Are Boutique & Custom Shop Strats Worth The $'s?

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by axe4me, Jul 4, 2020.

  1. axe4me

    axe4me Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2013
    Messages:
    7,441
    Likes Received:
    8,317
    :duel:
     
    Sapient likes this.
  2. South Park

    South Park Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2019
    Messages:
    3,140
    Likes Received:
    2,639
    I would build one get the parts off of eBay . Get the body in the finish you want or paint it your self . Some great necks and tuners ready pick guards with pick ups installed . Put it together and have some one set it up . And spend half as much money as buying it
     
    dro and BanditPanda like this.
  3. Jubilee23

    Jubilee23 Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2019
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    157
    Personally, I don’t think so, I’ve owned a bunch and the best Fender I’ve ever had was a USA Tele Deluxe, it was the white ash model, nice guitar but I can’t seem to bond with Fenders. I don’t think any bolt on neck is worth the coin they charge for thier standards, never mind their custom shops.
     
    tce63 likes this.
  4. jimmyjames

    jimmyjames Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2014
    Messages:
    2,063
    Likes Received:
    2,510
    Location:
    West Oz
    Partscasters FTW :yesway: :cool:
     
    wakjob, vtrain and South Park like this.
  5. Solid State

    Solid State Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2016
    Messages:
    382
    Likes Received:
    591
    I think a lot of guys have a dream guitar and a lot of other guys just need a guitar that plays nice and stays in tune. If you've got the money, I can't fault getting a 3-5K guitar. Is a Custom Shop YJM Strat better than the stock YJM Strat? According to a reviewer on youtube, yes. The wood on the neck is noticeably different and from what he says the fit and finish just give the whole guitar a much nicer feel - to the point he doesn't play it very much because it's clearly a special and unique build. Like the poster above - He plays a partscaster YJM strat as his main guitar.
     
    Giovanni likes this.
  6. Matthews Guitars

    Matthews Guitars Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2019
    Messages:
    2,781
    Likes Received:
    4,129
    No. You could build a premium strat from Warmoth parts and hand pick everything that goes into it and get a better guitar than anything that Fender ever shipped out of its custom shop, for less money than Fender would charge.
     
    tce63, Crikey, vtrain and 2 others like this.
  7. axe4me

    axe4me Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2013
    Messages:
    7,441
    Likes Received:
    8,317

    I agree to an extent.

    Any company would charge more for a product they make for profit.

    A factory product would have a higher value than a partscaster or a small luthier.

    I'm sure Paul Reed Smith had issues with him being an unknown in the late 80's.

    Even being an unknown, you have to be lucky and make a profit to survive.

    I understand that people have to make money.

    I just have my wallet on a leash and don't have to spend to keep somebody in business.

    I'm in business too.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2020
  8. Sg-ocaster

    Sg-ocaster Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2020
    Messages:
    400
    Likes Received:
    443
    I don't think so....again like othets said you can build one anyway you want and cheaper .....ive had a couple myself.....one a 1974 strat neck on a B.hefner 60s strat body I finished in nitro with 69 cs fender pups .....that was a killer.....neck had been refretted with jumbo frets and fingerboard left bare and oiled.
     
    WellBurnTheSky likes this.
  9. Matthews Guitars

    Matthews Guitars Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2019
    Messages:
    2,781
    Likes Received:
    4,129
    I've been building guitars for 35 years. Not thousands of guitars, no, but enough to take my skills to a level where literally NOBODY else who builds guitars is out of my league. I'll compare my current workmanship quality and execution to that of literally anybody working in the same category I do.

    As a result, I find myself utterly unimpressed by anything that I've ever seen come out of Fender's shop in the solidbody electric guitar category.

    No matter what it is, it's an instrument that's assembled with a screwdriver. Bolt-on necks, pickguards holding screwed-on electronics screwed to the body,
    there's only so much that can be done to take it up a notch once you have well fitted parts properly assembled and all aspects of the action are properly addressed.

    Beyond that point, you're only paying more for the name and literally nothing else. Fender licensed Warmoth parts would allow you to build a guitar that's every bit
    as good as anything Fender ever pushed out of the custom shop and for a lot less money. I for one don't care to be soaked for thousands of extra dollars just because it has a custom shop brand on the back of the headstock or something.

