Fender Custom Shop Vs Gibson Custom Shop – Which Is Better?

Fender Custom Shop Vs Gibson Custom Shop – Which Is Better?

Guitarists everywhere have debated the merits of Fender Custom Shop Vs Gibson Custom Shop guitars for years. This article will break down both benefits so guitarists can decide when purchasing their next instrument. 

No matter what type of tone you’re looking for, both Gibson and Fender have something to offer. Each company has its unique advantages that help to define its sound.

The Short Answer:

Fender Custom Shop is known for its attention to detail and dedication to vintage accuracy. They specialize in recreating classic models such as the Stratocaster and Telecaster with modern upgrades. Gibson Custom Shop emphasizes innovation while still respecting its roots. Their guitars often feature unique finishes and hardware options that set them apart from traditional models.

Choosing Between a Fender Custom Shop and Gibson Custom Shop Guitar:

Both brands have long histories of producing quality instruments that countless iconic musicians have used. While both are excellent choices, some key differences between these legendary guitar makers may influence your decision.

Fender is known for its classic Stratocaster and Telecaster models, favored by many rock, blues, and country guitarists. These guitars offer a bright and clear tone with plenty of sustain. On the other hand, Gibson Custom Shop guitars tend to have a warmer and fuller sound thanks to their use of humbucker pickups.  This makes them popular among jazz, blues, and heavy rock players who prefer a thicker tone.

What is a Guitar Custom Shop?

A guitar custom shop is a business that specializes in creating personalized guitars based on the customers’ specifications. These shops offer customization options such as body shape, wood type, pickups, hardware, and finishes.

They often cater to musicians who want unique instruments that stand out from standard factory-made guitars. Some guitarists may seek specific sound qualities or design elements not found in mass-produced models. Customization allows them to create an instrument tailored to their playing style and musical genre.

Custom Shop Builds:

Unlike mass-produced guitars, custom shop builds to allow for complete customization from the ground up. This means that every aspect of the instrument can be tailored to suit the player’s needs – from the type of wood used in construction to details such as fret size and pickup configuration. 

A typical custom build involves close collaboration between musician and builder, resulting in an instrument perfectly capturing the player’s style and sound.


The aging process involves several steps, including artificially tarnishing metal parts, chipping and scratching the finish, and distressing hardware components. The result is a guitar that looks like it has been played for years but still retains its original sound quality. 

Guitarists who prefer vintage-looking instruments often opt for this technique as it gives them a unique identity.

Fender Custom Shop vs Gibson Custom Shop Comparison:

This table compares the two custom guitar-building shops.

ComparisonFender Custom ShopGibson Custom Shop
LocationCorona, CaliforniaNashville, Tennessee
Products ProducedGuitars/Basses/Amps 1Guitars/Basses
Special Finishes, Pickups, and HardwareYesYes
Team BuildersYesNo distinction 2
Master BuildersYesNo distinction 2
Aging DepartmentYesYes, including Murphy Lab
Build Turn-Around Time8 -10 Weeks or longer8 -10 Weeks or longer
CostVariable/Maybe less than $ 3Variable/Maybe more than $ 3
Resale ValueExcellentExcellent to Outstanding
  • The Fender Custom Amp Shop makes hand-wired amps.
  • There is no distinction between the great and the great at all Gibson Custom Shop builders. Each builder knows how to build a guitar and will continue to do so in time.
  • High-end Gibson guitars are more expensive than some of the Fenders.

Fender Custom Shop:

Fender Custom Shop Vs Gibson Custom Shop – Which Is Better?

The Fender Custom Shop offers its customers a wide range of customizable options, allowing them to create their dream guitars. From selecting the type of wood used for the body and neck to choosing pickups and hardware, every aspect of the guitar can be tailored according to your preferences. 

Their skilled artisans ensure that each instrument is made with exceptional attention to detail and precision.

The Custom Shop Series:

Vintage Custom Series:

The Vintage Custom Series features a range of classic models updated with modern technology and materials. From the Stratocaster to the Telecaster, these guitars offer players a chance to experience the iconic Fender sound in all its glory. Each guitar is handcrafted by skilled artisans who take pride in their quality, resulting in an instrument that will stand the test of time.

Artisan Series:

Limited Edition Series:

The Fender Custom Shop’s Limited Edition Series takes these qualities to the next level by creating unique guitars that stand out. These limited-edition guitars are crafted carefully, ensuring each is a work of art.

American Custom Series:

American Custom Series has its distinct personality, allowing players to express themselves through their music in a way that truly reflects who they are. The series includes classic models such as Stratocasters, Telecasters, and Jazzmasters but also offers more unconventional designs like the Jaguar Baritone Special or the Cabronita Telecaster Thinline. With many choices available, an American Custom guitar will suit any player’s style.

Custom Shop Build Levels:

The Fender custom shop offers both Team Built and Master Built guitars.

Custom-Built (Team-Built):

Custom-built guitars are often considered the highest level of customization, as they are built to meet the exact specifications of each player. With individual builds, you work directly with a luthier who will handcraft every aspect of your guitar from start to finish. This allows complete control over everything from the wood selection to the hardware and electronics used in your instrument.


The Fender MasterBuilt series is the highest level of customization the company offers. These guitars are crafted by master builders – experienced artisans who have spent years perfecting their craft. With a MasterBuilt guitar, you can expect unparalleled playability, exquisite tone, and stunning aesthetics.

Each instrument is unique – tailored to your preferences regarding wood selection, pickups, hardware choices, and more.

