Warmoth or Fender Strat?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by tlester, Mar 13, 2006.

  1. tlester

    tlester Member

    Sep 10, 2005
    Jacksonville, FL
    Hi Guys -

    I just got through pricing out a Warmoth Strat. Adler body, Modern Vintage maple neck, Surh V60 pups, etc.... very nice hardware, etc...

    Total comes to about $1100.

    An american standard is going to run $950 or so (new).

    So... I'm not saving anything by going Warmoth, but I get to pick everything that's on it. What would you do? How does the quality of the Warmoth neck compare to a Fender neck?


  2. Roe

    Roe Member

    Jul 12, 2005
    tromsoe, norway
    I'd go with warmoth
  3. tlester

    tlester Member

    Sep 10, 2005
    Jacksonville, FL
    Any particular reason (not that I'm doubting you, I'm just curious as to why).

  4. Srini

    Srini Guest

    I'd definitely go Warmoth (as I did). Keep in mind that you have obviously priced a Warmoth with top of th eline components (V60s etc) that you won't get in a Fender. Besides, you don't go Warmoth to save money, but to get exactly what you want, with superior wood, at a reasonable price.

  5. DualRectifier

    DualRectifier Silver Supporting Member

    Mar 4, 2006
    Charlotte, NC
    When putting your guitar together from parts...don't ever make it a money thing. Do it because you want to pick the parts.

    If you get it setup right, your Warmoth will be better than an American Standard Strat. But when it's time to sell it, you'll take a bath on the Warmoth, whereas you know exactly where you stand with the Strat. I've bought nice custom warmoths for less than a third of what the guy had in them. A good US Strat keeps half or more of its value.

    Warmoth necks are close to American Strats in terms of quality, maybe a little better. Warmoth and Fender have a licensing deal, so they're close.
  6. tlester

    tlester Member

    Sep 10, 2005
    Jacksonville, FL
    Of course... and that's why I'm doing it. I want a killer guitar... if I got an american standard, I'd be swapping out the pups. So that got me thinking about just building one.

  7. Drunkagain

    Drunkagain Member

    Apr 15, 2004
    Pacific Northwest
    Personally, I'd run the racks until I found a great Fender. Youll save a few bucks and walk out of the store knowing exactly what you're getting.

    That said Warmoth kicks butt IMO. I did a non traditional tele about a year and a half ago and it came out great. But the reason I went Warmoth was because I wanted something I couldn't get off the racks. It was a gamble. It could have turned out like ****.

    If what I wanted was a Fender strat or tele that I could buy off the racks, thats the way I'd go. If I'm looking for something different I'd go with Warmoth.
  8. Gary Ladd

    Gary Ladd Member

    Jan 30, 2005
    Control Room
    I'd go with USA Custom Guitar...

    Better wood, better fretwork, better finishes and the best customer service!

  9. Jeff Flowerday

    Jeff Flowerday Member

    Jan 21, 2003
    Calgary, AB Canada
    With a warmoth part guitar you aren't guaranteed the guitar will be good. I'd rather search and play until I find the one that flicks my switch.

  10. Mark Ray

    Mark Ray We're Jammin' Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2002
    Knoxville, TN
    I went with Warmoth, and couldn't be happier! Here's why:

    I selected the body (alder)
    I selected the neck (padouk, fatback, 1 3/4" bone nut)
    I selected the fretboard (pau ferro)
    I selected the frets (6105)
    I selected the color (surf green)
    I selected the pups (Tom Anderson HSS)
    I selected the bridge (stoptail)
    I selected all the other little bits and pieces

    I got all of this, including professional assembly and setup for $950. I could not find a Fender Strat with this combo of features for this price, and I guess I got lucky because this guitar is a real MOFO! I played it at the local Battle Of The Bands in 2004, and had a guy tell me that he's never heard a Strat straight through a Marshall sound like that. I'll take that as a compliment (the sound, not the playing).

    I'm planning another in white.

  11. hour9

    hour9 Member

    Oct 3, 2003
    Seattle, WA

    If you go the Warmoth or USACG you must be prepared to accept the risk that once you get the guitar together it may be a dud. Do a search on this board and you'll find many folks who have put together a Warmoth and was dissapointed. I am one of those. I put together one very similar to what you are describing. The guitar played and felt great but tonally it was a dud.
    I ended up parting it out and in the end probably lost only about $200 in the investment. About the same I would loose if I bought a new guitar.

    If you want to be sure that you'll be happy with your purchase than I recommend trying out numerous Fenders, G&L's EBMM's etc and buying the one that sounds the best.

    My last purchase was an EBMM Axis SS and I love it!! I wouldn't do the Warmoth thing again.
  12. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2002
    I agree. While you might get lucky, when a guitar is built you just never know what you're going to end up with until that first note is played. I also learned that lesson the hard way so, when seeking a guitar, I run the racks until the right one finds me.
  13. Craig Walker

    Craig Walker WHO DAT!! Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2002
    Long Beach, Miss.
    Check out the Eric Johnson, if you haven't already.
  14. Improviser

    Improviser Member

    Sep 2, 2003

    My EJ is the first Fender guitar I've ever bought new, and I've probably owned >100 Strats and Teles including many 50's/60's ones. The EJ's are of a consistently high standard, and you could probably still try a few and pick one that speaks to you.

    To me specs on paper of an instrument you wish to put together mean nothing unless it works as one, and "until that first note is played" as VaughnC states.
  15. Hardtail

    Hardtail Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    pocono's PA
    I fyou want a hardtail, go warmoth.

