Fender Esquire Custom GT

Year: 2003
Finish: Chrome Blue
Origin: Korea
Mods: Seymour Duncan SH-4, StewMac chrome bridge & pickup ring, Schaller straplocks, Allparts knob
Acquired: 2004
Still owned: Yes

The Story:
When is a Telecaster not a Telecaster? When it has one pickup — then it’s an Esquire. And when it has a carved top, a set neck, a Seymour Duncan Invader, and a sexy-as-hell racing stripe, then it’s as far away from a Telecaster you can get. It’s a pop-punk monster — and something I wanted deeply. It was a limited-edition model out of Korea with a surprisingly high MSRP that inexplicably went on clearance mere months after it was introduced. I hurried to grab one before they were gone at a third of the original price. Since then they’ve creeped up in value as more players realize what a great model this is, so I feel pretty fortunate.

I adore the neck; this has a nice D-shape profile and I love the finished headstock. I’ve seen some variance among these Chrome Blue finishes, and I got one that was significantly lighter blue than the ones I’d seen in official photos. The only dark blue one I could find had a big scratch along the back of it, so I went with a slightly lighter one without the stockroom guy’s screwup.

I loved the mahogany body, the carved top and set neck, the neck profile, even the graphite nut – but I wanted to change just about everything else that could be changed. The “smoked chrome” hardware tarnished quickly and looked like crap, so I replaced the parts I could replace and used metal polish to remove the tint from the tuners, which were fine (and new tuners would require drilling new holes – something I really didn’t want to do). The stock Seymour Duncan SH-8 Invader humbucker is a super high-quality pickup in its own right, but it makes one aggressive sound and that’s it (it was used famously by Tom Delonge in Blink-182). I wanted something a little warmer and smoother. The Yamaha RGX820Z had a Seymour JB in the bridge, which I adored, so I figured that was a great swap – and I could get it in white so it complemented the racing stripe.

What I couldn’t do was install it myself. I figured, it’s one pickup and one volume knob – how hard can it be? Harder than I could handle – I messed up the soldering and ultimately took it to Greg Philpott to make right. And make it right he did! It’s awesome now and I am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out.

Greg nicknamed this the Bitchin’ Camaro.

Fender Esquire GT