    Full disclosure: I've never been much of a Fender fan anyway. I consider the bulk of their production to be nothing more and nothing less than mass-produced, cookie cutter instruments made by people who are building guitars in the Fender factory because there's a paycheck coming on Friday. I see absolutely nothing remarkable or magical about
    any mass produced, screwed together Fender guitar no matter what year it was made. You see a '59 Strat and think a five figure sum of money. I llook at it and see a guitar that may be worth maybe 500 to 800 dollars to me if I had any interest in it. I am definitely not going to support the ridiculous vintage guitar collector's market. I think it's absurd and places a high premium on the value of nostalgia instead of fairly valuing the instrument for its history, method of production, and playing attributes.

    In fact, I think that the vintage guitar collector's market is generally insane, but the Fender section of it annoys me the most.
     
    DBI5, coolidge56 and kinleyd like this.
  10. WellBurnTheSky

    WellBurnTheSky Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2019
    Messages:
    847
    Likes Received:
    1,982
    Location:
    South of France, Europe, Earth
    For context, my main guitar is a '94 Classic Floyd Rose Strat I bought new in '96, went to over a thousand gigs with it (and God knows how many thousands hours of playing), it's a part of me at this point. Back when I purchased it I A/Bed it with a CS HH set-neck Strat with an OFR that was great, but I wanted the neck single coil. I've played dozens of Strats, ranging from entry-level to custom shops to Warmoth partscasters to vintages to "boutique" (a few Suhrs, a couple Tylers, several Andersons and Schecters, a Nash, you name it).

    The L series I played was...unremarkable. I know some are amazing, this one wasn't. Tbh I've played a couple CS that would blow it out of the water.
    The very best I've played, for feel and tone, would be a '74 (big headstock, bullet trussrod) that absolutely sang and had a great feel, and a '90s (I guess ?) Eric Johnson signature that was amazing, killer "worn-in" feel (pretty similar to my own Strat, whose finish is super worn, neck wood is bare on several spots), and sounded and felt super alive, even unplugged.

    All the boutique high-end ones felt pretty slick and played great (especially the Suhrs, I LOVE the fretwork on those), but if anything are "too perfect" for me (if that's a thing), to me they don't have as much "vibe" as the 74 or the EJ. Or a CS '57 style a friend of mine had. Great modern-feeling guitars, but they're definitely not my thing. I can see the draw towards these though, they're effortless to play, and basically can do everything. I just happen to like guitars with a bit more personality, even if they give you a bit more of a fight.

    I kinda liked the Warmoths I played, but they all felt very new and slick, and overall nice but not something I'd go out of my way to get. Probably a tad better than a MIA Strat, but IMHO nothing to write home about. And I've seen way too many weirdo Warmoths with exotic wood choices and other options just for the sake of being different/unique, that at the end of the day weren't good. Trying to reinvent the wheel is fun, but there's a reason why some wood combinations are classics. And what's with the fetish for furniture-grade figuring on tops and necks ? Not my thing at all...

    My next guitar will probably be built around MJT parts, basically a 22-fretter, HSS variation around the EJ Strat (I absolutely loved that neck, both the profile and finish, fret size and radius were perfect for me too). And MJT, because he offers the finish options I want (nitro finish on neck, light aging), their pricing is right and I've heard good things about them from different sources.
    In a perfect world I'd have the guitar built by the Custom Shop, but sadly that's out of my price range. But at the end of the day, if I want a Strat, might as well get a Fender. Hence the CS. The best Strats I've played were Fenders, so I'd rather stick with what works for me. I don't believe in the "better this, better that" ethos, TO ME changes to the recipe make things different, not necessarily better.

    So yeah, CS: cool (as long as you don't go bonkers with options); vintage: depends which, some are well worth the price, some not so much. YMMV obviously.
     
    tce63, CraigP and DBI5 like this.
  11. kinleyd

    kinleyd Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2016
    Messages:
    714
    Likes Received:
    930
    Location:
    Bhutan
    Interesting. I don't know enough about guitars to know any better, and am inclined to go for the top of the line, but stock only, just for the assurance. Custom and vintage are way off what I'd be willing to spend, even in an arm chair exercise. However, if I ever get around to being comfortable enough to mix, match and set up stuff myself, it'll be great to see if I can follow your line.
     
    tce63 likes this.
  12. axe4me

    axe4me Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2013
    Messages:
    7,441
    Likes Received:
    8,317
    I'm a guitar player and somewhat of a collector.

    I'd like to think that I'm playing the best guitar I can.

