I still want to write some more about reverb, but I decided that now will be a good time to take a break. So I will write a bit about my newest purchase – a custom made neck for my strat.
The reason I wanted a new guitar neck was simple. I played on one of my friends’ guitars (a Japan made Stratocaster) and was surprised how comfortable it was. I thought it had just the right action and string tension. I am used to playing on acoustic guitars and this one felt very similar. The explanation I was given though was different: It was the medium jumbo frets that made the difference. I didn’t really notice the frets, but the explanation sounded plausible. So I decided to order my own. After changing the pickups and rewiring the guitar it was the latest in my attempt to make my cheap strat better.
Medium jumbo frets have medium height, but are wider than other frets. I have no idea why this made a difference, but I also figured out that such frets are also predominantly used on acoustic guitars, so I wanted to give it a try. Simply switching the neck on the strat sounded simple enough, but turned out to be much more complicated in practice.
After digging around on the internet a bit for a new neck I ended up where most people end up when looking for necks – Warmoth.com. I have to say this site is impressive. It is impressive not only because of the variation of necks (and other stuff) that this company can handle, but because it is actually a very well built site. It explains a lot of the miscellaneous information that I did not even consider until getting there. I simply wanted medium jumbo frets, but what I ended up was something more:
Neck: I chose maple. There was no sense in spending money for expensive wood at this point. I really do not know whether it makes any difference. Perhaps, given the fact that I travel a lot I should have considered something that handles weather changes better, but, for now, maple was the cheapest.
Rosewood: A rosewood fingerboard (with cream colored dots) is what I have now, so I stuck with it.
"Boat" back contour: I have relatively larger hands, so playing on a thin guitar neck is tiresome. I wanted something bigger and there were several options to choose from. I ultimately wavered between the "fat" and the "boat" neck and picked the latter one only because I remembered playing on such a neck. While my hands are big, the fat neck was too big.
Brass / nickel frets: I learned from the site that "nickel / silver" frets are actually made out of brass and nickel. I would have gone for the steel frets. They supposedly last longer and make no difference to sound. As it turns out though, steel frets were not offered in the medium jumbo frets.
Medium jumbo (6130) frets: I chose the medium jumbo frets for comfort. When trying to go for steel frets I was offered the narrow tall frets, but that was not the point. I have played on such frets and, while they are popular, I don’t think they offer the support I wanted.
Compound radius: I was advised by the guy I talked on the phone to pick this one. This is a Warmoth creation. The only reason I picked is because the person I talked to seemed knowledgeable about everything else. Plus, the reason it was created was for comfort, which was the whole reason for changing guitar necks.
Corian nut: It supposedly makes a difference to the sound. Not that I play open strings that often (I wonder if it makes a difference otherwise). I didn’t want anything too warm as the rest of my guitar (the pickups) is very warm. The only concern I have with this nut is how long it will last.
Truss rod: Now that I think about it I cannot remember what I ordered. My guess is a vintage single rod. As I said, I travel a lot with this guitar, so perhaps I should try to figure this out.
The rest of what I chose was miscellaneous. I wanted no binding, as that is what I have now and it is cheaper. I chose clear gloss finish for similar reasons. I was unsure on the size of key holes (I picked 11/32") and on the mounting options, but I basically ordered keys and bolts to fit with whatever holes they decided to drill. I think I got the Warmoth logo. If they do a good job they should have their logo on. It is a strat guitar neck, so it will have the strat peghead. Anything else would look weird. And so on.
All in all this was a pleasant experience. But it takes ten weeks to complete it. At this point I am on week three.