Guest Luthier – Mike Eldred, Director Sales and Marketing, Fender® Custom Shop

Q&A on Tuesday, March 16, 2010. 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM Pacific Time.

Mike Eldred began building guitars in 1979 at Charvel® Manufacturing in San Dimas, California (later to be called Jackson® / Charvel). He was the first employee Grover Jackson hired, and worked on Randy Rhoads’ guitars and many other artists including Gary Moore, Allan Holdsworth, Jeff Beck, and Edward Van Halen. After eight years at Charvel Jackson, Mike left to work at Yamaha® Musical Instruments. There, he was in charge of the Guitar Service Department and eventually became the Guitar Product Manager and the Guitar / Bass Artist Relations Manager, working with John Patitucci, Nathan East, and Billy Sheehan among others.

In 1994, Mike left Yamaha to tour as guitarist with Lee Rocker, rockabilly double bassist from the Stray Cats. Mike recorded three CDs with Lee before leaving to devote more time to his growing family. Fender Custom Shop Manager John Page called Mike in 1996 and offered him a position as Shop Supervisor. When Page left Fender, Mike became the Fender Custom Shop Manager. Mike eventually worked his way up to his current position as Director of Sales and Marketing for the Fender Custom Shop, where he works with artists, develops new products, helps organize trade shows, and is responsible for positioning and market development of the Fender Custom Shop.

One highlight of Mike's career at Fender came when he had the opportunity to travel to the Experience Music Project (EMP) in Seattle to inspect and document Jimi Hendrix’ famed White Stratocaster® played at Woodstock. Every aspect of the guitar was documented and Mike hand-built four “clones” of the instrument which were detailed down to each scratch and ding.

Another highlight for Mike was going to Austin, Texas along with Fender’s Richard McDonald and George Blanda, to document Stevie Ray Vaughan’s #1 Stratocaster as well as Jimmie Vaughan’s personal guitars to be replicated by the Fender Custom Shop.

“Working for Fender and the Fender Custom Shop is a dream job for somebody like me who still plays and has been around building guitars for most of my life,” says Eldred. “I still get to build stuff every once and a while, and the whole team are really focused on our mission of building the best that Fender can build.”

Please give a warm SDUGF welcome to Mike Eldred!


Fender, Stratocaster, Charvel and Jackson are registered trademarks of FMIC with which Seymour Duncan is not affiliated.