The Fender Custom Shop Artisan series is designed to highlight the natural beauty of fine woods. Fender have used such woods as koa, okoume (see Guitar of the Month July 2016), tamo ash, claro walnut, and spalted maple to add an exotic twist to their classic guitars.
This Guitar of the Month oozes class from every angle. The Fender Custom Shop 2017 Artisan Spalted Maple Telecaster features a stunning spalted maple top, roasted alder body, roasted AAA grade birdseye maple neck and African blackwood fretboard. Let’s explore some of those terms:
- Spalting occurs in a decaying tree when fungi enters the wood fibre causing pigmentation and black “zone lines” running through the grain. The process sounds pretty unpleasant but it can produce timbre of exquisite beauty with unique visual characteristics. Spalting commonly occurs in hardwoods such as maple, beech and birch.
- Roasting is a process of heat-treating the wood to remove moisture and other impurities. It crystallises any remaining sap giving it the stability and tonal characteristics more akin to an old vintage instrument. The process also darkens the wood to an attractive golden caramel colour.
- Birdseye is the term for a type of figuring in wood that gives the impression of small twisting swirls in the grain. It’s not known exactly what causes the distortions but it certainly looks great.
- African Blackwood is often used for clarinets, oboes and other wind instruments. The heartwood is typically black or dark brown in colour, extremely hard, has an almost metal-like quality and difficult to work with conventional wood tools. Being a dense, solid, and hard-wearing wood makes it the perfect material for a fingerboard. African Blackwood is protected under the CITES Appendix II and is sourced by Fender Custom Shop from sustainable growers. (Read more about CITES regulations and how they might affect you.)
It takes a lot more than a collection of fancy woods though to create a truly astounding instrument and Fender Custom Shop certainly have the skill and knowhow. The 1963 “C” neck profile is comfortable and not too chunky while the compound radius (9.5”-12”) fingerboard allows for easy chording at the nut end and string bending without the risk of choking out higher up.
The Artisan Spalted Maple Tele is loaded with two Fender Custom Shop Handwound ’58 Single-Coil Tele pickups in the bridge and neck positions providing that authentic vintage-Tele snarl and twang.
A gold anodised pickguard, gold hardware and natural nitrocellulose lacquer complete this exquisite masterpiece – a triumph of great looks and superb playability.
Model: Custom Shop 2017 Artisan Spalted Maple Telecaster
Weight: 7.76 lbs / 3.51 kg
Body: Roasted Alder with Spalted Maple Top
Body Finish: Nitrocellulose Lacquer Over Urethane Finish
Neck: One-Piece Medium-Roast AAA Birdseye Maple
Neck Profile: 1963 “C”
Neck Finish: Nitrocellulose Lacquer
Fingerboard: African Blackwood
Fingerboard Inlays: Vintage Clay Dot
Fingerboard Radius: 9.5″ to 12″ Compound Radius (241mm-305mm)
Nut Width: 1.650″ (42 mm) – Bone
Scale Length: 25.5″ (648 mm)
Frets: 21 – 6105 Narrow Jumbo
Pickguard: 1-Ply Gold Anodized Aluminum
Tuners: Fender Vintage-Style
Bridge: RSD Telecaster®
Pickups: Custom Shop Handwound ’58 Single-Coil Tele Pickups
Pickup Switching: 3-Position Toggle: Position 1. Bridge Pickup, Position 2. Bridge and Neck Pickups, Position 3. Neck Pickup
Controls: Master Volume, Master Tone
Control Knobs: Knurled Dome Gold
Case: Deluxe Hardshell Case
Accessories: Strap, Certificate of Authenticity