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specracer986

Warmouth Necks / Variax Guitars

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I just got my second Variax fitted with a Warmouth neck. I thought I'd show them both off since they're pretty different.

The one on the left is a mahogany neck with Bubinga fretboard, SS6150 frets, Standard Thin profile, compound radius, Earvana nut, 25.5" scale length.

The one on the right is Birdseye Maple neck and fretboard, SS6105 frets, Wizard profile, compound radius, Earvana nut, 24.75" conversion scale length.

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I was a little surprised that I can hear a difference when using the guitar models. The mahogany neck is a little fuller and darker. Not a huge amount, but enough to hear for certain. They both have the same strings.

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They do look great and with the conversion neck I decided to have a look myself, but I really can't justify $400 on a neck

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Really nice!

Do you notice any difference in string buzzing between the two different scale lengths?

 

What strings do you use and if you don't mind me asking... what did they cost?

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No string buzz with either. Right now I have D'Addadario 9.5's on both, so I could get a good feel of the difference in the guitars. Both in string tension and sound. I'll probably move the 24.75" up to 10's when I change strings. I haven't had enough play time yet with the white 24.75", so I can't say that the scale length is making much difference to me yet. But sound wise, I really notice the difference between the two guitars. The mahogany / bubinga neck is much fuller and deeper sounding without being dull. The maple is much brighter and almost harsh. I'm having to work at taming the tone. But it's only been a week. 

Yes these necks are a bit expensive. But being able to order exactly what I want is worth it to me. Both of these necks had a lot of options like the Earvana nut, stainless steel fret wire, upgraded wood. The mahogany / bubinga neck came in at $550 and the maple at $450. But the mahogany neck guitar is my #1 and I'm into it for less than $1,200. So I don't consider that excessive in comparison to a good quality guitar that wouldn't be exactly as I want. I have no regrets. If I couldn't have changed necks on these, I probably wouldn't be playing a Variax at all. 

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I had an interesting experience with one of my Warmouth necks this past weekend. This wasn't either of the JTV's, but was on a Strat that I have with a similar neck to the maple JTV, except it's full 25.5" scale. All three of my Warmouth necks have been ordered as "Modern", which has a two way truss rod adjustable at the heel and a fine adjusting spot on the lower edge of the neck near the 19th fret. This is my oldest Warmouth neck. The fine adjusting point is a box that is made by Gotoh. I've used it to make adjustments several times over the last two years. 

This weekend the Strat was buzzing a bit. The neck was too flat. I adjusted some bow into it, and let it sit a couple of hours. It still needed some more bow, I started to turn the fine adjuster counter clockwise, there was a small amount of pressure but pretty much the same as usual, and POP, the adjuster snapped and came out with the allen wrench. 

Now I need to pull the neck to make adjustments, just like a vintage Strat. Kind of a pain, but it does work. I just don't have the fine adjuster any longer.

I never got any instructions with any of the three necks I've gotten from Warmouth, saying how to use this fine adjuster mechanism. I found a video that says, when the fine adjuster hits it's maximum point, you have to pull the neck, set the neck using the heel adjuster while setting the fine adjuster to it's mid point and then you're ready to start over. Unfortunately, the amount of back pressure I got from the fine adjuster wasn't enough to say it had max'd out. I'm not that strong, and it snapped pretty easily.

Bottom line, if this had happened sooner, the necks on the two JTV's would have been ordered with the truss rod adjusted at the headstock. Live and learn I guess, but I'm a little afraid that it's going to happen again with one of the JTV's even though I know what to watch out for. 

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I had an interesting experience with one of my Warmouth necks this past weekend. This wasn't either of the JTV's, but was on a Strat that I have with a similar neck to the maple JTV, except it's full 25.5" scale. All three of my Warmouth necks have been ordered as "Modern", which has a two way truss rod adjustable at the heel and a fine adjusting spot on the lower edge of the neck near the 19th fret. This is my oldest Warmouth neck. The fine adjusting point is a box that is made by Gotoh. I've used it to make adjustments several times over the last two years.

This weekend the Strat was buzzing a bit. The neck was too flat. I adjusted some bow into it, and let it sit a couple of hours. It still needed some more bow, I started to turn the fine adjuster counter clockwise, there was a small amount of pressure but pretty much the same as usual, and POP, the adjuster snapped and came out with the allen wrench.

Now I need to pull the neck to make adjustments, just like a vintage Strat. Kind of a pain, but it does work. I just don't have the fine adjuster any longer.

