After trying out lots of things... I know that the guitar I need for rhythm playing (lead is another story) is characterized as follows:
1) Slim neck for small hands. A Gibson simply won't do. And I like to do all kinds of weird jazz chords and stuff, as well as solo. Shredder quickness is also good. [Would a flat or rounded fretboard be better for weird chords and stuff?]
2) The shorter scale than what's on a Strat... the standard Gibson scale. But again, because of the big fat baseball bat neck, Gibson won't do. Again, I like to do all sorts of weird jazz chords, drones, etc.
3) Hardtail. I despise Floyd Roses, and in general I don't want to deal with a tremolo. I think I'll get a whammy pedal instead. Also, I prefer heavy gauge strings... 13s, sometimes 12s... maybe 11s, depending on the day. Nothing lighter than 11s, that's for sure.
4) Preferably neck-through. Set-in is acceptable. Sustain matters a lot. High fret access is also good but not a dealbreaker. This is the only reason why I'm reluctant to go with Warmoth. Although... could the "bolt-on" problem be remedied? I'd gladly go with Warmoth (which would assure that every last other persnickety specification is met) if I could be assured of having sustain comparable to a set or through neck. Having the heel chunk in the way isn't that big of a deal, at any rate.
5) I'd be looking to spend a grand or more... but not more than $1,500. I'm persnickety. Although if there was an absolute underrated gem that could be had in the $400+ range, I'd be open.
So... what are the recommendations? I've looked all over, and unless I stink at looking, I haven't found anything that matches my specs.
I've been looking to take a Fernandes Ravelle Elite for a test drive, but I haven't been able to find anybody that has one. (I'm in Las Vegas, NV.) If it has a big fat neck like a Les Paul... then it would be nothing-doing. Even if it had an average, as opposed to slim neck... might not be so good. It's such a dilemma for me.