My first build - Roasted Fiesta Red Strat


Junior Member
The build is underway!

Actually the build is pretty much complete (pics coming soon).

I'm wondering if I can get some help regarding setup. I'm totally new to tremolos, having only ever played fixed bridges before (string-through, stop bar tail pieces, acoustic bridges). There's definitely quite a dance when tuning it up and dealing with the tug of war between the strings and the trem springs.

I'm using a Gotoh 510T-BS1 bridge which has a locking two-point post system, similar to the one in the Ibanez image below. My Warmoth neck is a modern construction (side adjust mechanism) with a 10-16 compound radius fretboard and SS6100 jumbo frets. I attached 3 springs in the back for "standard" tension, and am currently setting the bridge to float. I strung it up with 9's, and everything was looking terrific until I noticed that the strings were almost right on the frets. I didn't anticipate that the fretboard would be so high, which I guess is expected on strats with a pickguard (as highlighted in the Warmoth neck depth image below). To adjust the action to a playable level, I raised the two trem posts ~2 mm (hard to measure) and then raised the saddles individually while maintaining a 16" radius. I also set the strings to tuned tension and used my notched straight edge neck check tool to check the bow after a couple hours - I needed a quarter turn of the side adjust mechanism on the neck. I'll revisit this today as the neck may have settled a bit more under tension.

So, I've raised the posts a bit and the saddles are quite high to achieve my desired buzz-free string action (the 6100 frets not being so helpful here...). I've seen many pictures of guitars with the posts pretty low (flat with the studs), but it seems that on a strat without the 720 mod, this would be impossible.

Question 1: On a strat with a 2 point trem system, is there a recommended way to set action? Is it normal to have the posts set high?

Also, I bolted the warmoth roasted neck to the warmoth roasted body, both with standard pre-drilled holds. I used a gotoh neck plate and screws. The neck fit very well in the pocket and I screwed it on by hand tightening screws in a criss-cross pattern, the way you'd mount a tire, so as not to tighten one screw fully before the others are even in. It was a bit creaky and tight, and is working great, but it was definitely a bit stressful. I've heard that after the string tension is on for a day or so, the neck "settles" and some individuals recommend tightening it again.

Question 2:  What is the recommended way of bolting on a neck? Do you tighten or reset it after a period under string tension?

Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!!


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I would lower the saddles a bit and raise the height of the posts to get the action in the ballpark, then use the saddles to more finely adjust.

I am not sure what the photo is illustrating as it is not a fiesta red strat.

Build is complete! I'll post some of the progress pics later, but in the meantime, here is the finished product. Still working on the floating bridge setup a bit, but I think it's exactly where I like it. Plays very well!

I've configured the exact guitar I wanted with all brand-new high-end USA and Japan parts and USA assembly :p for 2/3 the price of a new fender american professional. The body and neck are Warmoth, the pickups are Fender Yosemites, all the hardware is MIJ Gotoh. The star of the show is the fiesta red color - it's got a pink hue to it that I've tried to capture by adjusting the white balance on my camera. Gorgeous! Body is roasted alder and neck is roasted maple, which made screw insertion a bit stressful as roasted woods are more prone to cracking. Drilling pilot holes and applying screw wax made this a lot smoother. The neck is raw (no finish) which makes it super fast, but sometimes I think I may have preferred a satin nitro finish from an aesthetic point of view. The azurite malachite dots really pop in the right light, and I think it gives the guitar a little flare to highlight that it's a custom build. Loving the jumbo stainless steel frets - reminds me of my old Ibanez. The nut installed by Warmoth seems to be perfectly cut for my 9's, and I've observed zero binding over the last few days. Everything has been staying in tune very well. I also really like the white nut contrasted on the roasted fretboard. The Gotoh bridge is so incredibly polished and stable and very comfortable for palm muting. No complaints with the sustain. I installed Gotoh HAP-M adjustable post automatic locking tuners so I could lower the strings and avoid a string tree. So far nothing has popped out of the nut, so they may be working. However, they took me over an hour to figure out. Having figured them out, I highly recommend them - the auto locking mechanism using string tension is very clever.

