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Telecaster custom shop: good years?


Senior Member

I have a Telecaster Original 50 and would like to upgrade it and buy my first Custom Shop.
On the used market, I’ve seen several masterbuilt Telecaster from 2008, 2010, 2015,...
Are there “bad years” to buy a Custom Shop or doesn’t it matter?
I wonder if I’ll go with a used masterbuilt one or a new teambuilt one...

Thank you for your help :)


I have a Fender CS Tele 1960 Custom (2019 3tsb Relic) and a Fender Wildwood 10 CS '61 Strat (2020 Journeyman Relic). I do notice a slight quality upgrade in the Wildwood 10 (From Wildwood Guitars in Colorado). The WW 10s (10 = fret board radius, unique to their guitars and a few other select dealers). With that said, the tele is great and I would recommend focusing on the neck specs you want and the pick-ups you like best. I previously had a Wildwood Thin Skin AVRI 52 tele with Nocaster pick-ups. And in hind sight, I wish I would have grabbed a CS with the Nocasters. Mine has the Twisted Tele in both positions... I'll be putting Nocasters in soon. But that's just my taste, and... that turned into a spend I could have avoided. I would say, check out a Wildwood 10 Tele... they are indeed a bit better than standard CS stuff (supposedly hand picked (of the litter) wood and custom wound PUPs to their specs... I think they are advertising them as Josephine wound... check me on that one) and can be found used at a reasonable price for a Pro instrument. I'm not sure the year matters... generally they are consistent, but of course there are good ones and then their are great ones...
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Silver Supporting Member
The concept of "good years/bad years" is largely manufactured internet forum fodder.

In production guitars, there are tangible spec changes over time - 1970s Gibson pancake bodies and volutes, for instance, which make certain years more or less desirable (though it doesn't automatically make any of these instruments "good" or "bad").

Custom Shop instruments should always made to the highest standards with carefully selected materials and great care/time, so there are no bad years, just specs you prefer more or less.

You could also say that the accumulated experience of the people/business grows over time, so the newest models (with Ron Thorn's process improvements) should be best, but folks also prize certain older models, like the Cunetto Strats.

Overall, go for the specs you want and you can't go wrong.


Silver Supporting Member
Agreed. There are no good years or bad years, just good and bad guitars. With the CS the odds of getting a bad guitar are really low. I have a Custom Shop 59 Journeyman relic strat that is just amazing . Focus on the neck you want and you should be able to get what you want.


Remember that a Tele or Strat is just a slab of wood with a neck and hardware screwed on. I suggest building a parts-caster with the exact specs and parts you want then getting a professional set up done. You will get a custom shop level instrument for a fraction of the price.


I have a team built CS '51 NoCaster from 1999 that has been my main player. It's a monster. Have had offers to buy it from others that have played it. Check out a used Custom Shop '51 Nocaster or similar. They are out there and you can sometimes get a great deal. As others have said it's not about the year as much as it's about each individual guitar. Good luck.


As others have said, it’s more about the specs than the year. I’m not into reproductions, so my CS tele has 22 frets and a 9.5 radius, which is how I like my guitars. I doubt the custom shop lets many “meh” guitars out of the door. Certainly the finish and fretwork on mine is perfect

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