I never got any instructions with any of the three necks I've gotten from Warmouth, saying how to use this fine adjuster mechanism. I found a video that says, when the fine adjuster hits it's maximum point, you have to pull the neck, set the neck using the heel adjuster while setting the fine adjuster to it's mid point and then you're ready to start over. Unfortunately, the amount of back pressure I got from the fine adjuster wasn't enough to say it had max'd out. I'm not that strong, and it snapped pretty easily.

Bottom line, if this had happened sooner, the necks on the two JTV's would have been ordered with the truss rod adjusted at the headstock. Live and learn I guess, but I'm a little afraid that it's going to happen again with one of the JTV's even though I know what to watch out for.

This is precisely why all my Warmoth necks (3 currently) are the "vintage modern"... the dual action truss rods are a great concept, but I've always been skeptical of that fine-tuning mechanism. I don't understand why the adjustment ever has to be at the heel, but if you're gonna build it that way, then it should have the cut-out behind the last fret and recessed adjustment nut that can be accessed without taking off the damn neck. It turns a 4.5 second adjustment into a 20 minute project, and if you do it often enough you'll eventually strip one or more neck mounting holes...been there done that. Never again.
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In hindsight, I wish I had ordered the vintage modern. I also have three Warmouth necks now, all modern. I had to pull the neck four times this weekend to get it set just right. It took me about 10 minutes each time. You concern about the screws eventually loosening seems very valid. The first time I took off the neck, the screws were really well seated. Not so much by the fourth time.

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In hindsight, I wish I had ordered the vintage modern. I also have three Warmouth necks now, all modern. I had to pull the neck four times this weekend to get it set just right. It took me about 10 minutes each time. You concern about the screws eventually loosening seems very valid. The first time I took off the neck, the screws were really well seated. Not so much by the fourth time.

Yup... some years ago most if not all their necks adjusted at the heel. The first one I bought nearly 20 years ago was like that, and would have been my last had they not changed the design sometime in the early 2000's. It's just stupid... those mounting holes get loose over time, you end up with alignment problems, and sooner or later you're doweling and re-drilling holes...and that's exactly what happened to my first one. And for what? A 1/4 turn on the truss rod. By the time the second hole gave out I was done with having to adjust it that way, and it went to the toothpick factory. Granted, I had it for about 15 years...but I'd probably still have it if it were a sensible design. There was nothing wrong with it otherwise.

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Question about tuners.

Are you reusing the original lockable tuners? I am very close in ordering a Roasted Maple neck (reverse headstock) and I want to reuse the tuners from the original neck. Can you advise me?

Thanks!

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I had Warmouth predrill the holes for both of my Variax neck changes. I installed Sperzel tuners on one and reused the stock JTV tuners on the other. They both work fine.

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Question about tuners.

Are you reusing the original lockable tuners? I am very close in ordering a Roasted Maple neck (reverse headstock) and I want to reuse the tuners from the original neck. Can you advise me?

Thanks!

If they're building your neck from scratch, then you can request any diameter you want for the tuning machine holes...its just a matter of finding out the diameter of the holes on the stock neck. Pop one out and measure it.

 

Or save yourself the trouble and get a better set of locking tuners. Warmoth makes it very easy... they list the diameter required for various different brands of tuners on their site. Check out Planet Waves auto trim tuners... buy now, thank me later. 🤘

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I had Warmouth predrill the holes for both of my Variax neck changes. I installed Sperzel tuners on one and reused the stock JTV tuners on the other. They both work fine.

.

And for the one that reused the stock JTV tuners, do you remember for what tuner size you ordered?

Thanks!

Oskar

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Looking at those two guitars, my question is, how are you going to access the

truss rod adjust, when you need to adjust neck relief?

 

Aside form that,... nice, very nice.

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Schaller (25/64" 11/32"). The stock tuners fit right in.

 

Big Thanks!

I have now placed the order!

 

/Oskar

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Looking at those two guitars, my question is, how are you going to access the

truss rod adjust, when you need to adjust neck relief?

 

ASide form that,... nice, very nice.

 

That's covered in post #10 above. Both necks have the adjustment at the heel like a vintage Strat, and also a fine adjustment Gotoh box on the bottom edge of the neck about the 19th fret. So you can make several fine adjustments at the 19th fret, but then there's a point where you'll need to take off the neck and reset the fine adjuster to the center position and start over. I have three necks like this, and I've decided that if I order a fourth from Warmouth, it will be with the adjuster at the nut. Sometimes better ideas aren't that easy to live with.

