Several cheaper guitars or 1 Custom Shop?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by dscottyg, Sep 28, 2021.

Which would you rather have for about $4,000?

  1. 1 Custom Shop

    85 vote(s)
    34.4%
  2. 2 Ultras or AOs

    105 vote(s)
    42.5%
  3. 4 MIMs

    40 vote(s)
    16.2%
  4. 10 Squiers

    17 vote(s)
    6.9%
  1. Bakelite1

    Bakelite1 Strat-Talker

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    Leo Fender's genius was simplifying guitars. I liken him to Samuel Colt. They used production pieces to make items anyone could assemble. Anyone! By introducing interchangeable parts they removed the need for a specialist gunsmith or luthier.

    The custom shop addresses egos. They sell bragging rights.
     
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  2. gmann

    gmann Strat-Talker

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    Quality not quantity.
     
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  3. PCollen

    PCollen Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    I have 2 MIA Strat Plus, 1 MIM CP50 Strat, and 1 MIM Nashville Tele. NONE of them cost me more than $635 , tax and shipping included. Going stricty by memory, I think my total procurement cost in these is approx $2200, and I'm just as happy with any ONE of them (and probably more so), as I would be with a Custom Shop guitar.
     
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  4. tooter007

    tooter007 Strat-Talk Member

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    This is tough, because their range is very good from Squier to Custom Shop. Something about the necks on Custom Shops always gets me in the end it seems, they just feel right.
     
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  5. Ebidis

    Ebidis Providing the world with flat bends since 1985

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    Have you gone mad? What would I do for entertainment without threads like this to read?
     
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  6. WillyDaC50

    WillyDaC50 Strat-Talk Member

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    Virtually every guitar I own would be considered "vintage" and purchased in the mid to late 60's, before there were all these "options" like Custom Shop, MIM, American std., etc. I have purchased at least 3 new Gibsons, 2 LP's and a SJ200, and one 80's MIJ Contemporary. There are differences in every one and I am happy with every one of them. Not actually knowing a damn thing about a new Custom Shop guitar other than what I read, I never bought a "cheap" version of any one of them and I'm still playing every one of them. Other than a pro set up, I don't screw around with them and I have to believe that buying top quality is worth more than 3 or 4 mediocre guitars. I don't buy anything without playing it and the MIJ Contemporary is the only exception. It was hanging on a Pawn Shop wall and my eyes were telling me it was a real Strat but I'd never seen one. And I got it for $250 with it's original Fender case and the original Humbucker bridge pickup. Took it to my luthier and had it set up and the German pickup replaced with the original. It's my only "cheap" guitar, but I love it. So, after all this windiness, my opinion is buy quality and you'll not regret it. Depending on what sort of player you are, maybe having 3 or 4 cheaper guitars would work but the only reason I have as many axes as I do is because I've been playing forever. If I remember correctly, I paid somewhere less than $300 for my first Strat in 1964 and it was considered expensive then. Considering I still have it and play it every few days says it was worth it.
     
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  7. The Tortoise

    The Tortoise Strat-Talk Member

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    You of course have to factor in what the passage of time brings out. Back in 1982, nobody in their right mind would have picked a bunch of MIJ Squier strats over the "awesome" USA Fender "the strat" super-custom model (with gold hardware...oooohhh).
    Which would you rather have today, just one 1982 Fender "the strat", or ten MIJ Squier "JV" strats?
     
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  8. Tremdaddy

    Tremdaddy Strat-Talk Member

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    If you like the vintage style, a good Custom Shop model that speaks to you is something you'll play forever. I have a few, plus some vintage Fenders. But there are also some great Roadworns out there for way less money. Plus great boutique builders like Suhr. So you have a lot of choices. But to narrowly your question - 1 Custom Shop. (Or 2 used Suhrs. Or 5 used Roadworns.)
     
  9. BigJoe

    BigJoe Strat-Talk Member

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    I build my own. You can buy a good wood body out of what you like and a good unfinished neck for fairly cheap. Stew-Mac and others will sell you nitro paint to put a quality finish on it and then you buy the pickups and the rest of the parts to get the sound. But you have to put in the time to work on the neck, roll the fretboard edge, frets and the fretboard surface and file the nut right. All the little things that a custom shop does to make it feel and play "broken in"! You're looking at $800 plus for good parts and having fun creating YOUR guitar!
     
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  10. Joe R

    Joe R Strat-Talk Member

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    Sadly, I must conclude that it really doesn't matter. Over the last five years, I've purchased three Stratocasters and two Telecasters, 3 MIM and 2 made in the USA. ALL of these instruments had severe quality issues. I'm not talking about adjustments. Most players have to adjust the action, pickup height, etc. for their own liking. No, I'm talking about things like a dead noiseless Tele bridge pickup, a bad Strat 5-way switch, American Tele neck that had a bad truss rod, a MIM neck that had to be shimmed for a playable action, etc. So buying an American Strat or a Squier is no guarantee that either will be fault-free. My Fenders have all been do-it-yourself kits. The good thing about Fender instruments vs Gibsons and others is that they are very modular, and you can work on them rather easily. The bad thing is that you generally have to. There are two issues that I see here. The first is that many of the parts themselves are substandard. The second issue is the lack of skill and attention to detail in assembly. Whether it's the pricey, Asian-made new Tonemaster amp series, or the Micro-Tilt neck, they have always known how to maximize their profits. I mention the Micro-Tilt neck because this was their way of not having to put in labor hours for proper adjustment. All the player has to do is loosen two bolts and adjust the angle with an Allen wrench. There is only one problem, the intonation and sustain immediately suffers because you have only three points of contact rather than the solid neck-to-body joint. For Fender, it's profits first. Now, I hesitate in buying any of their products sight unseen. I will plunk down my hard cash only after I have examined the instrument with a magnifying glass.
     
