Don’t settle for off-the-shelf: Fender’s Mod Shop lets you design the guitar you want

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.

Computing

Block out the sun and drown out the haters with Bose’s new AR sunglasses

Bose has announced its quirkiest listening device yet, a pair of headphone-integrated sunglasses that allow you to meander the brightest places with your favorite tunes in tow. Called the Frames, the glasses will sport 3.5 hours of battery.
Outdoors

Snooze soundly anywhere you lay your head with the best sleeping bags

A proper sleeping bag has the ability to make or break a camping or backpacking trip. Here are our picks for the best sleeping bags on the market to help you choose the correct bag for any type of outdoor adventure.
Gaming

Everything about 'Red Dead Online', including its new microtransaction store

Red Dead Online will gradually rolled out to Red Dead Redemption 2 players via a beta. We've got all the details about the beta's suite of competitive and cooperative modes, as well as what to expect going forward.
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Mobile

Sprint’s 5G rollout: Everything you need to know

Sprint is building its next-gen 5G network in preparation for a 2019 rollout, but it's taking a decidedly different approach than some of its competitors, including Verizon and AT&T. Here's everything you need to know.
Home Theater

Spotify Wrapped reveals rad facts about your musical tastes and habits

The website may be a bit tough to find at first, but Spotify Wrapped tells you awesome facts about your year in listening. From how many minutes you spent jamming out to your top artists, and beyond, there's a lot to dig into.
Social Media

What do yodeling and Kylie Jenner have in common? YouTube’s top 2018 videos

In a true nod to the variety found on YouTube, the platform's top 10 list of videos from 2018 range from celebrities to sports, from perfectly tossing a picture frame on the wall to a kid yodeling in aisle 12 at Walmart.
Music

From Paul McCartney to Mariah Carey, this is the best holiday music

Whether you're a fan of classic jazz standards or modern R&B masterpieces, there's something for everyone on our playlist of the best holiday music. Pour some eggnog and curl up by the fire, this one is sure to get you in the holiday…
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Music

The best new music this week: Josh Homme, Domo Genesis, and more

Are you looking for the best new music? Each week, we scour the internet to find the most compelling new releases just for you. On tap this week: Josh Homme, Domo Genesis, Eddie Palmieri, and Jacob Collier.
Music

Apple Music may sign up more exclusive artists with purchase of Platoon

Apple purchased London-based Platoon, which is a startup that helps independent musicians get discovered by major labels. The acquisition may help Apple Music sign up more exclusive artists.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Music

Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ becomes the most-streamed 20th-century song

Queen's iconic Bohemian Rhapsody has become the most-streamed 20th-century song. Knocking Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit off the top spot, the British band's 1975 classic has now been streamed 1.6 billion times globally.
Music

Jam out in style with the 25 best playlists on Spotify

Music is the world's most potent drug, and the best playlists on Spotify will make you catch feelings. We've scoured the service for its top collections, and brought them together in one place -- for you.