touches like shielded wiring, five-way switching, and a  fingerboard with a 9.5-radius.

Master Design 1950s relic Moss Green

The body features a Moss Green nitrocellulose lacquer finish, accented by gold hardware, plus three shielded Custom Shop Fat ’50s single-coil pickups.

john2With a 27-year tenure at Fender, Master Builder John Cruz has picked up loads of technique and knowledge. He’s built guitars for Richie Sambora,  Duff McKagan from Guns N’ Roses, and Aerosmith’s  Brad Whitford. Remember Fender’s replica of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Number One” Stratocaster? That was all John.

His Custom Shop Master Design 1963 Relic Stratocaster embodies the early ’60 look, but Fender says it has “mods under the hood that deliver remarkable modern tonal versatility.”

Master Design single coil pickups provide greater output, more midrange and a “sweeter tone” for soloing. The middle pickup is wound for hum cancellation. Other features: five way switching, master volume, master tone, and a “blend” control in place of the second tone knob.

Master Design 1963 Relic Sunburst

The two-piece alder body has an off-center seam and a faded nitro lacquer finish. You’ll find a larger C-shaped neck, quarter sawn, with no back finish, along with jumbo frets. The tremolo arm is larger in diameter and extra sturdy; the trem bridge has a brass block for more “tonal liveliness.”

MSRP price for Artisan Design Series: $5000

MSRP price for Master Design Series: $5500

Guitars in both series are available now.

For more on the Master Design Series, check out:

For more, on the Artisan Design series, check out:



3 Responses to “Fender: New Artisan/Master Series Strats”
  1. Rocket88 says:

    These are very pretty – but who can afford them? Do actual working guitar players buy these or are they purchased by rich guys who don’t play guitar but want a conversation piece in their basement rec room next to the sofa??

    • dannywalk says:

      Agreed – they’re certainly beautiful but I’d never use one as a working guitar.

      I guess if I was a successful musician, this might make a good studio guitar or perhaps as you say, something that sits behind glass or is admired in a fancy apartment.

      For the money, I’d get a *selection* of good playable guitars.

      Anyway, I’m guessing we’re not the target demographic 😉

  2. abnormaltoy says:

    I still don’t have the money to buy one…but, I will. I am feeling warm and fuzzy for the Todd Krause Strat.
    A hand built guitar costs more, but…quality at any level costs.

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