There are so many ways to get a “custom” guitar these days that it’s hard to keep track. There are so many small builders, big companies offering mass-personalization, and even better building tutorials. But for some reason, I’ve always gone back to Warmoth. It’s part because I’ve had friends get guitars from them that turned out great. It’s part because they are the only ones I know of with a pretty comprehensive online building tool. Plenty of folks will build one-off vintagey strats and let you pick the color and bridge, but nobody I know of lets you decide everything down to the radius or control cavity layout.
But for some reason I’ve never bought a Warmoth guitar. I’ve built hundreds of imaginary ones over the past 10 or so years, but always chickened out. I think part of me knew I wouldn’t want to commit to whatever I built, and the resale value would be terrible1.
That changed recently. Over the past couple years I started to miss owning a Peavey Wolfgang. I’ve had two of them, a Special (the cheaper, overseas model with a flat top) and a Standard (the US one w/ a carved top). I really miss the standard. It’s hard to explain if you’ve never played one, but they were great guitars. They felt compact like they have a shorter scale, but don’t2. The asymetrical neck profile is so comfortable for me. I love thicker necks, but they can be rough for soloing. The way the Wolfgang neck curves gives your fingers a little easier access for bending and reaching across a lot of frets. And I’m a Van Halen nut3.
So I decided I seriously regretted selling my Wolfgang and wanted one back for good. But I just can’t agree with the price of them on the used market. They are overpriced, but not terribly expensive. But finding the exact one I want for a price I’m willing to pay has been impossible. All the models I’ve liked have been in bad shape or absurdly priced. Oh, and I keep getting turned off by the pickup selector being in the upper horn. That’s the one thing I don’t like about those guitars.
Which leads me to Warmoth. I think a few years ago now, they started offering a body stye similar to the Wolfgang. It deservedly gets mixed reviews, as it’s not an exact clone and obviously that will annoy the purists. But it’s close and you could probably mistake one for the EB/MM models at a glance.
It seemed like a great opportunity to finally dive in. The best part, is really making it mine. Most of it will be taking the best of both worlds4 from the Peavey and Music Man models, but giving it my own spin. IE – I’ll have the same unfinished birdseye maple neck/fretboard, 6105 fret wire, 1.625″ nut… but with a 10-15″ compound radius. And I’ll do an OFR bridge, but recessed (mostly to make sure I can get the action exactly where I want, but being able to pull up on the bar is nice). I mentioned not liking the pickup selector location, so I’m going to have it in the place of a normal Strat tone knob. Some of the details are little, but it’s enough to make it feel like mine.
The toughest part will be the wait. There’s a lot to be said for instant gratification. Waiting several weeks can be painful and scary. But I’ll survive I’m sure. More to come…
- It’s not a knock against Warmoth that used ones sell for nothing, it’s just that it’s hard to place a value on a guitar that is completely yours and you *hopefully* assembled correctly ↩
- I cannot get comfortable with anything but a 25.5″ scale. But the Wolfgangs are weird, it’s like they take up less space and are a little more comfortable to play as a result, but don’t give the crampt spacing that I feel Les Pauls have. I don’t have an explanation. ↩
- My cell # has ended in 5150 for close to two decades ↩
- Van-Hagar pun not intended ↩