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#1
I am thinking of getting a current ESP (virtually no used ones being sold online, so new is my only option) or maybe a Standard American Fender Stratocaster. I like the neck of the ESP, but the contest is not over yet.
But now I had a thought: would it be a good idea to build my own guitar from parts built by Warmoth (or one of the other high profile builders)? That way I might be able to get a body that's routed for no pickguard (purely because of aesthetic reasons, I am not a fan of pickguards covering the wood) and routed for a Floyd Rose (classic Stratocaster bridge is ok with me, but if I had a choice, I'd probably choose an FR just because I "like" it more).

But the question is: will I get the same quality with Warmoth (or Musikraft, USAGC and what other big builders?) as I would with:
1) ESP Standard/E-II series
2) Fender American Standard series

Will the woods used for the body and neck be as good, as well-dried?
Will the neck be as good?
#2
Have you calculated the price of a Warmoth build with importing to EU? I did, for Sweden, and even for a simple build it got quite high just importing the parts. I would add 25% tax and about 3% customs fee on top of parts + shipping. Then you have to have someone skilled put the damned thing together, and unless you know someone who owes you a favour I don't know how much that would cost. Too many risks and hassles for it to be worth it.
#3
But you will have a custom guitar, that completely feeds your needs

Living in Europe, gonna build myself a Warmoth dakota red mahogany jazzmaster with P90's.
#4
Quote by icanhasgodmode
But you will have a custom guitar, that completely feeds your needs

Living in Europe, gonna build myself a Warmoth dakota red mahogany jazzmaster with P90's.


Keep in mind that some Warmoth parts do not necessarily fit other manufacturers parts.
You will _forever_ need Warmoth pickguards on that jazzmaster, making a replacement very costly (and it takes forever, too).
#6
the E-II's from what I remember are the old rebranded Edwards strats. They're very solid. For my money, however, I take the Fender American Standard. If you ever decide to get rid of it, you'll get more of your money recouped in value. People that see the value in underrated Japanese guitars are generally forum dwellers such as us, and not many of us really exist in the guitar world outside of the slightly-drooling TGP market.
#7
Building a Warmoth guitar is usually best left to techs and pretty experienced builders. The necks come with the frets pressed in, but leveling, crowning and polishing the frets is left up to the builder. Getting a guitar out of the bits and pieces is more involved than simply screwing some things together. I highly recommend getting already-finished pieces from them, rather than buying raw wood. If you slap a tung-or-Tru-Oil finish on the thing (as most seem to do), you'll end up with a fairly expensive piece that will be nearly impossible to sell ("when I built it, I figured it would be with me forever, but...") and that will get dirty at the drop of a...er...sweat.

As for "feeding your needs," realize that 1.) Simply getting the pieces to an "edible" stage will take some skills and 2.) Your needs will change over time, and getting rid of the thing may be a frustrating exercise. In short, your needs may starve.

I'm saying all of this as the owner of a Warmoth-sourced guitar. I actually bought the bits off eBay from owners who had great plans but who never actually put their guitars together. Paid $200 for everything.
#8
Good post, dspellman. To reiterate what we both touched on, factor in the resale when it comes to large dollar guitar purchases. It's easy to think that you'll always own a guitar you buy, but experience shows that that's often times not the case. It's easier to sell a Fender than a Warmoth or ESP clone.
#9
As a fairly experienced modder/fixer upper/tinkerer, I would go Warmoth to get my high quality personal-spec dream guitar, Fender/ESP for resale value.

I relation to dspellman's comments on finish, although I would contemplate using an oil finish on an inexpensive fix-up, I would get painted parts (or have them done professionally) if I was buying Warmoth. - I would want the look to reflect the build quality.

