Last week we received a massive order of our exclusive run of “Master Vintage Player Series” guitars from the Fender Custom Shop. Now, when I mean a massive order, I mean a pallet that was 7 feet tall containing 40 guitars.
So what makes the Master Vintage Player Series special? Teddy, the owner here at Make’n Music, has a knack for designing custom runs that borrow the best features and tones from vintage guitars while blending them with more modern features available from the high-quality building processes of today. We wanted to have a run of guitars that not only feels amazing from the get-go, but has the modern accoutrements to keep the player happy. Imagine a 60 year old guitar that now has a truss rod adjustable at the headstock, plays better and has more tones available. All while retaining a stock look and retaining the comfortable feel of an old catcher’s mitt, the second you put it in your hands. Enter the MVPs.
When Teddy approached the Fender Custom Shop about an exclusive run of guitars, he worked hard with them to create something special that would appeal to those with a taste for the vintage, but also to those with the needs for modern provisions. Every minute detail and specification of these instruments were painstakingly thought out.
Make’n Music owner Teddy Gordon with an MVP 1960’s Heavy Relic Strat (R61385) and an MVP 1950’s Heavy Relic Telecaster (MM5035)
“They’re meant to be a true modern player’s guitar with a vintage vibe and feel. These are not just another vintage reissue or a custom version with one or two changes” Teddy says, “these are guitars that are not only great players, but you’re not paying for anything that doesn’t literally contribute to the tone or functionality of the instrument. From the wood of the body, the pickups, the finish, the relicing, everything is there for a reason.”
Tone was crucially important to these instruments. When choosing pickups for the guitars, Teddy spent a lot of time deciding on which ones to use for each guitar. Stacks of pickups were looked at, alternative brands were contacted. When it came down to it though, we went with what we thought was best for the model and the era of tone that the guitar was going for.
Fender Custom Shop Master Vintage Player 1956 Strat Heavy Relic
For the 50’s era MVP Strats, Teddy happily decided on loading the guitars with Custom Shop Fat 50’s pickups, saying,
“The Fat 50’s retained the 50’s spank and twang but add a little beefiness to the guitar. They sounded great but took away that inclination towards any of that bright harshness with the guitar’s ash body.”
These pickups, playing along with the ash body and the 10/56 ”V” profile (.860″ – .960″) on the quartersawn maple neck give that great classic vintage 50’s vibe.
There’s plenty of ways to add additional sounds in guitars whether it be routing out the body and putting in active circuitry, putting little dip-switches on the pickguard or adding additional gadgets to the front of the guitar. Teddy definitely wanted to add tonal versatility, but the last thing he wanted to do was harm the classic integrity of the guitar or route anything to deter the resonance of the instrument. By choosing Fender’s unique S-1 switch for the Volume knob, the MVPs were able to retain a stock look, as well as all the familiar tones and switching already in place with the standard 5-way. In the 50′s and 60′s MVP Strats, when activated, the S-1 will engage both the bridge and neck pickups, giving you a rarely heard “Tele-esque” quality to a Strat (think Blackmore / Page). The H/S/S MVP Strats loaded with a Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge position utilize the S-1 switch to split the coils, giving you the flexibility to go from screaming ‘bucker tones to that beautiful, glassy single-coil chime with the flick of a button.
New Old Stock vs Heavy Relic finish packages
We happen to be big fans of the Heavy Relic guitars here at the shop. There is just something about a guitar with half a century’s worth of road-worn wear and tear that makes it instantly comfortable while conveying the vibe that it must play and sound great. Fender does a great job replicating that wear with the Relic process and these guitars are especially crusty. We do realize that pre-aged, beat to snot guitars are not for everyone, however. That’s why we also spec’d some very special New Old Stock (NOS) versions of the Master Vintage Player Series Strats and Teles. These NOS models feature all the same custom specs and tone as their Relic counterparts, but they have the look of a brand new instrument. Shiny chrome hardware, a glossy Nitrocellulose Lacquer finish on the body and a special, gunstock oil finish for the neck keeps the feel of natural wood without all the dirt and grime found on the Relic.
