School me on Custom shop strats

Neemo

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Ive been contemplating upgrading my American Standard and getting a Fender C/S Strat

But there are all these different specific year and neck shapes and n pickups and etc etc

I kinda got my eye on the 1959 Vintage Custom Chocolate Burst but thought id ask for any insight for those who might know more than I
 

derek1977

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Keep an eye on the neck radius. I think that one is 7.25. That's a deal breaker for some folks, like me. Your standard is most likely 9.5.
 
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Mike Tobey aka Ol' Lefty

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It is very difficult to be helpful with useful response. If you are going to have a Strat actually built to your specs/desires, you must know what you want. They cannot advise you.

I have a Robert Cray Signature (I hate Fender Trems)l the Cray is a hardtail. It is numbered CS and the same inside the cavity. But, the Cray is a Mexican Strat, so it crossed the border with the body done, painted the Purple Pearl and the neck, an ordinary "C" profile and rosewood fretboard. The CS added the light "mint" green USA loaded pickguard, and "called it good." I favor ebony fretboards, and had 6 genuine Fender necks with semi-jumbo frets. with ebony. I grabbed one, added Fender Sperzel lockers and boxed the factory neck. Now, it is my Custom Fender Strat---I knew what I wanted and what I was going to do when I bought it. Go to a store with varied inventory and play as many as you can before they ask you to leave. If you have not done that and become knowledgeable, then you just want to say your ASSEMBLED Strat is better than those of the people you know who play Strats. ( By the way, it is almost impossible to find a Cray that is not CS. Everyone has to have that whammy bar.)
 

derek1977

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I don't imagine that whole Robert Cray sig story helps. Go to a store and play the guitars. That's the way to buy a guitar. If you can't do that, educate yourself on the specs of different CS models. Watch YouTube videos of stores that are demonstrating certain models. Get to know the specs on your current guitar. You gotta do some work. Good luck in your search!
 

Duane_the_tub

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Strats are Strats. There is only so much you can do to improve on that design. The finish is the biggest difference - thin Nitro, checking/aging etc. - and pickups to a lesser degree, as it's easy to find good aftermarket ones and drop them in yourself. I owned a Masterbuilt CS Strat, and honestly I think it was a waste of money and I wouldn't go down that road again.
20200204_231749_20200816222645780.jpg
 

Mike Tobey aka Ol' Lefty

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I don't imagine that whole Robert Cray sig story helps. Go to a store and play the guitars. That's the way to buy a guitar. If you can't do that, educate yourself on the specs of different CS models. Watch YouTube videos of stores that are demonstrating certain models. Get to know the specs on your current guitar. You gotta do some work. Good luck in your search!

I am not really new here. My whole history here of decent advice and support of other builders disappeared when the site was revised. Veteran members are used to me telling stories as part of an answer. I was and am, the hunter Thompson of the forum. The story made a point; it had a moral and the same advice you offered. It also was intended to open the eyes and motive of the question in the first place. Ol'Lefty, Owner/Operator of "The Luthiers' Specialty Tool Lending Library."
 

derek1977

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I am not really new here. My whole history here of decent advice and support of other builders disappeared when the site was revised. Veteran members are used to me telling stories as part of an answer. I was and am, the hunter Thompson of the forum. The story made a point; it had a moral and the same advice you offered. It also was intended to open the eyes and motive of the question in the first place. Ol'Lefty, Owner/Operator of "The Luthiers' Specialty Tool Lending Library."
Did not mean to offend. I just dont see the point of telling him about the Robert Cray sig. If I wasn't familiar with the CS, that info would just confuse me more. Maybe it's just me. Either way Mike, I appreciate the help you give on this forum.
 

Neemo

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thanks guys...i played the 59 in store and i really liked it, problem is they only had 2 CS strats in stock...my freind used to have a 2012 american custom and i loved that guitar...the things that catched me are all the little variances between models...54 vs 59 vs 65 vs 69 pickups, quarersawn vs rift sawn, flash coat vs laquer...etc ... there are so many models that there arent writren reviews on many of them let alone youtube vids

I understand the Robert Cray strat story and have contemplated building a warmoth guitar as well...but i dunno, just have a CS gas happening rn
 

Mike Tobey aka Ol' Lefty

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thanks guys...i played the 59 in store and i really liked it, problem is they only had 2 CS strats in stock...my freind used to have a 2012 american custom and i loved that guitar...the things that catched me are all the little variances between models...54 vs 59 vs 65 vs 69 pickups, quarersawn vs rift sawn, flash coat vs laquer...etc ... there are so many models that there arent writren reviews on many of them let alone youtube vids

I understand the Robert Cray strat story and have contemplated building a warmoth guitar as well...but i dunno, just have a CS gas happening rn

I understand the feeling of just needing a certain level of guitar. Man, in my 74 years and 52 years of playing ( I mostly fingerpick Delta Acoustic Blues) and, on and off building since 1970, I have gone nuts to get what I pictured I want. The Cray point was that it is a "Mexican" Strat body and neck--the only real "custom" thing about it was the pickguard and electrical completion. and perhaps detailed the neck. I knew I was going to replace the neck with the ebony fretboard out of those I had. I get my best vibrato on that fretboard wood. SRV did just fine with an ordinary Strat, but he likely tried some out, and picked the one that fit him. And, that is all I suggest that you do. Don't just lock in on a certain "line" of Fender Strats. My 10 years younger brother has made a very good living playing in a fully booked blues band. He is semi-retired, and I was talking to him just a few days ago. He has a very good studio at his home. He told me he is playing a Tele Squier that is a killer guitar. and, he has a stable of good guitars. Buy what you will love to play, not what you will be able to "show-off." And, am selling the Cray and a nice PRS to fund a top flight steel bodied resonator guitar. Odds are I will be ashes in 2-4 years, at best, but, I want that damned guitar and what is really crazy is that I will be doing the opposite of the advice I am giving you. I will not get to play it first; at the same time, I know how to make it do what I want. It has good "bones."
 
