Building on a budget

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by Rev Rhythm, Sep 17, 2019.

  1. Rev Rhythm

    Rev Rhythm Tele-Holic

    Jan 23, 2019
    New Orleans
    So I assembled a GFS partscaster. No real issues with assembly, just a tiny bit of sanding.

    It seems when GFS is brought up there are two contingents: one who thinks they are trash and one who thinks they are workable for the prices they charge.

    But here's the question for those who, like me, are under budgetary constraints when piecing these together. What are other budget minded suppliers? Other shops, eBay stores you've had success with?

    I'm starting to kick around the idea of a Strat build, but still on a budget, and would love to know what else is available for those who are broke like me.

    Thanks for any input!
    idjster and ben smith like this.
  2. Telekarster

    Telekarster Tele-Meister

    Aug 14, 2019
    I source parts from wherever I can find em. All the usual places on the net and more. I even cruise my local guitar shops for parts, or pawn shops. I am a strictly "USA made" sort of guy so... even the screws must either come out of a USA made guitar, or they are sealed in the original MFG package stating so. I don't mind used or vintage parts as long as I can verify my particulars, and the part is good, and so far I've been pretty lucky all-in-all. My tele build I used NOS pickguard, switch plate, and strap screws that I found still in their original 50's boxes at a swap meet! Paid 10 bucks for all of em ;) I don't know what sort of budget you're trying to stay in but you should be able to build a very nice strat for under 600 IMO, if you're patient and keep a sharp eye out for "deals". Of course, it also depends greatly on what kind of strat you want to build too I suppose. Finding a steal on Fender Custom Shop pickups can be tricky... if you see what I mean...
    Skydog1010 likes this.
  3. rze99

    rze99 Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 26, 2014
    South London UK
    Pretty much all my 20 plus builds have been mostly used parts and I have never bought a duff part.

    When you know what you want for the build look to find used sources first to keep the cost of high quality components down.
    zippofan likes this.
  4. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Jul 2, 2015
    On my baritone partscaster, my first partscaster and not a kit, I cheaped out on the body and got a $50 GFS body on sale. I had to fight the misplaced neck holes but generally got what I paid for, and in the end the guitar worked out fine. But next time I'll be willing to pay a little more for more accuracy.

    As far as other body sources, I can't help much. I bought my various parts from several suppliers.

    Edit: My initial back-of-the-envelope budget was $300 ... turned out to cost $460. :lol:

    Don't cheap out on the neck or bridge!
  5. ben smith

    ben smith Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 16, 2019
    I don't think they are trash, i just bought the cheapest of the cheap and got a piece of junk. but even this might be workable. i too was on a budget, just don't buy the basics from GFS that's all i can say. i'm fixing this right now from this SAM_0449.JPG to this SAM_0451.JPG
    Rev Rhythm likes this.
  6. Zepfan

    Zepfan Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

    Nov 30, 2013
    Horn Lake, MS
    I bought 3 necks from them.
    1 was great, just had to sand the headstock for paint and file the edge of the frets.
    1 was for a bass and needed some profile sanding on the back and some fret filing on the edge.
    The 3rd one needed a lot of sanding, had binding peeling off, had some fretboard issues and had to redrill tuner holes.

    For the price I paid for the necks, the expensive shipping(more than the neck) and the work I had to put into the necks - it was just under the price of buying a good and new neck without having to work on them.

    The big issues with their bodies(regular and some of their EXP bodies) is having all the cavities line up and loose fitting cavities.

    It's like a roll of the dice, might get a great deal as some claim - might get a piece that needs work - might get a turd.

    Pickups are great for their price. Some are as good as any big name product - some are marketing hype.
    Customer Service is good from what I hear.
  7. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 16, 2014
    Antelope, California
    I'm your budget partscaster master. I got my technique down and everything. I don't be tickling or nothin'.


    All my bodies have come from GFS or are the products of budding woodworkers I find on EBay. Sometimes you take a gamble, sometimes it won't pay off. I have found that the paint jobs on GFS chip off fairly easily, so now I'm buying unfinished and doing the finishing myself. I've done Bullseye Shellac and Miniwax Gloss Poly in spray cans and gotten decent finishes - very easy. I've also done rattlecan Nitro and last year I did one guitar with Tung Oil. That took about two months to set.


    After buying some good and some bad on EBay, I've pretty much gone over to GFS for my necks. If you're doing something nice, spring $110 or so for an Allparts neck. Main thing to watch for on the cheap Chinese necks are copper frets. They're gonna wear really fast. You want nickel alloy or stainless steel.