As a purely personal perception, I would have to get into the realms of something like Music Man or Suhr to compete with Warmoth in terms of mojo and quality.
#10
I built a few Warmoth parts casters back in the days of yore. (the 1990's) I lived in Kent Washington about 20 miles from Puallip where Warmoth is made. I put my guitars together from leftovers that they had from missed orders etc. So for me it was a lot cheaper for me back in the day. The parts did not always fit perfectly and it was quite a bit of work to get it together. I am very good at soldering so that part was done to high spec the rest well it was a bit of a crapshoot. They always sounded great looked like something thrown together.
I would not go with a Warmoth build today. The cost is too high and there are too many good cheap guitars now that you can mod. The Floyd installation is something that can go wrong in a big way if you do it yourself. Get a nice 500 dollar strat and do nasty things to it with a soldering iron.
#11
Quote by JustRooster
Good post, dspellman. To reiterate what we both touched on, factor in the resale when it comes to large dollar guitar purchases. It's easy to think that you'll always own a guitar you buy, but experience shows that that's often times not the case. It's easier to sell a Fender than a Warmoth or ESP clone.


agree. you can customize a Fender to what you want and if you sell just put back the original parts so you don't take a loss. partscasters can be awesome guitars especially if bought used. if you are truly sure that you'll end up with your dream guitar then going that route can be a good idea. problem is that you won't know until after you buy the parts if the sum total is really your dream or just a bunch of parts.
#12
Quote by Tony Done

As a purely personal perception, I would have to get into the realms of something like Music Man or Suhr to compete with Warmoth in terms of mojo and quality.


I've never been able to identify "mojo" (can I put it on pancakes?). What Warmoth does, it does well. But a box of parts in the mail from Warmoth can't begin to compete with a completed Suhr (I really don't have much experience with Music Man, but there's a place in Riverside that handles a ton of Suhr -- and Suhr itself is just down in Lake Elsinore). Suhr now runs completed guitars through the PLEK process (the right way) before they go out. There's a whole lot that goes on between bits and pieces coming out of the finishing shop at Suhr and putting the finished product into a case and out the door that Warmoth really doesn't have any control over at all. And that's really where the rubber meets the road in that comparison.
#13
Quote by dspellman
I've never been able to identify "mojo" (can I put it on pancakes?). What Warmoth does, it does well. But a box of parts in the mail from Warmoth can't begin to compete with a completed Suhr (I really don't have much experience with Music Man, but there's a place in Riverside that handles a ton of Suhr -- and Suhr itself is just down in Lake Elsinore). Suhr now runs completed guitars through the PLEK process (the right way) before they go out. There's a whole lot that goes on between bits and pieces coming out of the finishing shop at Suhr and putting the finished product into a case and out the door that Warmoth really doesn't have any control over at all. And that's really where the rubber meets the road in that comparison.


I define mojo as anything that makes a guitar special for you. The name on the headstock, its history, or how much of yourself you have put into it, for example. The last of these is what would make it special for me. I've never got past the idea that an electric guitar is nothing more than a fancy lump of wood that supports the important stuff, but the idea of being able to choose things like a chambered swamp ash body with universal pickup route and 2*P90 is a lot more important to me than the name on the headstock, or the care that goes behind that name.
#14
Quote by Tony Done
I define mojo as anything that makes a guitar special for you. The name on the headstock, its history, or how much of yourself you have put into it, for example. The last of these is what would make it special for me.


Interesting. I don't think there's another instrument in music where anything like this is even considered. I'd define "mojo" as Yet Another bit of Fairy Dust and Unicorn Fart Mythology and Silliness concocted by guitar players (and guitar manufacturer marketing departments).

If you like your flute (at Band Camp), fine, but an oboe is an oboe and a French Horn is a French Horn and a Clavicadiddlehopper is...well, you know.
#15
Quote by HomerSGR
Have you calculated the price of a Warmoth build with importing to EU? I did, for Sweden, and even for a simple build it got quite high just importing the parts. I would add 25% tax and about 3% customs fee on top of parts + shipping. Then you have to have someone skilled put the damned thing together, and unless you know someone who owes you a favour I don't know how much that would cost. Too many risks and hassles for it to be worth it.


