George was recruited to start the Fender Custom Shop in 1985. "There wasn’t a model for a custom shop," he said. "We were kind of making it up as we went. That was part of the excitement." After a few months, he transitioned into a much-needed R&D position at Fender, allowing him to marry his engineering knowledge with his love of guitars.
Among his favorite projects at Fender were working on guitars for Eric Clapton, James Burton and Yngwie Malmsteen, which became the first models in the Fender Signature Series; documenting the Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix "Woodstock" and Stevie Ray Vaughn "Number 1" guitars for the first few models in the Custom Shop Tribute Series; and creating the "Rocketcaster" art guitar based on 1950s automobile motifs – his personal favorite.
A current Fender employee with over 30 years of tenure, Blanda is currently Chief Design Engineer, Guitars, guiding Fender’s Custom Shop R&D division.
As an R&D guru, George’s creative process has always centered on fixing players’ problems–looking for a fusion of fit, form, function and emotional response to get a guitar or bass right. "I’ve always been a fan of the golden age of industrial design, from the ‘30s up to the ‘50s and even ‘60s," he said. His Founders Design Jazzmaster is inspired by the classic image he has of an early ‘60s Jazzmaster–a white guitar with white pickups, a tortoiseshell pickguard and rosewood fretboard. The Founders Design Jazzmaster with modified pickups features a White Blonde ash body, giving an all-white appearance, but with some visible wood grain. The pickguard and fingerboard are both crafted from dyed and stabilized maple burl wood, which is reminiscent of tortoiseshell but with more depth, movement and a splash of color. The Jazzmaster comes with a custom kit and G&G plush.