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Who has gone Custom Shop and what are your thoughts?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by cmm71, Oct 13, 2020.

  1. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    What do you want? You can play 10 “identical” Strats and they will feel different when you play them. 1 5/8” nut wide is very narrow. Most modern necks are 1 11/16” which is a 16th of an inch wider. However, neck width doesn’t translate directly to playability as much as other factors like neck angle, bridge settings, relief, shape and thickness. Jumping to “custom shop” won’t change any of that. Play a bunch of guitars and pick the one you like and don’t worry if it is custom shop or not.
     
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  2. CKC411

    CKC411 New Member!

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    It just so happens that I, very recently, held my breath and jumped. No regrets, but... before replying further to your question, have you tried the newer Strat Ultras? I really like the neck profile and the satin finish. It is my favorite. I also recently purchased a MIJ Limited Black Paisley and I am loving the neck on that, as well. It's different, but in a good way. Not as good as the Ultra, but I find that it has a very unique sound and feel to go with it. It has more of a "U" shape neck vs. the slightly more petite "C" shape of the Custom Shop. The CS has a a glossier neck and gets a small bit larger towards the body. A subtle difference to be sure. The Ultra Strat had an Elite ebony neck, but I also have the original Ultra neck, which feels amazing all by itself. I built my own version of a USA Stratocaster and I think it may end up besting them all. Anyway, no regrets about the jump to a CS. If I could do it again, I might pick a different neck, but only because of the satin feel of the Ultra and Elite. Seeing your question has made me curious about the precise width, since I have always gone by feel and seem to find myself happy to adapt to the differences and part of each unique guitar's "voice." Let us know what you end up doing. If you go CS, "I got a guy.":thumb:
     
  3. cmm71

    cmm71 Strat-Talk Member Silver Member

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    Hey all, thanks for the responses. As far as the 1 5/8 nut, I had Warmoth make me a tele neck recently with a 1 5/8 Clapton "V" neck. I loved it. I have small hands and dainty necks feel good to me. I had a '75 strat once that had a very, very slender nut...I'm not sure if someone modified it or if it came stock that way but it was very nice. In contrast to the '75 strat neck and Warmoth tele neck the new American Professional necks are the most uncomfortable necks I've laid hands on. The Clapton neck is currently the best feeling production neck I've felt. I've come very close to just going out today and grabbing up a Clapton strat. My thinking is, maybe its time to treat myself to something truly special. If I could have the folks in the custom shop build a guitar for cmm71, the guitar I've decided is THE guitar I'd want, then I'd have them build me a 1 5/8 nut with a 7 1/4 radius. The point of the thread was to solicit from those that have done it whether they felt it was worth it. I'm going to conservatively guesstimate that I've owned 25 to 30 production strats since 1985. Japanese, Mexican, American Fenders, G&L...I even had a Carvin once. They've all been different. What I've gotten from this thread, aside from the relic drama, is that everyone that's made the leap into custom shop is happy. They haven't regretted it. Now its up to me to decide whether its worth it. If I do it, I'll be back and let you know.
     
  4. weavzy

    weavzy Strat-Talk Member

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    Im constantly staggered by the constant droning whine of people who dont like relics.

    I just cant grasp why what others like angers them so much.

    Bizzare stuff.

    Ive never had an opinion on them either way, other than thinking some look cool, some dont.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2020 at 5:37 PM
  5. pmoore

    pmoore Strat-Talk Member

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    Custom shop is all 9.5 radius. Look into AVRI
     
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  6. artgtr

    artgtr Artgtr Silver Member

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    Most CS Strats now that I come across in my big box store before the lockdown, are relics at some level. Come to think of it, the American Standards & other Strats seemed to be non relics. I will add, ultimately the Strat has to play fantastic, if it is a relic so be it. While I’m playing an awesome guitar - relic or non relic doesn’t matter!
     
  7. Seamus OReally

    Seamus OReally Buried alive in the blues Gold Supporting Member

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    Here’s my ad hoc, too long take:

    10 years ago or so, I happened across a CS Strat on the wall at Music-Go-Round that had the most devastatingly sexy sunburst/quilt I had ever seen. I wanted that guitar real bad.

    But I've never been wealthy, and I've never seen the sense of owning a bunch of Strats. So if I was going to buy the CS guitar, it would mean eventually parting out my Zencaster. In my mind, I couldn’t justify owning them both.

    I took the Z-caster into the store, and I A/B'ed the CS guitar with my own home-assembled #1. There was no comparison... my guitar blew the knobs off the CS guitar... it played better and easier, it sustained longer, and I found that I was a lot more used to the compound radius fretboard than I thought.

    In the end, I left the Most Beautiful Guitar I Ever Saw in the store, and I still own and play the Zencaster.

    I think that what people are paying for from the Custom Shop is a higher level of attention to detail and set-up. I had been fine-tuning the set-up on the Zencaster for years, and had brought it to what I still feel is the absolute optimum for that guitar and for my playing style. Any guitar off the wall would have a hard time competing with that.

    So I arrived at this conclusion: it is not only possible, but in fact likely, that you or your favorite guitar tech can assemble a ‘perfect’ guitar from parts by Fender or others that rivals the Custom Shop for way less coin. If a higher level of attention to detail is what makes a great guitar, nobody is ever going to care about your guitar as much as you do.
     
  8. StummerJoe

    StummerJoe Senior Stratmaster

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    Thank you for the respone.
     
