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Stratocaster - Mod Shop/Partscaster/Other?

Platypus

not in rivers, but in drops
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,097
I've been fooling with, gigging, building, & playing Strats for 50 years and my best one's were the one's I found by running the racks. Sometimes the right parts come together but most times they don't. But if you feel all Strats sound pretty much the same to you it won't matter which approach you take. Good luck!

I absolutely hear the difference in all the Strats I've played, the biggest issue for me has always been they're not very comfortable to play and I end up not wanting to reach for it. I totally agree that my favorite guitars have been just random finds that end up speaking to me versus ones I've built, but Fender seems pretty hellbent on only offering an uncomfortable (for my subjective taste) neck experience so my hands are a bit bound in this case.
 

VaughnC

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
18,494
I absolutely hear the difference in all the Strats I've played, the biggest issue for me has always been they're not very comfortable to play and I end up not wanting to reach for it. I totally agree that my favorite guitars have been just random finds that end up speaking to me versus ones I've built, but Fender seems pretty hellbent on only offering an uncomfortable (for my subjective taste) neck experience so my hands are a bit bound in this case.
Yup, I get that. I can run the racks of 50 or so Strats and might find one that has that something special in its sound. However, while my current favorite "strat" is a PRS Silver Sky, my favorite run the racks Fender has been with me for 15 years! The Fender needed tweaked a bit to bring out its best but I could tell the wood was "right". However, the PRS had "it" right off the racks. But some don't like the PRS cosmetics...but that doesn't bother me if the sound/feel are there.

The bottom line is, if you build a Strat you can pick the parts you like (which is the great part)...BUT you don't know what you have until that first note is played, and you don't have a return privilege or warranty, and the resale value is generally less than factory built. But you learn a lot in the build process if you do everything yourself. With running the racks, it takes longer sorting to find the gems but you know what you're getting from the get go, and you have a warranty, return privilege, and better resale value. So, I'll generally build a guitar for fun hoping for the best...but, if I'm looking for a Strat that has that 1 out of 100 with something special going on, I'll run the racks.
 
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TT hankie

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
25
Thanks, that's great info.

I'm aware of the Warmoth thing and my spec'd neck is the vintage/modern, but I appreciate the heads up there.

Does MJT let you have a non-relic option? I was under the impression their whole schtick is relicing, even if light. I would love to be able to get a custom body where I control the weight though.

Mjt has a "closet classic" option which is super clean. They dont call it pristine because getting nitro to be perfect is difficult.

Also Bloomdoom has unfinished bodies on his reverb store with the listed weights so you can know exactly how much one weighs and get it in the color you would like. He also does a closet clean finish.

Mjt charged me an extra 75 dollars to custom order a strat body that weighed at or under 3 pounds 14oz. It ended up being 3 pounds 6 ounces
 

ranchofm

Member
Messages
697
I have 2 Warmoth Tele necks - Maple/Pau Ferro, '59 Roundback, 1-11/16, 10-16, SS frets. Super nice necks, but for a Fender-style guitar I'm starting to think that my perfect radius might be a straight 9.5. I've embarked on a Strat build that will include these specs, but mounted to an American Pro II body (Mystic Surf Green. Woof.) that I got from the Stratosphere.

However, from your description, it doesn't sound like the '59 would be beefy enough.
 

Muttlyboy

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,651
It hadn't occurred to me but seems obvious now, would changing this bridge setup kill the quacky Strat thing I am going for here? I don't want another Tele :)

I imagine it plays a factor, but the pickup combinations are the main source of that tone in my head
With a hardtail you're not going to get that spring-y almost reverb sound.

The in-between "quack" sounds you'll still get. The almost Tele sound is really just on the bridge pickup.

For myself, I like a somewhat overwound bridge pickup in the 7.5k range
 

Platypus

not in rivers, but in drops
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,097
I have 2 Warmoth Tele necks - Maple/Pau Ferro, '59 Roundback, 1-11/16, 10-16, SS frets. Super nice necks, but for a Fender-style guitar I'm starting to think that my perfect radius might be a straight 9.5. I've embarked on a Strat build that will include these specs, but mounted to an American Pro II body (Mystic Surf Green. Woof.) that I got from the Stratosphere.

However, from your description, it doesn't sound like the '59 would be beefy enough.

Thanks, yeah the one I spec'd was a CBS Strat neck, 1-11/16mm nut, 10-16 compound radius, SS frets 6150 and lacquer tinted/satin finish. Came out to around $350 but I haven't pulled the trigger yet, as I haven't found the sacrificial guitar or figured out the body/rest of the parts yet.
 

art__vandelay

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
130
Have you compared the 59 necks versus the Boatneck profile? The Boatneck or Fatback profiles are larger carves and seem more up my alley but yet another variable to sort out I guess.

