Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com

The truth about partscasters: time to be honest

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by hemingway, May 6, 2015.

  1. hemingway

    hemingway Friend of Leo's

    Mar 14, 2012
    London, UK
    Okay, I love partscasters. I love the idea, I love the threads, I love seeing what people come up with - I've built a couple myself, and modded many other guitars, and I learned a hell of a lot.

    What bothers me is this:

    Lots of partscaster threads start like this: "Just put this together [description, pics, great]. It sounds fantastic and plays like butter!"

    Now, I cannot be alone in having had niggling, long-term, sometimes unresolved problems with the guitars I've put together. The two guitars I put together from scratch did not sound fantastic and play like butter straight away. Indeed, 3 years on my hardtail strat still buzzes like a hornets' nest on the low strings, whatever I do with it.

    I had problems with paint, neck pockets, shims, pots, soldering, crummy homemade pickguards (my fault), you name it.

    And, as I said, it can't just be me.

    So, time to 'fess up. Did your partscaster really sound fantastic and play like butter as soon as you put in the last screw?? Really??

    Don't get me wrong: I have no problem with tinkering and trying to get my guitars as good as they can over the long term. It's a journey, a learning curve.

    I just want to hear other people say: "yep, made me a partsy and it took me months to tweak it into life. At times I screamed at the damn thing, despaired, stubbed my thumb, bled into the neck joint, chipped the finish, screwed up the screw holes . . . I'm Partacus!!"

    Are you?
     

  2. Tonemonkey

    Tonemonkey Poster Extraordinaire

    Mine have all played better than CS Guitars, never an issue.

    Never had to sink more than £3 or 4k into a partscaster to get there either!
     

  3. Chud

    Chud Poster Extraordinaire

    Dec 30, 2010
    New York City
    It's been hit and miss for me, but I don't own any of them anymore so maybe my memory of the hits is a bit rose colored. Lol.
     

  4. hemingway

    hemingway Friend of Leo's

    Mar 14, 2012
    London, UK
    Yep, that'll do it.
     

  5. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free + Supporter

    Mine are all five wonderful instruments, they really are. Here's what I think is the reason, besides the good-to-excellent quality of their parts, which I learned much about from watching TDPRI carefully:

    After I made their bodies, and got all the parts together, I took each of the first three in a box to my favorite luthier/repairman, and paid him to put them together, make their nuts, and set them up. They all played great and sounded terrific as soon as I got them back.

    The first of my guitars, Ol' Simple, I had leveled and crowned by the luthier, and wow, what a difference! The next two and the last one didn't seem to need that, and the fourth one I did myself, following Ron Kirn's excellent instructions. The annoying buzz disappeared.

    The last two, I've cut my own nuts, and done the assembly myself, but when I hit trouble (wiring is not my specialty) I've taken them in. They're good players, too.

    I am not Partacus. :cool:
     

  6. trev333

    trev333 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    The first pine tele I put together a few years ago still has the same strings on it that I set it up with and the test control plate...:oops:

    from set up day one it was "right"... nut never touched...neck never shimmed, intonation ok, wiring worked, etc... sounds great... so I left it as it is...it's been played by kids and adults in bands/practices/jams the past few years... no one has ever wanted to put it down.... it sure needs a good service, though....:lol:

    I amazed myself as this was just a trial run for router practice.... the ones that followed are the same as "when the last screw went in"..as you say... after that week of settling in/adjustments, as per norm.. and the finishes are better...;)
     

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  7. waparker4

    waparker4 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 9, 2011
    Philadelphia, PA
    My first tele partsc I had to have a tech friend set up. My 3rd strat partsc is great for the most part but has some buzz, only unamplified. My 2nd tele partsc, using the same neck as the first, different body, I had to fuss around with shims, taking the neck off 3or 4 times to change the shim, trial and error style, and did a few truss rod tweaks, and changed types if strings, but now I really like it. I have a jagmaster partsc in the closet w a major setup issue. Haven't gotten around to doing anything about it.
     

  8. Mjark

    Mjark Doctor of Teleocity

    Feb 14, 2011
    Annapolis, MD
    I have one and it did come out quite well. It sounds great but the neck is not quite right. There is dead spot in the middle around the 14th fret. I'm hesitant to change it though as I like it otherwise and the finger board is ebony.
     

  9. therealfindo

    therealfindo Tele-Holic

    741
    Jun 26, 2012
    Germany
    My lp special from eBay bits is pretty rough..
     

  10. hemingway

    hemingway Friend of Leo's

    Mar 14, 2012
    London, UK
    So I'm either a really bad guitar builder or just too damn fussy
     

  11. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

    Apr 17, 2008
    Port Moody, BC
    Well, that is quite the list of problems, so it doesn't seem like you're being fussy.
     

  12. Skub

    Skub Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Jul 28, 2010
    N.Ireland
    It's been a learning curve for me and each guitar I've nailed together has been incrementally better than the previous. Having said that,all of them have been gig fit from the word go.
    There are always little tweaks needing done for the first while,but once everything settles into place,that should be it for any major changes.

    Set up has been the biggest lesson for me,it's what makes an instrument playable.Every guitar needs this in varying degrees,but when it's tailored just for you,then it's perfect.

    I have a Customshop Tele sitting here right now which came to me to see if I could solve some tuning issues,so it doesn't matter how much you spend if the potential is locked in by a bad set up. It's like road testing a Ferrari that's not running on all cylinders.
     

  13. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Ad Free Member

    Jun 22, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    You are not alone. :lol:

    My first and only partscaster would have been perfect off the bat, except I gambled on a boatneck contour from Warmoth, and after a while (okay, a couple years :oops:), I realized that I do NOT like fat necks.

