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Is a Warmoth strat indistinguishable from a Fender?

XSSIVE

D'Avanzo Guitars
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,594
They're different. But this is a BIG can of worms to open because how different and in what ways they're different depends on what Fender Strat you're talking about. 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, etc. USA made, Japanese, Mexican etc etc etc they're all different in some ways. All the parts companies bodies from Mighty Mite to Warmoth, USACG, Musikraft etc are all different too when compared to each other and various Fenders. Same goes for small and medium size builders that have S shape bodies, all different. Charvel strat bodies are different from Fender Strats too as are Wayne Charvel bodies for that matter. Odds are there is some overlap where things are the same or absurdly close to the same, but figuring that all out would be quite a chore. A tummy cut may be cut slightly higher or slightly deeper on one brand. The angle of the fore arm cut may be different. The overall shape of the fore arm cut and how it slopes down may be different. The overall edge radius may be different. The shape of the horns may be different. The thickness of the body may be different. How pinched the waist of the body is may be different. It's a long list of little things and that's not even getting into route shapes and neck pockets.
 

candid_x

Member
Messages
9,668
I only had one Warmoth body. I never took dimensions of any Strat body, but going just by feel, I loved the deep and smooth body contours, it felt slinky, but possibly had less wood. In contrast, my USACG contours are less gradual, not as comfortable, almost reminds me of a G&L carve. My 08 AmSt body seems somewhere in-between; I love the contours. Probably my favorite carve.
 
Messages
23,953
Ken Warmoth was a cautious guy, and once upon a time many feared that Fender still owned the rights to the essential Stratocaster shape, body shape, even though Leo didn't make much effort to protect it and the shape seemed to differ year to year, craftsman to craftsman. So much hand work that each body differed from the next.

So Ken designed a discrete S model of his own, did the same with the T shape, as a hedge against lawsuit by FMIC. He created a subdesign that could not be made into a really convincing counterfeit of the real (Fender) thing because he knew that would be frowned upon by whoever ever passed judgment in court over what he was doing.

In the end Warmoth and others realized FMIC had nothing and would likely lose in a legal contest, and they took FMIC to court and beat 'em up. Law of the Case is now that these S, T, J, P and JM models are not the property of FMIC but are available for anyone who wants to make 'em.

Now, Warmoth now has a special Vintage Correct version of their T and S bodies, and yet the overwhelming percentages of bodies they sell are the Warmoth shapes.

These are conspicuous to some eyes, while other guys are blind to the difference. The Warmoth shapes are smaller where the shapes differ, which makes the use of cheaply bought body wood make up into an apparently light guitar (good for business now that light = better). Meaning, you could reshape a Fender body into a Warmoth with sandpaper but you obviously can't add wood with sandpaper and so a Warmoth body remains a Warmoth - unless you wanted to suggest a 9/10s scale Fender or something.

As far as what is like the G + L bodies, that would be many of the MIM Fender bodies (for example the Jimmie Vaughan). Not much sanding going on there.

With a given that the Fender T and S shapes have changed over time, USACG to me is the Gold Standard for slavish replication of the vintage Fender body. Such a paradox that everyone first notices the conspicuous differentiation in the USACG headstocks (most of which can be sanded away easily) while EVERY other aspect of the USACG is way more Fendery than anything from Warmoth. If you think about what the sharp eyed folks, the would be experts see, they laugh when they see the usual Warmoth neck with a Fender decal on it. The heel to neck section transition is so evidently different to them; the transition from the area at the nut, down to the plane of the face of the headstock, is such a different radius. Which most folks eventually realize once it is too late to do anything about.
 
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smallbutmighty

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,765
The differences between Warmoth and Fender parts are often no greater than the differences between Fender's parts from various eras and locations of manufacture. The biggest differences will be spotted in the necks, however keep in mind that Warmoth has several different neck constructions available, so the for the most accurate comparison you need to match the Fender neck with the closest Warmoth construction.
 
