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fender custom shop vs guitar assemblers

fish78

Member
Messages
2,026
What is the difference? I mean in the process...do the guys at the custom shop actually build a guitar or do they merely select parts...good parts, mind you...and assemble them? Now take a guy who takes a licensed body and neck or just a copy body and neck and matches the parts for best fit, visual appeal etc and assembles them and sells the product as a parts caster...what is the difference? And doesn't seem like a bargain when one of these assemblers can offer his product...maybe reliced, or not at 1/3 the price of a custom shop piece...not talking about big name luthiers here, but a guy who knows guitars and how to make them sound and look good...tell me what I am missing?
 

buddastrat

Member
Messages
14,690
What you're missing is paying more for name, reputation of quality and good resale as well. Plus some of those Fender's are damn sweet when you find a nice one. Like I don't know what kind of magic they put in those nocasters, but they're amazing. But I'm sure there are some killer parts'ocasters that have been assembled by guys in the know. But those are more like 2/3 the price of a CS. You're not comparing to list price are you?
 

fish78

Member
Messages
2,026
What you're missing is paying more for name, reputation of quality and good resale as well. Plus some of those Fender's are damn sweet when you find a nice one. Like I don't know what kind of magic they put in those nocasters, but they're amazing. But I'm sure there are some killer parts'ocasters that have been assembled by guys in the know. But those are more like 2/3 the price of a CS. You're not comparing to list price are you?
Actually, I was thinking about Richard Childs and a couple of others who assemble using Fender, all parts, Warmoth, Mighty Mite and other parts for about 500 bucks... or less..Resale is only an issue until they become popular...

http://voodoochildsguitars.com/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1
 

rickc007

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,903
I've seen a significant difference in quality between Fender Custom Shop
and some of these assemblers

There are quite a few examples in my area from one of the bigger, well known
builders. And the workmanship is not even close, specially in the fret and
neck work. And they are practially the price of a used Custom Shop piece
 
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buddastrat

Member
Messages
14,690
Actually, I was thinking about Richard Childs and a couple of others who assemble using Fender, all parts, Warmoth, Mighty Mite and other parts for about 500 bucks... or less..Resale is only an issue until they become popular...

http://voodoochildsguitars.com/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1

Those look like novice relic attempts that get offed on ebay. Very cheap. CS uses better quality and looking woods and components than those "kit" companies like Mighty Mite, Saga, and even Allparts from my experience and what some luthiers have told me.
 

fish78

Member
Messages
2,026
Those look like novice relic attempts that get offed on ebay. Very cheap. CS uses better quality and looking woods and components than those "kit" companies from my experience.
If the bodies are Fender or Fender licensed, does that mean the CS hand picks the wood? The other parts, I understand might be of lesser quality, but the wood? Help me out...I agree his relic is not on par with CS or the expensive builders...but my thoght is a guy like tis could use a parts set you send him...bridge, saddles, tuners, electronics etc. and you could still come out condiderably cheaper...maybe I am wrong, but it seems like a viable option for poor folks, like me, who want something a tad different than the MIM/MIC guitars that are in our price range...
 

straightblues

Member
Messages
9,549
The custom shop is right in the Fender factory in Corona California. The Fender factory makes a couple thousand guitars daily. The custom shop guys get the pick of whatever they want. If there are bodies or necks that are particularly nice, they get them. Guy working in the shop that discover a special body or neck, pull them for the custom shop. They get to select special pieces from thousands of pieces. Plus the Custom Shop gets their own wood. Don't you think a wood broker who is selling Fender millions of dollars of wood each year would pick out some very special wood for the Custom Shop. So, their wood is likely better than everyone elses.

Then you get guys that are just really good at finishing, assembly and setup. Yes, you can make guitars feel and play much better if they are put together right. Every little thing you do adds up to a guitar being great or just mediocer.

So these things combined make for great instruments from the Custom Shop at Fender.

Can small shops pull off great guitars for less, sure. But the Custom Shop at Fender has better odds of doing it.
 

clmazza

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,870
The custom shop is right in the Fender factory in Corona California. The Fender factory makes a couple thousand guitars daily. The custom shop guys get the pick of whatever they want. If there are bodies or necks that are particularly nice, they get them. Guy working in the shop that discover a special body or neck, pull them for the custom shop. They get to select special pieces from thousands of pieces. Plus the Custom Shop gets their own wood. Don't you think a wood broker who is selling Fender millions of dollars of wood each year would pick out some very special wood for the Custom Shop. So, their wood is likely better than everyone elses.

Then you get guys that are just really good at finishing, assembly and setup. Yes, you can make guitars feel and play much better if they are put together right. Every little thing you do adds up to a guitar being great or just mediocer.

So these things combined make for great instruments from the Custom Shop at Fender.