Here is a list of the Fender Masterbuilers:

  • Dale Wilson
  • Paul Waller
  • Jason Smith
  • Yuriy Shishkov
  • Todd Krause
  • Dennis Galuszka
  • Greg Fessler
  • Kyle McMillin
  • Vincent Van Trigt
  • Austin Macnutt
  • Andy Hicks
  • David Brown
  • Ron Thorn

How to Order:

Download the Fender online Design Guide or contact a Fender Custom Shop Dealer.

Using the Fender online Design Guide:

  • Choose build level (Custom-built or Masterbuilt), base model, woods, neck shape, colors, hardware, pickups, wiring, and aging package
  • Add desired options
  • Take the completed design guide to Fender Custom Shop Showcase Dealer for a price quote and estimated build time.

Turnaround Time:

The turnaround time is approximately eight to ten weeks to receive your Custom Shop Guitar. Still, it may take longer, depending on where you prefer to operate with a specific builder and the material and configuration options.

Customer Care:

Custom Shop’s technical support team offers a top-priority warranty extension, worldwide repair and service options, complimentary shipping, attention to detail regarding individual customers, and comprehensive documentation. The warranty extension includes worldwide limited lifetime coverage of electronic and hardware components.

Gibson Custom Shop:

Fender Custom Shop Vs Gibson Custom Shop – Which Is Better?

The Gibson Custom Shop is located in Nashville, Tennessee.

Gibson Custom Shop is a division of Gibson Brands, Inc. that specializes in creating handmade and high-end guitars. The shop is in Nashville, Tennessee, producing some of the most revered instruments.

The Gibson Custom Shop offers various guitar models with custom options that allow musicians to create their signature sound. Each guitar is handcrafted with precision and care, ensuring the highest quality possible. 

The team at Gibson Custom Shop includes some of the most skilled luthiers who take pride in their work and strive for perfection in every instrument they create.

The Custom Shop Series:

The Gibson CustomSeries is renowned for its unmatched quality, craftsmanship, and sound. Each guitar in this series is handcrafted by skilled luthiers who pride themselves on creating guitars tailored to each player’s needs. 

From classic hollow-body archtops to solid-body electric guitars, the CustomSeries offers something for everyone. What sets the Gibson CustomShop apart from other manufacturers is its commitment to creating unique instruments that are as visually stunning as they are sonically impressive.

Custom Shop Build Levels:

The company takes pride in its Custom Shop Build Levels, allowing customers to choose different customization options.

The first level is the ‘Standard Historic’ build tier, where guitars are designed based on iconic models from Gibson’s past. The Standard Historic level offers the most authentic vintage experience, with period-correct materials and construction methods used to replicate original instruments accurately.

The process involves meticulous attention to detail, resulting in a guitar that looks and feels like it was made decades ago. The second level is the ‘Artist’ build tier, where customers can customize their guitars according to their preferences while still adhering to Gibson’s standards.

How to Order:

Guitars are ordered from the Gibson website or through other methods at the Gibson Custom Shop dealers or by way of Gibson. You select your model to choose your options (woods, neck shape, colors, hardware, pickups, wiring, and aging package).

Turnaround Time:

The turnaround time for receiving a Custom Shop guitar is eight to ten weeks. Still, it may take too much time, depending on the materials, design, and intricacy.

Customer Care:

The most convenient method to get customer support is through a dealer from whom the guitar was purchased, ideally the one you bought it from, for quick help. You can also contact Gibson directly through their Contact Support webpage.

The Aging Process – Fender Custom Shop vs Gibson Custom Shop:

Standard Techniques:

These aging departments use various tools, materials, and techniques that mimic guitars’ natural wear and tear over time. They use sandpaper, grinders, files, and other abrasive means to create dings, scratches, and worn edges that give the guitars an authentic vintage feel. They also use chemicals to achieve discoloration on the metal hardware of the instruments.

The goal of this process is not just to make a guitar look old but to create an instrument that feels like it has been played for decades.

High-Tech Techniques:

They have their proprietary aging department, where they use high-tech techniques to replicate an instrument’s natural wear and tear over time. While the exact process is kept confidential, it’s no secret that these departments are staffed with expert luthiers who meticulously recreate every detail.

By carefully examining vintage instruments, these master craftsmen can accurately recreate every scratch, ding, and blemish on the guitar’s surface. They also pay close attention to aging hardware components such as tuners, pickups, and bridges. 

The result is a guitar that looks like it has been played for decades but sounds and plays like it just came off the production line.

Custom Shop Accessories:

Fender and Gibson sell various accessories, such as cables, capos, cases, care products, picks, stands, straps, tuners, and soundhole covers. 

Fender sells several different kinds of Fender products, including guitar care products, tool kits, clothing, bar stools, cables, and guitar pickups, through the shop known as the Fender Custom Shop. Notably abnormal is the Gibson Custom Shop, which sells very little in the way of accessories.


Conclusion – Fender Custom Shop vs Gibson Custom Shop:

Comparing Fender Custom Shop and Gibson Custom Shop, it is clear that both guitar makers offer excellent instruments with unique qualities. The decision of which one to choose ultimately depends on individual preference and budget. Players looking for superior sound quality may prefer the Fender Custom Shop, while those who prioritize aesthetic appeal might find themselves leaning toward the Gibson Custom Shop.


Is Fender Custom Shop overpriced?

The Fender Custom Shop is a line of instruments hand-crafted by some of the most experienced luthiers in the world. These instruments are made with the highest quality materials and craftsmanship, so they come with a higher price tag than standard Fender instruments.

Are Gibson and Fender rivals?

Yes, Gibson and Fender are considered rivals in the guitar industry. Both companies have been around for decades and produce some of the most iconic guitars in the world.

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