Hi all, I've been a lurker here for over a year, but just made my account to share my experience of building my first Stratocaster. A little background, I'm in grad school (as my username suggests) and cannot afford to do a Warmoth DIY project without eating ramen like I was a freshman in undergrad. I also have a philosophy that a good guitar shouldn't have to be insanely expensive and that some non-botique parts can be high quality. I initially started to process this build because I wanted to add a strat to my collection. I had a Squier SE for all of 2 weeks, but the trem system was beat to crap, the Gotoh tuners I bought it with had seen better days, and frankly I found someone who paid nearly 2x what I got it for and was stoked for it even with my reservations. My first plan was to get an unfinished ash strat body and finish it myself, but renting a space with poor ventilation quickly decreased my interest in that. Instead I went with Guitar Fetish XGP for the body and neck. I read a lot of terrible reviews of what was happening, but the price was too good to ignore and a check of internet archive showed that there were some changes to the description (and maybe product recently) so I sprung on a clear gloss ash body and an amber maple neck with 22 frets. With a little hardware added, I got both for 190 shipped. Before I get into what I think of the body and neck out of the box, I'll also be using a MusicLily Steel Tremolo system that looks a lot like the fender ultra bridge (35 on amazon), a cheap 3-ply pickguard with shielding on it, a blender mod pot set from ToneShaper (30 on amazon), Fender locking tuners, Dunlop locking buttons, various hardware from Guitar Fetish of little matter (heavy screw plate, string trees, jack plate, etc.) and my personal favorite, variable width alnico pickups from a Chinese maker that Darrel Braun previously compared against the SD Zephyrs - they aren't quite as composed when distorted, but I'll take my $980 over that any day (<$20 on amazon for the set). All in, I'm under the price of a classic vibe and will get much better hardware that I can transfer to other builds if I choose. Now onto the body. I wasn't expecting much and their is some reason to believe it would be a boat anchor. reviews have not been kind to the weight of these and my box shipped as 11.5 lbs. It came looking all things considered, great. It is a 3 piece for sure but it blends decently. My only issues with look with it is that it has has some denting under the top horn on the front and lower horn on the back, but I'll be the only one to ever notice these - especially since a pickguard covers the majority of the front one. I'll just call it a $100 body character mark. Functionally it feels fine. It is just under 6 lbs, but with a 1.2 lb neck and 2.5 lbs hardware, I'm looking at ~9.5 lbs which is fine for a cheap ash strat in my book. There is excess finish in the neck joint that prevented the neck from going in perfectly, but I imagine I'll be able to sand that out in seconds. There is also one clearance hole on the back of the body that I'll have to drill a little more out to drop the screw in, but the other 3 were great. XGP seems to no longer route twice because there is finish inside the cavity, but this isn't a big deal to me. I'll be covering it up with copper tape anyways. For the neck, this was actually a huge surprise for me. The amber isn't as perfectly matched to the body as I had hoped, but it looks great. It's a modern C shape and I'd believe a 12 in radius as reported on the website. Frets came leveled from GFS which I found shocking. Maybe I'm lucky. There was some buffing compound left on the frets but I don't mind that. The neck feels like it could get gummy easily, so I'll likely sand it with steel wool to make it quicker. black dots all look good, maybe slightly imperfect at the 12th fret sides. The nut feels okay for now, but might be a smidge high. No scarf joint to be found on the back like previous angled XGP headstocks. I'll also have to widen the tuner holes with a reamer, but that's a quick and easy job. Overall, I'm very impressed with these parts and look forward to sharing the rest of the build. I'll add more pictures in the reply.