I'll be going on a trip to the USA so I'll bring the guitar with me as a free baggage.

What is so difficult about putting those parts together aside from the fretwork? I mean, if I get someone to do the frets, how hard can it be bolting the parts together?
#16
Quote by dspellman
Interesting. I don't think there's another instrument in music where anything like this is even considered. I'd define "mojo" as Yet Another bit of Fairy Dust and Unicorn Fart Mythology and Silliness concocted by guitar players (and guitar manufacturer marketing departments).

If you like your flute (at Band Camp), fine, but an oboe is an oboe and a French Horn is a French Horn and a Clavicadiddlehopper is...well, you know.


wait you are discounting unicorn farts well that is just crazy talk. . I think if you check out say violins you will get some snobby talk about "special" instruments etc. we just use more colorful terms. "mojo" is just human nature and the desire to have something unique that no one else does. I certainly feel better using certain guitars over others but I'm also sure it's just having the right pieces to the puzzle. in the end a guitar is just a guitar. one that I might feel has a certain "mojo" for me might be considered shit by another player. kinda doubt if I was given say Gary Moore's 63 stat that I would get anything close to what he did out of it.
#17
Quote by dspellman
Interesting. I don't think there's another instrument in music where anything like this is even considered. I'd define "mojo" as Yet Another bit of Fairy Dust and Unicorn Fart Mythology and Silliness concocted by guitar players (and guitar manufacturer marketing departments).

If you like your flute (at Band Camp), fine, but an oboe is an oboe and a French Horn is a French Horn and a Clavicadiddlehopper is...well, you know.


A $40 million Strad viola isn't mojo? $250 000 for a concert bassoon? Of course it's fairy dust, but I rather have it than a hocus pocus about fancy timber and finishes.

And speaking of flutes, who was that guy in the 60s/70's who only used silver flutes and kept them under a pyramid?

EDIT. Or think of it this way. Why would anyone in their right mind spend more than about $1000 on an electric guitar? While many may claim otherwise, I think the bulk of it is simply about mojo, wanting to to have something more than pure functionality.
Last edited by Tony Done at Nov 18, 2014,
#18
The reason I decided to go with Warmoth was that Fender and ESP don't really offer what I really want. I want a MIJ or MIA thing - not Mexican or Indonesian or Korean, even if they are equally as good. I don't want distressed looks - ESP doesn't offer any non-distressed. ESP Vintage Plus choice of colours and fretboards SUCKS - one colour for each fretboard type - plus I'm not hot for any of the colours offered. Therefore even if I thought ESP is good feel-wise, I wouldn't like its looks. Plus let's not forget that now they're not even ESP, but E-II, which doesn't mean much, but I hate the fact that it's not a "real" ESP anymore. Fender Stratocaster American - its neck doesn't feel right for me; a bit too fat, I think.
Plus what I really want, is a pickguardless body. I want an ESP M-III that's $3500 and it will be several years until I can afford that one.
I've tried looking for other affordable options, and I found none. They're either Indonesian/Mexican (Charvel), either I don't like their looks or headstocks (that's a big deal for me). And, with Warmoth I also got a roasted maple neck - I didn't see much under-1700$ guitars with a a roasted maple neck.

On the other hand, after reading what you guys said (why was I notified by the UG about the replies with such a huge delay?), after having placed an order a couple of hours ago, I now feel discouraged. Maybe I shouldn't have put that order and should have best not have bought ANY guitar at all.
#19
Quote by andriusd
The reason I decided to go with Warmoth was that Fender and ESP don't really offer what I really want. I want a MIJ or MIA thing - not Mexican or Indonesian or Korean, even if they are equally as good. I don't want distressed looks - ESP doesn't offer any non-distressed. ESP Vintage Plus choice of colours and fretboards SUCKS - one colour for each fretboard type - plus I'm not hot for any of the colours offered. Therefore even if I thought ESP is good feel-wise, I wouldn't like its looks. Plus let's not forget that now they're not even ESP, but E-II, which doesn't mean much, but I hate the fact that it's not a "real" ESP anymore. Fender Stratocaster American - its neck doesn't feel right for me; a bit too fat, I think.
Plus what I really want, is a pickguardless body. I want an ESP M-III that's $3500 and it will be several years until I can afford that one.
I've tried looking for other affordable options, and I found none. They're either Indonesian/Mexican (Charvel), either I don't like their looks or headstocks (that's a big deal for me). And, with Warmoth I also got a roasted maple neck - I didn't see much under-1700$ guitars with a a roasted maple neck.

