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Stratocaster - Mod Shop/Partscaster/Other?

Platypus

not in rivers, but in drops
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,097
Hello TGP,

I will say very much up front that while I love the sound of the Stratocaster, I have never played one that I'd want to keep. I've tried and tried but just have never bonded with one or found one that I couldn't live without. (This is very much a ME problem, not a critique on the instrument in any way). I think the biggest issue here is the neck, almost every Strat I've ever seen or played has an annoyingly thin C neck, and it kills the playability for me. I am a big fan of the Nocaster/Baseball bat style necks and generally gravitate towards bigger neck shapes on my instruments.

Having said that, it feels pretty hard to find a Stratocaster with the right color combo and neck. My options are a customer builder, a partscaster I make myself, or the Fender Mod Shop. I don't want to spend a ton on this but I'd pay for the right instrument. The problem is that all of these options are "buy it or make it and you get what you get," making resale hard if I don't end up bonding with it. I am also very conscious of instrument weight, something that will be impossible to deal with if I go with the Mod Shop.

The Mod Shop route is the "easiest" way to do this, but paying almost $1900 USD for a Strat that is not returnable and has an instant hit in resale value feels like a risky move. It could be heavy, it could be dead, it could just not play like I'd like. Fender is offering a soft V with lacquer (maple+lacquer tint is an absolute must for me on a Fender) in the Mod Shop, but I am not sure the soft V would even satisfy, and with COVID I'm not venturing out to stores to try one.

The second route is a Partscaster, but crafting the specific neck shape/tint I want from Warmoth is approaching $450 just for the neck (plus $100 to actually level the frets, which never come right out of the box ime), and the Warmoth body color for Surf Green is not the correct color IMO, nor do they advertise the weight of the body or neck.. and then you're stuck with a custom order that might be a boat anchor in terms of weight.

Any suggestions I may be overlooking? Other companies besides Warmoth that are of equal quality (I like their products but there are some downsides) that I could consider for the body and/or neck? I specifically want that position 2/4 quacky Strat tone, with a neck that wont make my hand hurt after 5 minutes.

If you've purchased a Mod Shop instrument, I am very curious for every detail of your experience. I am curious how heavy the instrument you received is, and even more interested in if you've decided to sell it after receiving it. How much of a bath did you take on the value?

tl;dr:

Musts:
* Thick U shape/Nocaster style neck shape, but mostly thicker than Fender C
* Maple with amber tinted lacquer
* Surf green body (the actual Fender/DuPont color)
* Not heavy (less than 8lbs preferably)

Many thanks for any insights or suggestions. Have you been in this scenario? All feedback welcome :)

Edit: one last question, the Suhr Classic S caught my eye, but I am not sure if their 60's C carve is going to be the same problem for me. The measurements I found online seem to indicate it's not as thin as the Fender C, but hard to know for sure.
 
Last edited:

Platypus

not in rivers, but in drops
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,097
well, this went over like a brick :rotflmao

any feedback would be welcomed :)
 

Platypus

not in rivers, but in drops
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,097
I would say the suhr isnt going to have the thick U shape on your must have list

Thanks, I suspected as much based on what I've read. People claim it's comfortable for folks with bigger hands but that's all so subjective unfortunately. It doesn't *have* to be a U but I need something more substantial than a Fender C neck for sure.
 

Platypus

not in rivers, but in drops
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,097
I think your best bet is to build a partscaster and order one of the larger neck profiles from Warmoth of Musikraft.

That's kind of where I was leaning anyway, but it's substantially more effort and time. I suppose that may be what is necessary. I find it strange that Fender doesn't offer a thicker neck option on this model, but my endless frustration and love/hate with Fender is they almost always have something that's 90% of the way what I want but the last 10% is punishing to sort out.