Fender Custom Shop Master Vintage Player Series 1960 Strat NOS
With the 60′s Strats we wanted to go after the best tones of that era and offer a phenomenally comfortable instrument. The Alder body guitar is fitted with a dark rosewood fingerboard attached to an oval C, SRV #1 Tribute Strat neck profile (.825″ – .945″). These are loaded with the Custom Shop John Cruz Limited pickups which work perfectly for the tone of this guitar. Teddy had this to say:
“The Cruz pickups had that hotter output of something like a Texas Special but a little bit more top end sparkle. It almost sounded like the perfect combo of a Fat 50 and the ’69 pickups.”
HSS 60’s Strat
Fender Custom Shop Master Vintage Player Series 1960 Strat HSS
For the H/S/S MVP 60′s Strats, Teddy decided on a Seymour Duncan JB humbucker in the bridge position. The JB is an Alnico 5 pickup and is one of the most popular pickups on the market today. It also blends perfectly with the Fender Custom Shop Fat 50’s and Custom Shop ’69 singlecoils in the neck and middle positions, respectively. The aforementioned S-1 switch splits the bridge pickup and works remarkably well at replicating a sparkly single-coil tone.
The MVP 1969 Strats came into play when we wanted to expand the MVP lineup beyond the typical 50’s and 60’s Strats and Teles. By loading up a lightweight alder body with two Custom Shop ’69 pickups in the neck and middle position and a Fat ’50s in the bridge, these guitars are willing and able to give that “Star Spangled Banner” Woodstock tone. Of course the modern flexibility of the S-1 switch and an adjustable, “Bullet” truss rod at the nut are great features as well. In terms of keeping with the look, the super-cool oversized headstock adds the perfect vibe of the era of these guitars. These are also available with NOS or Heavy Relic finishes, all in Olympic White, just like Jimi’s.
Fender Custom Shop Master Vintage Player Series Heavy Relic 1973 Stratocaster
The 1973 Strats features the same exact setup as the 1969 models- Same pickups, same big headstock, S-1 switching, etc… but with the exception of some additional finishes and a Rosewood fingerboard option.
Fender Custom Shop MVP Teles (50’s NOS with humbucker in back, 60’s heavy relic in middle, 50’s heavy relic in front)
The illustrious Fender Telecaster! Here again with Master Vintage Player Series tweaks to go for the vintage vibe and ’50s / ’60s feel but with the modern player updates, just like the Strats. The MVP Teles all include the headstock adjustable truss, as well as a few important changes unique to the Tele. All of the bridges use Gatton bridge saddles for much better intonation as well as a special “cut bridge” that lets your fingers get to the Volume and Tone controls with unimpeded access. Custom Shop Broadcaster pickups for the bridge position and Twisted Tele pickups for the neck position (with the exception of the MVP NOS Teles with the Seymour Duncan Antiquity humbucker in the neck) provide a modern take on classic Tele tone.
The 50′s Teles feature quartersawn Maple necks with a 10/56 Soft V profile, while the 60′s Teles have the dark rosewood fingerboard and an SRV #1 Tribute Oval C profile. Like all the MVP Strats and Teles, they also feature 6105 frets, a 9.5″ radius and a 1-11/16″ nut width.
When it all comes down to it, the Master Vintage Player series is something that will grow with you over time. It’ll fit in your hands better, it will sound better over the years and it’ll make you a happier player. There is nothing’s wrong with that!
Keep in mind, what’s on our site isn’t your only option. If you want to find the MVP of your dreams but tweaked exactly how you want it, that’s never a problem. We have an exceptional relationship with the Fender Custom Shop and would love to see you happy.
See our full inventory of Fender Custom Shop guitars