Dilemma With Partscaster Project

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by jrintheemaking, Dec 14, 2019.

  1. jrintheemaking

    jrintheemaking TDPRI Member

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    Hi everyone. I’ve been playing for many years but no very little about the actual mechanics of electric guitars (changing out pickups, adjusting truss rod, etc.)

    I would like to learn these basic skills. I want to either buy a budget guitar (around $750) to practice on or build one myself (to learn these skills). First question would be: what is the best path to go down- build myself or buy? What would be most advantageous?

    I am interested in building or buying a 3 pickup guitar. Either Nashville tele or Strat.
    I already have an American standard tele and love the bridge pickup. The middle position I don’t use because I don’t like the sound. The neck pup I like. On the Strat side, I find the bridge very harsh, but I like the neck and middle pup. I want something different than my tele, should I go Nashville Tele or Strat and why? Or if you can recommend another configuration or guitar build I am open to that too. I would just like 3 pups. Thanks a bunch!
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2019
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  2. ladave

    ladave Tele-Holic

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    I have learned a lot by building a bass, Tele and strat partscaster, but mine were not what I would call budget guitars. I have about $900 into each one.

    Personally I’m not sure how much I would enjoy working on a cheap guitar.

    So I would still recommend building your own. It can of course be done for much less than I have spent.
     
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  3. dunehunter

    dunehunter Tele-Holic Double Platinum Supporter

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    Haven't looked recently, but I think that StewMac has good deals on build-it-yourself electric guitar kits. My guess is, you'd get a pretty good (not great) guitar in the end. Food for thought.
     
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  4. jrintheemaking

    jrintheemaking TDPRI Member

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    I probably I should update my post with an exact number. I suppose it’s less about the money. And more about sinking money into a project I might mess up! Thanks for the advice.



     
  5. dunehunter

    dunehunter Tele-Holic Double Platinum Supporter

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    So, yeah, just looked and they've got a Strat kit (3 pickups). My advice, for what it's worth, don't do one from scratch; you just don't sound like you've got the skill set yet and you could spend a lot of money and only learn that it's an expensive hobby. The StewMac kit will give you everything you need for a bargain price along with a decent set of instructions. As you learn, you can swap out parts to make the guitar even better!
     
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  6. FenderLover

    FenderLover Poster Extraordinaire

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    You might also consider picking up someone elses project from eBay. Partscasters don't bring top dollar, and people who want to bail out of a project may have already spent a lot on quality parts. This depends on you skill level too. You already have a quality guitar, so you know how they are supposed to work. Buy a quality project, work out the bugs, and change what you want.
     
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  7. jrintheemaking

    jrintheemaking TDPRI Member

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    Really great advice, thank you.


     
  8. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Poster Extraordinaire

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    You're asking a lot of vague, open-ended questions (and that's OK) so I will simply make a few suggestions and you can pick and choose. Before you start building, play around with your Tele and Strat.....try adjusting your pickups and see if you can get rid of any harshness or tone you don't like. The middle Tele sound is "usually" great. Strat bridge pickups are often called "thin" but not usually "harsh". Try different pickups, if you wish.....you can always use them later if you DO decide to build. Cavalier pickups are popular here, as well as Bootstrap Pickups. (my personal favorite) Long before I built my first "start to finish" project, I spent nearly twenty years repeatedly modifying my #1 Telecaster......several p/up sets, bridges, even a different neck.....and learning what I preferred in a guitar. If you don't want to start modifying your existing guitars, buy a "good" quality, cheaper one to "mess with". Good luck, and don't hesitate to ask here when something stymies you.
     
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  9. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    This is one of the best books I’ve ever read on guitar, guitar playing, guitar maintenance and guitar modifications. It also has some great information on basic lessons, music theory, chords and scales. A steal for the price, considering the breadth of what it covers.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HTJX3LI/?tag=tdpri-20
     
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  10. jrintheemaking

    jrintheemaking TDPRI Member

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    I will check it out , thank you.
     
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  11. ladave

    ladave Tele-Holic

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    I did that on all 3 of my builds. Didn't end up with anything that I couldn't use. But mistakes have definitely been a part of my learning process.
     
  12. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    Check your local used market for Squier Standard, SE (aka "Strat") and Classic Vibes. For example, I bought this Standard Strat for $27. It need significant repairs but it came out really nice. I put about $70 into it in replacement parts (new pickguard, electronics and bridge assembly). I already had the Ibanez Super 58 pickups on hand.

    [​IMG]

    You could also try a kit but, since you have to do the finishing yourself, this can be daunting and time consuming.
     