Does anyone have experience with the Fender "Soft V" neck carve and how that compares to something like a nocaster, or an R8? I'd probably settle for "close enough" if it's thicker than a C but not quite a U, I just get hand pain with thin necks and if they're not fun to play, they get sold quickly.
 

cshore

Member
Messages
432
Sounds like you know your options. I wouldn't risk the mod shop because Fenders are all over the place in terms of weight. With a partscaster as I'm sure you know you can pick a body and neck and know their exact weight. Seems like a no brainer to me.
 

sub rosa

Member
Messages
1,573
I just finished putting together a Strat from a The Edge Sig. Neck, a lighterweight Jeff Beck Sig. Body (surf green), and American Original Pure Vintage '59 pickups and wiring, the latter two from The Stratosphere across a few months.

The pickups were the last piece of the pie to make this thing feel right.

The Warmoth stuff may very well be fantastic, but I'd personally want a real Fender neck, so would look for an existing guitar with a neck I like, and wait it out for a neck to turn up online.
 

LReese

Member
Messages
2,218
Hello TGP,

I will say very much up front that while I love the sound of the Stratocaster, I have never played one that I'd want to keep. I've tried and tried but just have never bonded with one or found one that I couldn't live without. (This is very much a ME problem, not a critique on the instrument in any way). I think the biggest issue here is the neck, almost every Strat I've ever seen or played has an annoyingly thin C neck, and it kills the playability for me. I am a big fan of the Nocaster/Baseball bat style necks and generally gravitate towards bigger neck shapes on my instruments.

Having said that, it feels pretty hard to find a Stratocaster with the right color combo and neck. My options are a customer builder, a partscaster I make myself, or the Fender Mod Shop. I don't want to spend a ton on this but I'd pay for the right instrument. The problem is that all of these options are "buy it or make it and you get what you get," making resale hard if I don't end up bonding with it. I am also very conscious of instrument weight, something that will be impossible to deal with if I go with the Mod Shop.

The Mod Shop route is the "easiest" way to do this, but paying almost $1900 USD for a Strat that is not returnable and has an instant hit in resale value feels like a risky move. It could be heavy, it could be dead, it could just not play like I'd like. Fender is offering a soft V with lacquer (maple+lacquer tint is an absolute must for me on a Fender) in the Mod Shop, but I am not sure the soft V would even satisfy, and with COVID I'm not venturing out to stores to try one.

The second route is a Partscaster, but crafting the specific neck shape/tint I want from Warmoth is approaching $450 just for the neck (plus $100 to actually level the frets, which never come right out of the box ime), and the Warmoth body color for Surf Green is not the correct color IMO, nor do they advertise the weight of the body or neck.. and then you're stuck with a custom order that might be a boat anchor in terms of weight.

Any suggestions I may be overlooking? Other companies besides Warmoth that are of equal quality (I like their products but there are some downsides) that I could consider for the body and/or neck? I specifically want that position 2/4 quacky Strat tone, with a neck that wont make my hand hurt after 5 minutes.

If you've purchased a Mod Shop instrument, I am very curious for every detail of your experience. I am curious how heavy the instrument you received is, and even more interested in if you've decided to sell it after receiving it. How much of a bath did you take on the value?

tl;dr:

Musts:
* Thick U shape/Nocaster style neck shape, but mostly thicker than Fender C
* Maple with amber tinted lacquer
* Surf green body (the actual Fender/DuPont color)
* Not heavy (less than 8lbs preferably)

Many thanks for any insights or suggestions. Have you been in this scenario? All feedback welcome :)

Edit: one last question, the Suhr Classic S caught my eye, but I am not sure if their 60's C carve is going to be the same problem for me. The measurements I found online seem to indicate it's not as thin as the Fender C, but hard to know for sure.

Can't comment on the Mod Shop guitars.

If your budget can handle it, going custom on the Suhr is an option (may not be with that $1900 figure mentioned above). Your choice of neck shapes (They do have a "D" shape that possibly could be bumped up in thickness - ask their customer service).