  16. tonedaddy

    tonedaddy Member

    Mar 13, 2002
    I am here as you are here as you are me and we are
    If you read all of these responses, you've got to be struck by how divided the viewpoints are on the issue.

    I think a lot of that has to do with thinking through the reasons to go with a Warmoth/USACG vs. Fender.

    Unless you're looking for a Warmoth/Fender because you've got to have an unusual combination of neck/fretboard/body woods, then the biggest single reason to go with Warmoth/USACG is if your exact neck spec preferences are not available (or easily found or in your budget) from Fender (or any number of Fender-style builders).

    If your neck preferences are easily available from Fender, then running the racks will allow you try out a number of guitars with not only the neck that you need, but a guitar that sounds good to you.

    If your neck preferences are not available from Fender, then running the racks is pretty much irrelevant, since there will be no racks to run. In this case, Warmoth/USACG can be a great alternative to having a custom/boutique builder build your perfect Strat.

    So first of all, have you taken the time to find out exactly what neck specs you favor? Meaning that regardless of how long you've been playing certain Strat necks, do you know and are absolutely sure:

    - what neck profile/contour works best for you?
    - what nut width works best for you?
    - what fretboard radius works best for you?
    - what fretboard material works best for you?
    - what fret material and size works best for you?

    IMO, if you don't know the exact answers to these questions, you're not ready to make the Warmoth/USACG vs. Fender decision.

    If you don't know the answers, then you need to play as many Fender Strats neck profiles as you can to figure out what you really need. And I'd encourage you to make sure you try everything including:

    - Standard Thin
    - Medium and/or Full C
    - Boatneck or V shaped
    - Fatback

    I'd try out these necks with no prejudice against any necks you've ever played before, and play each of them for at least a half hour or so to make sure you know how they feel over time (for instance, thinner necks may feel easier to play initially, but may lead to hand fatigue over time).

    My experience?

    My neck preferences are not easily available in standard Fenders. After about 30 years of playing mostly standard thin and medium C necks, I did the research above and found out that Fatbacks (1") are perfect for me, so much that now I absolutely hate playing anything smaller.

    But Fatback necks are not neck contours you'll easily find in a standard Fender production guitar. So I've bought 4 Warmoth/USACG guitars (3 Teles and 1 Strat), and I couldn't be happier.

    One more piece of advice, if you're not imminently qualified to assemble/setup/do the fret work/etc, find great luthiers to help you get the most out of your parts, and minimize the likelihood of a poor outcome.

    For instance, I bought a Warmoth Strat in the Emporium from someone that just happened to spec the guitar virtually identical to one I would spec had I built it myself. Only difference is he even went ahead and had Phil Jacoby (http://www.philtone.com) do the Plek fret work and setup (which I'm glad I'm now exposed to, as it won't be the last time I'll invest in Phil's efforts). And while I like my other partscasters, the gap between this one and the others is the difference between excellent and outstanding, and I've come to believe that comes with using someone like Phil to make the most of your parts.

    In the case of this Warmoth Strat, I'm not sure the specs and buildout (finish/setup/Plek fretwork) on this guitar would be available in any production Fender, and would probably require a one-off CS (team or masterbuilt) and that would cost probably 3 to 4 times what this one cost to build/buy:

    - about 6 lb total weight
    - liteweight ash body
    - Warmoth fatback total vintage neck w/ brazilian board
    - super thin nitro finishing by MJTele
    - Callaham hardware

    It's these kinds of specs that I've come to want in every guitar I own. For example, my neck profile preference requires a custom order from even a builder like Grosh. So while I was incredibly fortunate to stumble into my ash/maple Retro Classic with a custom 1" Fatback neck, I could have run the racks for 10 years at Grosh dealers and never come across that guitar.

    So while I'd never argue with the advice of running the racks to find a great sounding guitar, if your specs are not available in production guitars, running the racks simply is not an option. In that case, go Warmoth/USACG and at least take a shot at having your perfect guitar.

    If you don't try it, you'll never know the pleasure of finally playing a guitar that feels effortless since it matches your ergonomic needs perfectly. And as the other poster mentioned, if you happen to choose specs that aren't way out of line and you buy quality parts, you'll recover a substantial amount of your investment if you sell.
  17. einstein

    einstein Member

    Nov 6, 2005
    the problem with fender is narrow necks . no 6100 frets no stainless frets no exotic wood and you will swap pups, but kit guitars have no resale value so get to keep. consider ash over alder and maybe hollow but no f holes.
    usacg warmoth allparts stewmac etc etc. i have gotten great parts from all but, i asked for great parts. 20 years ago no24 years ago i was buying a lot of warmoth necks and they kept shrinking exposing the fret ends. When i asked ken warmoth for dry or dryer necks he got rather mad. i always ordered what i knew was good and everything sounded great, but there was always the shop argument of were the holes in the right place?
    try this koa mahogony or korina oil finish, big neck big frets your choice pups no pickguard. i always liked the ebony boards with the red stripes and was suprised to find out it was cheaper or less desireable than jet black ebony. dont be afraid to try a mahogony neck either.
  18. El Kabong

    El Kabong Member

    Jun 14, 2004
    in reality outside the state of paranoia
    + 10,000 on the crapshoot. I bought great strat parts and paid a shop to put it together that had done a few Warmoths. I was disappointed. 3 different shops tried to get it set up to play like a dream and it was always just so-so. For the money, I could have bought a killer high end guitar on the used market.

    Then again, it could be the wood, or the person putting it together. My Nash is wonderful and of course, it's a parts guitar; go figure.

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