Can small shops pull off great guitars for less, sure. But the Custom Shop at Fender has better odds of doing it.
+1 Well said!
 

rickc007

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,903
I believe the Custom Shop selects wood prior to being shaped.

They wouldn't pick bodies, or necks cuz they are nice
they select/reserve the best woods for CS pieces, then
they are made into bodies and necks

Almost all Custom Shop bodies are 2 piece, or 1 piece.
Most American Standard ones are 3 piece (hopefully not more)

I just received a Master Built tele that is Premium
Select 1 piece light weight ash. The tele weighs
6 pounds 4 ounces. You won't find that on an
American Standard. The neck/fret work is beyond
supreme
 

5E3

Member
Messages
5,055
The custom shop is right in the Fender factory in Corona California. The Fender factory makes a couple thousand guitars daily. The custom shop guys get the pick of whatever they want. If there are bodies or necks that are particularly nice, they get them. Guy working in the shop that discover a special body or neck, pull them for the custom shop. They get to select special pieces from thousands of pieces. Plus the Custom Shop gets their own wood. Don't you think a wood broker who is selling Fender millions of dollars of wood each year would pick out some very special wood for the Custom Shop. So, their wood is likely better than everyone elses.

Then you get guys that are just really good at finishing, assembly and setup. Yes, you can make guitars feel and play much better if they are put together right. Every little thing you do adds up to a guitar being great or just mediocer.

So these things combined make for great instruments from the Custom Shop at Fender.

Can small shops pull off great guitars for less, sure. But the Custom Shop at Fender has better odds of doing it.
+2 I think you nailed it.
 

highrise

Senior Member
Messages
3,840
I'm not buying that argument. For Gibson sure...setting a neck requires a bit more skill than popping in some screws.

As long as all the parts are correct spec and quality, you'll be hardpressed to repeatedly tell the diff in a double-blind.

...So the company with the deepest pockets get's the 'best' wood, huh?
Is this best sounding? How do you know, if it's segregated before being cut?
Obviously you mean best looking...well Warmoth will let you see the wood before you purchase...what about the Fender Custom Shop?

Every individual piece of wood is different. A good(sounding) neck and a crappy(sounding) neck can be made by the same guy on the same machine...the same day...cut from the same plank of the same tree. I've seen it. Fenders wood supplier isn't immune. It's luck of the draw. Some people feel lucky when they spend big.
 
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rickc007

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,903
Is this best sounding? How do you know if it's segregated before being cut?
Obviously you mean best looking...well Warmoth will let you see the wood before you purchase...what about the Fender Custom Shop?

The wood "is" segregated before being cut.
I have been on several tours of several manufactures.
They all do it this way.

They do not throw a bunch of pre-made bodies and
necks in a bin, and say ok Custom Shop, you get first pick

They are not sorted for just looks either, although
that is one criteria, if flame, or birds eye is desired.
Moisture content and weight are two more.
 

highrise

Senior Member
Messages
3,840
The wood "is" segregated before being cut.
I have been on several tours of several manufactures.
They all do it this way.

They do not throw a bunch of pre-made bodies and
necks in a bin, and say ok Custom Shop, you get first pick

They are not sorted for just looks either, although
that is one criteria, if flame, or birds eye is desired.
Moisture content and weight are two more.

Perfect. That's what I meant.

So. How do they know the 'best' wood before it's cut? They HAVE to be talking about the appearance. You can't reliably tell how a piece of wood will sound...after you cut it a few times, stick a truss rod in it, and slap some frets on...just by looking at it. Moisture content will just tell you when it's seasoned and not liable to warp and crack...Weighing it doesn't give the insight either. Light guitar parts can sound like heavy parts...and no matter the weight, dogs will be found. Sure, there are sonic characteristics that are frequently found in light or heavy wood...so which is the CS getting? I tend to prefer the sound of heavy, dense wood...that's what I call 'best'...

No matter where you buy your parts...one at a time from Warmoth or USACG, or all at once thru the FCS...it's a crap shoot as to what they will actually sound like. (Sound is the ultimate goal, no)

UNLESS you are trying different necks and bodies to see which PAIRING sounds best.
 
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highrise

Senior Member
Messages
3,840
Once you throw sound out of the equation (they aren't selecting wood based on sound)...any wood can be 'best'.

So FMIC can charge you more...and tell you it's better.


again...
"Some people feel lucky when they spend big" aka "If the medicine doesn't taste bad, it won't work" aka "You gotta pay for quality"

as with all things in life...it depends.
Sure there are some great CS guitars...but to say they will have a higher percentage of good guitars than an assembler is foolish. In fact the opposite arguement could be made. Employees don't work as hard as owners. Who cares more about making you happy...an employee or a proprietor?
 




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