Do people really pay $1-2K for partscasters?

Happy Enchilada

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I'm in the process of building one. If I added up all the receipts, it'd probably come to $750+ (don't tell the wife). But it's the doing of the thing that's therapeutic - all those hours sanding the body, carefully applying clear lacquer so the beauty of the wood shines through, selecting the EXACT electronics and pickups and installing them, fitting up the GraphTech nut, etc. And God knows we could ALL use some THERAPY!

In the end, I'll have an instrument that's a reflection of my craftsmanship and taste (or lack thereof), just like my boys did years ago with their Pinewood Derby cars. Now that they're grown, they wouldn't part with them for anything. Same with this "partscaster" I'm building - it may not be the fanciest one you ever saw, but it'll sound and play just right by me, and that's what counts.

Besides, I've been playing since I was 5 (back when thunder lizards roamed the planet), and I know what I like, and hopefully this guitar will deliver in spades. After all, any poser with a VISA or MasterCard can order something shiny from the factory custom shop, but I will be able to smile and say "No, I built it meself." And that's priceless.
 

Cyberi4n

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I have a custom Partscaster. It's a NorthWest Guitars body, a random reverse-headstock neck, some decent locking tuners, all-CTS pots and electrics, Seymour Duncan pickups, Schaller bridge. The only "Fender" part is the scratchplate. It's the first guitar I've ever assembled from scratch, and hands down (I got lucky I guess) is also one of the nicest I've ever played. The neck is perfect for my hands, the action is great (the nut slotted right in first time and needed no work on it at all) and it sounds just like a strat SHOULD sound. I've had 30+ guitars over the years, including a couple US Made PRS guitars, and some high-end japanese stuff so I guess I should know by now how a guitar should sound/feel/play.

Because it's not a genuine fender a fair few people on this forum wouldn't even touch it, but would be happy to pass "judgement" based on their own perception of it. Because of this "perception" it's probably worthless - which is fine by me, as it's not for sale, nor is it ever likely to be!

I ain't the one that's missing out....

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Frankentronics

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I keep on seeing them on Reverb and TGP's emporium for prices Nash, LSL, and K-Line go for used. Sometime they're pricey than a used MJT made guitar when made from MJT parts. I just don't get it. Maybe someone can enlighten me?

edit: It's clear to me people don't realize that I meant they'll put together some parts (Warmoth, USACG, MJT, All Parts, etc.) put some boutique pickups in it and then charge more than Nash, LSL, K-Line.

If you think about it, an official Fender Custom Shop "Master Build" is a bit like a partscaster. Those are parts hand picked by the master builder and assembled together by the same master builder. The master builder then puts his own finishing touches on these builds and people pay a few thousand dollars on top of the already inflated Custom Shop price, just because the guitar was built form parts put together by the master builder.

Who is to say that someone putting together a partscaster is not just as competent a builder as any one of the official Fender Master Builders? Or perhaps even a better builder... And if that's the case, why wouldn't we pay that builder top dollar?
 

YYZman

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It’s not hard to crack $1000 in quality parts alone if one is doing a build, particularly if you want a certain spec.

To the OP’s question, yes. There appears to be a solid market for quality partscasters in the $1-2K range depending on the components and who put it together. Excluding brands such as Nash etc.

Why are buyers willing to spend that? Because it’s a way of getting a custom shop quality or spec guitar for half the price or less than an actual Fender custom shop order.

I built a very accurate relic Black Strat a few years ago, MJT did the black over sunburst for me, and the rest I put together as close as possible to Gilmour’s with the exception of the ugliness of the filled in spot for the Kahler tremolo and the side mount jack.

Sold it for a slight loss at around $15-1600 a few years ago and it changed hands once more at $2K.

Way more than slapping a loaded pickguard on a MIM or MIA Strat, but way cheaper than the $6K or so for Fender’s version.

