The release of Minions: The Rise of Gru, the prequel to the popular Despicable Me films, has been met with immense, almost giddy enthusiasm in some quarters.
Now, to capitalize on the hype, Fender has teamed up with animation studio Illumination for the Fender x Minions: The Rise of Gru collection, which comprises five master-built stringed instruments.
The partnership will support the Fender Play Foundation, and each of the five instruments – one electric guitar, one acoustic guitar, one bass guitar and one ukulele – will be sold to raise funds for the Foundation’s music education programs.
Making up the lineup are Kyle McMillin’s StratoStuart, Ron Thorn’s Otto’s Moon Bass, Gonzalo Madrigal’s Kosmic Kevin acoustic and Dennis Galuszka’s The King Bob ukulele, all of which carry five-figure price tags.
To celebrate the release of the collection, Fender will be giving students in the Fender Play Foundation the opportunity to see the movie, before giving them lessons on how to play the lead track from the film’s soundtrack, Diana Ross’s Turn Up the Sunshine, which features Tame Impala.
Some were also given a tour of the Fender Custom Shop as part of the brand's Dream Factory YouTube series, which you can see below.
Of the collection, president of the Fender Play Foundation Aarash Darroodi said, “Since we introduced the Fender Play Foundation, it’s been our mission to equip, inspire and educate the next generation of players, supporting their passion for music through our programs.
“Our partnership with Illumination is a special one, as both organizations are committed to expanding the equitable access to music and arts education in after-school programs,” he continued.
Founder and CEO of Illumination Chris Meledandri added, “With a unique combination of Illumination’s artistry and Fender’s craftsmanship, we are bringing our characters to life with this special collection of instruments that will help drive this mission-critical work.
“Together, we are harnessing the power and creativity of our movies and characters to help expand equitable access to music and arts education for all.”
Read on to find out more about the Fender X Minions: The Rise of Gru collection.
Kyle McMillin’s $48,000 StratoStuart has the core of a Dakota Red Stratocaster – complete with an alder body, flame maple neck and a laminated rosewood fingerboard with unique Minion eye fret markers and pearl inlays.
Other mischievous Minion flair comes in the form of custom carved symbols etched onto the body, a bite-mark in the upper bout, an embossed three-ply pickguard and a Minions-themed distressed denim case, complete with patches and stenciled artwork.
Its more functional features include 21 narrow frets, Josefina Campos hand-wound ‘60s single-coils, an American Vintage synchronized tremolo bridge, Fender American Pro tuners and a relic’d finish.
Fender Kosmic Kevin
Kosmic Kevin is the only acoustic guitar of the bunch, and is the most expensive six-string by some distance. Ringing in at a whopping $71,500, the one-of-a-kind acoustic takes things up a notch, featuring a busy, laser engraved Sitka spruce top and a bold Minions-themed artwork painted by Madison Roy on the mahogany neck.
A custom “Minions” inlay runs across the entire length of the fretboard, too, with the guitar also arrives in a suitably styled yellow Minions hard case. Otherwise, it's got mahogany sides, 20 vintage frets, an ebony bridge and Gotoh SE700 tuners.
Fender Otto's Moon Bass
The penultimate offering is Otto’s Moon Bass courtesy of principal master builder Ron Thorn – an intricately crafted four-string comprising a seven-piece snap-together alder body that can be taken apart and reassembled.
Thorn’s background in machinery design helped significantly, with the complex creation comprising a wealth of custom components that help the pieces interlock into one another. A hand-carved Otto – a character from the film – also makes a cameo in the guitar’s “cockpit”, and lines up alongside the maple fingerboard’s custom-painted graphics.
More conventional appointments include a Lace alumitone pickup, a single volume control, a four-saddle ‘70s style Precision Bass bridge and ultra-light tuning machines.
Unsurprisingly, it’s another pricey creation, weighing in at $50,000.
Fender The King Bob
Last but not least is Dennis Galuska’s The King Bob ukulele. In what is definitely one of the most expensive ukuleles to ever exist, the $50,000 small-sized four-string sports a custom Minion artwork painted by Sarah Gallenberger, a pair of sound holes and a painted rosewood fretboard.
The spec sheet is completed by a mahogany neck, maple top, back and sides, a flat fingerboard radius, 12 mandolin frets and a corian saddle bridge.
Of the build, Galuska commented, “For me, I’m personally very interested in any and all opportunities to help kids build a relationship with the arts. Music saved me as a kid and I can’t say I would have ended up in a good place in life without it.”
For more information, head over to Fender.