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mxvin

Member
Messages
1,259
to the naked eye they look the same. If you want to measure things then yes. I have both a Warmoth and Fender Strat and I dig them both. Same bnck profiles too .
 
Messages
23,953
to the naked eye they look the same. If you want to measure things then yes. I have both a Warmoth and Fender Strat and I dig them both. Same bnck profiles too .
We have a continuum. At one end we got Seasick Steve, who doesn't seem to mind whether his instrument has 2 useful strings or 3, or 4. "Its all good".
Then we have Eric Johnson who tells us he can tell when the battery in his rig is going down or is the wrong brand, or something.

People do not go to Warmoth IMO to build a Seasick Steve instrument. They go to the time and expense because they do really sweat the details in the nature of Eric Johnson. So, this is a paradox that the Warmoth body gets you about 90% of the way there and ANY expert who still has his vision can identify these things with a quick glance. I've been doing this on guitar boards for quite some time - "outing" a Warmoth neck or body from some sketchy phone pictures posted here, and I never misidentify them when I post, either. So I guess it depends whose naked eye this is.

So, my suggestion is, if you're building a "replica" or reproduction of that Strat your hero played in 1988, unless your hero used a Warmoth don't order a Warmoth. However, if you're building a Dream Concept Guitar with a Cocobolo this and Wenge that and Canarywood fretboard and no pickguard, by all means order it from Warmoth because their shape is not inherently ugly. It is just obviously different to a heck of a lot of people when offered up as a Fender duplicate.

I've had people tell me they feel the E36 and E46 BMWs look the same. I guess for some people, these do. But if you actually care about things like this, like being able to tell an elk from a whitetail, a swan from a goose, a Hyundai from a Lexus, the difference is evident. Apparently some people can't tell. They're entitled to the respect everyone deserves I guess, but if you just don't care about details, can't be bothered to invest any time, is that opinion going to carry? This mountain trail looks the same as that one, so I'm going to flip a coin. Why not step aside and let someone who remembers this pink rock and the blue blaze, who actually does know which is the right trail, make the choice?
 

Deed_Poll

Member
Messages
3,088
I agree with Boris. My USACG Strat body has incredibly smooth transitions and deep contours, and I recall reading that the USACG S is a laser scan of Tommy's own '57 Strat.

The Warmoth 'Pro' necks in particular are very different from a Fender, side dot locations, the heel carve, the headstock transition etc is all very noticeably different to anyone who's owned a Strat, especially the incredibly thick fretboard wood and side adjust double truss rod (my least favourite feature).

Whether or not you like the Warmoth better is going to depend on the individual, but if you like vintage style Fenders and that's what you want, you are going to have a better time with USACG or Musikraft.

If you prefer Ibanez with more modern necks or shredders, chances are you'll see the Warmoth as a step up.
 

orourke

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,511
There are some amazingly knowledgeable people here!

My only two cents is that I really like Warmoth necks. I've had two. In one case I replaced a bad Fender neck (it was kind of twisted) on an '92 American Standard tele. So in my limited experience Warmoth can be a better option.
 
Messages
23,953
There are some amazingly knowledgeable people here!

My only two cents is that I really like Warmoth necks. I've had two. In one case I replaced a bad Fender neck (it was kind of twisted) on an '92 American Standard tele. So in my limited experience Warmoth can be a better option.
I really really love the Performance and function of the Dozen Warmoth necks I have. They are the Vintage and Vintage Modern ones - those are the ones I would recommend. Just making it clear, the Warmoth necks are really quality necks and the fretwork on mine was Grade A. I couldn't give the fretwork on my Allparts necks any more than a C. I spend a lot of time leveling and crowning ever one of those necks, although the frets are always extremely well seated and "take" leveling without fighting back - so that's good.