    By that time, I had built a neck or two from scratch, so I was comfortable taking that neck off and re-shaping the back. Now I love it!

    My scratch builds have been the same story; plenty of tweaking, tinkering--I've even re-contoured the neck of one of them. Almost every nut I've cut needed to have the slots deepened after the first string change, because I've been so paranoid about cutting them too deep. :lol: I've only built 4 guitars, and every one has had a different bridge, different tuners, different pick-ups, different finish, different wiring, etc., so there's been a pretty steep learning curve all along so far. I'm gradually homing in on what I like...
     

  14. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 26, 2003
    The North Coast
    First one I ever built came out perfect. Totally by accident. I had no clue what I was doing. I quite literally thought to myself after lots of modding (had no idea what I was doing there either) "self, you've got enough leftover crap here to build a whole guitar!".

    No thought to scale length, neck pocket matching up, hardware fitting, no thought at all. Just started slapping crap together. It was AMAZING. And stayed my main guitar for several years. Until the body split in half, and would never go back together right. It was ugly as sin, just a pile of odds and ends. All nice quality, but still just an assembled parts box. I kept the other parts for years, hoping to find a replacement body. By the time I finally found one, the other parts had been scattered to the four winds on other projects.

    After that, I built a lot more. With much more knowledge and experience. Always used the best parts. Always payed close attention to what was used and how it would go together.

    Always turned out "just ok". Nothing to write home about. I work on my own guitars all the time. My setups are better on factory built guitars than anybody else has ever been able to get close to for me. I've paid fat money for "pro setups" and still had to fix it when I got home.

    I can never get a parts caster to set up like I can get a factory built piece to play. They just never turn out right for me. They're good, but never great. Not since that first one.

    I eventually did find a replacement body a few years ago. Same model, even same year and color. Got the original neck back from the friend I sold it to. Hunted down and used used the same model bridge, pickups, etc. it was nothing like the first one. Oh well. I sold it to a guy who swears it's the best guitar ever. It ain't even close to its older brother.
     

  15. Mbechmann

    Mbechmann Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Jan 18, 2013
    Grindsted, Denmark
    I have yet to make a totally flawless instrument. But you know what. I dont think that is the point. I kind of thrive when I have problems. Thats when I learn the most. Trying to figure out something weird. I simply love that part of the build.

    My first bass that I completed still have a thick neck. I didnt route enough out of it so it is about 1" thick + the fingerboard ½" aprox :) Way to thick. But I left it as a reminder that things are not perfect - but they are awesome.
     

  16. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Age:
    71
    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    assembling a guitar from aftermarket parts is purely a mechanical process.... but.. once that's done.. phase two begins.. the setup.... this includes leveling and crowning the frets.... if you're good at the mechanical aspects, but have no idea about the setup etc... the guitar has no chance....

    Back when I was so active in build threads and general instruction, i would say to any contemplating building a guitar... get up early Saturday morning, hit the garage sale circuit until ya find a beater... practice the fret work and setup... get to where that's a comfortable process for ya before ya dump a few hundreds bux into parts..

    It's like the mistake most novice golfers make.... standing on the driving range, smacking 'em with the "Big Dawg". the driver... then get to where they can hit is pretty consistently 250, 290 yards, but have completely forgotten to practice the short game... they can't sink a 3 foot put if their life depended on it... and on a 15 yard chip... anything/anyone the other side of the green better take cover... similarly the inglorious setup is where it's at... get that right and about anything ya do to get the parts screwed together is gonna be OK..

    and the most important thing... damn guys.. if ya need to read instructions to change a light bulb, or batteries... a wood shop is someplace ya may wanna consider forgetting about... some just plain cannot do it.

    Ron Kirn
     

  17. trev333

    trev333 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    I never even consider building a "flawless" instrument as a mission statement.... it's never really going to happen...

    those petit flaws can make great guitar, somehow...
     

  18. jkingma

    jkingma Super Moderator Staff Member

    Admin Post
    I've never built a flawless instrument.

    I've also never bought a flawless instrument.

    Humans are flawed and so is the stuff we build.

    And what is flawed for you may be spot on for me... or vise versa.
     

  19. Jonzilla

    Jonzilla Tele-Meister

    281
    Mar 4, 2013
    Tennessee
    One thing I've noticed is, after the knowledge you gain from doing your own build, you start to notice "problems" that you wouldn't have noticed before. I had the same experience with restoring old motorcycles. All of a sudden bikes that I had bought new started having these funny noises that "weren't there before." And that's when you start tweaking and it's hard to make yourself just call it done. Maybe ignorance is bliss!
     

  20. Hudsonduster

    Hudsonduster RIP Ad Free + Supporter

    366
    Apr 8, 2015
    Brooklyn
    Well, "I'M Partacus!"

    I wonder if it's a matter of perception, or just starry eyes; maybe some guys just love the one they're with. My car always performs better after I've waxed it: the very act of laying loving hands on its body and rubbing for two hours results in better mileage and more responsive cornering. Maybe the same phenomenon occurs with folks' guitars.

    I'm brand new here; I've completed (read: strung up & begun the tweaking process) one kit, and I'm into my second & third build now, heading fast toward full-scratch. To me, it's all a learning experience: I'm literally finding out where the butter is, far from coaxing it out of the axe at this point. Heck fire, once I'd swapped out tuners, wiring & controls, pickups (and even the cheepest replacements online were superior to the kit's contents - where do they source that stuff anyhow?), I was frankly amazed that I had a playing instrument. Lucky.

    But my expectation going in was to have a learning experience. I'm also a little daunted by all the guys whose first attempts gave them their best guitars. Maybe it was all that waxing.

    Anyway: "Particus." Yup. Good name.
     

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