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Sum of the Parts? Need advise on building a partscaster

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by Itgoesto11, Jan 31, 2021.

  1. Itgoesto11

    Itgoesto11 Tele-Meister

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    Hi- It’s quite possible that I’m looking at getting parts for a telecaster build from the wrong places. I have a great set of Tele pickups and some assorted hardware including a four-way switch, pots, wiring etc. and would like to build a back-up to my #1 Tele. I have two problems… First, I’m not particularly handy and can put the guitar together but not do any refinishing. Second- it seems that when I’m trying to put together a body, neck, etc. from eBay or stratosphere, the sum of all these parts put me at a cost greater than a new telecaster. I’m seeing finished bodies around $300-$450 and Fender necks around $300. Am I searching in the wrong places for a body and neck? What is reasonable. Thanks!
     
  2. newtwanger

    newtwanger Blackguardian. Ad Free + Supporter

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    As soon as you said you are not particularly handy.... hit the brakes.
    Buy an affordable guitar that you can actually play then decide if you want to put your pickups in.
    Anything else will be an expensive crap shoot.
    Just my opinion...
     
  3. sax4blues

    sax4blues Friend of Leo's

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    When you say “backup” does that mean -at a gig where down time is unacceptable, or -a second guitar because 2 is more fun than 1?

    If gig critical buy an appropriate complete guitar.
     
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  4. Fenderdad1950

    Fenderdad1950 Tele-Afflicted

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    Alot of hands-on knowledge is required to get a halfway decent build. The mote rxpensive of the neck & body ( $350 neck $400 body) the better the neck will fit on the body. Good luck:D
     
  5. Wallaby

    Wallaby Friend of Leo's

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    I'm like you, finishing a guitar is the "Final Frontier" for me.

    I can finish furniture, French Polish, brush, rag, varnish, shellac, etc. and I have sprayed Nitro before, but it remains my kryptonite on a guitar.

    Paying for that ( well-deserved ) skill really reduces any cost benefit of building it yourself.
     
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  6. Itgoesto11

    Itgoesto11 Tele-Meister

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    Not a gig-critical backup but a second Tele. Maybe I’m better off selling the new, never installed set of Bootstrap Pretzel P/Us and the Oak Grigsby 4 way wiring kit and be done with the idea. Sounds like I’m out of my league at this point.
     
  7. SRHmusic

    SRHmusic Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I'm not particularly handy with wood, but have worked up to assembling a few partscasters and along the way learned how to do a good fret level and setup. I bought a decent Fender at one point that wasn't too special, made a custom loaded pickguard, then started into fret leveling, ended up ordering a new custom neck after a few years with stainless frets and 12 inch radius, and, now it's a partscaster. It's my #1, a great working guitar. Point is, start slow, tackle one thing at a time, buy tools, etc. and you'll probably do fine.
     
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  8. smoothrecluse

    smoothrecluse Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Don’t do anything rash like sell off your parts out of frustration.

    What kind of a guitar do you have in mind?

    Like others have posted above, the body’s finish plays a huge part in the skill level, cost, and frustration of the project. It’s hard and expensive to do a proper a
    paint job, and that’s why it’s doubly expensive to have it already done. A natural finish is a much easier alternative if you like the look. The partscaster that I just put together is a barncaster assembled on a budget:

    -$60 Tonebomb knotty pine body that I finished with Tru-oil
    -$90 WD maple neck from Stratosphere
    -Stock strat tuners I had laying around
    -$40 Bootstrap pickups (Palo Duros)
    -GFS aged bridge and hardware.

    I think I’m all in for under $250, and best of all, I didn’t have to paint anything.
     
  9. Sweet Lou 275

    Sweet Lou 275 Tele-Meister

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    I'll take some crap for this I'm sure, but I have had good luck so far with Guitar Fetish. My wife loves the Tele neck we got for her. Better than her American for her taste. Cost us $50 with shipping. Had to do some fret work, but nothing major. They have lots of options if you want to stick to a budget. I've ordered a couple necks and they've both been good. CNC machines in China or Korea don't care what country they're in. They seem to use good wood, so worth a look maybe. Otherwise, I would grab a MIM or even a Squier Classic Vibe (the Thinline Tele is nice) and upgrade a tick.
     
