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. Boomhauer

    Boomhauer Friend of Leo's

    Aug 18, 2013
    Michigan
    My parts-Strat was professionally assembled and set up, after I royally screwed up the assembly on my own. But, what took me all night took my tech an hour to fix.

    My 50's-tribute Tele (brought to you by Rockaudio) has its own share of issues...The neck pocket was all sorts of goobery, so the neck itself sits weird. The action is sky-high on the high E string due to the neck sitting crooked. I botched the neck install by trying to shoehorn some grommets into the back of the body before wising up and putting a neckplate on. And, the control cavity is shallow, so the switch doesn't fit. But, it works...It sounds great, and I love the blend wiring.

    My former parts-based Ibanez worked and sounded like an entry-level import guitar...save for the fact that the neck was a quarter inch too long, and it never intonated properly.

    So, my experiences have been less than desirable. But, with each step, I'm learning.
     

  2. John Owen

    John Owen Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Age:
    60
    Jan 29, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    I have put together 2 partscasters and have been really happy with them. I hedged my bet (or some would say - cheated) by using necks and bodies from the same high quality manufacturer (USACG). They went together with no problems. I also covered my bases by choosing a logo that implied acceptance of all my goofs.

    I had a bit of a learning curve with the painting process but I just kept sanding it off and starting over until I got it the way I wanted it. On the second one, I had a pro do the finish because I decided I would rather spend my time playing the guitar than wet sanding one. All in all, doing a couple of partscaster assemblies has been a lot of fun and I ended up with a couple of guitars that sound and play great. I certainly didn't save any money over going to GC and buying something off the rack but that wasn't my objective. What I ended up with was guitars that have the exact necks, pickups and cosmetics that I was after. Best of all though, I learned a lot of great stuff - like how to do a decent setup and why a really high quality finish adds so much to the price of a guitar. The whole process made me love and appreciate nice instruments even more than I did before.
     

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  3. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Friend of Leo's

    Feb 12, 2010
    Jacksonville
    I think this is closer to the truth than many will admit. It's also possible that some suffer from delusions of their own skills. It's something similar to the Dunning Kruger Effect!

    I am always amazed at such comments. I don't doubt that some folks have mad skills at assembling guitars and setting them up. I wish I had those skills. Fender must wish that the average FMC employee had those skills as well.
     

  4. Reverbely

    Reverbely Tele-Meister

    I gave up on my partscaster. looked the part but that was about it. I never did get all the guts into it. I had the pieces in storage and just got them back.
    Maybe miraculously the bits will all fit together better now and beautiful tones will be coming out of it. Not holding my breath...
     

  5. Jazzerstang

    Jazzerstang Tele-Afflicted

    I love my partscaster recipe so much that I have repeated it twice.
     

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  6. emisilly

    emisilly Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    49
    Jun 24, 2004
    Virginia Beach
    Nice work!!! Those looks fantastic.
     

  7. ac15

    ac15 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    May 9, 2005
    CHICAGO, IL.
    Dunno if this qualifies as a "partscaster" but I bought a used "Fender" Jazz bass, which consisted of a Fender MIM "Classic 60's" body with an aftermarket Musicraft neck. Bought it online from a known guitar dealer (one man operation). He's known for doing good setup work before shipping instruments, but when I got it and tuned it to pitch, the strings were flopping on the frets and it was literally unplayable.

    I'm not sure how recently they had changed the neck on this bass, but I suspect it had not "settled" yet, and required work to get there. Plays great now, but in my case there were some major setup adjustments that needed to be made for it to even be usable.

    I suspect that marrying necks to bodies commonly requires this type of "settling in" and "adjustment" period.
     

  8. ac15

    ac15 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    May 9, 2005
    CHICAGO, IL.
    "Fubar?" Love it.
     

  9. John Owen

    John Owen Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Age:
    60
    Jan 29, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    Thanks. They play and sound good too. Only downside is that their monetary value is less than the cost of the parts but that's the deal with partscasters. Fortunately for me, I had no intention of trying to sell them for financial gain. That being said - I have been lusting for a LP Jr and was kind of wishing I could turn one of those guitars into $ that could help fund one but that'll never happen. That's just a lesson in the zen of Fubar - do the best with what you got where you're at.
     

