Buy a Fender or Build a Partscaster... Help me decide!

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by RogueBedouin44, Jun 14, 2020.

  1. KW1977

    KW1977 Tele-Holic

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    Big hole in some wood that you just throw money into.
     
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  2. KW1977

    KW1977 Tele-Holic

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    90's Fenders are way underrated. I've played stock MIM standards from that era that blew guitars thrice the price outta the water. IMHO anyway.

    I'm not even sure I know a single gigging musician with a custom shop guitar. Okay maybe ONE.
     
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  3. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Poster Extraordinaire

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    Installing a set of dental implants in a patient's mouth?
     
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  4. KW1977

    KW1977 Tele-Holic

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    I think the comfort/playability of the neck is a huge part of the equation for me too. Once I figured out a radius and fret size I preferred, the rest lost focus.

    I used to work in a local guitar shop and this elderly picker came in to buy a couple Gibsons. And by that I mean - A '61 Reissue SG and a made-to-order Byrdland($10K+ back in 2005). LINED were his pockets, one could say. But on the SG - he wanted that very guitar but, didn't like the fret size. Asked if he bought it, would we "fix" the fret size at no extra charge,....right then and there(he knew he had that leverage b/c of the Byrdland). Salesman said sure, and I watched as our in store luthier nearly knocked him out. He had to pause all his repairs to drop the stock frets to nearly half the profile, recrown and dress. I will never forget the look on his face as he filed and filed and filed and filed.........
     
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  5. MonkeyJefferson

    MonkeyJefferson Tele-Holic

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    I have two MIM's -a '98 Thinline and a 2001 Nashville- that are THE most reliable gigging guitars. I always leave for a gig with one or both of them, they are perfect. I've also recorded the Nashville a lot. It has coffee stains and 2 pounds of DNA encrusted upon it, and a huge gouge of the poly finish gone from a previous owner's drop- it is just a plain old player. I think the phrase "golden era" might be too lavish, but that really was a good stretch of great PLAYING instruments out of Mexico.
     
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  6. KW1977

    KW1977 Tele-Holic

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    Also re; BUY an already assembled partscaster, that's exactly what I did recently and I couldn't be happier. MJT body, Musikraft neck, Rutters Hardware, 9.5" radius, deep C profile, can't remember the pickup maker but OOO LA LAAAAAA. Got a great deal on it, only about $100 above total cost of parts. Checked a lot of personal spec boxes for me so I figured what the hey:
     
  7. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Poster Extraordinaire

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    I agree, especially when you are look at the higher-end MIM instruments; the middle-of-the-road “Mexican Standard” models are very good too, and can be had cheap!

    I agree here, too...I know a couple of gigging musicians that own Custom Shop Fenders and Gibsons, but they usually don’t gig with them—they found a used one at a great price, play it and look at it at home for a little while, and then use it for trade bait or sell it at a profit, while using their more “modestly pedigreed” guitars at gigs. If they ARE using a high-end guitar, it’s usually a boutique instrument with all their favorite specifications...more often than not, though, it’s a Frankenstein’d or partscaster’d guitar.
     
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  8. EspyHop

    EspyHop Tele-Holic

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    I have several partscasters.

    Lately, I have come to the conclusion that end result should be a better version of a guitar you could get off the rack. Like, it shouldn’t be obvious at first sight that it’s a partscaster and all of the features should be completely complimentary. It should be something that if you decided sell, it would offer a compelling reason for someone to buy it.

    This is a partscaster I’m especially proud of.

    2E8EB9A8-4974-44C3-8995-4A9292898413.jpeg

    2018 ‘50s Baja Tele sunburst ash body
    2018 Classic ‘50s replacement neck
    Fender Custom Shop Nocaster pickups
    Genuine Fender hardware
    Genuine Fender pickguard
    Gotoh SD91 15:1 tuners
    Gotoh In-Tune brass saddles
    Electrosocket
    Electronics
    • Broadcaster blend style wiring
    • CRL 3-way switch
    • CTS vintage taper pots
    • Vintage cloth wires
    • Switchcraft jack

    It’s an absolutely killer guitar that, all in, cost less than $750.
     
