It was quite a before-holiday treat. On December 1, 2011, Bass Player Editor Brian Fox and I were invited to Fender’s Corona, California factory for a preview of the Fender Select series guitars and basses. The Select series is a dramatic breakthrough for Fender production-line instruments, as everything from woods to electronics is designed to be seriously elegant and sonically spectacular—a luxury line that stops short of the wonders of the Fender Custom Shop, but still makes you feel like you’re wielding a custom machine.
“I feel as if we’re in a renaissance here,” said Fender Director of Electric Guitar Marketing Justin Norvell. “Larry Thomas (Fender CEO) is pushing us to expand the scope of what Fender can do, while still recognizing its legacy. For example, the Fender Select series really kicked off when Larry looked around and said, ‘Why don’t we have top-of-the-line production-model guitars made with really fine woods?’”
The Fender Select models I saw in production on the factory floor were definitely impressive. Gorgeous wood pieces were stacked everywhere, as builders hand-sanded bodies, applied finishes, and did other assembly work.
“We do have machines here for cutting the raw bodies and necks and so on,” said Chris Fleming, Senior Master Builder and Project Manager for Guitar R&D. “But it’s people who make most of those guitars. It’s really an art form.”
The Fender Select series includes five guitars and two basses: a dark cherry burst Stratocaster; an antique burst Stratocaster HSS; a violin burst Telecaster; a Sienna edge burst, carved koa-top Telecaster; an amber gloss, carved maple-top Telecaster; a Precision Bass; and a Jazz Bass. All models have a groovy “Fender Select” medallion set into the rear of the headstock. Street pricing for the series spans from $2,049 for the Stratocaster and Stratocaster HSS, to $2,149 for the Telecaster, to $2,499 for the koa and carved-maple Telecasters. Stay tuned for a review of the entire Fender Select series guitars—as well as scenes from the factory tour—in a future issue of GP.
Read the official Fender Select Series press release here.