So, who is the best Fender master builder? Where do the Fender master builders work? How many are Fender master builders out there? How much does a Fender master builder get paid? How do I become a Fender master builder someday? If you are curious and want to know more about Fender’s renowned employees; the Master Builders, then you are in the right place as we are going to go deeper about them.
So, who really are the Fender master builders, and where do they work? The Fender master builders are the guitar luthiers who work for Fender’s Custom Shop. These luthiers are considered to be the best group in making guitars. With their history, they have already made many legendary and iconic guitars that will not be forgotten with time.
The Fender Custom Shop, where all these Master Builders work, started in 1987, where it was supervised by the company CEO Bill Schultz. At the time, there were only two Master Builders, John Page, and Michael Stevens. As of today, there are eleven Master Builders that work in the Fender Custom Shop.
The main reason why Fender Custom Shop was established is that the company wants to create instruments, accommodating the preferences of their famous endorsers and artists, and other customers who want to have a very detailed quality and specifications for their dream guitars. It allows its customers to customize their guitars with their preferred touches.
The first Fender Custom Shop was established in Scottsdale, Arizona; however, seven years later, it was moved to its current primary manufacturing facility in Corona, California. Aside from their luthiers, they also employ more than fifty craftsmen to help in the making of these highly-customized guitars.
Fender says they can finish a custom-shop guitar within 30 days, but there are some incidents where the delivery can take up to four months because of some restrictions.
The Fender Custom Shop usually does not make guitars for the public, as they are purpose done for a specific artist or customer, but now, they have started to make a limited number of signature guitars commissioned by their artists, like the signature guitars of Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, Eric Clapton, Albert Collins, Merle Haggard, and many more.
All the guitars that came from the Fender Custom Shop are excellent guitars as a Master Builder makes them from Fender. These guitars are also a worthy investment to have as their value appreciates through time.
How Much Does A Fender Master Builder Get Paid?
Usually, the salaries of the Fender Master Builders are not disclosed as they are a private matter, but for some educated guess, the starting salary for a Fender Master Builder is about 40K per year, but after some time, it can go up to 70k to 80k a year. There are also some bonuses that they will receive if they have exceeded their quotas.
Being a Fender Master Builder can be a great way to earn money, as it gives you an excellent salary, and you can enjoy your life as a musician and as a maker of instruments.
How Do I Become A Fender Master Builder?
In applying to be a Fender Master Builder, you need to have good communication skills and knowledge of guitar construction and a similar task, but it is not required. You will undergo rigorous training to hone the skills needed to make these top-notch guitars. Hands-on activities will be frequently done to assess your skills as a luthier.
The applicant will probably be required to perform work on a temporary or long-term basis on the Custom Shop Team Built Line High School Diploma or the equivalent of five years of work as either a builder or tune tester at Fender.
Fender has many luthiers for their guitars, but there is only a limited number of people that are allowed to make a Fender Custom-Shop guitar.
Who Is John Cruz?
John Cruz is a former Fender Master Builder and has done a number of iconic guitars in his career as a top-notch luthier. Cruz joined Fender in 1987 and became a Master Builder of the renowned Fender Custom Shop in 2003.
His well-known created guitars are the Number One Stratocaster of Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Mayer’s Black1 Stratocaster, the Jeff Beck Esquire Relic, a replica of Yngwie Malmsteen’s Duck Stratocaster, and Gary Moore’s 1961 Red Fiesta Stratocaster.
He is considered to be one of the best Fender Master Builders ever; unfortunately, he was dismissed by the company due to some undisclosed reasons as a company policy. As of now, John Cruz started his own luthier business.
Who Are My Top Three Favorite Fender Master Builders?
Ron Thorn started as the sole provider for the inlays of the Custom Shop guitars in the mid-1990s. He has built more than 800 custom guitars under the name Thorn Guitars but is now making guitars for the Fender Custom Shop. He is one of the first to assume the title of Principal Master Builder, which is one of the highest honors at the Custom Shop.
Ron Thorn has made numerous custom Stratocasters and Telecasters as a Fender Master Builder, but he is also the first to make the Fender Custom Shop’s Meteora guitar.
Todd Krause started to work at Fender in 1991, but his history in making guitars was in 1981 with Jackson and Charvel Guitars. He became a one-off instrument builder, an R&D model maker, and a woodworking machinist before he became a Fender Master Builder in 1997.
He was able to make Custom Shop guitars for renowned guitar players like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, Bob Dylan, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Robbie Robertson, Roger Waters, Robin Trower, and many others.
Yuri Shishkov started developing his world-class luthier skills in the small confines of a root cellar in his hometown country of the Soviet Union. When he migrated to the United States in 1990, he settled in Chicago and started to collaborate with different top guitar players. He joined Fender’s Custom Shop Master Builder team in 2000.
He was able to work with Jimmy Page, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, Dimebag Darrell of Pantera, Nuno Bettencourt, Paul Stanley of Kiss, and Robin Zander of Cheap Trick.
So, who is really the best Fender Master Builder? There is really no definite answer to this question, as all of them are excellent guitar builders. The guitars that are made from the Fender Custom Shop are all excellently built and great-sounding guitars. Being a Fender Master Builder is already a great title, as you belong to a group of the best guitar luthiers the world has ever seen.