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  9. Brian blaut

    Brian blaut Friend of Leo's

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    -is there a a set neck/body you really want that you can only get in a build? if so, then build on!

    -if there's a production model that you really like, do you have the ability to try it out?

    The reason I ask is, when you build a parts guitar (I've built 3 now), you never really know if it'll be a great guitar or not in the end. A random body here - a random neck from there... If you can play the production guitar at a store, or check it out used from craigslist, at least you know exactly what you're buying before you hand over money.

    On the other hand, if you're hell bent on a certain body (or ordering one with a custom paint job) - matched with a particular neck - that's more specific. And even if it doesn't come together just right, you can work with it. Be willing to work with it. Sometimes a neck joint doesn't fit the neck just right - especially if you're mixing up bodies and necks from various parts of the globe...

    Also, if you're sourcing a neck from many "Fender Replacement necks" out there - or even from a neck building company, it's very very very likely you'll have to cut the nut, or have the nut cut. The Fender replacement necks are very specific about the fact that they've never been on a guitar before, so final nut work and possibly fret work is necessary. FYI. Also, if your neck is of these varieties, you'll have to factor in tuning machines.

    I just bought a fantastic neck off ebay - A mexican nashville deluxe from years ago that was sitting in a closet - it looks almost new - barely played - straight as can be...$250. Frets are great, nut is great. Ready to go necks are out there, but you may have to be patient.

    Having said all that - building (or assembling) is very rewarding when it all comes together. And you may not lose money - you can always sell it as individual parts down the road.
     
  10. KW1977

    KW1977 Tele-Holic

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    Absolutely. A choice 90's MIM Standard or a recent Roadworn can make your fingers & ears equally as happy as that Custom Shop.
     
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  11. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Tele-Afflicted

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    Unless you can level and dress frets, cut nut slots, solder, read electrical layouts, and set a neck, you'll be in for a fast learning curve and I doubt you'll end up with a forever guitar.
     
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  12. 61fury

    61fury Friend of Leo's

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    What color and material is the pickguard on that white Strat? I like it
     
  13. Electric Warrior

    Electric Warrior Tele-Holic

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    Personally, I would only go the partscaster route if I was eager to really get into tinkering and tweaking. I inevitably do with many of the guitars I buy and have had. But I'm already starting with a foundation that I really like, and don't do anything that isn't easily reversible. I guess it depends on where your interests lay and what you want to spend your time and money doing. If you want something ready to play, +1 on a used Fender or partscaster.
     
  14. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Poster Extraordinaire

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    The guitar is surf green, or at least the closest approximation to it using Home Depot spray paints. The pickguard is a custom cut Dragonfire Aged Pearl.
     
  15. BBQedIguana

    BBQedIguana Tele-Meister

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    I've only been into Teles for about a month (I bought my Squier Tele Bullet in May) but I've already started working on my first partscaster. As a newbie, I've made a bunch of mistakes already and I likely will re-do the whole body now that I've learned some lessons.

    The only way to get experience is by doing - but without experience you aren't going to get a great guitar from the outset. You're much better off buying something close to what you want and going from there.

    That's kind of what I did - I bought the Tele Bullet because it has the Indian Laurel fretboard (I prefer dark wood on the fret boards). I knew going in I would upgrade the pups to humbuckers - the Tele Contemporary only comes with Maple and costs $480. I bought the Bullet for $250 and am sinking about $165 additional into humbuckers, CTS pots, Oak Grigsby switch, mounting hardware and a black pickguard. So, weirdly... I'm saving money and I'll probably wind up with a better guitar.

    The partscaster I'm building is made from some cast off Tele parts plus some parts I have from my old guitar - I think I'd maybe get a decent guitar out of my 3rd or 4th build. Certainly my 1st build is fraught with mistakes. Not that mind - that's how I learn!

