Finally Finished my 1st Partscaster - Here's my Story

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by MrGibbly, Jun 15, 2019.

  1. MrGibbly

    MrGibbly Tele-Afflicted

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    I've been playing (poorly) since the mid-90's and have gradually taken on more and more of my own setup, modification, and repair work to the point where I finally had the confidence to attempt a parts caster build of my own. Below are the parts, the pics, and the story...hopefully, this is entertaining for the experienced and informative for the other newbies out there!

    Neck
    • Warmoth roasted maple neck with rosewood board tall-narrow frets and compound radius, modern construction, clay dots and white side markers. The neck was beautifully constructed. The fretwork was excellent. Checking with a fret rocker, everything was level and ready to go right out of the box.
    • I bought and used the jig from StewMac to drill locator pins for tuners....worked great! Highly recommended even at the relatively high price. The tool could be sold later to recover some of the money if need be.
    • Installed a set of Sperzel open-geared 18:1 staggered chrome locking tuning machines. These are still a bit stiff out of the box so we'll see how they smooth out with use. They look wonderful, the locking mechanism is convenient, and the stagger seems to work its magic in terms of not needing a string tree to get a better break over the nut.
    • Dressed the fret ends with the StewMac fret end dressing file I bought for the project which was a bit of a mixed bag. I'm not sure I would use it again due to the small marks it left on the board around the fret ends. I started with the file and then decided not to continue and instead work them with high-grit sanding pads which turned out very well but probably took 10x as long.
    • Sanded every inch of the neck using 1,000 -> 2,000 grit sandpaper, progressed to 8,000 grit pads, used mesh to polish frets, and finally hand burnished with an old cotton T-shirt for HOURS while watching GoT. The feel is amazing with no finish on the wood. I put a little 100% organic food grade mineral oil on the fret board (because I had it for my cutting boards anyway...).
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    Body
    • I wound up purchasing a Warmoth extra light roasted swamp ash (pure tonewood!) body at 3 lb 5 oz from the Gallery. The routing is very clean and sanding very good for a starting point. Initially, I was afraid I would have some neck dive as light as this piece of timber felt but it worked out fine in the end.
    • I opted for a 100% Tung Oil finish because I wanted something natural, didn't want to have to spray (since I don't have a good place to do it), and wanted something relatively easy to work with if I made mistakes, etc. It turned into about a month-long process applying a little less than two coats a week. The first coat was 50/50 oil and mineral spirits. I generally let it sit for 1+ hour and then wiped off excess leaving it to cure for ~5-7 days between coats. Initially, I lightly scuffed at 220 grit between coats but I stopped after about the 3rd coat. Final sanding went from 800 grit progressively to 10,000 grit polishing paper then hand burnished with an old cotton T-shirt for HOURS while watching Chernobyl on HBO Go.
    • The end result looks great and feels fantastic. My only regret is that I didn't moisten the wood more to raise the grain before initial sanding. There are some spots inside the horns and along the bottom at the end grain that aren't as smooth as they could be.
    • The bridge is a Floyd Rose Rail Tail that I had purchased, installed, and used on my Fender American Special Stratocaster up until I traded it for my PRS CE24. It's a heavy, shiny piece of kit that works well more like a hardtail than as a dive only trem. I may change it out later but it sounds and looks good so on it goes!
    • Plain old cheapie chrome strap pins.
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    Pickguard and Electronics
    • It's a Warmoth custom guard in black matte .09", solid/1-piece, bevelled edge, countersunk all screws (I was inspired by the PRS pickup rings on my CE24); used black screws for a tidy look.
    • Cream pickup covers, push-on volume and tone knows w/black text (ties the look together), and switch tip. Note that the knobs were metric so they needed some finessing to get them onto the CTS pots. Something I'll pay more attention to next time...
    • The pickups are Fender Custom Shop grey bottom '69 pickups (non-RWRP). I've never used these before....will see how I like them.
    • Cloth wiring, orange drop cap (yay for tone caps!), CRL 5-way, SwitchCraft jack, CTS 250k pots from 920D Custom.
    • All of the control cavities were shielded with copper foil tape. I added "tails" of foil tape that overlap from the cavity to the top surface of the body to contact the shielding on the pick guard. You can't see it in the pictures but I ran my ground line from the tremolo claw into the control cavity terminating into a connector screwed through the foil shielding into the body. The claw included with the Floyd Rose Rail Tail has a nice "nub" cast into it that could be used to establish a solid mechanical connection before soldering. I'm happier with this shielding/grounding than what I've seen in any of my production guitars.
    [​IMG]

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    Finished Product

    The end result was amazingly playable right from the start. I did a rough setup just to get going and will carefully reassess everything once it has some time to settle in to the string tension, indoor temperature, humidity, etc. I will post an update to this thread after that final setup and some hours of playing time to give a review of all the components together.

