If you read guitar magazines anytime during the late Eighties through late Nineties, you’re probably already familiar with the name and work of John Page, who was one of the co-founders of the Fender Custom Shop.
If you don’t know John Page’s name, you probably know his work from guitars like the prototypes for Fender’s Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck signature models. Page has created guitars for artists including Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, David Gilmour, Elliot Easton and Cesar Rosas. various limited-edition models like the Harley-Davidson, Marilyn Monroe and Hendrix Monterey Strats. He has designed guitars in conjunction with Harley Davidson, Playboy and Jaguar. Page is featured in The Dream Factory: Fender Custom Shop by Tom Wheeler (Hal Leonard, 2011) and other books on Fender and the Fender Custom Shop.
Page left building guitars in 1998 to be the Executive Director of the Fender Museum for several years before breaking from guitars altogether, but in 2006 he made a comeback with his own company, John Page Guitars.
Page initially focused entirely on custom instruments, but earlier this year he teamed up with HRS Unlimited to start the John Page Classic brand and offer his first production model guitars. The Ashburn is the first John Page Classic model, which the company describes as the industry’s first “custom production” guitar. Designed by John Page, co-founder of the Fender Custom Shop, the Ashburn is a production guitar with all the features in the high-end custom guitars Page builds himself. It’s produced to spec in a state-of-the-art workshop in Japan, then set up in the U.S. by authorized John Page Classic techs.
FEATURES: With its asymmetrical double cutaway body shape, contoured body, and three single-coil pickups, the Ashburn represents Page’s evolution of the original 1954 Stratocaster design. Refinements include a neck that attaches to the body via machine screws with threaded inserts to enable greater tone transfer between the neck and body, Gotoh staggered vintage-style tuners that eliminate the need for string trees, and Bloodline JP-1 pickups, with the bridge pickup mounted at a reverse angle with the low E string polepiece located closer to the bridge. Controls are streamlined to a set of master volume and master tone knobs and a five-position pickup selector, and the bridge is a high-performance Gotoh 510 tremolo. The output jack is side-mounted.
The body and neck are the classic combination of alder and maple (respectively), and the materials are carefully selected for performance. The neck has 22 nickel-silver medium frets, a 25 ½-inch scale, comfortably rounded C profile, 12-inch radius, and is available with a maple or rosewood fretboard.
PERFORMANCE: Right out of the box, the Ashburn sounds and plays incredible. The pickups deliver rich, harmonically complex tone with percussive punch and bodacious midrange usually only found in the most desirable vintage Strats. If you want Stevie Ray’s shade of blues, it’s here, but so is Uli Jon’s hard rocking drive, Jimi’s snarl and Jeff’s howl. The neck is as comfortable as a velvet couch overstuffed with Siberian goose down, and the deep cutaway makes it as easy to play at the 22nd fret as it is at the first.