Guitar Photography – Fender and Gretsch Custom Shop
Jul 12, 2012

For those of you who know me (Mark) you’ll know that I’m a bit of a guitar geek, Just the mention of our 6 stringed friends is likely to achieve a pretty positive and potentially over zealous response! In fact such is my enthusiasm that I’ll throw some guitar trivia into this blog post just for good value. If you’re not a guitar geek skip those parts and I’ll talk about the photography too!

So when we received an email last month from a private client enquiring as to if we could shoot 2 of his guitars the reply button feared for its life! Now here comes the exciting bit the two guitars in question are both American made ‘Custom Shop’ guitars, in layman’s terms they are one offs and a bit special. Both guitars were made for Steve by Master Builder Stephen Stern. You can find out more about him here – You can also see his name on the back of both headstocks on the pictures below.

When it came to shooting the brief was fairly straight forward, The aim was to get some good, well lit, high resolution images that show of the finishes and other appointments. The background just needed to be clean – either black or white. So I was free to get creative and capture some great photographs. The lighting was fairly straight forward, particularly as neither of the guitars were too glossy so there weren’t too many issues with reflections, the main thing that helped the images ‘pop’ was a spot on the black background which I really think helped the guitars stand out and come to life.

The first guitar is a Fender Telecaster – first produced in 1950 it was the first solidbody electric guitar to be commercially produced. This one is a bit different though with it’s dual ‘TV Jones’ pickups, tone and volume controls for each, a small ‘Les Paul’ like tortoiseshell scratch plate and matching tortoiseshell double binding around the body. The finish and hardware have also been ‘reliced’ which is basically the process of artificially ageing the guitar so it looks worn and older than it really is. Relicing has become hugely popular in the last couple of years and divides opinion between guitar players.

So on with the images, Firstly we have the front and back. These shots really show of the grain of the wood and the colour of the double binding.

Here we have the front of the headstock, and below that a close up of the back which bears the Stephen Stern signature.

Lastly we have a close up of the TV Jones pickup, Interestingly though this image shows of the artificial ageing well. Down the left of the image you can see where the lacquer has been cracked or ‘chequed’ – this has been done all over the body.

The second guitar is a Gretsch Duo Jet most famously played by none other that George Harrison, In fact Gretsch have a signature George Harrison Duo Jet guitar that we’ll happily photograph if they would like to send us one! 

It’s most obvious feature is the hand painted pinup girl adorning the front – it’s hard to miss and has been censored slightly for the blog. Painted by famous Southern California artist Sara Ray who does a lot of projects for Fender and Gretsch, check out her website for some other stunning examples of her work

This beast is semi hollow with two Seymour Duncan pickups for a characteristic tone and great for feedback(so I’m told!). It, like the telecaster, has also been reliced. Some of the shots show of the cracks in the lacquer quite nicely.

Here we have the front of the headstock also painted by Sara Ray. Below that a close up of where she has signed her work. Also note the cracked lacquer as we saw on the Telecaster, It shows up more on this guitar as there is more contrast against the blue, and it really is quite effective.

Once again we have to back of the head with Stephen Sterns signature.

That’s a small selection of what was actually shot on the day, It’s nice to capture a mix of body shots and close ups to get a real feeling for these guitars, or any object/product you might have.

I also couldn’t resist quickly shooting a few of my own guitars, so here’s one shot of each for your enjoyment!

Gibson Flying V – Faded series (an early one) with Ebony finger board and crescent moon inlays.


Indie Shape Natural – Swamp ash with Rosewood running through the body and neck.

Indie Two Tone Custom- 335 style guitar with retro fitted P-90 in the neck

If you’ve got any guitars or other instruments you’d like photographed then why not give us a call on 01202 280157 or send us an email – we’d love to hear from you.