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  9. StummerJoe

    StummerJoe Senior Stratmaster

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    You can get akmost any radius you want from the CS, even compound radius.
     
  10. diogoguitar

    diogoguitar Senior Stratmaster

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    Hmmmm... when I ordered mine, I ordered because I thought it were just a better overall guitar.
    I kind of wanted the vintage vibe and feel, so everything fit together with my expectations.

    When I got my hand on it, was it better than my am standard? Yes, but not 3x better. I learned after the fact that I prefer more modern specs, too.

    If there is a particular set of specs that you can only get with a CS, sure go for it. Now, the better bang for the buck is the American Originals, IMHO.

    I eventually sold my CS because I was just not playing enough. I used the money to buy a custom ordered Suhr. Much better for my taste for less money. Win-win.
     
  11. Eventful_Event

    Eventful_Event New Member!

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    100% Agreed. There is almost nothing you can't do with a Warmoth body/neck, and learning to setup guitars yourself. Setups aren't even magic like a lot of people think, and there is a lot of room for what constitutes a "proper" setup.

    Curious what your setup measurements are? Relief, action, pickup heights, ect ect.
     
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  12. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    Absolutely! Thanks for the discussion. Oh yeah, Lee Ranaldo is a good friend and customer of our work. He’s a really nice guy, and brilliant artist!
     
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  13. Seamus OReally

    Seamus OReally Buried alive in the blues Gold Supporting Member

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    I use D’addario XL 10s. Relief is .004”, action is 4/64 on the bass side, 3/64 on the treble side. Pickups are EMG X-Series, set low but not flush with the pickguard... I set them by ear. My bridge is set to float 1/8”.
     
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  14. soulman969

    soulman969 Senior Stratmaster

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    Only a "Team Built Closet Classic" and only because I was able to buy it for a ridiculous price. It was at that time (2000-01) better than any production US Tele I had ever owned or played including our guitarists '52RI.

    Since then I have found others I like nearly as well or have modified to reach a level closer to the Nocaster. But I would not have paid the retail price for it which at that time was around $3000 list price.
     
  15. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Senior Stratmaster

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    Just in case you're still interested in following this thread, I'll put down one more vote for an AVRI, and I mean the acronym in the widest sense: 54, 56, 57, 59, 62, 65. It's 7'25'', vintage frets, usually great quality, great tone, great looks. Width at the nut spec is always a bit of a crapshoot… there is variance, and as we're talking very small differences a guitar spec'd at 1 11/16 might still fit your preferences.

    The advantage is that you have basically all the neck profiles you might conceivable want:
    - 54 (from what I read) a big round chunk
    - 56, a big V chunk
    - 57, a much smaller V neck
    - 59 (from what I read and IIRC) a shallower "D" profile with a nice taper
    - 62, a round "mid 60s" C neck
    - 65, a more substantial C neck tapering to "big" in the high positions.

    From what you say about neck preferences, I'd look for 57s and 62s which (if not the fabled "Fullertons") have the added bonus of retailing for less than the 2012-17s.

    About quality…

    I really second that. There are aspects of "quality" that cannot be replicated on a lower-price guitar: if you go for highly figured woods, your guitar either has them or not. But much of this is aesthetic. In terms of function you can always take even a mid-priced guitar and make it great by careful set-up and upgrading what needs to be upgraded, and you'll still be pretty low in price. Sure, if there is a lot of surgery involved you'll never recoup your investment if eventually you sell. But AVRIs don't need much surgery to become great guitars.

    Just my 2 cents, and please don't take this as a diss on Custom Shops. They are wonderful guitars.
     
  16. CAR63

    CAR63 Strat-Talker

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    I think this makes a lot of sense . I have a number of guitars with different neck profiles and I seem to adapt to them easily , just lucky I guess . For exampleI have a '57 Esquire with a rather fat V profile , and a '63 Strat with a much flatter profile , and I have a number of partscaters I've made , some with Fender necks , some aftermarket like Allparts and Musikraft . I can't think of any that are completely the same . So what I'm getting at is go to the music store and play a bunch until you find one that feels "right " . So many options out there , you might be surprised !
     
  17. weavzy

    weavzy Strat-Talk Member

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    I just bourght my first Custom Shop Strat!!! Im beyond excited. I never thought this day would happen. I wont get my hands on it for another 3 weeks or so...so I cant really comment on this thread yet. Man. I just cant believe it.
     
  18. ZZDoc

    ZZDoc Strat-Talk Member

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    If you desire something to your individual taste, and it worth the coin to you, you'll receive a carefully produced instrument IF all goes well. Most of the time it will... but there are glitches. They can be team built at lower cost unless you have reason to select a specific builder like Todd Krause for a Clapton.
     
  19. joebloggs

    joebloggs Strat-O-Master

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    I would look into a boutique S type before going the Custom Shop route. You will probably find what you are looking for at a lower price, without sacrificing quality. Friedman, Kirn, Suhr and Xotic come to mind. I love my Xotic XSC-2, and it's as good or better than the Custom Shop strats I have played.
     
  20. Mr C

    Mr C Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

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    Ive only had one CS strat (time machine series ‘66). and it was ok, but just ok. The neck felt great shape wise but the fit and finish was no better than any other production Fender. I ended up trading it for white Les Paul custom.

    for the vintage vibe the last series of AVRI’s take some beating. My PV64 tele is one of the best guitars I’ve owned period...