    [​IMG]

    Tools Used

    For the project I really only needed basic hand tools. These included various Phillips screw drivers, a common set of drill bits, cordless drill/driver, 40 watt soldering iron, small set of hex keys, scissors, wire strippers/cutters, metal straight edge, feeler gauges, and a socket set. Consummables consisted of 8 oz pure Tung Oil, mineral spirits, mineral oil, rosin core solder, flux, cloth covered wire, copper foil 1" adhesive backed tape, and sandpaper from 220-800 grit.

    I opted to use a few specialty tools such as the drilling jig from StewMac for the tuning machines (which I would do again), the StewMac fret end dressing file (which I would not), polishing papers/pads from 1,000-to-10,000 grit (great!), a 16" radius gauge, and a fret rocker (could use a credit card instead). I bought a set of nut files but have not needed to use them. These were not required but some made the job easier...

    Final Thoughts

    The feeling of assembling something like this to your own specifications is extremely rewarding. I took great pleasure in making sure that all the little details were done the way I want them. The little things you would do only for yourself make a big difference...like a tiny dab of mild Loctite on the nut for the output jack and tuning machine nuts, making sure the copper shielding tape lines up with the shielding on the pick guard "just so" ensuring one of the mounting screws passes through both to make a good connection, careful lead dress & routing, alignment of control knobs, not over tightening pick guard screws to prevent warping/denting its surface, etc. As finishing touches I am going to get a custom wood brand and burn my logo into the headstock and have a neck plate with serial number and logo engraved. Otherwise, "done"!
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
  2. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    that is an absolute stunner.
     
  3. MrHamburger

    MrHamburger Tele-Holic

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    She’s a beaut! I like that you went into detail about all your parts.
    Pro Tip: After cutting fish you can scrub it down with kosher salt to remove the smell.
     
  4. MrGibbly

    MrGibbly Tele-Afflicted

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    That is an excellent idea with the salt! My garage and home office have smelled like Tung Oil for nearly two months. Hope that helps others...I'll definitely give it a shot next time.
     
  5. JMac52

    JMac52 Tele-Meister

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    Gorgeous guitar - great job!
     
  6. MrHamburger

    MrHamburger Tele-Holic

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    I was making a cutting board joke, please don’t scrub your guitars with salt!
    It does work great for getting fish stank off cutting boards and hands. I scrub my hands with salt after making salsa too so I don’t get pepper oils in my eye or other sensitive areas.
     
  7. MrGibbly

    MrGibbly Tele-Afflicted

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    :oops: Should've known...
     
  8. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    That's terrific. Unique, but still has a classic vibe. I really like the look of the roasted body.
     
  9. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Yeah!
     
  10. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    You had me at Roasted Swamp Ash. Looks great, nice choices on everything.
     
  11. MrGibbly

    MrGibbly Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks! I like a darker wood color and was hoping it would come out like this when I started. It varies a lot in how dark it is. The end grain took a lot of oil and is very dark. One thing to note is that the roasted body was quite "thirsty". There really was zero oil to wipe off for the first several coats as the dried wood slurped it all up.
     
  12. MrGibbly

    MrGibbly Tele-Afflicted

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    Thank you! As a bonus, the roasted woods smell yummy, too, by the way...maybe not as tasty smelling as old-school nitro (which I always thought smelled like cupcakes). :)
     
    Chunkocaster likes this.
  13. preactor

    preactor Tele-Holic

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    Beautiful Guitar. Love the darker color woods that you used.
     
  14. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Like Brad Paisley says... “cutting board.”

    Baking soda works well for this, too. We buy it in 5 pound bags.
     
  15. JeffBlue

    JeffBlue Tele-Afflicted

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    Nicely done and great choices for the build.
     
  16. IronSchef

    IronSchef Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

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    That’s one heck of a “first partscaster”!!

    Awesome job, love the choices you made - spectacular looking (and I bet sounding and playing) guitar! :)
     
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  17. bftfender

    bftfender Friend of Leo's

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    Awesome thanks for the share !! Great encouragement..have strat body on the coffee table , just waitung on the bridge to get here for my first partscaster. cool the feeling you get of making something personal. I might never buy another new guitar if this goes right ! Great job
     
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