Parts guitars, How can some be "better" bc of the builder?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by cap217, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. cap217

    cap217 Supporting Member

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    I am very interested in this build your own guitar or parts guitars in general idea. I AM NOT bashing this at all!

    I own a handful of Fender CS relic strats and teles. Great guitars and I thought that nothing could compare to their quality so I stayed away from the other builders. No names here, so insert anyone you want.


    But I hear people saying things like "the best guitar ever" about XXX or XXXX or whoever else. Now, XXXXX sources parts and builds the guitar and fits everything together and that makes sense. I do know that some builders now make their own bodies and necks. But they started off as partscasters usually.

    My point and question??? Why wouldnt I be able to build a guitar as well as XXXX? If it were to be set up by the same person, shouldnt all things be equal? Now, I am not talking about the detail on the relic or any of that. I mean playability and sound.


    Make sense here?
     
  2. Jahn

    Jahn Listens to Johnny Marr, plays like John Denver Supporting Member

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    i think the key phrase is "set up by the same person."

    if you have a go-to guy that makes killer setups happen, then give him a factory strat to set up, then give him your strat made of the same parts that you put together, he can probably get them playing just as nice- because a lot of what a tech does is what a builder does in final finishing - get that nut just right, frets just so, intonation spot on, relief on the neck and so on.

    but sourcing cool parts that you can't source as easily (or cheaply) from the factory is another reason why folks go to the small luthiers and boutiques. Most of the stuff on my Rick Kelly Tele wasn't available as options from Fender, and some still aren't. And that's just the parts, before Rick put it all together - and Rick works from raw wood, so he has to cut his own blanks into guitar shapes and such.

    so put the two together, and those are two big reasons why you'd outsource a guitar to be made, instead of doing it yourself. anything else you add on top is cherry - like nice finishes and the like.
     
  3. snowblind56

    snowblind56 Member

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    Part of it is cork sniffery, part of it is the fact that they (try to) match bodies, neck, and pickups and then give it a great fret job and set up. Most of them are very good at what they do and assemble a great guitar.

    In reality, what's the difference between a Fender MIM, a Fender American Standard, and a Fender Custom Shop? Basically the parts/wood get better the higher you go and they pay more attention and detail to the guitar.
     
  4. cap217

    cap217 Supporting Member

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    Ok, lets talk about this. The parts are better? The wood is better? We can all agree that at the custom shop there is a lot more attention to detail. But do they really get better parts? Maybe pickups, but I would think that a Nocaster bridge PU is around the same cost to Fender as the Squire CV Bridge pickup. ---I said around the same. So what about the wood? Better ash or alder? I dont know.... Maybe lighter? But what is better?
     
  5. 3th3r

    3th3r Member

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    There is no such thing as a universal "better", but a builder with many years under his belt has the experience and the knowledge to predict which chucks of wood will create a particular sound.
    IMO the player who benefits the most from having a custom guitar built by an experienced luthier is one who knows exactly what of sounds he wants to achieve from the final product.
     
  6. snowblind56

    snowblind56 Member

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    Most of the attention to detail comes in the form of rolling the fretboard edges and doing fantastic fretwork. In reality, these guys aren't doing anything different, they are just doing it better.
     
  7. dspellman

    dspellman Senior Member

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    My paint is personally buffed by Pam Anderson, who does it late at night.
    When I get those necks back, they are POLISHED.
     
  8. burningyen

    burningyen Vendor

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    Nice tone, not dead, stable. There's also the issue of matching a neck to a body, which some builders do apparently.
     
  9. CowTipton

    CowTipton Silver Supporting Member

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    The difference is in quality of the shims in the neck pocket.
     
  10. rockonomics

    rockonomics Member

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    Believe it or not this IS the case. How well the neck fits the pocket is crucial. If a shim is needed I use 2 pt epoxy so the neck fits flush the whole length of the pocket (I've explained how it's done here, not gonna do it again). Ideally you should be able to pick up the body by the neck with no screws holding it in place. Not always possible, but having the two mating surfaces flat against each other for best vibration transfer ain't rocket surgery.
     
