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Current favorites for custom strat neck?

sbrollins76

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
548
I had my '94 American Std. Strat in for a setup and the truss rod is maxed out with the action/relief still somewhat high. I've known this was coming for a couple years and specifically asked the tech to check the rod and see if there was anything they could do. At this point the recommendation is go down a gauge of strings or get a new neck because this one now seems to have a permanent (slight) bow that the rod just can't adjust anymore. I don't want to go lighter on the strings so I've started to look at neck builders.

I asked the tech for his recommendations and he liked Warmoth. I've also seen a lot of people here using USACG or Musikraft. I know Fender sells necks now as well, but I'm thinking of going with a custom build because I think I want something a bit different than the normal Fender specs. I've also played one of the recent Fender Strats with the solid rosewood neck and love the feel of that, and Fender just doesn't sell anything similar as a part.

As far as what I'm looking for, I'm pretty sure I want the following:

  • Unfinished neck; considering 1-piece rosewood or pau ferro, possibly even roasted maple with a laminated board
  • Rosewood, pau ferro, possibly ebony fretboard
  • "59 Roundback"-type profile
  • Radius not less than 9.5", maybe a compound radius board
  • Tusq or bone nut
  • Standard fretwire; no stainless frets
  • Re-use Fender locking tuners off my current neck
  • Standard Strat headstock; don't care about the logo

So, any recommendations based on those criteria? Who has everybody been using recently for neck builds?
 

mellecaster

Member
Messages
1,125
For nailing all the specs 100%...Fretwork, and just General Customer service....Tommy @ USACG is My go to Guy.....They don't do Nuts though, and they shouldn't.
 

TheClev

As seen on TV
Messages
5,059
I voted Warmoth because I haven't yet tried USACG yet, but I've heard USACG makes the better neck. There's one on its way right now, so I'll comment further next week.
 

sbrollins76

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
548
I voted Warmoth because I haven't yet tried USACG yet, but I've heard USACG makes the better neck. There's one on its way right now, so I'll comment further next week.
Would love to hear your thoughts on Warmoth vs. USACG once you can compare the two.

Surprised there aren't more opinions on this!
 

RnB

Member
Messages
1,105
Although I've been dealing w/ Warmoth for 20 years, I voted Musikraft. I like the variety of options they offer & they give you a neck that needs minimal fret work. I've only had one issue w/ them & they took care it w/o hesitation. Their customer svc is top notch. Moreso than Warmoth. For Warmoth...at least you can see what you're buying in their showcase.
 

simonf

Member
Messages
28
I have two necks from USACG and they are really nice. One is an all maple neck and the other one is pau ferro. USACG doesn't usually have pau ferro in stock for necks but if you supply the wood they will make it. I bought a neck blank from exoticwoods.com. It is the nicest looking and feeling nexk ive ever seen. I love the color and grain of pau ferro and I really like the feel of the raw wood.
 
Messages
2,323
I've only tried Warmoth necks and none of the others so I'm not qualified to vote. Here are the things I like about Warmoth Strat & Jazzmaster necks. The last two I purchased were unfinished and I finished them myself with Tru-Oil, even though that technically voids their warranty.


  • Compound radius
  • 6105 SS frets
  • 1-11/16" nut width
  • '59 contour
  • Vintage tuning machines
  • Warmoth Pro or Vintage Modern

1-5/8" nuts are just a smidge too narrow and their standard contour is just a skosh too thin.
 

sbrollins76

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
548
I have two necks from USACG and they are really nice. One is an all maple neck and the other one is pau ferro. USACG doesn't usually have pau ferro in stock for necks but if you supply the wood they will make it. I bought a neck blank from exoticwoods.com. It is the nicest looking and feeling nexk ive ever seen. I love the color and grain of pau ferro and I really like the feel of the raw wood.
Looks like Warmoth is edging out USACG and Musikraft in the voting. I did submit a price request to USACG for a roasted maple with pau ferro board. I also asked on the request if they're able to do a solid rosewood or pau ferro neck, but I didn't know they'll make the neck from supplied wood. I'll check out exoticwoods today.

Thanks for the advice so far, everyone!
 

Ape Factory

Member
Messages
2,505
I recently purchased two "strat" necks, one from Warmoth, one from Musikraft. The Musikraft had a few small issues and the Warmoth was basically flawless. Both needed a bit of fretwork, the Warmoth needing the fret ends dressed.

The Musikraft was a roasted maple (light roast) and I feel like it made it a little more brittle. I drilled out the tuner screw holes with two bits for the "vintage" screws and I ended up with cracks after installing the screws (yep, I lubed them). Didn't happen with the Warmoth neck and they were both built at about the same time. The shape of the Musikraft headstock wasn't spot-on (if that matters to you) and the face of the headstock had a sanding "dip" in it where the face dropped ever so slightly then back up. The Warmoth was perfectly flat after the drop-off from the nut/fretboard. I had a pro luthier do bone nuts on both of them.

I paid extra for a dark board on the Musikcraft and it was lighter than the regular board on the Warmoth. In the end, it's fine, but I was expecting something a bit darker.

Musikraft offered more customization but you end up paying for it. I chose a premium flame maple neck and honestly, it was drop dead gorgeous. I'm usually a 59 roundback guy but went with a v-neck with the Musikcraft and I really dig that shape now. On the Warmoth, I went with a wider nut, just to try. I'm adjusting but it wasn't my favorite right off the bat.

I went with lightly rolled edges on the Musikcraft, I'd go heavier in the future if I did another neck.

Both play well and look great. The Musikraft roasted maple seems a bit smoother overall even though I finished both at the same time with the same nitro. It seems to resonate a bit more but there's really nothing between the two guitars when plugged in other than different pickups.

If you're going with roasted maple, I'd go with Warmoth as it'll come with a warranty whether you put a finish on it or not. Musikraft requires their light nitro coat in order to maintain the warranty. I prefer a raw wood neck.

Also, the Warmoth warranty is SUBSTANTIALLY longer than Musikraft. That says a lot. But...they don't have a lot of the same options and make you pay for anything that's out of the ordinary (for them). So straight radius is often an up charge and you don't see them much in the pre-built gallery.

I have a dual action truss (neck adjustment) in my Strat Warmoth neck and a pro truss in my Tele Wenge neck. I like the pro truss. The Tele neck is the most stable neck I own by a mile. It never moves. The truss weighs 3oz. more than a standard rod. It does require the neck off the guitar for the initial adjustment, the side adjustment is more of a "micro" adjustment. Has to be in the proper range first. But once it's there, it's pretty much set and forget. There's really no justification for a heel adjustment unless you really need that vintage look.

I don't have experience with any of the other builders.

In the end, I'd go for the features you want and a price you're willing to find acceptable and have a luthier do the final setup. Whichever neck you go with will be just fine assuming you have a competent luthier.
 




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