Fender Custom Shop Supercharges A Stratocaster Guitar With Saleen

With your hand resting on the tinted rear window, run your fingers across its lightweight carbon-fiber body. It feels fast and looks loud. Slathered in Candy Apple Red, this is more than just a pretty face. Adjust the output, jam your foot down on the loud pedal and let it rip. Sound blasts out, but this isn’t horsepower and squealing tires — it is power chords and ripping solos.

The qualities that we look at in producing cars at Saleen – the engineering, technology, sculpture and design and pride of craftsmanship – are very much in-line with what Fender looks at, as well. — Steve Saleen, Saleen Automotive

This high-performance beauty is a one-of-a-kind Fender guitar dubbed the Stratocaster 1 in deference to the car that inspired it — the mid-engine Saleen S1. Built by noted luthier and car enthusiast Ron Thorn, this custom six-string takes inspiration from a car builder with a history of fusing performance and style on four wheels.

Fast cars and loud guitars are similar in many ways, and Fender’s Master Builder Ron Thorn loves them both. He was inspired by the commonalities to create a unique guitar inspired by the Saleen S1. The result is a carbon-fiber axe dubbed the Stratocaster 1. (Photo Credit: Fender)

“Similar to Fender, Saleen was born and raised in Southern California, and the culture in this region of building hot rods and supercars was very influential around the world,” said Saleen Automotive founder and CEO Steve Saleen. “The qualities that we look at in producing cars at Saleen – the engineering, technology, sculpture and design and pride of craftsmanship – are very much in-line with what Fender looks at, as well.”

Debuted in public at the 2020 NAMM show in Anaheim, California, the Stratocaster 1 was painted at the Saleen facility in a brilliant Candy Apple Red. With a carbon-fiber body, a roasted alder center block, and a roasted maple neck, it features several styling cues taken from the Saleen S1. Among those facets are a carbon-fiber fretboard, a carbon-fiber headstock overlay, and a tinted rear window over its high-output TV Jones Power’Tron Plus bridge pickup.

Debuting at the National Association of Musical Merchants Show in Anaheim, California, the Stratocaster 1 features a hand-laid carbon-fiber body, a roasted maple neck, a carbon-fiber fingerboard, and a matching carbon-fiber headstock overlay. This creation also wears a custom 6-stack bridge and a handmade Strat 1 tailpiece, which signifies its one-of-a-kind credentials. It even has a matching pedal board so players can truly put the pedal to the metal to customize the guitar’s tone.

The new Saleen 1’s beautiful lines, carbon-fiber construction and other unique details were the inspiration behind the design and construction of the Stratocaster 1. — Ron Thorn, Fender Custom Shop

As someone who appreciates both aesthetics and performance, Steve Saleen (left) has an appreciation for another SoCal company with a historic legacy — Fender. The company has long offered a Mustang guitar model, and now the company has at least one Saleen guitar in its lineup.

Fender Custom Shop and Saleen Automotive are two titans in their respective industries – both producing top gear and high-performance products in Corona, California. Being an automotive enthusiast, I’m absolutely thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with the legendary Steve Saleen and his amazing team,” said Ron Thorn, Fender Custom Shop Principal Master Builder. “The new Saleen 1’s beautiful lines, carbon-fiber construction and other unique details were the inspiration behind the design and construction of the Stratocaster 1. It was an extremely challenging yet fulfilling build, utilizing methods, materials and concepts new to both the Fender Custom Shop and myself, resulting in an exciting homage worthy of representing both brands’ products.”

Shown off alongside a Saleen S1 at the National Association of Musical Merchants convention held in mid-January in Anaheim, California, Ron’s creation carries a price tag worthy of a sports car — $33,000. That’s spendy for a guitar, but this auto-inspired axe is truly one of one.

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About the author

Steve Turner

Steve Turner brings decades of passion and knowledge in the world of Ford performance, having covered it for over 20 years. From the swan song of the Fox Mustang to the birth of the Coyote, Steve had a front-row seat.
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