Cheap Strat copy replacement necks are sometimes better than genuine Fender
The reason for this is something most players don't think about, but it counts.
When replacing a neck on a Fender Stratocaster guitar, you have two options. Go with the genuine article, or get a clone copy.
Fender does sell necks where you can simply outright buy one. They range from $200 to over $500 and do have the Fender logo on them.
None come with tuners, but Fender issued necks do all come with pre-drilled holes for them. I'm not talking about the pegboard holes but rather the smaller holes that don't go all the way through the neck on the back of the headstock for tuner installation. Depending on what you intend to do with your new Strat neck, this will either be a blessing or a curse.
If you intend on using Fender standard tuners, it's a blessing because it's a drop-in solution. Get the neck, get new tuners, everything goes together real easy, done.
If you do not intend on using Fender brand tuners, those extra holes on the back of the headstock will be a curse. With just about any non-Fender tuners, not only will you have to drill new holes but open ones will be left behind. Not a good look...
...and this is where cheaper Strat copy necks are sometimes a better option for a replacement.
When you search for non-Fender Strat necks, these things are cheap, starting at around 50 bucks.
The only pre-drilled holes on one of these will usually be pegboard holes and nothing else. Yes, this means the butt of the neck won't have any pre-drilled holes either.
However, there is one thing - and it's a darned good thing - which makes cheap Strat copy necks way easier to deal with.
The 10mm solution
10mm pegboard holes, as in the holes the tuners are installed into, are what you want to make your life easier.
This sounds seemingly insignificant but wow, does it make it easier to get that new neck installed quicker.
The best part? Two words: ONE SCREW.
All you need to do to install these style of tuners is drill one small hole on the back of the headstock for each machine head. It is stupidly easy to install these things. Moreover, it's a clean installation since you don't have to cover up any other holes.
Worry about other stuff, not the tuners
Things like leveling frets, getting a proper neck pocket fit, possibly installing/replacing a nut (TUSQ is always a good choice) and so on... yes, you should put work into that stuff.
But as for tuners, no. Those should be easy. Slap on a set of Wilkinsons or Gotohs, one screw for each, a washer and nut on the other side for each, done and done.
How do you get 10mm pegboard holes?
That's the nice part. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, any cheap replacement Strat copy neck should come with 10mm pegboard holes on the headstock for the tuners.
And by "explicitly stated otherwise", if the neck listing states it has "vintage" size pegboard holes, those are 11/32" (8.73mm) size, which are smaller than the modern 13/32" (10.32mm). The 13/32" is slightly larger than 10mm. But the 25/64" is 9.92mm. For all intents and purposes, that's 10mm.
Said another way, if the neck states the holes are 25/64", that means 10mm will also fit. It also means tuners stated to fit 25/64" holes will also fit 10mm and vice versa.
Also, if the clone neck listing does not state the pegboard hole size, you can safely assume a 25/64" a.k.a. 10mm size.
Also also, given the fact most imported necks have everything manufactured by by metric measurements anyway, it's more often than not true that any neck bought from an Asian country will have 10mm pegboard holes drilled.
Cheaper and easier?
When looking to save a buck, yes. But of course, clone necks don't guarantee an exact fit, especially at the neck pocket.
But at least things are a lot easier at the headstock side when fitting new tuners. You get a lot more choice when there are 10mm holes there.
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