  11. midwayfair

    midwayfair Member

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    This made me lol.

    I actually had something contribute to the thread, but it sounds confrontational to tell someone it sounds like they're trolling, so I'll hush. It's enough to say that a search on Froogle for various hardware parts will reveal just how silly the question of "better parts?" sounds.
     
  12. cap217

    cap217 Supporting Member

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    I think Ron Kirn uses shims from the start of his builds. He likes the relief it creats. So a shim isnt a bad thing.


    So if I would buy 10 bodies and 10 necks and match them and assume that 2 bodies and 2 necks are just not up to par. Then get them some nice pickups and choose which ones sound best. Then get them set up and a nut installed and fretwork. I would have some pretty nice guitars?
     
  13. mralmostpopular

    mralmostpopular Member

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    Not always. It really depends on the work that is done to those parts. If you just throw 'em together, then they will feel like that level of quality. If you spend a lot of time working on all of the details and fine tuning everything, then they will feel like a much higher level of quality. There's a lot of work that happens AFTER they come out of the CNC machine. It's all about knowing what you're doing.

    If you had a local tech that really knew how to put a guitar together, and you consulted with him from the beginning on what parts to get, then there's no reason that you couldn't have some really nice guitars. When you order a guitar from a reputable builder, you're paying for that person's time and expertise.
     
  14. rspencer

    rspencer Member

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    People say all kinds of things.
    Sometimes they truly believe it.
    Sometimes they are just trying to justify the price they paid, if only to themselves.
    Sometimes they are priming the pump for the soon-to-come sale of the "best guitar ever" so they can use the money to purchase the next "best guitar ever."

    TGP tends to favor the pricey, yet there are threads praising boutique guitars side by side with threads gushing over cheap Squiers.
    Take everything with a grain of salt, do your own research, & play all you can first.
     
  15. tnt365

    tnt365 Supporting Member

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    If you can't feel and hear the difference between a Mexican Strat hanging at GC and an American Strat hanging at GC, I'd say you are in the minority of TGP. For me it's easy to tell when quality woods are used and even easier to tell when a little craftsmanship was employed. The differences may be mitigated in a live band context, especially after a decent setup, but there is still a huge difference in tone IMO. There are exceptions out there, but I play by the rule most of the time.
     
  16. cap217

    cap217 Supporting Member

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    So you are saying that there is a difference in the quality of woods? I feel a difference but I can't say its the wood.
     
  17. kingsleyd

    kingsleyd Frikkin genyus Gold Supporting Member

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    Let's reframe for a second, here.

    Take two different chefs making the same recipe, let's say chicken marsala with mushrooms.

    The rule is that they have to use the exact same set of ingredients, from the same supplier. BUT let each chef choose which pieces of chickens and which mushrooms they want to use.

    Turn 'em loose, each with his/her own cooking tools and stove.

    Do you think the two dishes will taste exactly the same? Sure, each will probably taste like chicken marsala rather than kung pao chicken, but I'd argue that there's no way they will taste exactly the same. AND, some chefs are going to consistently make chicken marsala that tastes better than others' versions.

    Why should it be any different with guitars?
     
  18. burningyen

    burningyen Vendor

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    I think most of us can feel and hear differences between instruments, but our preferences don't necessarily correlate with the factory of origin.
     
  19. Joe Naylor

    Joe Naylor Supporting Member

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    This.

    And to take it further... how about a fifty year old chef who's been cooking professionally for 30 years vs. an eighteen year old cook who's had one year of high school Home Ec.

    There's no substitute for hands-on experience, and there never will be.
     
  20. CowTipton

    CowTipton Silver Supporting Member

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    Come taste the tone.
     

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