    Wilkinson is your friend. Well made, solid, pro quality stuff at budget prices. I don't think I've made a guitar yet that didn't have some Wilkinson hardware on it. GFS makes decent hardware that I'd put at about the same quality, but they'll get you on shipping costs if you don't watch how you order. Step up from that is GoToh. I'll also look on EBay for people selling used name-brand hardware (Grover, Schaller, Fender, etc.)


    My favorite go-to is Tonerider. I've used their TRT2 Hot Classics in a Tele, I've put their Alnico II Classic humbuckers in several LP Jr. builds, and I put one of their P-bass pickups in my bass build last year. Everyone who plays or hears them are blown away by how good they sound. IMO just as good as Seymour Duncan or DiMarzio for about 30% cheaper.

    Doing a P90 Strat right now, for that I bought some Bootstrap P90s. Haven't put them in yet, but I'm excited.

    Also recently bought a pair of IronGear pickups for a Tele build I'm doing. They came from England and have a great rep. Can't wait to hear what they sound like. I think I paid like $90 for the Tele set. The exchange rate helped me out on the price.

    For Strat pickups, I'm all about Fender Tex Mex. I put one in the bridge of my MIM Standard a few years ago, loved it so much that I bought a whole set for my first Strat build. IMO they're spectacular if you're looking for rock and roll pickups, which is what I mostly play. If you want Mark Knoppfler sounding pickups, Tex Mex probably ain't for you though. You can usually find deals on Tex Mex sets for around $70.

    Another set I bought (and haven't used yet) are Golden Age humbuckers from StewMac. They had them for like half price last year (I think it was like $65 for a neck and bridge) and I bought a set for some still unknown future project.

    Hope some or any of this helps. I've made like 8 guitars now with the idea that they would be as good or better than a MIM Standard as far as playability and roadworthiness. I don't think I've paid more than $350 for parts for any of them, and they've all come out to be decent players. The main issue with cheap bodies and necks is getting the neck/body fit right so you've got good action. I've gotten pretty good at creative solutions to accomplish it. If you go with higher end stuff, you won't have to mess with that.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
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  8. Skydog1010

    Skydog1010 Tele-Afflicted Platinum Supporter

    Apr 20, 2019
    North Carolina
    Stew Mac

    save spend
    do a little at a time if you already have something to play.

    If you just have to get up and running high end Squier's or MIM Strats and Teles

    I only buy and use Fender necks.
  9. idjster

    idjster VERY grateful member Silver Supporter

    Jan 8, 2012
    Saskatchewan, Canada
    I think all the budget parts suppliers can supply good material. Some of the nicest guitars have started out as the cheapest partscasters. For me, a lot of the time is just forgetting what a part cost. It's the tone that's important. Les Paul used a wood block. He only added the wings because people didn't take him seriously.
  10. DADGAD

    DADGAD Friend of Leo's

    Mar 18, 2003
    +1 on used guitars at pawn shops. I can get Squire Strats all day long for $50. I got one SE Strat with a fat rosewood neck that I like. Another Standard Squire with an alder body. They put me most of the way to this nice partscaster Strat.

    Skydog1010, Rev Rhythm and Dismalhead like this.
  11. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Lions & Tigers oh Mi !

    Buy a used guitar and upgrade some but not all the bits.
    Get one of the Harley Benton guitar kits. Or a completed HB guitar and start your mods there.

    Or get a router, templates, and make your own body.

    Ebay/Amazon all the minor parts.

    Ebay pickups, especially humbuckers. I'll pull some of the often espoused aftermarket pickup brands if someone 'upgraded' it and put ebay 2/$15 pickups in it -- because they have half the internal capacitance (less mud) than the popular brand. Stock pickups I'll leave and push the tone with careful selection of pots and caps.

    Pots, caps, switch, jack ... you can typically buy for under $30 new the same brands that go in $3,000+ guitars. Tone and function are well worth these parts.

    DADGAD likes this.
  12. jimilee

    jimilee Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Dec 19, 2017
    I’ve shown these all over the place, but I just built 3 partscasters using HFS bodies and necks. I got some some dragon fire pickups on 2 of them. Parts came mainly from eBay. Some from GFS.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  13. fasteddie42

    fasteddie42 Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 10, 2016
    Tip of the Mitt
    I stick with squier bodies for budget builds.
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