Hacking Warmoth: Tips for getting the most value with a partscaster

I’m going to share my thoughts and opinions for how I get the most value with a Warmoth parts guitar. This isn’t necessarily a how to save money post, although I’ll inlcude some thoughts along those lines as well. I’ve been really happy with my Warmoth builds and it’s my hope that some of you will find my thoughts helpful. Enjoy!

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New Warmoth Tele: Part III The Assembly

While waiting for the pickguard to arrive from Canada I decided to knock out some detail work. Shielding can be a controversial topic, but I recommend doing it and I much prefer using copper foil over some of the conductive paint products I’ve tried in the past. This is the cleanest job I’ve ever done. Tracing and cutting out pieces the exact size of the pickup routes worked really well. During my last build I also learned that it’s not a good idea to shield the route for the input jack. Skipping that also sped up the process.

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New Warmoth Tele: Part II The Finish

I’m a huge fan of the legacy of a company from the 90’s called Stephen’s Stringed Instruments. Stephen Davies and team created some really unique guitars and they are becoming increasingly difficult to come across these days. The old website is still up and I love reading the specs page. I really like his comments around finishes and this meshes well with my experiences.

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New Warmoth Tele: Part I The Goal & Sanding

While I very much enjoyed my first Warmoth tele, it was my first attempt at putting a partscaster together. Compared to some of my other guitars, it wasn’t holding up any more. I played the hell out of that guitar and felt pretty comfortable giving the neck & body away. I wanted a similar Nashville tele, but with a similar finish to the last one I built. I was so happy with the N4-ish Warmoth I put together, I wanted to see if I could recreate some of the magic with that guitar on a new one. I decided to hang on to the hardware and pick up a different neck & body.

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Pickups & Conventional Wisdom

I love 3 single coil strats, but like many, I’ve never really loved the sound I get from my bridge pickup. I’ve been able to get by alright with a dedicated tone knob wired to it (I often set it to 7 or 8). Even still, I fine myself longing for a better sound that’s less harsh and brittle. Last year I had an idea to address this and ultimately abandoned that after posting a thread on the gear page. I got a number of thoughtful responses, and my take away was that increasing the pickup output the closer to the bridge is pretty important. The reasons for doing this make sense as the strings vibrate under the bridge pickup. I believe this was one of the main reasons why Gibson added volume pots per pickup. Many of the tried and true combinations follow this rule (think Duncan JB & 59) and also many models will tweak the output and offer a neck and bridge version. Anyway, I let conventional wisdom stop me from trying out my favorite single coil pickup in the bridge position.

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Filling the Floyd Route on my Warmoth

Warmoth will now, by special request, offer a proper NFT Floyd route. This wasn’t an option when I purchased this body and the person I spoke w/ on the phone flat out refused. Anyway, I enjoyed filling the route w/ a single coil cover for about a year; it always made me laugh and confused people. I never wanted to commit to it and glue it in place, and it eventually became problematic at a gig. I managed to bump it loose while performing and it got in the way and that’s no way to go through life. I decided I needed to come up w/ something better.

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Rediscovering the Original ADA MP-1

There’s no question that the ADA MP-1 is an iconic piece of gear. I’m not entirely sure if it’s the ability to create ridiculously saturated distortion, or to program 128 settings and instantly recall them, or the aesthetics of the blue vinyl, membran buttons contrasted with the large red LCD screen. Regardless, the MP-1 was, and still is, an amazing preamp and the tones it creates still hold up today.

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Floyd Rose Push-in Style Tremolo Arm

Floyd Rose tremolos tend to be polarizing with guitarists. It’s a love/hate thing, and I’ve gone back and forth on these myself. I spent almost a decade depending on them and then another decade avoiding them like the plague. Now I’m at the point where I can appreciate them for what they are, and the company is doing some really cool things that makes me like them even better. 

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Taylor 814CE First Impressions

Early one Saturday morning I found myself searching for “taylor acoustic” on dallas.craigslist.org. Little did I know I would stumble on a lot of guitars that a guy was needing to sell quickly. He had three Taylors I was interested in, but only two were in my price range: 814CE (2017) and 712CE (2012). They were both amazing instruments, and I would have been happy with either one. I chose the 814 because it was larger and was more of what I was originally looking for. It was crazy clean; not a mark on it and still had the factory strings. It was basically a new guitar that was $1,200 less than the going price. How could I not buy it?!

What a beauty! I love the rosewood pickguard
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Tele Neck Refinish

I was so pleased with the results from refinishing my bass neck that I decided to do the same to my tele. This neck originally had a Tru-oil Gunstock finish on it that I sanded off. It was my first expieriment with finishing and it didn’t go very well. In hind sight, I think I may have bought a defective bottle. I remember the oil being more like a tar that was incredibly difficult to spread. Honestly this was about 12 years ago so my memory is not to be trusted.
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Sprucing-up my Bass

I put this bass together in 2009, and I can’t believe that was almost a decade ago. It’s been a great bass and I primarily use it for recording. Historically the action has been on the high side with this instrument. This is a bit of a trade-off, but the upside is the strings take advantage of the extra room and the notes ring out like crazy on this bass. So all in all, it’s been a joy to own and play.

This was the second Warmoth project I completed and I’ve learned a lot since then. I was never happy with the finish I did on the neck. I went down the Tru-oil path originally, but somehow I got it in my head that I should go with a thicker finish to help ensure the neck would hold up to the string tension. ….in hind sight, this was an absurd idea and should never be attempted. This resulted in a gummy feeling on the  back of the neck and there were also some drip marks on the fretboard from when I hung it to dry. While the finish left a lot to desire, it did work fine and hold up for almost a decade, but I finally got the end of my rope and decided to do something about it. Continue reading “Sprucing-up my Bass”

Guitarists and Bands I’ve Seen Live and Those I Intend to See

Last weekend I subjected my sweet wife to a Winger concert. It may not have been the smartest thing I’ve ever done for my marriage (interpret that however you like), but we did have a good time. Growing up, I always enjoyed Reb’s guitar playing and it was really cool to get to see him live. The experience made me feel like I should document the shows I’ve seen before I forget about them with time. The fact that I waited until age 37 to do this means I’m probably forgetting about a number of shows. Regardless, these are the most memorable shows that I can remember off the top of my head: Continue reading “Guitarists and Bands I’ve Seen Live and Those I Intend to See”

New Highwood Vintage Strat Saddles

A vintage style Gotoh tremolo

I consider vintage strat tremolos an iconic piece of guitar heritage and engineering. They are undoubtedly one of the most common bridges used on electric guitars, yet many players find certain aspects about them frustrating. On the positive side, I have always found that these bridges sound great and bring a really cool vibe to the guitar. The drawbacks that are typically cited are tuning stability, play in the tremolo arm, rough saddle adjustment screws (this hurts the palm of your picking hand), strings not staying in the center of the saddle, and probably others I’m forgetting about. Interestingly enough, some of the most prolific guitarists that favor strats manage to not be deterred by these issues, particularly players like Jeff Beck & Scott Henderson come to mind. Both of these guys make heavy use of their tremolos and almost embed the tremolo bar into their picking hands.

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