Fender TOM DELONGE Strats! Brand New Blink 182 Guitars!

Published on 25 July 2023

Are you into signature guitars? Back when such instruments started appearing in the 1980s (we won’t count the Gibson Les Paul here, even though it was technically a signature guitar!), the types of players who were approached by the guitar manufacturers were either global megastars (Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana) or shred legends (Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen). Occasionally, you’d get someone who was both (Eddie Van Halen), but it did take a little while before more niche artists were put on the map, so to speak.

Today, there’s still a bit of that thinking remaining in some circles: that idea that you need to be a technical wizard like John Petrucci or Paul Gilbert in order to ‘earn’ a signature guitar. What we’ve been seeing in this last decade or so, though, is that there’s an entirely different market out there for artist models, and they are not your typical ‘gunslingers’ at all. For every Tosin Abasi, there is a Billie Joe Armstrong. Artists such as Johnny Marr, Kurt Cobain and Nile Rodgers have all been bestowed triumphant artist guitars, showing that some companies are finally understanding how diverse and wide-reaching some of these players are. They are influential precisely because they are not fret-melters.

We say ‘some companies’ but we’re really talking about Fender. Considering they’re the biggest guitar brand on the planet, they have kept their ear remarkably close to the ground in terms of which artists they associate with. There’s a whole world of music fans whose favourite guitarists are not necessarily showy in their style, but nonetheless command a worldwide influence.


A Different Generation

One such example is Blink 182’s Tom DeLonge. Whilst not perhaps a musician known for lightning fast legato playing and dextrous sweep picking, he’s still someone that a great many music fans can relate to. Blink 182, it’s fair to say, have endured to a level of continual popularity and influence, far more than maybe even they expected when the band started back in the mid-90s. How many of today’s guitarists were inspired to pick up a cheap guitar and strum away because of these guys?

Those guitarists are now the ones buying artist signature models - as their parents would’ve bought the Clapton, Beck, SRV models etc -  and it seems only right that their choices reflect the players they loved growing up. There is now a good few generations of players who care little for Santana and Knopfler, and whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing comes down to your own taste and perspective. Everything and everyone has their place, but we’d definitely much rather see these newer generations of players being celebrated rather than excluded due to some level of ‘technique snobbery’ or earned status. And anyway, Tom has actually long since been a massively popular choice for guitarists, with each of his signature guitars over the years ascending in value beyond any reasonable expectations. Let’s look a little closer.


Tom Delonge’s Signature Guitars

We’re here today to ostensibly talk about the new Tom Delonge Strat that Fender have just made, but let’s quickly note that this is actually an unofficial 20th anniversary reissue of a guitar that was first offered for sale in 2003! Yes indeed, Tom Delonge has been attached to signature guitars for over two decades now. He actually began with a Squier signature, which initiated the design blueprint we’ll see today: big headstock, single humbucker, no tremolo. The Squier model was released in 2001 and was huge, so a Mexican-made Fender model replaced it two years later.

This new model is actually somewhat of an unofficial anniversary reissue of that first signature Fender Strat. Released between 2002 and 2003, the initial Fender Tom DeLonge Strat was available in four pretty cool colours, including Graffiti Yellow and Surf Green. It had one pickup - a powerful Seymour Duncan Invader humbucker - and a single volume knob, nothing more. This bold take on the Strat proved to be a popular one indeed, though the guitar itself was only in production for a year or so.

Next, DeLonge moved across to Fender’s direct competitor, Gibson. His next signature guitar was based on the famous ES335, but again eschewed the notion of a neck pickup. Dubbed the ES333, Delonge opted for a Dirty Fingers pickup, a matte finish with a racing stripe and a single volume control once again. This guitar was made in 2003 and actually stayed in Gibson’s catalogue for over 5 years, proving popular once again.


This in fact encouraged Gibson to offer an Epiphone model, with much the same spec and finish, in 2008. This is the one most people see being sold for relatively high prices, such is the demand! In a market driven by demand and scarcity, Blink fans have made it clear that they want their hands on Tom’s axes, and used examples of this model (and indeed the others) all go for at least double their initial cost.

Sounds like somebody should bring out a new DeLonge signature guitar, right?


Fender Tom DeLonge Stratocaster 2023

Indeed, and Fender have done exactly that. Just released is a reissue of the Tom DeLonge Stratocaster, bearing all of the same idiosyncratic features as Tom’s original! This Mexican-made punk machine is armed with the expected Seymour Duncan SH8 Invader humbucker, for ultra-loud, saturated tones; there’s still only one control knob and it’s a hardtail bridge. No messin’!

We’re also happy to see those original finishes back in their entirety, so you have your choice between Surf Green, Black, Daphne Blue and Graffiti Yellow! Each has a pearloid pickguard to house that single humbucker and volume control, and they all look pretty epic! We can’t actually pick our favourite, but there’s something about that Graffiti Yellow that keeps drawing our eye back to it…


Befitting an instrument that’s clearly designed for business, the neck of the DeLonge Strat is all about comfort and effectiveness: a modern C neck profile proves slim enough for leads but with enough meat to grab for power chording; the rosewood fingerboard’s radius is a people-pleasing 9.5” and there are 21 frets, since punk never needs to go high enough for that 22nd fret, does it? 

It’s a very playable guitar indeed, and we can report that the clean tones are actually quite pleasing, considering how stun-gun like that Invader generally is! The volume control works a treat here, to take a little heat out of that volcanic signal. For a one-pickup guitar, there’s a surprising level of versatility, though it’s obviously at its happiest when married to an uber-crunchy signal and let loose to unleash a pop-punk frenzy!


The People’s Champion

Tom DeLonge’s signature guitars have always been historically popular. This new model, some 20 or so years after his initial collab with Fender, ticks all the correct boxes in terms of association, recognisability and authenticity to see it become another wild success. There’s currently no word on the available numbers, so our best advice is to go for your favourite colour as soon as these are available, or just buy the whole set if you’re a collector!

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I'm a musician and artist originally from the South West coast of Scotland. I studied Visual Arts and Film Studies at...

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