Fender Custom Shop “Time Machine” Stratocaster – John Cruz

9 04 2014

We’re in “crunch mode” as we prepare axes for shipment overseas. “The Secret Strat Project” has never been busier. The guys over there purchase and then rebuild guitars that find their way into the hands of our brothers and sisters serving overseas in harms way. We help them every way that we can. We’re just helping them to spread the “Maple and Rosewood Love…”

We’re up to our tuners in work too. I currently have (8) axes under construction on my benches and I’ve taken on an apprentice. Even so, my personal workload looks like a landslide of Alder and Ash. If not for the “time stress” it’d be bliss. These axes are turning out wonderfully.

So, rather than go off on one of my rants about capacitors, circuits or neck preferences…

I’m gonna share some email with you. Now, you guys know that I hate  it when guys send  me email letting me know about their latest scores.

I don’t hate it because they’re bragging. Some of these guys are at the top of their game. They have gear that “mere mortals” can only dream about. But sometimes I hate it because I moved my tribe to a remote part of Montana and there are some REALLY nice axes floating around out there (in the rest of the civilized world) and somehow these guys seem to keep finding them before I do. 😉

Case in point. A buddy of mine (we call him “Retroverbial” when we’re talking kindly about him – the rest of the time, his “call-sign” is unprintable,) sent me this  email and it was so cool, I just have to share it with you;

“I happened to stop in at the Guitar Shop (Name/Location deleted by editor) this afternoon to try and get some definitive answers about the rumored-as-soon-to-be-released Silverface Vibrolux Reverb re-issue but…

…this damn thing kept yelling to me from the display rack.

Normally the shop’s owner orders these Custom Shop Strat re-issues with 9.5” radius boards and 6105 frets but upon close examination I discovered that this guitar was built to full “Leo” specs – 7.25” radius and vintage fretwire.  I was also surprised to learn it was one of a small number of closet-classic “Time Machine” relics built by John Cruz, with lightly-checkered nitro lacquer finish and minimally-aged hardware.

The pickups are specifically-voiced Custom Shop 1960 coils wound by none other than Abigail Ybarra.

I mean, what’s not to love?

The fretboard has gently-rolled edges and the set-up is spot on.  The guitar is a medium/light weight, tipping the scales at 7 lbs, 8.5 oz.

After playing it for an hour and a half, I spent another forty minutes negotiating (successfully) for a deal I was comfortable with.  I know I’ve said many times that I’d never buy another off-the-rack Fender guitar but the truth is, I could not build a better guitar than this.  I could beat the price but not the quality.

Simply put, the guitar is a personification of Fender at its very best.  The case candy inventory is impressive as well – super duper chamois-type polishing cloth, Custom Shop strap and cable, a comprehensive John Cruz designed tool kit that has everything imaginable for performing string changes and routine maintenance.

So how does it sound?

Frankly, it flat-out honks.  Into my dimed Fender Pro or Spankmaster Reverb with the guitar’s volume rolled off, it’s simply melodic with robustly articulate highs and lows plus a nice fat bump in the middle.

When I crack the volume all the way open it develops a spectacular, nasty growl.  “Nuanced grit”.

With my Fulltone OCD to overload the amp’s front end, hard-picked harmonics just leap from the pickups and the additional outboard gain makes sustained-and-controlled feedback a snap.

As I mentioned, it’s Fender at its very best.

I guess I was finally “ready”.”


Me too. I’m just hoping that when “I’m ready” I can find a lefty like this lil hunk of heaven… I’m getting tired of having to hand-build all of my own gear.

Way to go, buddy! You scored… once again!

Mumble, grumble, snort! 🙂



All Image Credits go to “Retroverbial” along with ownership of this wonderful piece of Fender Heaven. All I can say is “WOW!”


WeWikipedia: We is the first-person, plural personal pronoun (nominative case) in Modern English.



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