Beating Fender at their own game?


Senior Member
Just wanted to start a general discussion on the quality of Warmoth parts compared to the original fender parts they are built to replicate.

The other night I was trying out a friends Fender Tele and although it did everything a tele should do, I couldn't help the idea of "I'm sure I could build something better than this" running through my head. Little quality issues annoyed me about it.

Pricing everything up on the warmoth site I'm surprised that I could do this for slightly less than a new USA Standard Telecaster plus I could have a better general spec than the fenders such as a 1 piece swamp ash body, fender 52 reissue pick ups rather than the stock ones, Birdseye maple rather than the pale straight stuff they use at Fender (it felt worse than the neck on my squire!).

I'd be interested to hear the opinions of people, particularly those who have built a "Stock" fender instrument from Warmoth parts with little or no variants from the original designs. How do they compare?

i think the licensing dictates that the Warmoth parts have to be equal to or better than the fender equivalent but i may have dreamed that?

my first Warmoth was a Telecaster Deluxe made from walnut (which was swapped out for a non-Warmoth "mahogany" Body, i''m not convinced it IS mahogany as it's so pale with odd pink and green inflections but it was bought from a stand up luthier down here) with a goncalo neck/ebony board and it quite simply eats any Fender alive for playability. I know they're not "Fender" woods so the chance of it sounding, even playing fenderishly is pretty slim but it's their design etc.  It has a Dragon II Prs at the neck and Pearly Gates at the bridge and it sounds i guess closer to an SG but with the feel of a telecaster and that's what i love about warmoth, you can be so inventive and personal within the kind of rules of the genre!
Sounds quality Neil, have you got any pics of that guitar?

Yeah I'm doing my own Mahoganny bodied thinline Tele at the minute with some mini humbuckers in there that should be a cool alternative to my Gibson Les Paul plus its a bit different to the thinlines you can buy off the shop wall. Like you say its nice to have the option to do your own thing with Warmoth parts.

Incidently how come you ditched the walnut body?
It's interesting that you bring up the cost of a fender usa standard vs the warmoth equivalent.

I've been thinking that sometime down the road, eventually, I want a standard spec. telecaster, with fender woods etc etc, since a) they sound great and b) they're sexy. So I've wondered, hmmm, it would certainly be easier to just buy a fender usa standard tele. And THEN I wonder, would it be cheaper to build a warmoth? (I've never actually priced it out).

I'm going to go add up the prices right now.

The only fender I've got here is a usa strat, which I'm actually very fond of. Never had any complaints about the neck and whatnot, but maybe I just found a good'un.
I'm using UK prices here Nathan but over here (Even with shipping) it would be cheaper to do what your saying via Warmoth.

Body- $235 (1 piece Swamp Ash)
Neck- $193 (birdseye 1 piece maple)
Parts - around £55 from axesrus
Pickups - £85 telecaster fender 51 reissue set.

All in all I'm looking at around the £460 mark. Take off the snazzy extras like 1 piece body and Birdseye maple neck and its around £430. RRP for a USA tele over here is £650-700.
That's a good difference!

As a formal Hater of gloss finishes, I say it's necessary to mention that Fender would never give you the option of a satin or oil finish on a non-Custom Shop model. And of course anything from the C.S. automatically raises the price to around two fold.
well the walnut had an odd brittle resonance in the high mids which i didn't find too flattering, beautiful bit of wood though!

I've just scoured the internet and i'm pretty certain the wood that my body is made from is called Primavera aka White mahogany, it all matches.. the pinky, green and grey markings, the mahogany esque finish and tone... it's darkened slighly in the few years i've had it i imagine as it only has the slightest coat of nitro on it, ill try and get some picks up soon so any wood experts can verify it!
My out-of-control Warmoth habit actually started out by my deciding to buy myself a kickass guitar for my last birthday. I can afford to buy anything I want, and was frankly appalled at the Strat Custom Shop models especially given their pricing; not into sunbursts or all the funky "classic Fender" auto colors, and tonally leaving out the neck contour on some of the '50s based CS models, stuffing a set of applicable CS pickups into a $999 Strat yields the same effect.  The few exotic wood models they make are astronomically priced and available only through "dealer select".