That said, my 1st Suhr has a medium C but a 16" radius so more shoulder - it could be considered a nod towards more of a D shape.

When you say Nocaster style neck - I really don't think of an U. I have a Fender NoNeck spec neck - feels more thick and round to me. Could be too much for a lot of people.
 

k tone

Member
Messages
599
Partscaster all the way. Start with a Warmoth neck, SS frets, 1 11/16 nut width. I like the 59 Roundback and the Standard Thin. You used to be able to score deals on the Showcase for $157 but that seems to have gone by the wayside with the new website. I have 4 of them. With the jacked up prices and shipping (to Canada) I thought I’d try Musikraft for my next build.
 
Messages
270
Thanks, I suspected as much based on what I've read. People claim it's comfortable for folks with bigger hands but that's all so subjective unfortunately. It doesn't *have* to be a U but I need something more substantial than a Fender C neck for sure.

For a while back in the mid-2010s, there were some models in their MIM line that had U-shaped necks. I happen to own a custom shop Strat with a nocaster U profile. It’s pretty good, but I was also able to find a really well-carved thinner C shaped profile on another CS Strat that’s quite comfortable as well. I think it may come down to the taper of the shoulders for me. If there’s some hand-shaping/sanding involved in making the neck I suppose that might also play a factor?
 

goose1441

Member
Messages
405
You could try to find a used production model where you like everything except the neck shape, then do a warmoth or similar custom neck for it. Worst case when you go to sell it you can stick the old neck on, sell it for about what you bought it for, then either sell the custom neck separately or keep it for a future guitar.

I think that way you'll end up taking less of a hit than a mod shop or new custom order from fender or elsewhere. Although any way you slice it, if you don't find a production model that fits your wants (I don't know of one specifically that would), you're going to take a hit on the resale in some way.
 

Platypus

not in rivers, but in drops
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,097
You could try to find a used production model where you like everything except the neck shape, then do a warmoth or similar custom neck for it. Worst case when you go to sell it you can stick the old neck on, sell it for about what you bought it for, then either sell the custom neck separately or keep it for a future guitar.

I think that way you'll end up taking less of a hit than a mod shop or new custom order from fender or elsewhere. Although any way you slice it, if you don't find a production model that fits your wants (I don't know of one specifically that would), you're going to take a hit on the resale in some way.

Honestly that's what I've been looking for, but it's damn near impossible to find a Surf Green Stratocaster these days where you can find a weight statement anywhere. They also don't seem to offer it on any current production model unless you go Mod Shop.

I recently did this with a bass guitar, just paid the price for a Warmoth neck and then used the old body, but I am not having much luck finding a good "starter" instrument for this purpose right now.

I also need to do some homework on the Strat pickup world, because I definitely want that Straty 2/4 position quack as the main motivation for this (I am traditionally more of a Telecaster fan).

The Jeff Beck guitar seems to be the only "widely" available match here. I don't mind gutting the pickups and rewiring everything myself, but the variable here will be the weight of the Warmoth neck, something you don't get to choose, so if the only way to get weight down is on the body, that makes it even more challenging to find.
 

Platypus

not in rivers, but in drops
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,097
Partscaster all the way. Start with a Warmoth neck, SS frets, 1 11/16 nut width. I like the 59 Roundback and the Standard Thin. You used to be able to score deals on the Showcase for $157 but that seems to have gone by the wayside with the new website. I have 4 of them. With the jacked up prices and shipping (to Canada) I thought I’d try Musikraft for my next build.

Yeah... finding a lacquer tinted maple neck/fretboard on the Warmoth showcase is never going to happen. I've been looking at this for various guitars for years and never found one fast enough.

edit: amusingly as I posted this, one showed up, but a few crucial specs are wrong for me and it was only $20 bucks cheaper than just making my own.
 
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Platypus

not in rivers, but in drops
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,097
Can't comment on the Mod Shop guitars.