On the other hand, after reading what you guys said (why was I notified by the UG about the replies with such a huge delay?), after having placed an order a couple of hours ago, I now feel discouraged. Maybe I shouldn't have put that order and should have best not have bought ANY guitar at all.


Seems to me like you want mojo.

I'm wondering why our diverse opinions would discourage you? We've all got different views on what the ideal guitar should be. The world would be a very boring place if we all thought the same way.
#20
You realize your Warmoth build will cost you a lot more than you think? I put together 4 of them and did my own finishing and soldering it cost me 500-800 dollars and I was picking parts that were deeply discounted in the pre internet age. Nuts tuners switches knobs pickups finishing supplied it all adds up. You will be lucky to get all the parts you need for $1200 then you will have to do all the work yourself. If you let them do the finishing that is a couple hundred more. If you go with boutique pickups that is another hundred or so.
I had more money to spend on those things at that time now it is no go for me.
#21
To your original question: Yes, your Warmoth products will be at least as high quality as the ESP & Fender. At least.

The real question is who is doing the finishing? As has been mentioned, Warmoth will get you AAA parts but it's then up to you or someone else to potentially ruin the guitar by botching the fitting and/or finishing, or potentially by combining parts that sound good together on paper but end up looking like a mad woman's breakfast once assembled. A gold Bigsby on a green burst quilt maple Iceman 7 string might sound like the best of everything .. but until you've completed it you won't know if the actual instrument represents the full manifestation of the sum of its very high quality parts.

Buying an E-II or Strat is safe. Not only do you know what's in/on it but you know how it looks & feels & sounds as a whole piece. Building your own always relies on a lot of theorycraft. Wood combos, weight distribution, blah blah .. and therein lies the adventure and the potential glory of creating a perfectly spec'd masterpiece - albeit with no resale value.

If that sounds like you then I say go for it.
#22
I realize you're not in North America, but have you considered looking at small American luthiers? Lots of guys and gals here making killer custom/semi-custom guitars starting between $1500-2000.

Likewise, from what I've seen, there are boutique European makers who are making comparable guitars for roughly the same price (taking into account import taxes, etc. you'd have to pay importing a North American guitar).

That way, you get your dream axe without the worry of screwing it up. (I am an admitted klutz with tools.)
#23
At one point I really considered having Warmoth send me all the bits for a guitar; but it would have been a bolt-neck, and I suddenly realized that for the amount of money that I was going to spend on Warmoth and the rest of the bits and pieces, I could have a completed neck-through Carvin. Easy choice.
#24
Quote by Tony Done
Seems to me like you want mojo.


I always thought mojo had something to do with "vintage" . I mean, never heard someone say a modern guitar has a mojo . But if so, you're probably right. In this case it's an overall visual impression and the guitar gives and my emotional reaction to it.

Quote by Tony Done
I'm wondering why our diverse opinions would discourage you? We've all got different views on what the ideal guitar should be. The world would be a very boring place if we all thought the same way.


Because people say it will be very difficult to assemble the thing...
#25
Quote by Danustar
To your original question: Yes, your Warmoth products will be at least as high quality as the ESP & Fender. At least.

The real question is who is doing the finishing? As has been mentioned, Warmoth will get you AAA parts but it's then up to you or someone else to potentially ruin the guitar by botching the fitting and/or finishing, or potentially by combining parts that sound good together on paper but end up looking like a mad woman's breakfast once assembled. A gold Bigsby on a green burst quilt maple Iceman 7 string might sound like the best of everything .. but until you've completed it you won't know if the actual instrument represents the full manifestation of the sum of its very high quality parts.