But if the fretwork on the Warmoth is an A, then the USACG fretwork is an A+. I should be placing an order with Tommy any time now. :^)

I don't use Warmoth bodies. I don't like nor "need" a Pro truss rod and won't be buying those. But all my gripes about Warmoth all lead back to this decision to primarily make these funny shapes. The odd shapes bug me but the shape would not change the sound or playability so this is about "cosmetics" or "aesthetics" if you will.
 
Messages
2,389
I think Seasick Steve is a loser. There's definitely a different feel between Fender's standard C shape neck and Warmoth's standard C shape neck with the Warmoth being thinner.
 

old goat

Member
Messages
1,987
Probably not quite what you're asking but in terms of interchangeability--my limited experience--I bought a warmoth pickguard (5 holes plus holes for the neck pu) to replace the guard on a 52VHR tele. The screw holes and fit around the fingerboard, bridge plate, and control panel is absolutely perfect. (The guy at Warmoth I talked to told me that the guard cut out for the standard SC neck pickup wouldn't line up with VHR minihum rout--fortunately he was wrong about that. The SC mounted perfectly with no mods.)
 

stratter

Member
Messages
1,421
The measurements are the same, because they're all certified for the same measurements. One thing to note though, if you get binding on the guitar, on the bottom horn where it would normally be sanded down to a nub-like end, the binding makes it the same shape, but flat on the top. So no bevel on the top of the horn.
 

KHAN

Member
Messages
4,042
All my partscasters are Fender bodies with Warmoth necks. Side adjust, standard thin, 6100 stainless steel frets and 1.75" at the nut.

Lovin' it!!!!
 

JPenn

Member
Messages
1,809
like has been said, yes the bodies are slightly different. i actually prefer the warmoth bodies, as i'm not really trying to make a replica.
 

p19978

Senior Member
Messages
1,945
Fender cant seem to make a guitar I like right out of the box. Warmoth for me.
 

mxvin

Member
Messages
1,259
We have a continuum. At one end we got Seasick Steve, who doesn't seem to mind whether his instrument has 2 useful strings or 3, or 4. "Its all good".
Then we have Eric Johnson who tells us he can tell when the battery in his rig is going down or is the wrong brand, or something.

People do not go to Warmoth IMO to build a Seasick Steve instrument. They go to the time and expense because they do really sweat the details in the nature of Eric Johnson. So, this is a paradox that the Warmoth body gets you about 90% of the way there and ANY expert who still has his vision can identify these things with a quick glance. I've been doing this on guitar boards for quite some time - "outing" a Warmoth neck or body from some sketchy phone pictures posted here, and I never misidentify them when I post, either. So I guess it depends whose naked eye this is.

So, my suggestion is, if you're building a "replica" or reproduction of that Strat your hero played in 1988, unless your hero used a Warmoth don't order a Warmoth. However, if you're building a Dream Concept Guitar with a Cocobolo this and Wenge that and Canarywood fretboard and no pickguard, by all means order it from Warmoth because their shape is not inherently ugly. It is just obviously different to a heck of a lot of people when offered up as a Fender duplicate.

I've had people tell me they feel the E36 and E46 BMWs look the same. I guess for some people, these do. But if you actually care about things like this, like being able to tell an elk from a whitetail, a swan from a goose, a Hyundai from a Lexus, the difference is evident. Apparently some people can't tell. They're entitled to the respect everyone deserves I guess, but if you just don't care about details, can't be bothered to invest any time, is that opinion going to carry? This mountain trail looks the same as that one, so I'm going to flip a coin. Why not step aside and let someone who remembers this pink rock and the blue blaze, who actually does know which is the right trail, make the choice?
hmmm...I guess I will have to put my Fender next to my Warmoth and "see" how far off it really is. I know the conturs are deeper for sure as has been stated. But as far as the rest of the body from a front veiw....I will have to look more closely.
I dig the Warmoth neck I have too. Its an SRV profile. I just got two necks from Tommy at USACG and they are beautiful with top notch fret work for sure.
Funny you mention canary wood because that is the wood I chose for the Warmoth build. Its the guitar in my avatar.
 




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