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How hard is it for an average idiot (like me) to build a partscaster?

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by SurfaceNoises, Feb 10, 2021.

  1. Blackshadowrider

    Blackshadowrider TDPRI Member

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    Building a "Parts-Caster" ala Telecaster mode is not that difficult if you stay with purchased parts and not trying to cut-build-shape the body and neck. Nice thing is you can go in a direction of getting exactly what you want, woods, pickups, etc. Downside is you can put a bit of money into a Parts-Caster build and never get it back. The parts will always be worth more than the whole. Probably the most difficult thing is getting a good set-up and then the soldering. If you have a good guitar tech around they can always do final set-up for you. Check out Warmoth for body and neck, good quality. You can buy prefinished or finish yourself. Can always go the rout of used parts as well. Beware lots of folks going this rout the last year with Covid downtime so no bargains to be had as demand is high.
     
  2. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    Can you assemble a partscaster? Yes.

    Will it be a dream machine first time around? Not a chance.

    Will you make a bunch of mistakes? Oooh yes.

    Will you end up with a decent usable guitar? Very probably.

    Will you learn more than you ever could by reading this board? Absolutely.
     
  3. Telefan65

    Telefan65 Tele-Meister

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    It’s all about trial and error. It’s an adventure. Learn to solder and build. Maybe start with a low cost kit or spare parts you may have and give it a go! Read a lot and watch you tube videos, I’ve been tinkering with guitars since I was seven years old I’m 56 now. I just love the damned things. I have never done a complete build though but I’m putting a plan together to begin doing so. It will be my retirement project and my grandson will be the benefactor as well as a few that I may put in the hands of others. I say do it, learn as you go and you will be better off for doing so.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2021
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  4. Abarrwoo

    Abarrwoo TDPRI Member

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    I retired back in 2016, needed something to do, bought a Squier Affinity. Using Utube mostly, I learned how to modify it. Learning how to solder is a matter of practice. For me part of the fun was finding ways to make my tools, like using feeler gauges for nut file, had to cut teeth in them. Guitar fetish is a great place to source parts, especially when they run a sale, around holidays. I have assembled 3 partscasters, my favorite one ran about $120.00 all in. I also wind my own pickups, which is another level to get to. Also, a source for inexpensive guitars is ShopGoodwil.com auction site. Good luck. Also, if you use guitarfetish, beware of the used necks, I got a warped one from them, also you don't know if the truss rod will work. The XGP necks are a good bet.
     
  5. KC Clem

    KC Clem TDPRI Member

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    Pretty much anyone can screw one together. I did a parts Stratocaster almost 30 years ago and cut the nut with a Swiss Army knife. It actually played, not great, but it played. If I knew then what I know now maybe it would've been better. The real trick is to put one together that ends up being a great player. I'd still like to do that someday.
     
  6. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

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    “How hard is it for an average idiot (like me) to build a partscaster?”

    I have often pondered this question. I determined that my idiocy and total lack of even the most basic competence in shop skills prohibits me from undertaking such a project.
    Good luck to you if you undertake this task.
     
  7. Frank Entele

    Frank Entele TDPRI Member

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    It’s easy as pie, but as the say goes, if you have to ask....
     
  8. Bruce Pettengill

    Bruce Pettengill TDPRI Member

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    Trial & error. Built quite a few. The hardest so far was a Strat with Seymour Duncan Stacked Single coils in the middle and bridge with a DPDT micro switches. Standard wiring for the 3 p’ups but when you throw that DPDT micros.....it throws the wiring off base. Like ionasphere of base.
    A standard tele.....good start. Take a qualty neck pefrably fretted), pickup some decent tuners, choose a bridge (single coil or humbucker) choose a front pickup (again single coil or humbucker), choose the selector switch (switchcraft or cts), pots (250k for singles/500k for buckets), then choose the cap for the tone pot (33 is standard for single coils BUT you can go .o47 like Strats use). Like carpentry, draw out plans, measure twice cut once/measure twice drill once. Enjoy. One of the last teles I did was a school bus yellow, reverse headstock, Nashville style (3 pickups), with EMG actives, non-string thru body, 6 heavy brass saddles. It plays right fine.
     
  9. GreatDaneRock

    GreatDaneRock Tele-Holic

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    Yes you can build it but be realistic and do not expect the best guitar ever, actually it might be a clunker to be totally honest, but the important part here is the learning experience as it will lead to put together another guitar down the road that will be 10 times better than the first, rinse and repeat. Obviously learn how to do proper guitar setup, and learn how to solder. There's plenty of videos on the internet and it's really not a hard skill to acquire. Learn it and be done with it.
     