  10. baiff

    baiff Tele-Holic

    625
    Jul 17, 2011
    Midlothian, IL
    Here is my latest MJT Lake Placid Blue telecaster. This is the 9th one that I have built so they go together pretty easy now. I have my parts sourced from all the right people so I know there is no issue with assembly and things fitting the way they are suppose to.
     

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  11. 61fury

    61fury Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 28, 2009
    knoxville, TN
    Dunning Kruger Effect thanks, I just learned something new
     

  12. danpan

    danpan Tele-Meister

    213
    Sep 25, 2013
    South Dakota
    HaHa!!!! Right on Hemingway......I built mine in '95 and since then it's had at least 3 different sets of tuners, 3 necks,2 bridge plates,3 sets of bridges,gone from 3 pups back to 2 and it's FINALLY my go to Tele!! Now plays like an old friend should!!
     

  13. Ragin Cajun

    Ragin Cajun Tele-Meister

    173
    Dec 2, 2014
    New Iberia, LA
    I love it when I read guys say" I can build a partscaster cheaper than I can buy a guitar." No you can't. Not unless your time is worth nothing. If you go back and figure the number of hours you put into it, especially the first couple you did, you'll discover that you probably could have purchased any Telecaster for a lot less. I've done 2, and they all came out pretty good, but there's no way I could ever recover anything close to what I put into them.
     

  14. H. Mac

    H. Mac Friend of Leo's

    May 26, 2012
    Atlanta, Georgia
    I had my partscaster built by a pro. After having the guy tweak my set ups and playing other guitars he'd built, I knew that he had a true "magic touch."

    My first partscaster followed specs for a 1953 Tele pretty closely, from Nacho's Blackguard book.

    I kept my CS Nocaster for about three years after my partscaster was completed, but realized I played my partscaster way more than my Nocaster.

    I had him build me a second partscaster that was a bit cheaper than the first.

    I ended up playing the two partscasters more than the Nocaster, and eventually sold the Nocaster.

    Today, I play my partscasters more than any of my other guitars.
     

  15. baiff

    baiff Tele-Holic

    625
    Jul 17, 2011
    Midlothian, IL
    If you are building from scratch you are probably right. If you source all the parts out and have the body/neck cut, sanded and finished for you that is a different story. There is no way I could get what I have now unless I pay a premium for it. Even if I went with a smaller builder like Nash, K-Line, Kirn or LSL to name a few I would pay at least double for the guitar I could assemble myself. Now these are great guitar builders that can make beautiful playing/sounding guitars for those that will pay for it. Especially if they don't believe they have the skills or time to do it. Once you really look at putting a telecaster (for example) together, it will amaze you at what it costs if you do it yourself. Once I have all the parts and body/neck it only takes me 1-2 hours to put it together and fine tune the set up. I don't feel my time is wasted and in the end it is worth the few hours. I would waste more time driving around trying to find the guitar I wanted or waiting for it to be built for me. Here are a few examples of what I mean. I am obviously a huge supporter of MJT guitars. Below is a 51'Broadcaster clone, a 59' White Blonde clone and a 61' 3TSB Single bound clone. For all three of these I spent around $2500. The White Blonde and the 3TSB are both 1 piece ash bodies as the Broadcaster is 2. They are all light weight weighing no more than 7.1 pounds. That is with putting them together/soldering myself. I could maybe get a used CS for that price and hope it had all the options I wanted. I would personally rather support a small business that makes quality stuff for affordable prices. They also don't kill you for getting 1 piece bodies or asking for specific things such as grain pattern, weight or binding.

    Any one that plays these guitars believe that they are either real vintage instruments or actual Custom Shop guitars. My intention is not to fool people on what they are (even with the decal) but to get a vintage feeling guitar that is not ridiculous in price. Another thing is that if I decide to sell one I won't lose as much money as I would with another brand. Just my take on the whole parts caster thing.
     

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  16. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free + Supporter

    THAT is the truth about partscasters. I keep 'em and love 'em, and don't play anything but.
     

