The Friends of SD series will showcase builders and manufacturers that are either authorized resellers of Seymour Duncan products, or who use Seymour Duncan pickups in their instruments.
If you are a guitarist or bassist that has ever dreamed of building your own instrument out of parts, chances are you have spent countless hours looking at the beautiful woods and endless options from Warmoth Guitar & Bass Parts. I know I have, and finally was able to start building a guitar of my dreams.
See, Leo Fender had some great ideas which benefit guitarists even today. While known for his iconic designs as well as starting 3 companies which continue today (Fender, Music Man and G&L), his idea of using bolt-on necks and an assembly method made of individual parts bolted together is the basis of Warmoth’s business. While Leo focused on wood that was easily available and cheap, Warmoth curates their wood stock specifically for beauty and tone. They have come up with many innovations, such as chambered bodies and unique truss rod adjustments.
Warmoth makes bodies and necks, with many more options than are available from large manufacturer. While you can build a guitar out of traditional tone woods like alder and maple, what attracted me to Warmoth was their use of non-traditional woods and their finishing department, which blends the traditional and modern. In the end, you can specify the wood for you body as well as how it is routed & finished. For the neck, you can pick the neck and fingerboard wood, type and size of frets, size of tuner holes and finishing. In the end, all you would have to do is add hardware and Seymour Duncan pickups.
While giving an overview of the entire company would take a much longer article, I will detail what my ordering process was like.
The Warmoth website is something I am on at least once a week, and I usually start in their Showcase. While you can order a body built from scratch, I look at the Showcase because the beautiful pictures (of the actual bodies and necks, mind you) can help me visualize what the completed guitar will look like. The Showcase bodies and necks are all searchable by shape, woods, finish, etc and are the same quality of the custom built bodies and necks. The only difference is that they may build a few of the same type of wood at a time so the labor is cheaper. Some of the Showcase bodies are up to 50% lower in price than something custom built! Plus, Showcase bodies and necks can be delivered faster, since they are already built. If what you are looking for can be found in the Showcase, you will save hundreds of dollars and get your parts quicker.
Check out the beta Showcase search, too, in the upper right corner of the Showcase area on the website. It provides updated searches so it is easier to find exactly what you want.
While every option is available on the website (and this is how most people order), questions can be asked over the phone too. I called to inquire about my wood combinations, which consisted of a wenge (pronounced WEN-gee) neck and ebony fretboard. I had played a wenge neck on a bass, and I loved that it was raw wood- it is so hard and stable that the open grain doesn’t need a finish- but it has emphasized the low midrange. The ebony fretboard has the brightness too it, and since I wasn’t looking for a traditional Strat sound anyway, it would work perfectly.
The body was also from their Showcase ‘Screamin Deals’ section, which are also the same quality (Warmoth doesn’t sell anything with wood or finishing flaws). The Screamin Deals are sale prices on top of the already discounted Showcase items.
While their website details every aspect of the wood types and option available, occasionally there are questions when selecting woods that aren’t as common. Warmoth has experts answering questions on the phone, and assured me that I was making the right choice for my Strat build. I was led through the whole ordering process, and I was confident that my questions were answered. Their website also links to the Unofficial Warmoth Forum, which contains very knowledgeable Warmoth fans ready to help out those new to the guitar building game. They also post many pictures of their completed instruments.
A future article will detail the actual body and neck I ordered, but they haven’t gotten here yet- come on, UPS! Another article will detail the assembly of the guitar and the Seymour Duncan pickups I chose (hint, it is a HSS configuration).
What Warmoth parts would you choose for your custom guitar? What pickups would you put in your creation?