Fender has unveiled its 2023 collection of Masterbuilt and Custom Shop models, the highlight of which has arrived in the form of its all-new, show-stopping Prestige Collection of Stratocasters and Telecasters.
All 12 models of the Prestige Collection were built by Fender’s elite Master Builders, each of whom showcased their creativity, skill and craftsmanship through one-of-a-kind electric guitars that you’d never see in the Big F’s standard range.
Said to be a testament to the “passion, brilliance, talent and ingenuity of the Master Builders”, the Prestige Collection introduces zany aesthetics, unorthodox hardware configurations and more.
Case in point is the Dutch-inspired ‘57 Strat Journeyman Relic built by Vincent Van Trigt, which flaunts a literal museum-worthy body, fretboard and headstock artwork created by artist and longtime Custom Shop collaborator, Pamelina.
Though its Delft Blue cosmetics and antique appearance gives it an air of fragility – like something you’d display next to an old vase – the workhorse instrument promises the feel of a vintage Strat, with a core that comprises a two-piece select ash body and quartersawn maple neck.
Levi Perry’s equally eye-catching Prestige Custom Fuzz Brain ‘67 Tele Relic is the perfect example of the range’s penchant for pairing wild looks with even wilder specs, coming loaded with delay, octave and fuzz circuits.
The guitar – which basically doubles as a barebones pedalboard – features pickguard-mounted controls and a body design that pays homage to George Harrison.
Elsewhere, Pamelina’s artistic vision is once again featured on Dale Wilson’s ‘69 Strat – yet another guitar that doubles as a piece of luxury high art thanks to its elegant Acanthus Leaves artwork.
Premium visuals are paired with premium appointments, with Wilson’s effort also boasting Custom Josefina hand-wound pickups and gold hardware.
While on the topic of hardware, two other Strats – Kyle McMillin’s Thinline model and Andy Hicks’ HM iteration – focus less on visuals and more on functionality, with the former featuring a semi-hollow design and a pair of P-90s.
Built with the objective of being “exceptionally distinct”, the Tear Drop Cherry Burst beauty flashes carefully configured body contours, a select mahogany body and exterior surface contours said to be akin to Gretsch guitars.
Hicks’ HM attempt, meanwhile, looks to be a SuperStrat of the highest order: not only has it got a dual humbucker configuration, it has also been treated to a Floyd Rose Original double-locking tremolo. Oh, and ya know, it’s been wrapped in aged denim. As you do.
All of the above take the artistic license that comes with the Prestige Collection to the extreme, but that’s not to say some Master Builders have placed all their eggs in the aesthetic basket.
Dave Brown’s Cabronita and Austin Macnutt’s Wood Bridge Strat, for example, are slightly more muted in their appearances, but still deliver bucketloads of the Prestige Collection flair.
The Wood Bridge Strat, as the name implies, has been fitted with a wooden bridge – as well as wooden control knob tops – with the build serving to “explore using alternate materials for hardware”.
Brown’s six-string, meanwhile, is a good ol’ fashioned Cabronita with some choice wood selections, arriving with an elm top and back, and pearwood neck. Other appointments include TV Jones Power’Tron and Classic pickups.
To find out more about the whole 2023 Prestige Collection, head over to the Fender Custom Shop.