There comes a time in every musician’s life when they realize it is time to take things to the next level with their instrument and gear. Many of us start out on something we picked up at a pawn shop, or perhaps we inherited a slightly beat-on piece of equipment from a family member. Others still opt for a beginner-level instrument as a sort of proving ground before investing more money in professional-level equipment. Whatever the reason, when you know it’s time to upgrade, you visit the local music store and find yourself staring at walls of guitars, basses, drums, cymbals, and amps; at first you feel like a kid in a candy store, and then you realize that what you’re really looking for isn’t anywhere to be found in that shop.
That’s where the Fender Mod Shop comes in. Because even the most mega of mega-centers can’t stock everything, Fender offers an online system designed to let guitarists and bassists customize their own pro-level instrument. Choose between a Telecaster, Stratocaster, Precision Bass, or Jazz Bass, and go nuts. You can pick the fingerboard material, the body material, the body color, pick guard style and color, pick-up type — modify it the way you want it.
Place your order and Fender will ship your new axe to you in a killer road-worthy case, pre-strung, and, as we learned, fairly well set up. Fender assembles these instruments at their facilities in Corona, California, but how is the quality of the instrument?
We pulled in Damian Erskine, a world-renown bass player based in Portland, Oregon, noted for his virtuosity and infectious grooves, to put the Fender Precision Bass we ordered through its paces. Damian has recently performed live in front of sold-out audiences all over the world with acts such as Jarod Lawson, Lalah Hathaway, Gino Vannelli, and with his uncle’s latest band, Peter Erskine New Trio. Peter is not a Fender endorsed artist, but he knows his basses, and he had a very positive opinion of both the bass and the Mod Shop, as seen in the video above.
Fender is the first major guitar maker to allow users to totally customize classic instruments online, though if this venture proves successful, makers like Gibson will likely follow suit.
Price points for base models range from $1,650 to $1,800, which is a little less than you’ll pay if you got to Fender’s Custom Shop, where there are more options for more money. Fender also offers an in-store version of the Mod Shop licensed dealers.
Check out our video above for a look at how the Mod Shop works, and what we think of the bass we designed, both from an aesthetic and playability point of view.