This whole custom order and build process has been an exciting experience! After reviewing countless assembly details from online tutorials and forums, I truly learned a lot with this build.

Detailed specs:

Warmoth Body
Construction: Solid
Wood: Roasted Alder
Top Finish: Fiesta Red
Back Finish: Fiesta Red
Finish Type: Gloss
Scale: 25-1/2"
Weight: 4lbs., 2oz.

Warmoth Neck
Construction: Modern Construction
Neck Wood: Roasted Maple
Fingerboard Wood: Roasted Maple
Nut Width: 1-11/16"
Back Shape: Standard thin
Fret Size: SS6100 (Stainless)
Tuner Ream: Gotoh/Grover (13/32" 11/32")
Radius: 10-16" Compound
Scale: 25-1/2"
Fret #: 22
Mounting Holes: Standard 4 Bolt
Pre-Cut Installed String Nut: GraphTech White TUSQ XL - Standard Nut
Inlays: Azurite Malachite Dots
Side Dots: Black Side Dots
Finish: No Finish

Pickguard and electronics
Fender Yosemite Stratocaster pickup set (Plain enamel-coated wire, RWRP middle pickup, flat-magnet height stagger, Neck: 7.8K/alnico 4, Middle: 8.5K/alnico 4, Bridge: 8.9K/alnico 2)
5 way CRL switch
CTS 250K pots
White Pearloid 3 Ply
Fender American Stratocaster output Jack with switchcraft jack
White & black Gavitt cloth-covered pre-tinned 7-strand pushback 22awg vintage-style guitar wire

Gotoh 510T-BS1 tremolo (chrome) featuring brass saddles, 10.8mm string spaceing, angled steel block with FST mechanism and locking studs
Gotoh SG381-07 HAP-M 6 inline tuners (chrome) featuring height adjustable posts and auto-locking mechanism
Gotoh EP-B3 oversized strap buttons (chrome)
Gotoh NBS-3 neck plate (chrome)
Fender pickguard screws
Fender white felt washers


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Looks great and I'm glad that you enjoyed the process, it can be extremely rewarding. Learning is never regretted.
Ya done good! :icon_thumright:
It looks very good and glad you got it done.

Sometimes guidance is useful but at a certain point diving in and getting it done will bring it all together.
I love that! Roasted maple fits the body colour so well. Congrats on your first build :hello2:
Megatron said:
Thanks everyone! Any suggestions on neck attachment (see my question 2 at the top)?

All I've found necessary once the neck is installed, is after a week or two of playing recheck the tightness of the mounting screws and you should be fine. Don't crank too hard on them, just make sure the neck doesn't move around.
PhilHill said:
All I've found necessary once the neck is installed, is after a week or two of playing recheck the tightness of the mounting screws and you should be fine. Don't crank too hard on them, just make sure the neck doesn't move around.

This is very helpful, thanks! Would you do this with the string tension on or with strings removed?
Megatron said:
PhilHill said:
All I've found necessary once the neck is installed, is after a week or two of playing recheck the tightness of the mounting screws and you should be fine. Don't crank too hard on them, just make sure the neck doesn't move around.

This is very helpful, thanks! Would you do this with the string tension on or with strings removed?

Most anytime that your doing something with the neck mount, you would normally loosen the strings. However if all your doing is making sure the screws are tight, loosening isn't necessary. Just place a screwdriver on the screw head and gently try to turn it tighter.
Been a bit of a wild week, and I haven't found the time to upload the build photos yet. But I thought I'd take a minute to jot down my first impressions of the Warmoth parts along with some ramblings.

The real take-home for me regarding the Warmoth custom build experience, which I learned with this fiesta red strat, is that you can construct the most playable instrument for yourself. My priorities, in order, are: playability, tone, appearance.

There's a thread on this forum asking "why do you build?", and the answer provided by many posters is cost: To order a custom strat down to the details of fret size, fret material, neck carve, fretboard radius and even truss rod style is generally prohibitively expensive for many of us. Even if you could afford it, it's not always the most rationale way to spend 3k+. The customizability of this instrument has been the best facet of it by far. I have built an instrument that, most of all, is highly playable for *me*.