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  10. Loudog99

    Loudog99 Tele-Holic

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    It depends. Anyone can buy and assemble parts with basic tools like screwdrivers, pliers, straight edge, rulers, etc. I’ve never understood the threads where someone builds a partscaster, then says they’re taking it to their Luthier for a setup.

    I love the fact that you can control the build quality, parts, finish, setup, and fine details with partscasters. To me, it’s the little things like a well cut bone nut, great fretwork, rolled fretboard edges, perfectly aligned neck, shielding, and optimal playability that make any guitar special. Partscasters are all I play, and won’t likely ever go back to a factory built electric.

    The advice to buy a cheap guitar and practice on that is sound. I started with SXs about a dozen of them before I took on my first partscasters. Not saying you need to do the same, just my own journey.
     
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  11. smokey9701

    smokey9701 TDPRI Member

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    No one was born knowing how to soldier. Just dig in, get help from a friend, look up wire soldering on YouTube. You just need to learn. Same for building the rest of a guitar.
     
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  12. Zettemusik

    Zettemusik TDPRI Member Gold Supporter

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    I bought a 100 dollars austin guitar and it has proven a real satisfaction to modify it without the fear of damaging a 300 dollar neck. Here you can find a repertoire of mods
    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/modding-an-austin-atc-250.1044434/#post-10288196

    Soldering was in fact the easier thing. I struggled the most with mechanics as has been mentioned above (changing the nut, especially).
     
  13. 985plowboy

    985plowboy Friend of Leo's

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    Nobody on this planet has ever built a guitar before the first one that they built.
    Get started.
     
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  14. Chuck berry

    Chuck berry TDPRI Member

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    All musicians put themselves down. No your not an idiot you can learn. Soldering isn't that hard and with practice you can learn. Start by having a soldering gun. A 25 watt soldering gun is the one to use. Begin by soldering little wires your not going to connect to anything until you get the hang of it. You'll see its fun. Don't use the stronger soldering guns with two settings you'll ruin your work. Since electronic wire is very sensative because they're small. Good luck have fun.
     
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  15. horsespatoot

    horsespatoot Tele-Holic

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    “It ain’t rocket surgery”
     
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  16. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Be prepared to have a mediocre guitar on your first try.
    Realize that you will be learning a lot on you first attempt and your second d one will be far better than your first.
    Buy a cheap kit to make your mistakes on. When reach the point that you've made that cheap guitar truly sing, then you're ready to get serious and build a real guitar.

    Building a partscaster isn't very difficult. Building a partscaster well is a serious undertaking requiring certain skills and experience.

    A partscaster will always be worth more when sold in pieces, and less when sold as a complete guitar.

    I wrote serious book on this subject. Custom Guitar Building: A New Approach for a New Era. 174 full color pages in fine detail about building a custom guitar from parts. 5 Star Rating!

    Have fun!
     
  17. Teleboss

    Teleboss Tele-Meister

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    I get my parts together, do the assembly, solder my electronics (it’s not that hard if you practice), do a rough setup, enough to make it playable, then take it to a luthier friend of mine who does the professional setup. He’s very reasonable with his price, and I have a guitar that will rival anything on any rack of any music store. The beauty of a partscaster is you get EXACTLY what you want. No compromise. If your needs or tastes change, you can mod the guitar accordingly without fear of losing any value. It’s a forever guitar. Keep it. Play it. Love it.
     
  18. JBurton

    JBurton Tele-Meister

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    Good thoughts and tips right there.
     
  19. SurfaceNoises

    SurfaceNoises TDPRI Member

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    So many amazing answers. I can only say: thank you! There's a great community here.
    Part of the reason for wanting to build a partscaster is to understand the guitar a bit better. I'm a bit too reverent around my guitar - possibly because I know it's going to get sold at some point.
    Building your own has gotta be a good way of breaking that reverence and getting down and dirty.
    I'm going to do it! Thanks everyone
     
  20. Muadzin

    Muadzin Tele-Meister

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    I never understood why people are so scared of soldering. For guitars its literally the easiest thing in the world. Unless you apply constant heat for a very long time to a pot you can't ruin the parts you want to solder. Wires, pots, caps, switches, its almost all passives. And passives can take some heat. Unlike transistors or IC's. Put the two things you want to connect together, take solder and a soldering iron, put the solder to the things you want to connect, apply heat, let it flow, remove soldering iron, let the solder harden, Bob's your uncle! If you want to be sure, take a multi meter that can measure for continuity and that gives a sound when it has measures continuity. If you measure the other end of the wire you've soldered to a pot and the other tip to the pot and it beeps you're winner and deserve a prize. Preferably a cold one. I think I only knew how to measure the value of resistors, voltages and continuity with a multimeter, and the latter alone has saved my ass so many times.
     
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