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  10. drmordo

    drmordo Tele-Holic

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    I agree that you might be better off buying a Tele and modding it. I've built a few guitars and every time I think "this is the last guitar I'm building".

    Even if you buy everything and bolt it together rather than building everything from scratch, it's a bit of a project. Drilling, screwing, soldering, fixing the nut - just those take 3-4 hours if you know what you are doing and have the tools. Then ideally you do some fret work to really elevate the guitar, and that takes a whole other set of tools and skills.

    That said, if you buy a guitar you really should do the fret work piece anyway, so that might be a good place to start developing your luthier skills.

    So if I were you, I'd find a decent Tele in a color you like at a reasonable price. I'd likely start with replacing the pickups and possibly subbing in an ashtray bridge. Then further down the road, if you want a specific neck profile or radius, get a aftermarket neck and fit it to your existing body.

    Another way that I personally might go is to buy a GFS Slick tele (because the body options are in line with my tastes, like the tasteful relic job and the ashtray bridge) and then eventually get a MIM Fender or maybe a Warmoth neck for it.
     
  11. SRHmusic

    SRHmusic Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I'll add one more thought: Drilling the neck heel mounting holes was for me the most critical thing I didn't know how best to do. A luthier friend walked me through it. It's a two or three step process between getting things aligned, marking/setting the drill marks and then drilling. At least a small bench top drill stand may be needed, though there may be ways to hand drill, too. There are a few little tricks that make this easy. Perhaps it's fine to order body and neck predrilled to Fender specs, but I always ordered the neck not drilled.
     
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  12. WalthamMoosical

    WalthamMoosical Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    For me, building the partscasters was about learning to do it, and learning what a Tele is about, rather than to have a better guitar. If I build another, it might be about having a better guitar, but I had to do this learning first.

    And yes, I am sure that I would have to pay more in parts than a new Fender off the rack would be.

    (For the record, I mostly built these things out of the cheapest parts I could find, which meant GuitarFetish for the wood and for other bits as well. The parts costs for each was under $200 but not by a whole lot. The professional builders, even--or maybe especially--the mass producers, seem to know what they are doing.)

    If it's at least in part about the journey and not the destination, then try a build. Otherwise--buy. Either way, happy hunting!
     
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  13. CarsAndGuitarsYT

    CarsAndGuitarsYT TDPRI Member

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    I'm sort of in the same boat as you when it comes to being handy. I just started learning how to finish and paint.

    Anyways, this is the reason I've never built Teles. Although I am capable, the parts for everything are a lot more expensive than Strat parts. Today I literally just purchased all the parts I need for a new Stratocaster build, and it was just at $200.

    I have built Strats for as cheap as $110.

    When it comes to eBay, it's not only the model, it also comes down to availability. You never know when someone is gonna list a good deal on something.

    I'll see Affinity Tele bodies that are fully loaded on ebay for $140 - $150. I could buy all the parts I need for a Strat (minus really good pickups and other high quality things if that's what you want) with that money. Same with the necks.

    If you really want a Partscaster on a budget, the Stratocaster is a great option (I'm sure alot will disagree on that lol) but I'm actually eager for the day that I get to make a Telecaster. Good luck with it!
     
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  14. Steve Holt

    Steve Holt Friend of Leo's

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    Crazy as it may sound, building a guitar isn't cheaper than buying a guitar. And think about it. Companies like fender are buying their wood by the container load. All their parts too. They probably pay less than half what I pay for a pair of pots. Maybe less, I don't know! One thing you'll get when you make your own though is a greater attention to detail. And a guitar built for YOU. Get exactly what you want, better tuners? Upgraded pickups? More power to you.

    One thing to consider though, the difference between a good guitar and a great guitar is the set up. Even if all you're doing is buying completed parts and bolting it all together, it needs the nut slots filed to the correct depth, the truss rod set appropriately, string heights corrected, and intonation set to make it play like a beast. Otherwise you're spending more money on a not as good guitar.

    Ask yourself though, is this a one time thing or do you plan to continue this hobby? I refinished my first guitar in 2009 and got bit by the guitar modding bug. Next thing I knew I was building them and I'm working on my 9th build from scratch right now. I never thought when I madr my first one I'd build a second, and by the end of my second I was sure I'd never make a third. If this is something you'll continue, start collecting the tools and the knowledge to do your own setups. It's worth it. A set of nut slotting files are one of the best investments I ever made in this hobby. A properly cut nut makes all the difference, in my opinion. If this is the only build you'll do, take it to a tech. But don't be discouraged. Making a guitar taught me so much about the instrument.
     
