Fender Master Builder Ron Thorn gets to mix his love of fast American cars and custom guitar building with the new Stratocaster 1 model from the Custom Shop. We got a sneak preview of the model during NAMM last month, but now we have more info on this hot red Strat!
Need for Tone
Based on the Saleen 1 super sports car that’s due to hit the streets in 2020, the new Custom Shop Stratocaster 1 is a unique instrument in so many ways. First, it uses a carbon fibre shell for the rear and sides of the body – like the Saleen 1.
The guitar also has a single humbucker in the middle under a clear plexiglass housing, mimicking the mid-placed engine on the car, which is also visible via a glass panel. Ron Thorn also spent a good amount of time sketching the original car so that he could recreate the curves and lines of his Fender Custom Shop instrument.
Elsewhere the guitar has an alder centre core and a quarter-sawn roasted maple neck paired with a three-ply carbon fibre fingerboard and headstock cap. The pickups and bridge are fitted to the alder centre core to help give the typical tone you’d expect from an electric guitar.
The hand-carved maple top is finished in a striking Saleen Candy Apple Red. Fender says applying the finish is a five-stage process that required the assistance of the guys at Saleen. It looks very hot-rodded and certainly evokes the spirit of a sports car.
To avoid breaking up all those great body shape lines Ron Thorn came up with the ingenious solution of housing all the controls in an external foot pedal. Mirroring the accelerator, brake and clutch of a car, the Stratocaster 1 has its pedal controls for volume and tone as well as a built-in wah effect, too.
You should really check out the video below to hear Ron Thorn take us through how it all came about. Apparently, a chance meeting in a diner sparked off this whole project. Ron takes us through all his thought process and shows us how he made the mould for the Stratocaster 1.