I've been playing for several years now and have figured out what works for me/my hands and what doesn't. With this Warmoth build, I got just what I'm looking for. 10-16" compound radius with those jumbo Ibanez-style frets I love. I have never had such ease playing barre chords, which was a huge inconsistency for me. I got a raw roasted neck and while it definitely feels lackluster compared to my nitro gloss les paul, sliding up and down the neck is as smooth as it gets. I got the stainless steel frets, so I'm not worried about digging into a bend a million times as I learn a solo. I totally forgot about, and partially regret, the azurite malachite dots, because they're so subtle. But they're almost like an easter egg signifying that this was a custom build.

I think the neck customizability is where my build really shines. For a few hundred more, I could have purchased a custom kiesel. But those guitars appear to focus a lot on the aesthetic and finish with fewer neck options (but, damn, those finishes are nice).

The fiesta red paint Warmoth uses: a) photographs incredibly poorly, b) is stunning. Everyone keeps commenting on how great it looks. The finish is impeccable on the outside, but there was definitely a lot of sawdust stuck on the inside cavities. It's not such a bother, but I omitted the rear cover for easy string loading, and upon close inspection, it's not as polished as, say, a PRS silver sky (which also omits the back cover). The body is roasted alder. I'm not sure it made the body much lighter, but perhaps it made it resonate a bit more when played acoustically, much like a torrefied top on an acoustic. I've seen Paul Reed Smith in a video where he checks out an electric guitar by tapping on it to hear the wood ring out. I think this roasting process helped with that chime when I knock on the body.

The Yosemite pickups sound like legit strat pickups, so I nailed that single coil sound. I adjusted the heights to match the alnico 4 neck and middle to the alnico 2 bridge. All 5 positions have very distinctive sounds. I find myself drawn to the middle position a lot with cleans. Less bassy than the neck, less harsh than the bridge. I don't think I'll ever go for another 24 fret guitar because having a 22 fret guitar with the neck pickup at the 24th fret position harmonic makes for the smooth sound. Given how nice that sound is on a les paul, I was surprised how well it works on a 22 fret strat.

More to come soon. Stay safe, everyone!
Megatron said:
The neck is raw (no finish) which makes it super fast, but sometimes I think I may have preferred a satin nitro finish from an aesthetic point of view.

A few months have passed, and I love my custom guitar more and more, but I just couldn't get past the roughness of parts of the raw roasted maple neck. The fretboard grain (where the side dots were) just felt TOO unfinished. I really did wish I had opted for a factory satin finish. Then I stumbled on this amazing forum post about burnishing raw necks:

It seemed too good to be true. No finish, but all the tactile benefits of one. I ordered some high grit sandpaper online and finally got around to upgrade.

Following advice from the linked post above, I used a gradual progression: 600, 1000, 1500, 2000, 2500 grits. The 3M sandpaper pack went up to 2500, so I figured, why not do that one as well. The forum post suggested 10-15 mins for each grit (by hand). I'll say that the results are apparent much more quickly than suggested. I sanded the back of the neck and the back and sides of the headstock, leaving the front and fretboard untouched. I completed the 600 grit in about 10 minutes, using my hands to gauge what had been sanded down and what needed more work. I added 5 mins for (total 15) at 600 for good measure. 1000 grit also for 15 mins. Each subsequent grit took me about 5 mins to be done, but I spent 10 mins on each just in case. After 1000 grit, there was almost no dust coming off the neck. 1500-2500 grits loaded up with dust and possibly lost their effectiveness because of this, but I didn't bother to clean them, because I was getting great results. In between each grit, I wiped the neck down with a paper towel and my hands.

Verdict: AMAZING! All the positive reviews of this method are not hyperbole. The burnished neck is completely raw, feels like a premium satin finish, but also shines like a low gloss finish. I've attached pictures below. From the right angle, you can see reflections in raw wood! I've never seen anything like it before. The satin feel reminds me a lot of the satin finish on my Ibanez prestige super wizard, but it feels a bit smoother.

I highly recommend this procedure for raw necks. I am definitely going to be doing this again on a future next build.


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