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  15. Matthias

    Matthias Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Buy a cheap kit to practice on. It’s not a bad price for what you learn. Then put together a decent one.
     
  16. 65 Champ Amp

    65 Champ Amp Tele-Afflicted

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    Please don’t take this the wrong way, but you could not be more mistaken.

    Wood is wood. Finish it however you like, there’s no voodoo or magic spells involved just because it’s a guitar.

    OP, just prowl the pawn shops. Find a cheap Squier or something, just make sure it’s solid wood, not plywood, and you like the carve of the neck, and take it completely apart. Take a propane torch or heat gun, and melt off the poly and filler, sand it down to clean, bare wood, and rub, or brush, or spray something on there. Learn how it works, what looks good, and what doesn’t. So what if you screw up? Sand it off. Try again. Learn something.

    Toss all the Chinese junk hardware, and fit it with the good stuff.

    Leave the Squier/made in China decals on the headstock to completely baffle someone who heard it, or plays it.
     
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  17. DuckDodgers

    DuckDodgers Tele-Meister

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    A good setup is as important as parts. I think it’s better to buy an inexpensive, but quality, guitar, and learn to set it up and maybe put better parts on it.

    Every so often there are great deals on G&L’s import ASATs- typically under $300. These are a great starting point.
     
  18. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    It, lets go back to your first post. Looking for a finished body changes the whole dynamics. Its pretty easy for someone with a duplicarver or cnc or even a router and bandsaw to crank out telecaster bodies - they were designed that way. The problem comes when you want it finished.

    Fender finishes thousands of guitars a year - they are set up to shoot one after another after another. I'm assuming that they are using robot sprayers now, everyone else it. Finish goes on hot, its catalyzed to kick off fast, there is very little final buffing (if any). The finish is a very small part of the over all cost.

    Contrast that with someone like Warmoth (or me) who finishes each body separately. Warmoth charges $180 bucks for a clear finish (not including the body) and prices go up for colors and effects. I think that is damn cheap - when I do a simple lacquer finish it takes me a week of prep and spraying, the drying time and then color sanding and buffing. I have a friend who is a custom motorcycle painter - he will do a fancy flamed or airbrushed finish on a guitar but you'd better be sitting down for the price.

    That fact that home finishing is so hard is why there are so many different products and methods of doing it. Most of us home builders can't spray the materials that the pros use so we come up with some sort of oil or furniture finish or rattle cans from the local hardware store. Unfortunately the guitars look like it.

    I build and finish guitars. You can often buy a complete guitar for what I pay for materials. I put hundreds of hours into building and many more in finish. My goal is to come close to the finish on a cheap foreign made guitar, I'm not there yet. I do hope you find what you are looking for.
     
  19. Telekarster

    Telekarster Tele-Afflicted

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    While I haven't built many I can say that, from my exp, one does not build a guitar to save $$$ if one is going to use quality parts. If you go on the cheap, the guitar will suffer the consequences and you'll probably hate it in the end. You def get what you pay for when it comes to parts. I use 100% USA made Fender parts as much as possible, other than the body and neck which cost me around 250ish by themselves, and after spending about 80-100 hrs of building a Tele I've got about the same $$$ in it (not including my time to build) that you can get a Mex for brand new. BUT - I can build it to the specs that I want vs. MFG and + I enjoy the process of building so... for me that's what it's all about.

    If you want an interesting project, want to learn new things, be able to tell your friends and fans "I built this baby", I say go for building your own. There's plenty of folks out here who can help you (I learned from the experts out here too!). Otherwise, yeah.... buy off the shelf and call it a day. Just my 2 cents
     
  20. Telekarster

    Telekarster Tele-Afflicted

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    When I built my 51 Nocaster I had zero experience in building guitars, but I have plenty of woodworking/overall mechanical experience going back over 30 years... so I'm sure this helped me. But the MAIN thing that helped me was all of the experts out here on TDPRI! I studied, studied, studied all their tips and advice etc. took my time, went slow, and after about 2 months I ended up with a SWEET 51! In fact, she's my main guitar today and I wouldn't trade her for anything....well... maybe I'd trade her for an original... ;)
     
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