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The Dream Factory: Fender Custom Shop Interview

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Jazz Guitar Today’s editor Bob Bakert gets some insight into ‘The Dream Factory” with Mike Lewis – VP of Product Development, Fender Custom Shop.

Mike Lewis on working with artists: It’s a collaboration, they want certain things, certain neck shape, certain fingerboard radius, a certain functionality, certain weight, it varies. Some artists are less, concerned with some of the smaller details. And some of them are very, very concerned. So everybody is different, has different concerns. It’s a matter of learning the person and working closely with them and giving them what they want. With the custom shop, the sky is pretty much the limit. Our master builders are unequal in their abilities, imagination, and creativity. A lot of times during that collaboration, new things will come out, new things will come to light and, it’s a learning experience for everybody. It’s great!

Mike Lewis: My All Time Favorite Project – Founders Design Series

Mike Lewis: My favorite builds of late…


New HOT wiring/control set ups:

Fat 50s Strat with ½ Blender

The “Fat 50s Hookup” is where the tone control is connected to wiper of the volume control. This will have two major effects on the tone:

  1. First, the overall tone gets stronger with more transparent bloom.
  2. Second, the typical treble loss that occurs when rolling back the volume is much less, and both the volume and tone controls react more smoothly and more evenly, without the typical hot spots.

“½ Blender” – the bottom control is a blend for the bridge and neck pickups. This functions in switch positions 1 & 2 allowing bridge and neck (position 1) and all three pickups “on” (position 2).


Modified ’51 Nocaster

A modified version of the original Broadcaster wiring. This wiring has no tone control. Instead, the bottom knob is a blender for the bridge and neck pickup. This functions in switch position 1 only. The middle position is the neck pickup with just volume only. The lack of a tone control reduces the “load” on the pickup making the sound bigger and brighter. Position 3 is also just the neck pickup with a small cap and resistor producing a warmer rhythm tone.


50/51 Blackguard Tele Pickup set

Mike Lewis: This are the closest thing to the original 1950 pickups. Details in video.

Tomatillo Strat pickup set

Mike Lewis: Sweet and tangy! Details in video.


Jazz Guitar Today would like to thank Mike Lewis and the team at Fender for helping with this article and interview!

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