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Looking at those two guitars, my question is, how are you going to access the

truss rod adjust, when you need to adjust neck relief?

 

ASide form that,... nice, very nice.

Warmoth's fancy "modern" construction necks with their side-of-neck truss rod access are a whole other discussion...but surely you must have run across a vintage Strat or two in your travels. They all used to have the truss rod access at the heel. It's ridiculous and archaic, but that's the way Fender made them way back when...don't ask me why. And for a price, Warmoth will still make you a brand new neck just like those ancient ones (their "vintage" option)...I assume the target audience are those who have a soft spot for old, stupid designs that turn a 4 second adjustment into a 1/2 hour ordeal...and that's assuming that the first adjustment you make is sufficient. And how often does that work out?

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I'm notorious for being "that guy" who leaves truss covers off because of need to keep up with ever changing climate/humidity conditions. 

 

I love vintage guitars as much as the next guy but I suspect there's a reason they made neck adjustments kinda hard to get to.  Probably not too many people possessed knowledge to use them responsibly.  

 

Whenever I setup an old school guitar I figure it's gonna cost a set of strings to get the neck on/off enough times to dial in the truss adjustment.  (Capo can be your friend to hold strings in nut while you pop the neck off/on)  No need to even back the tuners off.  

 

At least until humidity changes again...

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I love vintage guitars as much as the next guy but I suspect there's a reason they made neck adjustments kinda hard to get to. Probably not too many people possessed knowledge to use them responsibly.

Maybe, but as long as I live I will maintain that the incompetence of others should not become my problem. If you don't know how to do something, don't. I know nothing about transmission repair. Thus, in order to avoid having a car that doesn't move, I bring it to someone who does. But deliberately making the car harder to fix in order to dissuade me from screwing with it, is a stupid strategy that benefits nobody...but I digress.

 

You can get away with that design if the guitar lives in a static environment where the humidity doesn't change much, but if you're somewhere with wide seasonal swings, then you're screwed.

 

Taking the neck off repeatedly causes excess wear and tear on the mounting holes. Even if you're careful, there is a finite number of times that those screws can be removed before the holes get stripped, and have to be doweled and re-drilled. Warmoth used to have the access at the heel for all their necks...first one that I bought in the mid 90's was like that, and the above scenario is exactly what happened. Sometime in the early 2000's they started offering the "vintage modern" design with truss rod access at the headstock. As nice as their necks are, had they not made that change, I'd never have purchased another one. It's not worth the aggravation.

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I do not own a Variax yet - thinking of getting one. Upgrading with a Warmouth neck seems to be one way of going. So i have a few questions:

Does a standard Strat spec. neck fit a Variax guitar?

Is there a lot of setting up to do?

After doing yours would you recommend a Proff. to do the job or is it easy enough to do?

(I understand you should know the basic stuff and have just a bit of ability to work with your hands and tools. :) )

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Yes, a standard Strat replacement neck fits the JTV69 and JTV69S. There is one complication. A Strat neck has four mounting holes and a JTV has three, and one of those three don't line up with the Strat holes. So when I ordered my Warmouth necks, rather than needing to drill two new holes and having an extra hole that wasn't needed, I had them not drill any holes. This way I could have the neck and body lined up properly.

I'm a handy guy. I can pretty much fix anything and I own tons of tools. I do my own guitar set ups. But I decided that the luthier I use is so good at what he does and very reasonable with his pricing, that it really didn't make sense to do the neck swap myself. So I had him do both of my Variax neck swaps. The two JTV's are my #1 and #2 guitars, so I'd say the projects were a success all around.

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Thanks for the quick reply. That makes a lot of sense. I can feel a project coming up  :)

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Yes, a standard Strat replacement neck fits the JTV69 and JTV69S. There is one complication. A Strat neck has four mounting holes and a JTV has three...

This seems odd...my 69 has 4 bolts. One is offset relative to the others due to the sculpted heel, but there are most definitely 4 of them.

 

Either way, the swap is easy...put a Warmoth neck on mine as well. I too chickened out and had a luthier I trust do it for me, lol...but if you're careful, tapping and drilling the holes is really no big deal.

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Yeah, I flubbed my description. I don't have a Strat here to verify, but a Strat should have 3 bolt holes, one of which doesn't line up with a Variax. So you would need to drill two holes in a Strat replacement neck and you would have one extra unused hole. I didn't like that scenario, and opted to have my luthier drill all four holes. 

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