I've fondled a Boatneck on it's own, but not on a guitar or with strings, etc so I don't have a clear perspective on it. FWIW, it seemed like a beefier take on the 59. Really though, that's the beauty of going with a build: you can structure each detail to your exact taste. The whole reason I got into it in the first place was because while I liked some Fender necks, they didn't make anything with the 59 Les Paul style of neck carve that I'm comfortable on.

My first step was dropping a 59 neck onto a Fender guitar and then eventually it just turned into building my own from the ground up. It's extremely satisfying to do, and the end result is that I have the best Strat and the best Tele that I've ever played in my life. Absolutely no qualms with Fender CS stuff, but these two are better for me personally.

EDIT: I guess I would also mention that these things can be as expensive or cheap as you want. The Strat and Tele I posted above are not cheap. Warmoth custom ordered necks (9.5 radius, 1 11/16th nut, etc), MJT bodies, Fralin's + VIPots + AVRI hardware + Crazy Parts plastics on the Strat, Lollar's + CTS pots + AVRI/Gotoh hardware on the Tele. They're cheaper than CS stuff, sure, but would still cost more than an American Professional or something similar. And if I were to sell them, I'd make more/have an easier time just parting them out most likely.
 

Barnzy

Member
Messages
3,715
I think you need a partscaster as well… and you can do it with Fender parts.

I don’t think anyone has mentioned this yet… I would keep an eye out on the Stratosphere website and scan the neck listings until you find the specs you are interested in. You could also get a body there based on the posted weights if you have a preference for that.
Once you have a neck you are happy with the rest is easy, but to me the Strat is 90% neck most of the time so definitely start there.

link:

 

Flowergun

Member
Messages
67
Easiest way is just to buy a Nash - if you're in the US at a great price too. Mine is better than any CS I've tried.
 

Platypus

not in rivers, but in drops
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,097
I think you need a partscaster as well… and you can do it with Fender parts.

I don’t think anyone has mentioned this yet… I would keep an eye out on the Stratosphere website and scan the neck listings until you find the specs you are interested in. You could also get a body there based on the posted weights if you have a preference for that.
Once you have a neck you are happy with the rest is easy, but to me the Strat is 90% neck most of the time so definitely start there.

link:


I've read about this site but I hadn't seriously considered it. This might be a good way to get a parts-quality body for cheap if I ditch the stuff I don't want. Thanks for the suggestion!
 

John_M

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,253
I would think Warmoth can't list the weight on a custom order because it's not made yet to weigh :). Also I would think the amount of wood removed for a trem cavity would offset the weight of the trem. Something like a Vega trem probably doesn't weigh much.
 

Barnzy

Member
Messages
3,715
I've read about this site but I hadn't seriously considered it. This might be a good way to get a parts-quality body for cheap if I ditch the stuff I don't want. Thanks for the suggestion!
I had great success with it in the early days and managed to build an American Strat deluxe with 2005 parts and hardware while doing the electronics the way I wanted. I was just thinking that if you spend some time checking that site you may see a neck with a profile you like that you can bolt to a donor Strat body. Good luck in your search and build!
 

jmac006

Member
Messages
197
Don't think I saw the recommendation here yet, but if you get a chance to try an Eric Johnson strat, do it. Completely scratched the strat itch for me, and I was exclusively in the Gibson baseball bat neck camp prior to that. The profile was just perfect and the 12" fretboard radius felt like home. You'll see some people complain about the sticky neck and more modern sounding pickups, but I haven't experienced either of those issues on my tropical turquoise EJ strat. Plenty of those classic strat sounds in there.
 

noisebloom

Member
Messages
1,479
I think the option that makes the most sense is a partscaster, but the big drawback is that you have to know exactly what you want, or else you run the risk of having a guitar that is not as satisfying as you would like. But the major upside is that when you get it right, it can be really right.
 
Messages
95
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.

The Stratosphere, which you may be familiar with, parts out virtually every guitar they get their hands on- you can buy necks, bodies, hardware, pickups, etc. of a few different companies but mostly fender stuff.

find some necks and bodies and other parts you like the price points of on their site and then look up their specs

the fender parts are going to hold value better than warmoth or other builders like them, though, if you do sell, you‘d be best to sell the guitar as parts instead of all together to get the most money back out of it
 

diogoguitar

Member
Messages
562
I think your best bet is Warmoth. It's quite possible to be at or under 8lbs with these must have's. If you want to be double sure it will be under, you can ...
  1. Call warmoth and have them choose a lighter wood. Let's say you chose swamp ash... if you pay $40 extra, they'll pick a lighter ash lumber. Ash can make the guitar significantly lighter than an alder or basswood guitar (or significantly heavier if not hand-selected) - this can save you some good 100g or 1/4lb
  2. For neck, choose single expanding truss rod - this can save you 60g or 2oz
Suhr's 60's neck? I don't think it has the profile you want. They do have a U shaped neck profile in their custom order menu. A custom classic with no fancy options will run you $3,200+... although it's well worth it

A warmoth from parts will get you there and if you know how to setup guitars, it can turn out beautifully.. like it did for me


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.
 




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