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Making It

A Brilliant Rethinking Of The Fender Telecaster, Inspired By Muppets And Baseball Gloves

It’s a shame that guitar design has remained locked in amber for so long. Matthew Schneider fixes the problem.

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A wall of electric guitars looks a lot like an expensive box of Crayola crayons. You’ll spot every color you could imagine, but beyond that, there’s little variation. Every model has the same flat surfaces coated in the same monotonous texture.

"The guitar rests against the body in use, but why should it be made of what appears to be in most cases cheap carbonate material and wood?" laments designer Matthew Schneider. "Why do the ‘pearl inlays’ on the neck remain unchanged when really they are nothing more than round stickers?" So instead, Schneider imagines a series of Fender Telecasters that eschew stickers and paint for rich textile—stuff that’s equally great to look at and to touch. You can almost feel a Telecaster in your hands with the oiled finish of a baseball glove, or the soft-yet-durable boiled felt of his Muppet guitar.

"I’ve seen little to no materials and design innovation from the major guitar manufacturers, and that to me signified an empty space in the marketplace," Schneider tells Co.Design. "There’s demand for familiar but better in many things, but I felt doubly so in guitars."

You’d think a quilted guitar, or one coated in biker-friendly "Back in Black" pebbled leather, would be sheer kitsch. But it’s certainly no more silly than anything else in pop rock culture. In fact, I’d argue that the designs are relatively understated for stage. Five rows back, and almost no one will be able to make out the microscopic nooks and crannies of fine cloth materials.

But the musician will be able to feel the difference, all the same. And that alone probably makes the idea worth exploring beyond these charming concepts. Plus, who wouldn’t want a Kermit-green guitar?

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