It's harder to get nicer reasonable priced well made guitars in Australia. Things like boutique Nash guitars and MJT's and Kelton Swade, Suhr etc are all big $$$$ here.
Nash builds with necks & bodies from Allparts. Not exactly "boutique" materials & he does a solid job of putting them together but the raw parts aren't anything terribly special.
MJT was using mostly necks & bodies from USA Custom guitars... which, I have a few of their pieces and haven't looked at the site in forever, but it seems like MJT & USA Custom merged? Either way USAC is or at least was on the same level as Warmoth. Company was actually started by ex Warmoth employees.
Kelton Swade? Buyer beware. No direct experience but heard numerous stories. None particularly flattering.
Suhr is on a whole other level from any of those 3. For one thing they make necks & bodies in house. The handful I've played but been flawless from a build standpoint... and over the years I've had thoughts of launching a few guitars and pulling the trigger on a Suhr but can't seem to do it.
The ones I've had my hands on are basically "shredder" guitars... skinny, flat radius necks. Not really my thing. And I know they have a bunch of options but I'm the kinda guy who either loves or hates a guitar in the first 5 minutes. And I'd really hate to plop down $3k... wait a few months... take it out of the case and go... Oh geez I'm not digging this. And unfortunately no local dealers where I can try several & get a feel for their range of options.
I think the J Mascis Jazzmaster is a solid way to go. Swap out the trem. I really like Descendant Vibrato and/or the Stay Trem. I always change the volume pot value from 1meg. That value makes em to bright in my opinion. 250k works and if you want it a little brighter, 500k. Did this to my 63 Jazzmaster and love it. It still sounds like a Jazzmaster with the one advantage of it relating to your strat and tele better. You don’t have to readjust the amp and turn down the treble. The pot value gives it Just a little haircut off the top.
A little late on this but as somebody who did this whole dance about ten years ago and modded the shit out of a J Mascis JM, seriously just get one of those. Stock, it is a great instrument. Put in a Wilkinson roller bridge or modified Mustang bridge (or Mastery or StayTrem if you want to spend more $$ for marginal improvements) and you're good to go. I put in a USA trem at some point and it was honestly exactly the same as the stock trem so I sold it and went back to the stock trem. The stock pickups are more P90 style than Jazzmaster and that's not a bad thing (less bright). But really go find one and play one - they have the best neck going right now too.
Well hmmm, the advantages of building or piecing together shouldn’t really be about savings. It’s about getting it the way you want it. I think I’ve put together 7 or 8 gtrs by now and I’d say 3 of them are really good. They all play well but for whatever reason not all bodies project the same. You can tell the good ones because they are so much louder acoustically and that absolutely transfers into when you plug em in. But I’ve cooked up a cool recipe of parts that I really like and it’s nice to have a gtr wih quality shit on it From frets to pickups and everything in between.
A lot of this is understanding that your trying to build a guitar not just assembling the best parts. It’s a lot like building a hot rod, the best parts may look good on paper but when you drive the thing you don’t care what’s on any part it’s how they work together. knowing what you like and works gets a lot further than any catalog.
“Right now I need a Telecaster through a Vibrolux turned up to 10” Memphis in the meantime by John Hiatt