Warmoth gives you the option to really build a better guitar than you are going to get from Fender, and woods/finishes are pretty much limited to your imagination. Even if you have Warmoth do the finishing and pay a local luthier/guitar shop to do the assembly for you, you wind up with a much higher quality axe at a MUCH lower price.

As to overall quality of the parts themselves, even buying the less expensive wood options to duplicate a Fender build you are always going to get minimally equal and typically better quality parts than Fender OEM.
Prima Vera is my all time favourite body wood for bass guitars! it is really pricey, and finding suitable sized pieces without worm holes can be significantly challenging

all the best,


the guy that did the body was the luthier i hired to build the walnut tele, i expressed a dislike for the walnut and he said well i have some bodies from some south American woods, he claimed it was the heartwood or the sapwood of a Brazilian mahogany tree...I'm not sure if there is an American equivalent for this word but the guy was a bit of a "geezer", a little shady but pretty straight up... needless to say i didn't believe him but the wood looked and felt great and some of his guitars that'd he'd made with em seemed outstanding so i plumped for it and it was by far a better choice than the walnut, there was some ugly green/Grey/black coloring but that was covered by the pick guard, the pink streaks look really cool! It's like a slightly brighter but not BRIGHT version of mahogany, very pleasing
I was in the same mindset. My 1st Warmoth solution started with me looking at American Std's and Strat+'s and thinking the first thing I'll do is switch out the pickups, that brings the pricetag to $1000 to $1200 real quick.  I did my korina strat for around $900 largely beacuse of the do it yourself tru oil finish.  Along the way I found that I really love that all the decisions arent already made for me. (fret size, neck wood, fret board, hardware, so on and so on)

All in all better looking, better sounding, better playing guitar.....and it does not look like anyone else's....

Project #2 is in the works, I'm just waiting for a break in the weather to do the finish.....Kansas is hot and humid this time of year.
same here. i always look at a bass and think ok this is good, but swap out the tuners and bridge and pickups. and i really wanted a warwick (just for the neck) but a good one with out the price tag.

i still haven't built my first warmoth do to funding, but i got a bass in the back of my head with all the stuff i want for less than $1,000, and when i get that thousand dollars, i will have the bass of my dreams.
Soloshchenko said:
Pricing everything up on the warmoth site I'm surprised that I could do this for slightly less than a new USA Standard Telecaster plus I could have a better general spec than the fenders such as a 1 piece swamp ash body, fender 52 reissue pick ups rather than the stock ones, Birdseye maple rather than the pale straight stuff they use at Fender (it felt worse than the neck on my squire!).

I'd like to see how you priced that, because any way I do it, I cant even come close to meeting the USA Fender price.

Ash Body - finished, 170 + 185 (solid color)
Birsdseye Neck - finished, with nut 193, 25, 85
Pickups 52ri 99
Bridge 21
Tuners 28
Strap buttons 3
pickguard 22
control plate 10
pots 10
jack 3
jackplate 5
knobs 5.50
switch 14
switch tip 1.50
neck plate 4.50
string hold down 2
string ferrules 5
Fender case 145
Logo decal $15
screws and such $10

I get $1036.50, plus shipping on the stuff from Warmoth, maybe $30.  So lets say $1095 with a set of strings.

Amerian Tele, $949 shipped.

To be fair you can usually find a Fender case for 119 locally at Guitar Center.  But also to be fair, you can find a an American Telecaster for about 825 (with case) at Guitar Center too (if you haggle you'll get 40percent off list). 

You cant beat Fender's price on the quality instruments.  But you can go BETTER quality, and custom features for just a little more.
just for those that are interested here's some picks of the primavera bodied tele, sorry they're so dark, dunno whats up with the cam





that is awesome!  its like ash and mahogany:  i dub thee ashogany.  that would be cool in an lp.
You can beat the price doing the finishing yourself on the basic ones; try pricing it against Custom Shop, that's a better comparison....
Aye but ya dont get that great Fender Custom shop nitro finish.

And, then you'd have to use all Fender aftermarket hardware - and a nice 5 digit aftermarket bridge plate (getting VERY scarce)

Ya know.. apples to apples... but still if you want a real custom guitar, the stuff YOU want on it... no beating doing it yerself