  13. 61fury

    61fury Friend of Leo's

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    If you do build your own, really cheap parts can be had from Muslady, Kmise etc on Ebay. The Jazzmaster body I got seems ok so far.
    As far as the neck goes, if it's not twisted fret work can be done with the help of Ron Kirn's fret leveling tutorial in the tech section. Seems easy enough, I've done a couple so far and I am the eternal noob.
     
  14. 2HBStrat

    2HBStrat Tele-Meister

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    Instead of, with no prior experience, attempting to build a guitar from scratch, why not buy a decent cheapo Mexican Fender, ideally one has already been modded, and use it to learn the basics that you will need?
     
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  15. dunehunter

    dunehunter Tele-Holic Double Platinum Supporter

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    I agree with this, generally. The reason I made my suggestion was this statement by the OP: "I would like to learn these basic skills..."

    But I like the idea, too, of going with a Mexican-made Strat; they're very well built and provide a nice foundation for "modding" with simple stuff to begin with. And, as someone else mentioned, the process of "finishing" a kit build is not for the feint of heart. The Mex-strats are nicely finished!

    My 1977 Takamine acoustic has provided me with a platform to learn a large number of lutherie skills. At 42 years of age, that guitar has not increased a whit in value so anything I do to it, I'm still only out the $150 (I think) I paid all those years ago. I've learned a lot from it, and haven't "broken" it yet. OP could do the same with a good used Mexican-made Strat.
     
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  16. Torren61

    Torren61 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I cruised right by everyone's posts because I'm an a hole. I'll tell you my opinion because I'm an opinionated a hole. When I assemble/build a guitar, I want to end up with a guitar that looks, feels, plays and sounds like a guitar worth much more than I spent. I want to spend as little as possible but still use quality parts. I need to know my limitations and work within all of those parameters. MY parameters might be more or less than yours. I understand and accept that MY guitar will most likely never fetch the cost of the parts I paid for the project and I will certainly never get paid for my labor.

    Step one: Imagine. You need to imagine what you want the finished project to be. You have to know exactly what you want to end up with when the last solder joint has cooled and the last screw is turned and the paint/finish has dried and the wax has been applied and you're plugged in to your amp.

    Step two: Making a parts list. You have to know what parts will be needed, where to get them and how much they'll cost. Source your parts correctly and you'll get more and spend less. My advice is to go medium range on your first build. Don't settle for cheaply made parts at bargain basement prices but don't spend $1000 on an authentic 1952 Fender Tele bridge UNLESS that's what your entire build is going to be which is a genuine original parts 1952 Telecaster assembled/built by you.

    Step three: Making a budget. Once you know what parts you'll need, where to get them and how much they'll cost, you'll need to determine your budget. This will be determined by what you decided you wanted to end up with, how much money you're allowed to spend and the quality level you want. A Tele partscaster can be assembled with a minimum quality level or a relatively maximum quality level. There is a law of diminished returns in that if you spend $4,000 in parts for your own build compared to a $4,000 custom build from a renowned builder, the latter may recoup a better return should you decide to sell later. UNLESS, of course, you have skills.

    Step four: Acquiring parts. Same as step two but actually purchasing and receiving the parts. I bought old stock, period correct 1970 Fender tuners for my Jimi Hendrix Rosewood Strat tribute. Functionally, I would have preferred locking tuners but I felt like the theme of this build needed to be true. The guitar body and neck are currently at the luthier for finishing because I DID know my limitations when working with rosewood and I decided to contract that job. That'll be another thread.

    Step five: The body and neck. Once you've decided the quality level, you can do what you desire to the body and neck. Did you go with a finished body and neck or did you get raw? Are you going to "relic" them? If you bought a finished body and neck, you have very little to do unless you want to relic them if they aren't already relic'ed. I think I prefer relic'ing by PLAYING them, but not always. Sometimes I use "aged" parts. That's not the same as relic'ing. If they're raw, you still need to decide on a finish. Most people choose either lacquer or polyurethane. You need skills for either of those finishes with lacquer being the most difficult. You'll also need personal protective equipment such as respirators and dust masks. Even sanding should be done wearing a dust mask at a minimum. Some woods can give you respiratory problems depending on the type of wood. Another option is to use oils such as Danish oil, Tru oil or tung oil. YouTube is your friend here.

    Step six: Body and neck assembly. You have to get the body and the neck together and lines need to be correct. You don't want you neck out of line with your body. If the neck isn't drilled, it has to be lined up and drilled. The bridge has to be drilled if it's not already. It has to be measured correctly from the nut or your guitar will never intonate. If you don't know what THAT means, you need more edumacation before attempting an assembly/build.