Buying an E-II or Strat is safe. Not only do you know what's in/on it but you know how it looks & feels & sounds as a whole piece. Building your own always relies on a lot of theorycraft. Wood combos, weight distribution, blah blah .. and therein lies the adventure and the potential glory of creating a perfectly spec'd masterpiece - albeit with no resale value.

If that sounds like you then I say go for it.



I ordered a finished body and a roasted maple neck that doesn't require finishing. It will not need finishing done. Does what you said about the chances that final product will turn out crap still apply?
#26
Quote by Zhaezzy
You realize your Warmoth build will cost you a lot more than you think? I put together 4 of them and did my own finishing and soldering it cost me 500-800 dollars and I was picking parts that were deeply discounted in the pre internet age. Nuts tuners switches knobs pickups finishing supplied it all adds up. You will be lucky to get all the parts you need for $1200 then you will have to do all the work yourself. If you let them do the finishing that is a couple hundred more. If you go with boutique pickups that is another hundred or so.


Guys, why does everyone assume I am buying unfinished parts from Warmoth?
For me, getting already finished parts from Warmoth was a requirement. I wouldn't have even thought about buying them if I had to go through the PITA of arranging finishing with an other company or luthier.
#27
Quote by Zhaezzy
You realize your Warmoth build will cost you a lot more than you think? I put together 4 of them and did my own finishing and soldering it cost me 500-800 dollars and I was picking parts that were deeply discounted in the pre internet age. Nuts tuners switches knobs pickups finishing supplied it all adds up. You will be lucky to get all the parts you need for $1200 then you will have to do all the work yourself. If you let them do the finishing that is a couple hundred more. If you go with boutique pickups that is another hundred or so.
I had more money to spend on those things at that time now it is no go for me.


I don't think I went this route to get a cheapo guitar. Of course I can't afford an expensive guitar, but I didn't go for this in order to get it cheaper than a new ESP costs.

I realize the price of hardware will add up, but on the other hand, there's not so much hardware on a guitar anyway. All I will have to get is a Floyd Rose, tuners, potentiometers with knobs, a pickup switch, wire and pickups. I have already added everything else to the order.
Last edited by andriusd at Nov 19, 2014,
#28
The parts will be finished (roasted maple + rosewood neck doesn't require finishing), neck pocket will be drilled, nut slot will be cut for a Floyd Rose nut with holes drilled - all done by Warmoth. Floyd Rose studs will be installed by Warmoth. The order includes all the necessary screws.
What difficult things will I run into when assembling the guitar?
Fretwork - OK. Will look for someone to do it (I knew about it from the beginning).
#29
As others have said, don't get raw parts from Warmoth unless you're prepared for a major, major project. I built a partscaster out of a bunch of random (but not raw) but did a good job with the build and took no shortcuts with it. I lucked out with a really delicious bridge and neck pickup and it rivals anything short of guitars costing $1200+. Players i respect can't believe it's not an American. I paid $175 total.

I won't ever sell it because i have other guitars i buy/trade/sell. My blood is quite literally in it. If you want to do a build, find a cheap guitar with a nice piece of wood for the body and build around that. A large part of it sounding good is the care and finesse you put into building it--like someone else said, it isn't just slapping some shit together. Careful fret levelling, crowning and polishing, solid insulation for the electronics cavities. matching pickups, pots and caps. Neck sanding. Drilling holes into the headstock and fitting tuners. Doing a bulletproof solder job. Setting up the bridge and saddles. Applying the right torque to the screws. All these things take time and effort to do correctly. If you're willing to do it, and do it well, then it's highly rewarding. If you are not willing to put in some serious hours, then you will get frustrated. A lot.
Last edited by Acϵ♠ at Nov 19, 2014,
#30
Quote by Acϵ♠
Drilling holes into the headstock and fitting tuners.


