#1
I'm looking to get a nice, American made (already tried a Mexican and I didn't like it, but I've tried many Mexican Strats and I like them - and Japanese strats aren't available anywhere here) Strat, but I want some pretty specific things which you can't get stock.

As far as I know, I basically have two options:

Option 1:
Buy a Fender American Stratocaster for about £750, and have it modded to how I want. The most reasonable quote I can get from a respectable luthier in this area is about £100 for the extra work, plus it would be another £200-£250 for the extra stuff I want put in it. I could be looking at around about a solid £1000 (though probably a touch more) for the whole thing to meet my spec.

Option 2:
Place an order with Warmoth, having everything pre-built to how I want it. Working out my options, I figure it will be between £850 and £1000, depending on just how close to my perfect spec they can get.


The upside of going with Warmoth is they could probably get my exact spec right away, and with Warmoth I could even ask for something which the Fender could never have (namely, a semi-hollow body with an f-hole, which I think is great for Strats but sadly Fender never makes). The main downside is I can't even try the necks out or get a feel for the fret wire or anything to see if their options would suit me, I'd have to almost blindly order and just hope what turns up does indeed match what I want.

The upside of going with the modded Fender is I can try the basic guitar out before hand, plus it's quite nice to have the 'real' Fender Strat. The main downside is it will definitely cost more than Warmoth might.



So, I can't decide which to go for. Help me, UG!


For reference, this is the rough spec I'm looking for:
- Traditional Strat-style body
- Regular Strat trem bridge, no floyd rose, no bigsby!
- HH pickup configuration - wired with a three-way switch instead of the normal strat 5-way, wire it like a normal neck/both/bridge Gibson 3-way switch
- the bridge Humbucker would be angled as a 'trembucker' is.
- two mini toggles for coil taps on both pickups
- I'll be buying Swineshead custom pickups, this will be an extra £120 or so. I'd be doing this regardless of where I got the guitar from though.
- The pickguard will of course have to be custom cut, which will be another £60 or so.
- ash body wood, probably. Though if anyone knows if Fender do an American Strat with an alder body and Sienna Burst finish, I'd be most grateful!
- dark fretboard, rosewood or ebony I don't mind (I've never noticed a tonal difference, and rosewood can always be stained a little darker anyway)
- either sienna burst if it's Fender or I don't know what from Warmoth, too many options to choose from there! Though no, finishing it myself isn't an option and everywhere here charges too much for finishing, a Warmoth finish option would be cheapest anyway.
- I'm looking for a standard Fender/Epiphone/60s Gibson neck profile (all feel about the same to me), with 22 medium frets (or if I have to, fairly low frets - NO 'jumbo' frets!). I can't stand 'wizard' necks, though a slightly thicker neck wouldn't be too bad if I had to.
- Diamond, block, dot or trapezoid neck inlays only.
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#2
Well if you haven't done any building/modding before, I recommend you start by remaking a guitar. It's remarkable how much different a guitar can be after you mod it as long as you're willing to put money into it. You also have to consider if you'd be satisfied with the guitar.

Another option you can look at is avoiding warmoth. While there parts are definatly high quality, their prices are ridiculous, instead you can browse through ebay, or other places on the net (stewmac is good too), where it is cheaper and there are more options, you just have to be more careful.
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#3
Well, I've done some light modding work before (rewiring, changing bolt-on necks, etc), but nothing the likes of this, and I don't trust myself to do this 100% right. I'm either paying somebody else who really knows what they're doing to do it or I'll be paying somewhere to make the thing to my spec right away - considering I want this to be basically as good as it can be, ****ing it up myself isn't something I wish to risk.

I have thought of stewmac before, but I'm not sold on their bodies, and their necks work out the same price as Warmoths once I included the shipping to the UK, so I'm a little loathe to use them. EBay doesn't have much that will go to the UK except for lots of Squier parts or re-sold Warmoth parts so that's not much of an option either. There's always the chance that one day something might come along that would suit me perfectly, but even then the price would still be up in the air and who even knows if I'd get it? I'm not saying it's an awful idea, but I'm looking to have this guitar finished and in my hands, top gigging quality, within the next couple of months or so, so in that regard EBay is too much of a wildcard.


If there are other options I could use, I'd love to hear them. But I've already thought of all the obvious options and these two seem to be by far the best in terms of final quality (my main concern) and price (second main concern). But y'know hey, if anyone knows of a good obscure custom place in the UK or some stock guitar that fits my spec exactly, then I'm all ears.
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