When Fender launched the Custom Shop in 1987, the goal was to bring about a higher level of Fender craftsmanship. The Custom Shop was founded as the "best-of-the-best" department, where their top luthiers craft the finest renditions of both traditional Fender models and adventurous new designs.
In the early days—or the John Page era as it's often called—the Custom Shop was a smaller operation, but their hands-on approach and high-level expertise allowed them to build anything they could imagine. Ultimately, the Custom Shop grew into the high-octane entity it is today. But since it was founded, the Custom Shop has lifted the overall image of the Fender brand.
This Custom Shop '60s Stratocaster is #22 in a Limited Edition series of 30, and its original Certificate of Authenticity was signed by John Page in July of 1996. The specs are typical of '60s slab-board examples, but it has Gold hardware and a gorgeous Lake Placid Blue finish with matching headstock. Over the years, the finish has mellowed and patina-ed nicely, so the LPB has started to look slightly green-ish at certain light angles. It is absolutely stunning, and the intense Birdseye Maple figuring on the neck is insane.
As far as condition, this '96 Custom Shop Strat is about as clean as you could ask from a used guitar. It shows minimal signs of play and use (see photos), and appears to have spent most of its life in the case. It includes all of the original case, paperwork, strap, and case candy. It also comes with a second tremolo arm that has a different handle/tip for a different feel.
As far as setup is concerned, this is a great-playing Fender. True to the Strat template, the five-way switch delivers a swiss-army-knife range of sounds. The neck is comfortable C shape with a nice rosewood fingerboard. This Limited Edition Custom Shop Strat is a beast of a Fender, and in some ways, it feels like a time capsule from the John Page era.