But Warmoth drill the holes into the headstock themselves. I even got to choose for what type of tuners the holes must be drilled.
#31
Quote by andriusd
I ordered a finished body and a roasted maple neck that doesn't require finishing. It will not need finishing done. Does what you said about the chances that final product will turn out crap still apply?
Less so, that's for sure. You hadn't mentioned this previously. Raw roasted maple is the sexiest second sexiest thing in the world. What shape, wood and finish did you choose for the body? Did you get the Pro neck? What headstock? What tuners are you using? What pickups? Pickguard?

I ask 1) because I reckon it's a cool thing you're doing and I'm genuinely interested. Throw some specs up or better still some pics.
And 2) so you can see there's still a lot of variables that will affect how it will look, feel and play. How much care you take in the assembly is also a massive factor.

Relax man, it sounds like you're doing everything right so far and I'm sure it'll turn out amazing - something to be proud of. You came in asking for pros and cons of building assembling vs buying a completed brand name guitar so we gave you some. Buying a guitar off the shelf is easy and safe. Doing what you're doing always has an element of uncertainty about it that won't be decided until it's finished. Some people don't think that risk is worth the cost. Personally I do because the satisfaction of actually creating something from your own vision is immense. Plus ESP don't offer roasted maple for under 3 grand.
#32
I cancelled the order with Warmoth, although I am thinking of placing it again... The thing is, I want a superstrat guitar with a Soloist-shaped body and a bolt-on neck. I'll confess that as long as the guitar has a neck that's comfortable for me, is built well, has frets done well and is MIJ or MIA, it's good for me. I am not sensitive to the actual subtleties in the sound yet.
G&L Invader looks hot, but unfortunately it comes with a thick 0.830" thickness neck. What other guitars would you suggest for under $2000?
#33
Quote by andriusd
But Warmoth drill the holes into the headstock themselves. I even got to choose for what type of tuners the holes must be drilled.


I didn't get the neck from Warmoth, i got it from another guitar but the tuners i had were too big for the holes so i had to finely drill the holes to fit.
#34
Also you should check out some Ernie Ball Music Man Silhouettes. They are divine and in my opinion the best HSS guitars around that aren't custom jobs our boutique makers.
#35
I cancelled the order with Warmoth ... I want a superstrat guitar with a Soloist-shaped body and a bolt-on neck.

Ok .. well we pretty much need to start again.

The Fender and ESP you referenced earlier aren't exactly super Strats. They're .. well .. Strats. So you've moved on from that to a Floyded, Soloist style, humbucking guitar? Any other specs you do or don't want? Presumably you've checked out Jackson, Charvel and Ibanez?
#36
Quote by Acϵ♠
Also you should check out some Ernie Ball Music Man Silhouettes. They are divine and in my opinion the best HSS guitars around that aren't custom jobs our boutique makers.


My favourite guitars, not entirely sure why. It's just something about the overall design and looks. Mojo.
#39
Quote by Danustar
Ok .. well we pretty much need to start again.

The Fender and ESP you referenced earlier aren't exactly super Strats. They're .. well .. Strats. So you've moved on from that to a Floyded, Soloist style, humbucking guitar? Any other specs you do or don't want?


I know. I didn't see any production line superstrats I wanted and that were affordable - that is why I had almost settled for a classic Stratocaster. Now that I started thinking about Warmoth, I started looking for other superstrat options again.


Quote by Danustar
Presumably you've checked out Jackson, Charvel and Ibanez?


Jackson are neck-throughs (and anyway MIA ones are too expensive for me); MIA Charvel are too expensive for me; Ibanez neck is no good for me.

I bought an ESP M-II, but it's a neck-through. Was thinking of getting a bolt-on, but from what I read on the internet, it seems like it's got a thinner and flatter neck back shape than the NTB, and I'm not sure that's cool with me (no chance to try one).
Last edited by andriusd at Nov 20, 2014,
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