  17. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Friend of Leo's

    Jun 5, 2015
    Nashville
    [​IMG]

    This is my Warmoth, so not an example of a build from scratch.

    Unequivocally my favorite Strat of the many I'd gone through in the past.

    Is it "perfect." Well, no, not visibly. The body finish is a thin coat of lacquer that came from a can (looks pretty crummy up close) and the neck is just a couple coats of tru-oil.

    What's so good about it? Well, the body is really light which puts the guitar around 7lbs with the hardware it has. After my Tokai Telecaster and older strats I felt it was a desire of mine to have heavy/solid parts (bridge, tuners) with a lighter body, just a preference. The tuners are gotoh vintage style and the bridge is a fender custom shop vintage style that I ordered through a dealer (at cost because I worked there, hehe) a long time ago but never got that project off the ground. The block is real steel and the sucker is heavier than the other bridges I've mucked around with.

    The pickups are underwound AlNiCo II ordered fairly cheap from some winder on ebay, I haven't taken any readings but they're the lowest output pickups I've ever had on any guitar. My AlNiCo Legacy almost seemed to have twice the volume on the same settings. And, I LOVE THEM. The neck pickup especially so because it really has deep/woody tone going on, almost more like a standard tele. And, the middle isn't RWRP because I thought I might consider a silent backplate down the road. So, the guitar sound is very punchy/resonant yet less bright/nasal sounding than any other Strat I've ever played. It's the Un-Hendrix I suppose.

    The pickguard is aluminum, was also cheap and handmade by a company called "color metals" right down the street from me. The extra rotary switch on there is pointless though, well not completely. I wired up 5 different values/styles of caps to see how big the differences are, and I got my answer: hardly any to a well trained ear! The one setting that sticks out is the one where there is no cap which is nifty if I need to get a real bright sound.

    The neck, 7.25 boatneck "total vintage" 21 fretter with 6105's. I could not be happier with it. Once set up I don't find myself needing to tweak it every time the temp/humidity changes drastically. That is, unlike the other 1 piece thin-finished maple neck guitars I've owned in the past, the current one being a "logan."

    I've had in my hands no shortage of high end custom shops, vintage guitars, boutique specials, and pawn shop gems but quite frankly I lose absolutely nothing playing this guitar. Neck pocket is as good as it needs to be and frets were so perfect out of the box I was amazed. Even the fret edges still look like they were cut with a laser and I've had the guitar for probably over 2 years, very well seated. Once again, Strats/Teles are bolt-on, factory friendly guitars. They require some effort and attention to detail, but don't need to be forged by the hands of God. I chose to do this in contrast to my philosophy of being able to sell for the cost of purchase, mostly because I wanted a certain quality of parts, certain neck specs, and a light finish.

    So, in summation, you should know Exactly what you want and care about before ordering anything, especially for the neck. I didn't spend that much money, the body was in stock and on sale (around $175 I think), the specs for the neck left it under $200 iirc. Pickups were around $80, $30 for the guard, $40 for the tuners, then pots/switch/jack. I do not remember what the bridge order cost me though since it was so long ago.
     

  18. Buzzardeater

    Buzzardeater Tele-Holic

    880
    Mar 26, 2012
    Vancouver
    I set a new personal best by making a mistake ordering the body. I will now construct a hardtail Mustang, instead of a Duo Sonic. After it is built, I will no longer admit this was an error.
     

  19. Mad Kiwi

    Mad Kiwi Tele-Afflicted

    This is entirely valid IF we built these guitars as a business or an investment...the fact is that 99% of the people here discussing partscasters are doing it for fun and as a hobby or interest or to build a replica of an unavailable or prohibitively expensive model.

    Fortunately (IMO) cost of personal time is very rarely a factor in a hobby or interest.
     

  20. David_Maas

    David_Maas Tele-Meister

    308
    Oct 28, 2014
    Potsdam, Germany
    For the longest time, I thought the Duo Sonic was just that: a hardtail Mustang. Will you be documenting this in a thread? These are my two favourite guitars!
     

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