And mine was more accurate than the CS version as I got to compare it with the original when it was on display at Christie’s in NYC.
 

tanplastic

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Who is to say that someone putting together a partscaster is not just as competent a builder as any one of the official Fender Master Builders? Or perhaps even a better builder... And if that's the case, why wouldn't we pay that builder top dollar?
Fender Master Builders have credentials.
They have built countless guitars, solved countless problems and know the industry inside out.
They are paid top dollar by one of the biggest instrument companies in the world for their skill and expertise.
Fender has a network of support for their products should an issue arise.
An amateur in their basement might get lucky in their first fifty guitars, but their labour and experience does not have near the value of a respected established builder.
When you find flaws in an amateur build, what is your recourse?
I hope this answers your questions.
 

fasteddie42

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If you think about it, an official Fender Custom Shop "Master Build" is a bit like a partscaster. Those are parts hand picked by the master builder and assembled together by the same master builder. The master builder then puts his own finishing touches on these builds and people pay a few thousand dollars on top of the already inflated Custom Shop price, just because the guitar was built form parts put together by the master builder.

Who is to say that someone putting together a partscaster is not just as competent a builder as any one of the official Fender Master Builders? Or perhaps even a better builder... And if that's the case, why wouldn't we pay that builder top dollar?


Huh?

Masterbuilds are built to your exact spec, not parts picked out of bins.
 

Blackshadowrider

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Yeah - Nash is known for his workmanship and quality - you need to build a reputation to get prices like that. And then there's entirely different partscasters, such as Eric Clapton's blackie :)
Two of the most famous Stratocasters are parts-casters, Clapton's Brownie and Blackie. Also his hybrid 62 Tele Custom with Strat neck Fender recreated in a limited CS version.
 

aftermidnight

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I never paid over $1K for a partscaster made by somebody else. But I probably did pay over $1K for partcasters which I made myself with the help of a tech (where appropriate) and I would not sell them for less. I believe these partcasters are as good as custom shop, probably better.
 

David Menke

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I keep on seeing them on Reverb and TGP's emporium for prices Nash, LSL, and K-Line go for used. Sometime they're pricey than a used MJT made guitar when made from MJT parts. I just don't get it. Maybe someone can enlighten me?

edit: It's clear to me people don't realize that I meant they'll put together some parts (Warmoth, USACG, MJT, All Parts, etc.) put some boutique pickups in it and then charge more than Nash, LSL, K-Line.
I have made a few parts guitars, and if you try one of them, as a player, not a collector, you might find they are better than off the shelf fender instruments. Look at all the professional player, they modify their guitars, new necks, pickups, tuners, electronic etc. Depends on who builds them, care to details and the setup. Some parts builders may skimp on the parts or if they do the finish themselves, may not be to par. With theses parts guitars, you need to play and inspect prior to purchase. Positive thing about buying a name brand guitar, is it us easier to sell, if you do not like it. In my icon picture are 2 part guitars and 1 Fender.
 

whetherkings

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Fender Master Builders have credentials.
They have built countless guitars, solved countless problems and know the industry inside out.
They are paid top dollar by one of the biggest instrument companies in the world for their skill and expertise.
Fender has a network of support for their products should an issue arise.
An amateur in their basement might get lucky in their first fifty guitars, but their labour and experience does not have near the value of a respected established builder.
When you find flaws in an amateur build, what is your recourse?
I hope this answers your questions.

Surely that’s the whole point though - if you can’t afford a Masterbuilt guitar, why wouldn’t you work with someone in your price range to build you a partscaster?
 

Blackshadowrider

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Aren't all Fender guitars essentially parts-casters? They are just an assembly of parts especially with screw on necks. I think this is the glory of Fender's for me, being they are so easy to MOD and then build if you choose. Not much value though in unbranded instruments as I learned years ago. Value is in the parts in the end.
 