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Mike Tobey aka Ol' Lefty

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This exactly.

I agree, and I think this was mentioned before. Not only can the wrong fretboard radius mess up chords, power or formal barre1, if you bend your strings while soloing ( back in the dark ages, we called bending "choking"---old fart history lesson) a tight radius will usually start to bend other nearby strings when you don't want that. In my opinion, the larger your hands and longer your fingers, a more "flat" arc aka radius makes it easier to single-string bend and , if you wish, multi-string bends for which SRV was known. Our original poster has not told us the style of music he plays. The truly gifted can play any setup and specs--my brother is one of those and I have a nephew who is gifted as well. He is a jazz man and graduated from Berklee, in guitar, with High Honors (cum laude). I struggle to play well at all; some of that is memory problems and some the same thing that afflicts Eric Clapton. You can hand brother or nephew a Sears Harmony, pick a genre` and either one can blow you away (though, neither are crazy shredders). On the other hand, neither would build or do a significant repair or a setup on a really wacky guitar. The Lord hands out talents his way. Would I like to be a really extraordinary player? Hell yes, but I just work hard at all of it and the real payoff for me has been builds---not money, nor well-known . And te last 10+ years have not been so kind and my shop, except for lots of repair and setup and handtools ,have been stored for the last 3 years.
 

joff

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I love my Custom Shop '62 Strat...i bought it new in 2010...but the new prices these days is just crazy.

Mine has a 10" radius with a dark rosewood slab board.

Go with 2nd hand is my advice.
 

Brek

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Strats are Strats. There is only so much you can do to improve on that design. The finish is the biggest difference - thin Nitro, checking/aging etc. - and pickups to a lesser degree, as it's easy to find good aftermarket ones and drop them in yourself. I owned a Masterbuilt CS Strat, and honestly I think it was a waste of money and I wouldn't go down that road again. View attachment 490883
Hmm, Interesting, I think the same about the masterbuilt line, I mean how much better at weilding a screwdriver can someone be? I nearly changed my mind when in a shop buying the R0, the boss was in cherry picking a masterbuilt strat for himself, my god that thing spanked, sounded incredible, but not hearing a plain old USA strat at same time cannot say if it was the amp or the guitar. He had an interesting way of 'adjusting' the neck, stood it on floor upright, and pushed his knee against it. I do want a strat hardtail, but spent up for time being.
 

bum

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My pal has a NAMM Custon Shop Strat and it's the best guitar I have ever laid hands on, it's incredible

strat.jpg
 

NotScott

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It has been several years since I bought any new Fenders but, I do have several CS and standard Fenders. Three of them are specified builds to the CS. It's possible to get a dog of a CS or a gem of a Mexicaster. However, if you think there are no differences between the lines, you would be very mistaken. CS guitars get first choice of all woods. Hardware and pickups are all top quality. They are assembled, finished and inspected by Fender's best techs. You can mod a Mexicaster or assemble a Partsacaster with comparable materials to a CS for a lot less money but by the time you add up those costs and factor in depreciation for your mods, there is no longer much of a difference.

Strats and Teles seem to vary more in tone from guitar to guitar more so than most others. Whether it's a Master Built or a Mexicaster, there is no guarantee that any Fender will be exactly what you want.
 

VictorB

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You could easily take a Mexican and/or Japanese Strat/Tele and improve it to the point where it will sound better than any off the rack “master built” custom shop model.
 

ErictheRed

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You could easily take a Mexican and/or Japanese Strat/Tele and improve it to the point where it will sound better than any off the rack “master built” custom shop model.
I don't know about "easily," but I suppose it's possible. It's all subjective; you might just not like the pickups on a master built Strat and love ones that you put into a Mexican Strat.

Anyway the only reason to go custom shop, IMO, is to get specs and features that you can't get elsewhere. Otherwise I do believe that some guitars are built much better than others, even if they're all just Strats. My Suhr "Strat" beats every new Fender I've ever played, again in my opinion, though I've played very few custom shop Strats.

Edit: I've played quite a few Custom Shop Les Pauls also, and I've spent a long time in the past A/Bing them with "regular" Les Pauls like a Traditional or Standard. I've usually wanted the cheaper version to win out, but in the end the only Les Paul I currently still own is a '59 Reissue, which edged out all of my others. Only by a hair, though. I don't really think it's worth 3x the price of a Traditional.

So this is a long-winded way for me to say that you should concentrate on the particular guitar, not whether it's custom shop or not. My favorite Fender Strat was a Wildwood Thin Skin, which I preferred over the custom shop models I compared it to. Don't think that custom shop always means better, because it really doesn't.
 
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Neemo

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@NotScott & @VictorB ... I'm not denying it, and I've modded my fair share of guitars myself, but at the end of the day u are still modding a guitar that wont retain value...

If I'm in the market for a used instrument and i see MIM i wanna pay like $500 max (canadian dollars) not my problem if u put in another $500 in upgrades...that's on u

I'm kinda looking for something nice to keep and hold onto ... maybe pass down to my kids.
 
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VictorB

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@NotScott & @VictorB ... I'm not denying it, and I've modded my fair share of guitars myself, but at the end of the day u are still modding a guitar that wont retain value...

If I'm in the market for a used instrument and i see MIM i wanna pay like $500 max (canadian dollars) not my problem if u put in another $500 in upgrades...that's on u

I'm kinda looking for something nice to keep and hold onto ... maybe pass down to my kids.
I only care about "value" if I plan on buying and flipping. If I mod out a guitar to that extent I only really care about it's value to me.
 


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