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Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by JSMac, Oct 25, 2020.
Assuming the specs are the same, which is the better neck?
Warmoth. Huge difference.
What makes them better?
If you're considering a factory Warmoth neck, be advised that it will arrive without the frets being leveled. The nut slots will be piloted. That's not a bad thing for those of us that have the tools and experience, but it will frustrate someone not expecting it. In my opinion, a neck needs to be under string tension before deciding what adjustments are necessary. Warmoth products are excellent but they don't use lacquer.
The quality of MIM necks has improved greatly since my first in 1992. From the factory, they will arrive with the nut slots piloted. The frets will be finished,but may need tweaking after assembly. They are available in lacquer, poly and satin. You can buy one with confidence. (Pay attention to the fret description.)
MIM by a mile. Unless you want pretty stuff like flame etc of course. The Warmoth is an incomplete neck.
Feel, mostly! MIMs feel "factory made", Warmoth ones "handmade" (yeah, I know, they also are CNC'd).
Also, none of my Warmoth necks needed fretwork out of the box (I ordered all of them with SS frets, though).
The OP mentioned comparing necks with same specs - to me, that's missing the point of ordering a Warmoth (or other custom made) neck - try finding a super-chunky neck with 1-3/4" nut, SS frets, and no finish from Fender - you're out of luck. Yet those are my personal favorite features, makes it worth paying twice as much and waiting for weeks over buying an off-the-shelf Fender neck.
In general, the specs are not the same - you can't get a Warmoth neck with the exact same neck shape as a MIM. And you can't get a MIM neck with a dark rosewood board unless you get real lucky. Almost no Warmoth necks come with a straight 9.5 radius like your MIM probably does. The nut materials options are different too, if you choose to buy a neck with a nut on it already.
Finish options are different as well (Warmoth does have a nitro lacquer finish option for necks (not bodies).
The "quality" question is actually a little bit off - the wood itself is all the same stuff. Trees get cut down and rough cut, dried for a period of time, then run through a CNC machine, sanded and fretted. The "quality" really comes from the finish and setup work. Neither neck, new from factory, will have gone through a good solid setup including final finishing of the frets and nut work. And ideally, you have some say in those processes - how much of a bevel / roundover do you like on your frets, what gauge strings are you using, etc.
If your going to get a basic neck then don't go with a custom builder, it's not worth what you'll pay extra. Warmoth state that there necks still may need leveling and it's part of installation. My advice is get the MIM neck.
A basic Warmoth neck is $157, and no neck supplier does final fret work - read Allparts' neck descriptions (and they cost $180+ and have no options). What Fender branded necks are cheaper? I'm curious. I have no affiliation with Warmoth, but I haven't seen better or cheaper necks anywhere.
I've just had a little look over at warmoth, if you buy something in-stock, you'll have a 1 telecaster option under $300 and that will cost you $270.
Prices start at $157 but there is a $35 upcharge for a straight 9.5" radius, $25 for a white corian nut and $90 for a clear gloss finish.
Sure you could go with warmoths standard 10"-14" compound (I would) and source your own nut but that isn't really what the OP asked.
Anyway without those you're still looking at $250 for a neck with a finish.
You'd get a better price and more choice buying off stratosphere
I think you’d get more options from Warmoth, but I’ve had no problems with the necks on the two Hecho-en-Mexico Telecasters I own, or the three dozen+ I've played...
Po-tay-toe, Po-Tah-toe, Spud, Tuber...
The advantage of Warmoth is availability of custom specs. Add the cost of finishing, nut, and tuners.
I guess it's not really a fair comparison considering the options that Warmoth offers.
This started with an Allparts Oly White body that I got a good deal on. Now I need to figure out what I want to do with it. I think I'd like to build a clean and simple Esquire. White pickguard, Maple fretboard, vintage style tuners. I think anything too exotic for a neck might complicate the look. Maybe a tinted Fender neck would be a good choice.
I guess if I go that way I would end up with something of similar quality of a MIM Tele at about the same cost of a used one. except for my choice of hardware and electronics and appearance.
I've swapped parts and upgraded a lot of Squiers but never put a guitar together from scratch. I can do some some fretwork if necessary so that's not a big consideration.
Thing is, some of the best necks that I've had were on Squiers. Especially the older ones and the Classic vibes. With a little work even an inexpensive neck can be pretty nice.
That's a pretty distorted comparison though, and in any case not what the OP is asking about. He was just asking about overall quality regardless of spec.
If one is not looking for a custom radius or anything, there are over a hundred in stock warmoth tele necks under $200, including some roasted maple and exotic woods that don't even need a finish (wipe on satin poly is super easy to apply and feels identical to a satin MIM neck) . https://www.warmoth.com/Pages/ClassicShowcase.aspx?Body=1&Shape=4&Path=Tele&max=200
And you get to pick frets and tuner hole size on any of them. An allparts neck costs $200 and you can't even pick your frets.
It's only when you get particular at Warmoth that you have to pay more.
When I made my original post I was making the assumption the OP would just want something that works out of the box and isn't particularly interested in customisation. Why else would you consider a MIM fender neck in the first place?
Personally I wouldn't go for a MIM or a warmoth neck, I'd get a nice looking Squier neck if I wanted something finished for $150 or I'd get an unfinished allparts neck for a little over $100
So I am currently waiting on my warmoth neck and body to arrive. I kept seeing people stating similar things as above saying you needed to file the nut after you had received it from Warmoth so I send Spike from @sales an email and asked. His response was this:
“All nut installs include slotting… On guitar we slot for 10-46.
That works for most between .009 and .011 gauge strings…”
Am i missing something? Can someone also please clarify what they mean by “final fret work”, what does that entail?
You may get better overall quality from the Warmoth neck, but it's unfinished. The MIM will be, although whether you like the finish its subjective. But bagging on Warmoth necks because they may require a fret level doesn't make sense to me. No MIM Fender neck is going to have ruler perfect frets either. Any neck in that price range is in that price range precisely because it didn't require that kind of labor. You might get lucky and get a particular neck that has frets that are level enough from the factory to setup in a way that you like, but it's not because it's been meticulously levelled and dressed. Knowing that there's always going to be a lot of luck involved and that you may have to have fret work done is something that goes with the territory.
If I was in your shoes, I'd buy the neck with the features and profile that I like best, which in my case would probably be Warmoth so I could get a thinner neck profile, SS frets and can control the finish. But I have the knowledge/experience to do that work. Just make sure you know what you're getting into regarding finishing, fret work, etc. so you don't end up disappointed/frustrated.
I like a neck with a 2 way truss rod. So not warmoth, as they don't offer one.
A question was asked about their installed nuts. They use Graphtech nuts, which are have pre-cut slots. I use those nuts so I think I'll save a few bucks and install one myself.
As to fretwork, would a Warmoth require more work than a MiM Fender or would one expect about the same, more or less on both? I can deal with some spot leveling and crowning and sharp edges but I'm not up to a complete leveling job. (Although some time ago I bought a nice leveling beam and have some Stewmac files but never attempted a full leveling job.)