Siegeld

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Look at what those brands sell for new. Even if they are based on Fender's patent, they are closer to the custom shop than the standard line. It's not fair at all to call them partscasters, a term that denotes it was put together by an amateur that may or may not know what he is doing with parts that may or may not be questionable.

I built my MJT after playing a Nash that I loved, but was out of my price range. My build ended up costing about what a new American Standard would have cost, but I have a nitro finish, custom made pickups, stainless frets, the neck I wanted, cloth wiring, quality pots, essentially a custom guitar. I'm not worried about resale, because it cured my Tele GAS, and I'll never sell it.
Sounds awesome. Partscasters are for guys like me who don't have the time and skill to make their own but are lucky enough to find something that checks all/most of their boxes and doesn't break the bank due to a brand name.
 

Strebs

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The best way to maximize the return of your partscaster when selling is to take it apart and sell it as parts.

In my experience, if you buy good parts you can recoup most of your cost that way. Selling as a whole partscaster nets a bigger loss.
 

David Menke

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I keep on seeing them on Reverb and TGP's emporium for prices Nash, LSL, and K-Line go for used. Sometime they're pricey than a used MJT made guitar when made from MJT parts. I just don't get it. Maybe someone can enlighten me?

edit: It's clear to me people don't realize that I meant they'll put together some parts (Warmoth, USACG, MJT, All Parts, etc.) put some boutique pickups in it and then charge more than Nash, LSL, K-Line.
There are posts, where people are discussing, cutting their own bodies and necks etc. But companies like warmoth, and USA guitars sell bulk bodies and necks to custom builders. These companies, at least most of them, have all the CNC machines, access to premium woods and not assembly line workers like the name brand manufacturer. They put just as much love and care into their necks and bodies as the name brand manufacturer. These are not second rate bodies or necks. Warmoth is even licensed t by fender to make the exact same dimensions. Also with companies like this you have the option, to pick neck width, and fret board radius. If you purchase off the shelf Fender guitars, your only choice is what they make. Again, I would not say parts guitars are for beginners, but look at Brian may of Queen, he still plays his homemade guitar from his youth.
 

Greenmachine

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I think the sticking point is resale value.

a custom guitar to your favourite specs has much value to oneself.

$1000 -$2000 is not a lot of money to some. It is to me though. So I was forced to build my own guitar from scratch.

it was a micawber with a baseball bat neck. Seth lover in the neck, cheap pickup in bridge (donlis or gfs, can’t remember, sounds great to me). Maple neck, yellow cedar body (no yellow tint required!).

I am a pig in sh*t.
 

David Menke

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Surely that’s the whole point though - if you can’t afford a Masterbuilt guitar, why wouldn’t you work with someone in your price range to build you a partscaster?
Back in 2005 when I lived in the Seattle area, I visited USA guitars, and one of the techs there was previously working at Fender. They were professional, and made the neck to my choice dimensions. This isn't to say, small shops are not master builder quality, many people working at small shops, came from the larger corporations. Breedlove guitars came out of employees at Taylor. The home builder just assemble the parts created by custom shops who make necks and bodies. Painting and finish is another question as what the guitar looks like. There are many professional shops that do custom paint. Also some of the shops like warmoth, will do a custom finish of your choice.
 
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Cyberi4n

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Fender Master Builders have credentials.
They have built countless guitars, solved countless problems and know the industry inside out.

“countless problems”

the Fender designs are decades old. Just what problems are they ‘still’ solving exactly??

and what industry knowledge does one need to build a guitar?
 

tanplastic

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“countless problems”

the Fender designs are decades old. Just what problems are they ‘still’ solving exactly??

and what industry knowledge does one need to build a guitar?
Finish problems, grain problems, neck problems, fret problems, materials problems, etc.
To bring raw materials to a high level of finish every time demands skill and experience.
Industry knowledge could include current and future wood availability, new technologies in tools and woodcraft, new finishing techniques, etc.
This place is a hive of Dunning Kruger.
 




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