    Step seven: Wiring. You should have decided on and acquired your electronics. That will be pickups, pots caps and switching. You'll need some experience soldering and you'll need a wiring diagram for what you want to end up with. There are MANY varieties of wiring and each has their pros and cons depending on your needs and wants. Tidy solder joints and logical wiring means a lot when someone else is critiquing your work. A sloppy job means that the whole project may be sloppy and substandard. No one wants that.

    Step eight: Setup. You may have top of the line and most expensive parts you can buy but if it plays like crap... it plays like crap and is undesirable. You'll need to know your specs. What is the correct neck relief? String height at the 12th fret? Pickup height? It's like playing a guitar out of tune if your setup is wrong. It just won't sound right or be optimal.

    Step nine: Accoutrements. These are the special touches that make YOUR build special. Did you go with a standard Fender decal? Did you make your own? What about a custom strap or a case for your axe? Strap locks? Inlays?

    I say that a partscaster assembled/built from QUALITY parts should be a reality in the $900 range or less. That's starting with nothing, buying ALL parts including the body and neck and everything else needed to have a completed guitar. That's NOT buying a cheapo Chinese or Indonesian body made of basswood. I'm not knocking that if that's satisfactory to you, it's just not satisfactory to ME. My projects are American made bodies and usually American made necks with the exception of a MIJ 1968 re-issue Strat neck on one project. MY projects usually run in the $1200 or less range, although my Hendrix rosewood will probably end up closer to less than $2000.

    YouTube is your friend. You can learn a LOT about what to do and how to do it correctly. What else would you like to know?
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2019
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  17. Telecentric

    Telecentric Tele-Meister

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    A lot of good suggestions so far.

    My take would be to go in stages.

    Buy a Squier Strat. New or used, doesn't really matter. Take it completely apart, loosen the truss rod, unsolder all the wiring. Completely apart.

    And build it back up.

    This mimics a real assembly/build, but at a much lower cost than $700. Learn to do it all. The neck will need to have relief set. Learn to do a full setup. Wire it up. Try to get it back up to where it was when you bought it. Ask questions here.

    That will be an inexpensive lesson in all the mechanical adjustments you need to learn. It will give you the confidence you will need to move on.

    Now plan a build. Figure out what you want, source the parts, and bring your vision to life. Once you have all the parts in hand, it won't be much different than rebuilding the Squire.

    After that, you can branch off into niche interests. Learn to level and crown frets. Get an unfinished body and discover the pros and cons of doing your own paint.
     
  18. musky55

    musky55 Tele-Meister

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    DITTO
     
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  19. Danb541

    Danb541 Tele-Meister

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    I have done this several times.
    Buy a guitar fetish (GFS) XGP strat body. They are good quality an cost $70-$100 depending on what you want. If I were you, I'd order one with a "swimming pool" route. If you want to become a "modder" the open rout will allow you to put about any pickup you want combo you want in there should you want to try something different down the road.. Next, buy an allparts or similar strat neck from ebay, they can be had for around $120.00. You could also buy a used squier or MIM neck or something as well. Make sure you buy a neck that is licensed by fender so the specs are pretty accurate. Don't buy some strange made in china neck, even if the pictures look amazing. It's too risky. You can buy the pick guard and hardware about anywhere. You'll need (3) 250k pots, a capacitor (.047) is a good value. (3) knobs. An output jack (get a good one, switch craft brand or similar) You need a jack plate. You will need tuners, gotoh makes really good quality 6 in line tuners as does Wilkenson for $30-$35.00. Then all you need is the pickups, wire, soldering iron, pick guard screws, string tree, neck mounting plate and screws, soldering iron, 60/40 solder, and tremelo bridge (get one with a big block).
    Estimated cost:
    GFS body $80
    Neck $120
    Pick guard and screws $20
    Tremelo $40 (GFS has big block bridges, get vintage spacing) I suggest the 6 screw mount type
    Knobs $5
    Neck plate and screws $10
    jack and jack plate $10
    Tuners $35
    String tree (1 or 2) $3
    Strings obviously
    Pickups- here is where you can spend some money. A good set will run $150 on up. I just bought some fender Fat 50's for $150. They're great.
    Total: around $320-$325 before pickups and shipping.
    If you order from GFS, you can get most of this stuff on a single order to save shipping. Get on their email list, the run promos often where you can save.

    One thing to consider when ordering a body, the GFS do not come pre drilled for the tremelo. If this is your first time building a guitar, you might want a pre drilled body. My guess is GFS offers that service of drilling the tremelo holes but I am not sure, I've always done it myself.

    Hope that helps.
     
  20. Danb541

    Danb541 Tele-Meister

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    Forgot the 5 way switch! Add $15-$20. get a good one.
     
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