Fender recruits two new Custom Shop Master Builders

Andy Hicks and David Brown of the Fender Custom Shop working
(Image credit: Fender)

Fender has announced two new recruits to its ever-expanding team of Custom Shop Master Builders: Andy Hicks and David Brown.

Hicks and Brown will team up with the rest of the Master Builder cadre, which comprises Dale Wilson, Paul Waller, Jason Smith, Yuriy Shishkov, Todd Krause, Dennis Galuszka, Greg Fessler, Ron Thorn, Kyle McMillin, Vincent Van Trigt and Austin Macnutt.

According to his bio, Hicks received his first guitar when he was 11 years old – a Three Tone Sunburst Fender Stratocaster – and after nurturing a passion for Nirvana, Black Sabbath and Metallica began working on modifying pickups and wiring.

In 2009, he enrolled in a six-month program at the Guitar Craft Academy in Hollywood, and was snapped up by the Jackson Custom Shop a week after graduating as a fret dresser. Later in his career, he served as an assistant to Gretsch Senior Master Builder, Steve Stern, between 2013 and 2018.

Andy Hicks headshot

(Image credit: Fender)

He worked closely with a number of artists during his time at Gretsch, and aided the development of the Malcolm Young Salute Jet.

After a brief stint outside the Fender umbrella as a lead builder and production manager, Hicks rejoins Fender in a move that, in his own words, “feels like I have returned home”.

“Coming back to Fender, becoming part of the most prestigious custom shop in the industry, and being around so many talented builders is incredibly exciting and humbling,” Hicks said. “It also feels like I have returned home.”

He continued, “I love interacting with guitarists. Bridging the gap between builder and player, listening to their desires and implementing them into my builds is incredibly rewarding.”

Brown’s guitar journey, meanwhile, began in the ‘70s, and by the mid-’80s he was working for Yamaha after cutting his teeth as a guitar repair technician at a local music store. His first partnership with Fender began in 2000 and lasted nine years, during which time he received a marketing degree from California State University.

David Brown headshot

(Image credit: Fender)

He returned to the Big F two years later to manage Fender’s then-new Visitor Center, though left after the center closed down in 2016, and a year later became manager and principal builder at the G&L Custom Shop in Fullerton until 2020.

Now, after a brief stint at school to pursue a teaching credential in math, Brown has returned to Fender for the third time.

Of his appointment, Brown said, “I hope to bring a perspective that takes into account all of my previous experiences in guitar building and construction. I hope to create these instruments that are the industry standard when it comes to accuracy and feel for the musician. 

“Becoming a Master Builder for the Fender Custom Shop means that you’ve arrived,” he continued. “There is no higher pinnacle than this.”

Brown and Hicks are the latest Master Builders to be recruited by Fender, after the company announced it had hired Austin Macnutt to join the team earlier this year.

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.