Chris Fleming was one of the most esteemed Master Builders for the Fender Custom Shop until he moved on in 2015. His positions at Fender included Master Builder apprentice, Guild Electric Electric Guitar Supervisor, Guild Acoustic Guitar Production Coordinator, Fender Custom Shop Master Builder, Senior Master Builder, Guitar R&D Project Manager, Director of Fender Guitar R&D, Director of Specialty Brand R&D, Chief Engineer Guitar R&D.
He quickly became the go-to builder for Telecasters – being a devoted fan for years. When Fleming began mapping out his Master Design Limited Edition Run, the decision was made easily – he would create an exact replica of his personal and beloved 1955 Telecaster – down to the meticulous relic treatment that perfectly recreates the look and feel of his well-loved, vintage Tele.
This is an exceptional example of the clear distinction between a standard American Fender and the top-notch work of a Master Builder like Chris Fleming. He made only 100 of these, from selecting the wood and ensuring period correct components, to pickup design and hand crafting the instrument from go to whoa. It is a must have for any serious Tele enthusiast, because it is definitely a cut above the rest.
The 55 Telecaster Relic is built with a side seam ash body, with the weight and sustain of a vintage instrument. The one-piece maple neck has a beautifully rounded, fat C-shaped profile. The shape of the neck fits perfectly in your left hand – one of the fastest necks we’ve played. While some may be opposed to the idea of relic’d guitars, there is a clear advantage to a neck that feels 50 years old, broken in right out of the box.
Weight is 7.6 lbs
Mr Fleming has made a point to recreate the feel of his own Telecaster, and his personal commitment to authenticity is clearly shown in the minor details. The neck wear in the first position, the worn fingerboard in higher playing positions, and the vintage profile come together in a beautiful way.
This Limited Edition 55 CF Tele features a 1-ply white pickguard and two pickups that Fleming himself designed to perfectly mimic the tone and response of the originals. The wiring features a lovely clear neck pickup without any capacitor dulling down the tone like the early originals. This is complemented with an “Esquire-esque” circuit around the bridge pickup. The middle switch position is the bridge pickup with the tone control, while the switch in position 3 is the bridge pickup hard wired to the output – ie bypassing the tone control. This is similar to the wiring on early Blackguard Esquires and offers great versatility in the pickup combinations.
The result is classic Telecaster twang, spark, and sweetness. The control knobs roll effortlessly, but still have enough resistance to smoothly operate with a pinky if that’s your thing.
While showing playing wear is the whole point of this light relic Tele, the guitar has actually hardly been played at all. There is no fret wear, but the feel and sound of this thing is that of an old instrument – as close as you can get the real thing without having to take out an extra mortgage.
Chris Fleming no longer works at Fender Custom Shop, and it is our experience that his Masterbuilt guitars, and Teles in particular, are becoming more and more sought after, and therefore more collectible. And for good reason – if you can get a chance to lay your hands on this one you’ll understand why.
Sale includes case candy including tags, cleaning cloth and Certificate of Authenticity signed by Chris Fleming.
Comes in its original tweed Fender case in good condition.