The Offset: Fender’s Fresh Frontrunners

It’s closing time after another long day on the guitar farm, and this evening I am waiting up after-hours so a client can make their way out from Bakersfield to pick up a used Fender Troy Van Leeuwen Jazzmaster we took in a few days ago. It could not have been more than a couple hours after listing that the hits started coming, and with the previous owner’s added hardshell case, this guy just had to have it. The further we move into the uncertain future, one fact is becoming increasingly obvious — the offset body is Fender’s undisputed head of the pack.

He could have sprung for the case but decided to spring out of a plane.
Jimi with Wilson Pickett, probably telling the crowd to invest in Pre-CBS Offsets.

While names like Gilmour and Richards have traditionally driven vintage Strat and Tele sales over time, older heads are giving way to players who treat the likes of Shields and Mascis with the same reverence. As the Baby Boomers head to the retirement home, newer generations of players are finally getting in on their share of the vintage guitar market, and what once were pretty marginal figures in the secondhand shop, Jags, Jazzers and Fender’s growing list of off-kilter offerings are becoming a greater mainstay in the vintage guitar world (and at greater price) than their conventionally waisted counterparts. It’s especially ironic considering bands like Nirvana and Sonic Youth gravitated towards their instruments because they were cheap and bottom of the barrel at the time. The high successes of a wide variety of offset offerings in recent years have shown that Fender is beginning to respond to years of pent up demand but have yet to fully throw open the floodgates.

I can’t hear you. What? WHAT?

A huge factor in the offset’s growing appeal has to be the ubiquity of everything else under the Fender badge. There’s probably no more generic guitar in the average person’s mind than a Strat or Tele (I say this with peace and love) and visually speaking, offsets lean more towards the retro-futuristic vibe that your local sad boy indie rock band requires to subsist on TikTok. Their ease on the eyes is aided by the fact that they are probably some of the most comfortable guitars to hold and play, contorting to your body with ease and offering a great platform for experimentation and modification to boot. At the end of the day, new or vintage, Van Leeuwen or factory Candy Apple, we can’t seem to hang onto them for long, so next time you see one pop up in your local Recycler, pounce on it faster than you can say “Walk, Don’t Run.”

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