Warmoth Partscaster

Price Paid: 
$600
Condition: 
New
Country of origin: 
USA
Body wood(s): 
Roasted Swamp Ash (as pictured), with many other body and top options
Neck wood: 
Roasted Maple (as pictured), with many other choices
Fretboard: 
Rosewood (as pictured), many other choices
Fretboard Scale: 
25.5
Number of frets: 
21/22/24
Pros: 

Customization... You’re building your own axe, all bets are off, and Warmoth offers a wide range of body, neck, and headstock styles, not to mention wood choices that range from basic to exotic, with the option to pick the exact pieces you desire. They offer full paint finishing service.

Other neck options include fret scalloping (full or half), neck contours ranging from Ibanez Wizard thin, Wolfgang asymetrical, Fat Back (something like 1.0 thick), Modern Thin C, and more, compound and non compound radius fingerboards, binding, a dozen fret sizes/material in 21/22/24 (21 only on the vintage design), inlays ranging from plain old dots to Iommi crosses, classic headstock designs or similar ranging from all the Fender styles, to Gibson, Jackson, Kramer, etc. also reverse available.They also have various construction designs, with various truss access locations, vintage with access at the heel, modern with a double rod and access on the side of the heel, and modern/vintage (I think) with a single rod with access at the headstock.

Body shapes are as numerous as the number of headstocks, many designs also have the option of chambering, carved top or flat, front or rear routing, contouring at the heel.

They also sell a full line of Seymour Duncan and Fender pickups, and a couple of other brands (I think EMG also), different bridges including both OFR and Schaller Floyd, machine heads, pickguard. And all the small parts and supplies you need.

Affordability... Of course, when you get options happy, the price will skyrocket, especially with the finish option, and parts, but a bare neck and body, like mine, is pretty affordable.

Quality... Warmoth has their critics, in the past their fretwork has been sited as being lazy, but my necks were purchased years later and I’ve had no issues with the fretwork, it’s not custom shop quality, but definitely professionaly done and stands up to other production level US made guitars. The wood is high quality, the above guitar started out with a Guitar Fetish brand body, and that was pretty much junk, the wood Warmoth uses doesn’t sound dead. I’ve seen the paint and finish work they do first hand, and it’s also high quality. As far as playability goes, you should expect it to be a little rough at first, maybe it’s all mental, but there seems to be a settling period with parts guitars, for what it’s worth I have the same feeling about custom builds from other companies, but they definitely need a breaking in period, but once it all settles together playability is as good as anything hanging on a wall for double the price. I’d advice bringing to a pro for a final setup.

Fender licensed... All their bodies and necks are compatible with all USA, Japanese, and Mexican made Fender Strats and Teles.

The In-Stock/Hot Deals section... You can actually get a fully finished body for $300 from that section of their website, which if you’ve ever gone on there and played around with the builder you know that your $300 body jumps to $500 when choose your finish, and that’s usually where most people close the window. I’m assuming some have finish blemishes, or were returns for various reasons, but both my necks came from the In-Stock section, and loved both.

I‘ve spoken to customer service a few times, they were friendly and helpful.

Cons: 

Some nitpicking time...

Because of the nature of partscasters, while all the parts start off equal in quality, the end product, The Build, will only be as good as the person assembling it, as assembling a guitar is more than just screwing stuff together, you can easily screw it up (guilty as charged), there is a very good reason a company like Carvin won’t put their name on the headstock of their parts necks. Also, if you cut corners by using budget tuners, a budget bridge, budget pots/switches, and no name pickups, don’t expect more than budget performance, quality control is largely in your hands, if you jack up the soldering, or if your guitar doesn‘t stay in tune, because of your bridge and tuners choice, you can’t return it.

I‘m not big on DiMarzio, but I like a few... They should carry DiMarzio. On the flip side, you might be able to get pickups cheaper from other places.

They drill tuner holes for brands they don’t carry... How bout carrying those brands?

They charge so much for just a clear coat, and the neck warranty is voided without it. That’s why I got a roasted maple neck, it doesn’t really cost more than regular maple, and doesn’t require a finish, thus the warranty isn’t voided.

Charging $15 bucks to move the volume knob off the pickup? There are 2 types of guitar players, those who can‘t live without the knob there (49% of the players) and those who can’t play with it anywhere in the vicinity of their hand (49% of players)... There is that 1% of people who don’t care, I think they’re a myth. But in all seriousnes, I liken that charge to a left handed upcharge, just don’t do it.

Though they are Fender licenced, the necks and bodies will probably not fit Squier, even the good older ones made in Japan. At one point I wanted a Hello Kitty beater, but with a quality neck, they don’t fit. Also, the neck heels only come with Strat and Tele shapes, so if the Jaguar or Jazzmaster have unique heel shapes they won’t fit, and they only offer 25.5” scale, so you’re shit out of luck with your Mustang.

The 24 fret option, to my understanding, will not retro fit on every 24 fret body, that’s something to check before purchasing.

For all its quality and options, if all you want is something really basic, that comes with a finish (albeit only black, white, or ting oil), pickups, and all the parts you need, and you don’t give a damn about having a Strat headstock, Carvin/Kiesel guitar and bass kits are probably a better option, with the finish and a Floyd option they are cheaper, and the quality is on par.

It’s possible, with all the options you can get, that you end up spending $2500 on a build, I’ve seen it, but at the end of the day the quality of that guitar will only be as good as my $600 build, the quality will NEVER measure up to a masterbuilt Fender, Suhr, Anderson, etc., it’s gonna be all looks, with none of the refinement. And there is no resale value, so you’ll never get anything close to that.

Summary: 

Let me preface this summary by saying this is more of a review of Warmoths necks/bodies, services, and their business model, than it is MY guitar pictured above, because YOUR build could end up better or worse using the same exact parts. 

I wanted a cheap, but good guitar, that I could play around with, customize as I liked from time to time, without having to spend $1500... For me, Warmoth was the only option. I looked at Musikraft and USA Customs, and they don’t even come close to the neck and body options Warmoth offers, even though I wanted something simple, and I’ve read that the quality of Warmoth is better.

Overall Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)