    I think I can afford what I use.

    Small/unknown luthiers are fine with me.

    Having said that, keep what you have and don't try to sell it and get a SMALL portion in return.

    Be a player.
     
    tce63 likes this.
  13. Deep Purple fan

    Deep Purple fan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2014
    Messages:
    2,570
    Likes Received:
    2,524
    Location:
    Virginia
    They are worth every Penney. I have 5 custom shop fender guitars. Four strats and tele. Each one is both magnificent and unique.
     
    tce63 and dptone5 like this.
  14. Marshall Boogie

    Marshall Boogie Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2020
    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    381
    Location:
    Watertown, NY USA
    Fender makes great guitars, you can find dogs in every category (don't believe me, head on over to the Les Paul forum and listen to people bitch about new custom shop guitars with major flaws in stupid parts). And for what it's worth I never believe the guy that says "my guitars are greater than anyone elses's".....blow hard brother, you are your greatest friend.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 6, 2020
    tce63 likes this.
  15. Marshall Boogie

    Marshall Boogie Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2020
    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    381
    Location:
    Watertown, NY USA
    My guitar skills bring the boys to the yard....cause my skills are better than yours, yes my skills are better than yours.
     
    tce63 and vtrain like this.
  16. coolidge56

    coolidge56 Well-Known Member Double Platinum Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2019
    Messages:
    1,043
    Likes Received:
    2,217
    Location:
    WA state hinterlands
    When I stopped buying $4000-$5000 guitars the fun returned. Snagged this new for 2020 model Charvel yesterday for $950 INBOUND! 6lbs 10oz, Mahogany body, figured Walnut top (veneer), 24 jumbo frets, locking tuners, 12-16 compound neck radius. Check out the neck heel. I have a set of SD Saturday Night Special pups on my bench ready to install.

    charvel03.jpg charvel01.jpg

    Sellers pics are not the best, here's a full photo of this model, the runner up I almost purchased.

    charvelother.jpg
     
    tce63, CraigP, Derek S and 5 others like this.
  17. Wildeman

    Wildeman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2016
    Messages:
    1,974
    Likes Received:
    2,509
    I'm out, i buy Strats for $75.00:facepalm:
     
  18. dragonvalve

    dragonvalve Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Messages:
    833
    Likes Received:
    769
    I think they are because they've figured out what a worn settled and playable guitar should FEEL like. Never mind the relicing B.S. they do feel nice in the hands.

    You can save money and buy the generic issues and wait several years and spend money at a luthier setting things up or fast forward all that and get the end result without the hassle.

    That still does not address the generic pursuit of finding that one in 20 guitars like YM would do and he's right.

    Alongside the custom price is the "custom" brand name.

    The value will keep if Fender. A name is what is known in business and marketing as an intangible asset.

    Not every well made guitar has a good resale value.

    After the physical comes the perception.

    These days since the lockdown, are we right in perceiving that there may not be any more production of these instruments driving prices up on everything made pre-lockdown?
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2020
  19. Lo-Tek

    Lo-Tek Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2013
    Messages:
    4,577
    Likes Received:
    3,590
    Location:
    Traverse City, Mi.
    Some of them are stupid expensive but the more reasonable ones are probably "worth it". At least so far they seem to retain most of their value on the used market. Not really my cup of tea because I can find a cheaper USA made guitar that will do all the same things for less money but that's just me.
    Under the right circumstances I would buy one.

    Be that as it may Fender guitars remain industry standard instruments to this day. You might not care for them but objectively they are a proven design. That bolt together technique gives the instruments a remarkably solid feel- I think this is a big part of the appeal and why so many pros continue to use them. Bottom line - they work and the can be beat up or played lightly. Not to mention they still look cool too.
    It's no fluke that so many guitar greats have favored Fenders.

    I imagine it must be a bitter pill for makers that use old time construction techniques to be playing catch up to a mass assembled guitar.
     
  20. dro

    dro Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2015
    Messages:
    824
    Likes Received:
    1,409
    Location:
    Blue Springs Mo
    You could build your own with "Fender" parts cheaper than custom shop. If you have the time and skills. My MIM Strat is now the best Strat I've ever owned. Only thing I don't like is the Made In Mexico on the back of the headstock. Would put a USA neck on it. Haven't found one that feels as good as this one.
    blackstrat.JPG
     
    kinleyd likes this.

Share This Page