  11. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

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    There are plenty of vintage guitars available in the 4K price point. I bought a 66 Tele from Habitat for Humanity for $1000 restored it and sold it for $7000. I have a beautiful near mint 65 335 I paid exactly $4k for and it’s worth $10k. You just have to be patient and know where to look and have the cash in your pocket when the good deal passes across your plate. There are thousands of 70’s three bolt Strats under $4k.

    No new guitar with a $4k price point is really worth $4k because as soon as you walk out of the store it’s now only worth $3k. That’s how they get you. The dealer mark up is almost a fake number and the real value is much closer to what a used one in near mint condition sells for.
     
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  12. Groundwire

    Groundwire Strat-Talker

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    This. 100%. The most important thing is an instrument that resonates with you, regardless of cost.
    Also happy to take that ‘64 Strat off your hands if it’s just collecting dust…
     
  13. MusicManD

    MusicManD Strat-Talk Member

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    Man, here's the deal.

    You need a guitar that you love to play. It's got to feel great and not get in the way when you're playing. Sometimes that requires some serious cash. Sometimes you get lucky.

    My first Strat was a Squier II. It was probably bad, but it was miles better than the Teisco that I started with, so I was happy. That Strat got stolen and I bought a couple of garbage cheap Strat copies - a Cort, a Slammer by Hamer... I was constantly unhappy with those guitars and lucked into an Epiphone Les Paul that happened to be in the top 1% of quality control (I've also played Epis that were in the bottom 1% - that's the challenge of spotty QC).

    I assumed that I was no longer a "Strat guy" until a few years later when I saw a used MIM Standard Strat, maple on white, hanging on the Guitar Center wall for $199. It had some gouges in the wood but otherwise looked great. I picked it up and INSTANTLY all the feels from 5 or 6 years before came rushing back. I LOVE playing a Strat. That MIM Standard was my #1/2 guitar with my Les Paul for almost a decade. I tried American Strats later when looking to upgrade and simply couldn't find a more comfortable guitar for me.

    Later I traded into a '79 Strat, which I tried REALLY hard to love. It just didn't fit me. It had its own mojo, which was super fun, but it was not a #1 guitar by any stretch... I ended up needing to sell it and was offered a trade plus cash for a Jimmie Vaughan Signature with Texas Specials in it. I grabbed the JV neck and was in love before I even strummed it. It was the guitar that finally unseated my $199 MIM Standard when nothing else could.

    Today, I have a Gibson LP that ran me $1800... I had to go that far to find a Les Paul that I liked better than my $300 upper 1% Epiphone. My $800 JV Sig is up there as my #1/2 with the LP. I also have a $700 Reverend Sensei Jr that is fun to play, but not #1 quality... at least not for me. And then I have a $300 parts Tele that is a whole different machine from anything else - super fun, but in a totally different way from my other guitars.

    But if I were still rocking my $300 Epi and $199 MIM Standard, I'd be pretty happy. It's all about finding THAT guitar, the one that speaks to you as nothing else can. I once played a Suhr... I could identify the things that made it a $3K+ guitar, but I also didn't feel or hear anything that would cause me to grab it off the stand if my Les Paul or Strat were sitting next to it.
     
  14. Strangher11

    Strangher11 Strat-Talk Member

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    You can't go wrong with buying the good stuff, you don't need to have the Rolls Royce but having one or two or three quality instruments is the way to fly.
     
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  15. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

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    Atmospheric effects poorly cut or cured wood a lot more than it does with properly cut and cured wood. This generally benefits the more expensive guitar where more attention is generally paid to grading, cutting, and curing the wood.

    Jimi’s off the rack Strats only cost $285 and are vintage collectors items now. Pretty much the only guitars available back then were off the rack. Boutique guitars didn’t really begin until the 1970’s.

    So is the original Danelectro which is made from Masonite.
     
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  16. MickeyPicky

    MickeyPicky Strat-Talker

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    Think it would be more like 15-20 squiers. Unless you’re burning guitars on stage, quality over quantity
     
  17. AndyF

    AndyF Strat-Talk Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    I have an American Ultra Strat that I purchased new. I have a telecaster that I built from parts, I have a Player Plus Top that I bought the neck and then found a loaded body and and I put them together. and I'm building a Player Plus Strat, I have the neck, the the pickups, the switch, the volume and tone knobs. The lower tone knob, has a push pull switch. Once I wire the pickguard I'll put it in a new new body, it will be a partscaster.

    So to answer your question, every guitar has a different sound, so you should have multiple guitars. The American Ultra Strat has a unique sound. But so does the Player Plus top - that one has a mellow sound and I love the humbucker in the bridge.

    The picture is just some of my guitars. Just like Lays Potato Chips, you can have just one. :)

    IMG_2259.jpg
     
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  18. PonyB

    PonyB Senior Stratmaster

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    As lucky as I am to have bought my used CS for a good price, my Squier and MIJ still get plenty of attention.
    My friend has a Tokai Strat that is awesome to play.
    Enjoy whatever gear you have.
     
  19. Intune

    Intune Senior Stratmaster

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    Can you explain this?
     
  20. Nokie

    Nokie Strat-O-Master

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    I voted CS but then I got mine back when they were not much more than the price of the American Original. The CS's have gone so high in price these days. Still, there's something about the quality that I really love in the CS. Now if Fender still made the AV series they were doing from 2013-2016, I might recommend a couple of those over one CS.
     
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