Fender Master Builders celebrate the Fender Play Foundation with 12 one-of-a-kind ‘Student’ guitars

Fender Custom Shop Masterbuilt Student electric guitars
(Image credit: Fender)

To celebrate the work being done by the Fender Play Foundation in educating the next generation of musicians, the Master Builders of the Fender Custom Shop have joined forces with the learning platform to construct 12 one-of-a-kind student electric guitars.

The Foundation aims to equip, educate and inspire the emerging cohort of musicians through equipment donations, personalized lessons and artist experiences, and has donated over $1 million in resources to date.

By the end of 2023, the program hopes to be supporting more than 35,000 beginners, and aims to be aiding 1 million students nationwide by 2030.

In recognition of the Foundation’s efforts, Fender's 12 Master Builders have assembled a collection of unique, never-before-created student-inspired six-strings that it hopes are “destined to become classics”.

The first four models of the collection, designed by Greg Fessler, Dennis Galuszka, Paul Waller and Carlos Lopez, have been released, with a further eight currently in the pipeline. 

Fender Masterbuilt Stratocaster in Blue Ice Metallic

Fender Play Foundation '62 Stratocaster by Greg Fessler (Image credit: Fender)

Two Stratocasters appear in the first crop of one-off Fenders, including Fessler’s Blue Ice Metallic model and Lopez’s Oxblood short-scale version.

Fessler’s creation boasts a two-piece alder body, 9.5”-radius quarter-sawn maple neck and Flat-Lam rosewood fingerboard with 21 Narrow Tall frets. A set of hand-wound Fat ‘50s single-coils with an RWRP middle makes the cut, controlled via a five-way switch and Strat Blender Wiring.

Lopez’s 24.75”-scale model, meanwhile, features a two-piece ash body, 14” radius quarter-sawn maple neck and rosewood fingerboard with 22 Narrow Tall frets. Under the hood, the Strat sports a single DiMarzio Super Distortion humbucker.

Fender Masterbuilt short-scale Stratocaster in Oxblood

Fender Play Foundation Short-Scale Stratocaster by Carlos Lopez (Image credit: Fender)

The final two offerings both serve up fresh takes on Fender’s Musicmaster model, with Waller’s Fiesta Burst iteration boasting a two-piece alder body, 24.75”-scale flat-sawn maple neck and 9.5”-radius round-lam rosewood fretboard.

Other features include a vintage-style Strat Hardtail bridge and a single Wide-Range CuNiFe neck humbucker, adjusted via master volume and tone controls.

Fender Masterbuilt Musicmaster in Fiesta Burst

Fender Play Foundation Musicmaster by Paul Waller (Image credit: Fender)

In comparison, Galuszka’s metallic model flashes an NOS Urethane Genuine Copper Sparkle colorway, and features a Curtis Novak Tele bridge and Curtis Novak Wide-Range humbucking neck pickup.

The spec sheet also includes a Hardtail Subsonic bridge, 9.5” radius and 22 Medium Jumbo frets.

Fender Masterbuilt Musicmaster in Copper Sparkle

Fender Play Foundation Musicmaster by Dennis Galuszka (Image credit: Fender)

Of the latest collaborative project, Principle Master Builder Ron Thorn said, “History has proven that many professionals have used the original ‘Student’ instruments to great success. 

“Each is designed from scratch, requiring custom tooling, hardware and electronics. The Fender Play Foundation first fret inlay used on each designates it as part of this exclusive collection, one from each Master Builder.

“These are not your typical Masterbuilt guitars; they are destined to become classics and contribute to the Fender Play Foundation’s worthy cause.”

For more information, head over to the Fender Custom Shop.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.