If your budget can handle it, going custom on the Suhr is an option (may not be with that $1900 figure mentioned above). Your choice of neck shapes (They do have a "D" shape that possibly could be bumped up in thickness - ask their customer service).

That said, my 1st Suhr has a medium C but a 16" radius so more shoulder - it could be considered a nod towards more of a D shape.

When you say Nocaster style neck - I really don't think of an U. I have a Fender NoNeck spec neck - feels more thick and round to me. Could be too much for a lot of people.

The price isn't as much of an issue as the resale if I end up not liking the guitar, which wouldn't be as much of a problem with a Suhr I imagine as it would be with a Mod Shop guitar.

I can get on with a D shape a lot more than any C I've ever owned.
 

Platypus

not in rivers, but in drops
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,097
Sounds like you know your options. I wouldn't risk the mod shop because Fenders are all over the place in terms of weight. With a partscaster as I'm sure you know you can pick a body and neck and know their exact weight. Seems like a no brainer to me.

Do you have any recs for parts sites that list weight statements? Warmoth certainly doesn't, and their Surf Green is wrong color wise anyway.
 

goose1441

Member
Messages
405
Honestly that's what I've been looking for, but it's damn near impossible to find a Surf Green Stratocaster these days where you can find a weight statement anywhere. They also don't seem to offer it on any current production model unless you go Mod Shop.

I recently did this with a bass guitar, just paid the price for a Warmoth neck and then used the old body, but I am not having much luck finding a good "starter" instrument for this purpose right now.

I also need to do some homework on the Strat pickup world, because I definitely want that Straty 2/4 position quack as the main motivation for this (I am traditionally more of a Telecaster fan).

The Jeff Beck guitar seems to be the only "widely" available match here. I don't mind gutting the pickups and rewiring everything myself, but the variable here will be the weight of the Warmoth neck, something you don't get to choose, so if the only way to get weight down is on the body, that makes it even more challenging to find.
If you don't mind going MIM, which I wouldn't for effectively just a body if you're swapping necks anyway, fender has done some surf green player series, just gotta watch out if you're picky on color because some are just surf green, some are a "pearl" version (which I actually really like, but it's a little different), and some are a "satin" version. Neck swap would get you there since those I think are the classic fender med C.

Also I think the road worn vintera has what they call a "thick soft V" neck, which might be to your liking, but it's got some relicing, which is everyone's favorite topic.

Further down the partscaster route, there's a surf green Noventa body for sale on reverb for now for like $400 with a 4lb 15 oz listed weight. Downside is you'd have to route out the middle to convert to a SSS and it's a hardtail.

I would imagine any real shops selling on reverb would have no problem weighing a guitar for you if you ask nicely. I think most people don't list strat weights as much because it's not as much of an issue as it might be for like a les paul.
 

maco

Member
Messages
122
Partscaster for sure. Do your homework on the neck and know exactly what you want, ie; dimensions. I've read the Robert Cray neck is a bigger neck so look for one. Squier put out a vintage modified surf stratocaster with a nice surf green. You wouldn't like the necks but the bodies are full size Strats
 

Surfreak

Member
Messages
2,648
Partscasters and Mod Shop guitars have zero resale value, relatively speaking.

If you want a S-style guitar that includes exactly all your musts and has a decent resale value, then order a Fender Custom Shop with these specs.

The drawbacks? It will cost a lot more than a partscaster, and there is a risk that it might not sound as good as you hoped.
 

Platypus

not in rivers, but in drops
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,097
Partscaster for sure. Do your homework on the neck and know exactly what you want, ie; dimensions. I've read the Robert Cray neck is a bigger neck so look for one. Squier put out a vintage modified surf stratocaster with a nice surf green. You wouldn't like the necks but the bodies are full size Strats

Yeah I've already got the neck spec'd out that I want, and it's honestly not as unreasonable as I had thought (looking at $384 USD for my selections). Thanks!
 




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