    Rick
     
  16. TwangerWannabe

    TwangerWannabe Tele-Holic

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    This is just absolutely wrong. Pretty much all of Fender's production guitars don't get fret levels from the factory, and the nuts are all cut horribly and need a set up. You can buy an off the rack, production guitar and pay a shop to set it up and do a fret level and have a phenomenal instrument. You can also assemble a relatively inexpensive partscaster and, again, have a shop set it up for you and throw in a level and crown and have a phenomenal guitar.

    You don't need to have all those skills you mentioned to assemble a partscaster. If you're skilled in those things, great, but please do not tell people they need to be able to "read electrical layouts" to assemble a partscaster. All you need is basic soldering skills and the ability to look at a wiring diagram drawn on a napkin, some patience and a little practice. It's a freakin' Telecaster for farts sake! It's probably one of the EASIEST guitars to assemble. And "setting the neck"? Really? It's a bolt on neck! Ok, it MIGHT need a shim, but usually not, and if it did that would be covered in the set up that the shop would do for you.

    All the Average Joe would need to do is bolt it together, and if you're competent at soldering you can even install the pickups and wire the harness up, or even easier, buy a pre-made harness and just solder the pickups to the harness. Or have a shop do all that for you. It really won't cost that much. The most expensive part would be the fret level, crown and polish, but like I already mentioned, even the high end production Fenders won't have that from the factory, so you're almost guaranteed to get a better playing guitar if you shell out for the level, crown and polish.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
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  17. tfarny

    tfarny Poster Extraordinaire

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    Glad you got a great guitar - and that LOOKS like a great guitar! But buying used partscasters is a real crapshoot in my experience. Again, glad you got a great one.
     
  18. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Tele-Afflicted

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    This is probably the reason that a lot of partscasters are mediocre.
     
  19. aleski

    aleski Tele-Meister

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    This would be my concern, too. I've played since the 1990s, and I can't say I've yet to arrive at anything definitive as far as my preferences are concerned. I've also yet to run into a major-brand guitar with specs I couldn't get used to in an hour or so.

    That being said, I recently started building my first partscaster, after abandoning plan A of finding a guitar I like for my wide-range humbuckers. I've now ordered the body, a couple of necks and other parts. The process has been fun so far, and dare I even say educational, but, as many have pointed out, who knows how well the parts will chime together... I've also decided to let a professional take care of the assembly, so that I don't end up with a hole big enough for a tuning peg where the string tree should go.

    Still, I'm not terribly concerned about the cost, as I think it's possible to reduce the financial risk quite a lot by being patient and careful when choosing your parts: first, buy reputable high-quality second-hand parts; second, if you have to buy new, refrain from indulging in your wildest design ideas (flame inlays and whatnot); and third, sell the parts separately if it comes to that. Ending up in the red is still pretty much a guarantee, but the loss may not be too much to shrug off as the cost of the whatever bits of knowledge you picked up along the way.

    Or, of course, you could end up with your dream guitar - the first of many, to be more precise.
     
  20. Clickfiend

    Clickfiend TDPRI Member

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    I have a 2014 Butterscotch Blonde Affinity Tele with the following upgrades: Squier Classic Vibe neck, American Vintage tuners, Pure Vintage ‘64 pickups, CTS pots, Switchcraft jack, Oak Grigsby 4 way switch, all cloth wiring, fender control plate and knobs. It’s wired for bridge, bridge & neck parallel, bridge & neck serial, and neck and has treble bleed on the volume. It’s set up just the way I like it and plays and sounds great. Learned a ton putting it all together. Certainly not the path for everyone, but it worked out great for me. I actually ordered the pickups and wiring at the same time as my American Performer. Now that it’s all together I’ve been questioning the purchase of the new guitar as I play the Affinity just as much as the American. image.jpg
     
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