Thoughts/advice on partscaster plans

slayabouts

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Hey all!

I've been wanting to build a custom guitar for a while now, but I just keep reading threads and searching for places to buy parts and can't really make a decision on where to start. I've attached a concept of the design I'd like to create which took inspiration from the Brent Mason signature tele and the Fender Parallel Universe Elite Nashville tele using the one I created on Halo guitars' website as a base. I also added some text for further context/explanation

The main thing I'm wondering (other than thoughts on my plans) is what everyone's experience is with cheaper bodies off of ebay, etsy, and/or reverb, how they compare to a known company like warmoth, guitar fetish, fretwire, etc. or maybe a full DIY kit and just selling off any parts I don't wind up using, and if there are any sellers you'd personally recommend. Did the bodies wind up working well with whatever neck you used or are they not worth considering? I know it'll be a "you get what you pay for" thing, but I figure I'll probably have to do some routing of my own so it'd be a better idea to get something cheaper so I won't cry as much if I botch the surgery. Plus the only thing I'm really concerned about quality-wise are the electrical parts and the neck; the body just has to be stable, functional, and not fall apart. In other words, I've seen the term "rat rod" be used and I guess that may be the aesthetic it winds up being and I'm ok with that

I was able to get pretty close to what I want using Halo's customizer, but the pricing is a little more than I'd like to pay even if it comes with all the work done for me (that's gonna be half of the fun). I've also looked into Warmoth, but I think at least for the body I could get a cheaper base platform and make any necessary mods myself to both save money and make it more DIY. I'm not too confident with soldering and routing, but I have experience with power tools and wood working/cutting and think I'd be able to pick up what I need to. I may still go to Warmoth for the neck as I haven't found what I want available and doing any modding to a neck seems like a completely different level from modding a body.

So, in short, if you've looked over my plans and have any advice as to where to start or what ideas of mine are not worth further consideration, let me know! I'm trying to ensure I don't sink a bunch of money into this just to realize I'm in over my head by trying to do too much myself or especially that something won't work the way I want. Thanks!
 

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guitarbuilder

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I'd suggest an allparts neck. Good bang for the buck. Body wise I'd suggest you look at ebay and read the feedback about the resultant quality and fit. Everybody and their brother and sister can cnc a tele body nowadays. Prices are competitive. Weight at 4lb+/- is something you kind of want to stay with. If you are willing to sand and finish, this guy is local to me, although I've never met him, and is pretty reasonable. He cnc's the bodies and will do custom routs and stuff.

I'd personally stay away from GF and similar bodies based on reports here. If you want a custom neck I'd stick with Warmoth.

https://www.ebay.com/usr/taurowoodworks?_trksid=p2047675.m3561.l2559


 
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slayabouts

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I'd suggest an allparts neck. Good bang for the buck. Body wise I'd suggest you look at ebay and read the feedback about the resultant quality and fit. Everybody and their brother and sister can cnc a tele body nowadays. Prices are competitive. Weight at 4lb+/- is something you kind of want to stay with. If you are willing to sand and finish, this guy is local to me, although I've never met him, and is pretty reasonable. He cnc's the bodies and will do custom routs and stuff.

I'd personally stay away from GF and similar bodies based on reports here. If you want a custom neck I'd stick with Warmoth.

https://www.ebay.com/usr/taurowoodworks?_trksid=p2047675.m3561.l2559


Cool, thanks! I think I've actually looked at his shop and had some of his listings on my watchlist, so good to know he's a potential source! As far as the allparts necks, I'm not seeing any reversed headstocks or pau ferro fingerboards and at those prices, I think I might as well spend a little more and go with Warmoth to get exactly what I want.

I've read that GF isn't all that bad and others who've said they had a bad experience, so I guess they may have some lower QC. What do you mean by similar bodies; did you mean similar brands?

Thanks for the input!
 

bgmacaw

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Don't expect perfection on your first build. You may get lucky but it's more likely that you'll find stuff you wish you had done different.

If you want to learn to DIY build a guitar, start with some inexpensive kits or search around in your local used market for low end guitars you can work on. This and acquiring parts and tools to do the work will help you learn a lot. The caution here is that doing this can be addictive fun, but, it can be frustrating at times, especially when you're first starting out doing it. I built and still build cigar box style guitars as part of this fun.

Some guitar techs will turn down building a partscaster for you from random parts you've bought. This is because often parts don't fit together quite right and the end result may not make the customer happy. They don't want to take the blame for issues that aren't their fault.

I've had decent luck with cheap closeout bodies bought from GFS. They did take some work though and the results were not perfection. But it was fun to do. So far as inexpensive necks go, I've had good experiences with KMise necks. They had good fret work, requiring only final touch-up work.

The relatively inexpensive bodies you see for sale online are typically one of two things. First, somebody had imported them from China and they aren't too different from what you'll find on inexpensive factory guitars. The other are ones somebody has made using a CNC machine. The quality of these is highly variable. In either case, getting a good neck fit is going to be the big challenge. It's also possible that other parts, bridge, pickguard, control plate, may not fit quite right either. In some cases, you may have to craft custom parts or shoehorn in parts that aren't a good match.

Here are some of my builds...

partsguitars.png
 

guitarbuilder

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Cool, thanks! I think I've actually looked at his shop and had some of his listings on my watchlist, so good to know he's a potential source! As far as the allparts necks, I'm not seeing any reversed headstocks or pau ferro fingerboards and at those prices, I think I might as well spend a little more and go with Warmoth to get exactly what I want.

I've read that GF isn't all that bad and others who've said they had a bad experience, so I guess they may have some lower QC. What do you mean by similar bodies; did you mean similar brands?

Thanks for the input!


Similar thick polycoated asian imported bodies. Like this:

 

emptyminded42

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I’ve got a 2-piece alder P bass body on order from Woodtech Routing on Reverb. His prices seem very fair (this was $190 shipped and others are more or less the same price depending on wood type) and he says he’s willing to do all the custom routing you’d want. I ordered yesterday and it should come Wednesday this week. I can let you know how the unfinished body looks and feels and maybe dry fit everything and let you know how everything seems to be lining up. I’m doing a DIY nitro finish so it’ll take me a few weeks to know how the final product is.

I have an AllParts licensed ‘75 Jazz bass reissue neck inbound from Stratosphere so I can also let you know how that feels and looks. It’s fully finished with a vintage tint so I’m hoping I don’t have to do anything to it aside from a little fret polish and assembly.

I’ve got a Mighty Mite maple/maple Tele neck waiting for its body to come from Warmoth and it seems very well made. Just some polishing needed on a couple frets but otherwise I’m impressed with the quality of the wood and fretwork. Don’t know about the fit since my painted body is still a few months out from Warmoth. The lead times are even a little longer than the site says for finished stuff so keep that in mind if you’re going Warmoth.
 

KeithDavies 100

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This will be no use at all, except to be filed in the "yeah, I won't be that stupid" category.

I, too, finally decided I was going to build one. I'd seen so many cool builds on here - look at @bgmacaw 's whole gallery above! - and figured I'm smart, what could go wrong?!

I saw a neck on eBay that I liked the look of. It wasn't a standard Strat or Tele style, but that was partly why I liked it, and the heel dimensions sounded right. So I bought that neck.

Later, I saw a Strat body that I quite liked. Sunburst, but a very tobacco-y tint to it, which caught my attention. So I bought that. It arrived, and I fitted the neck into the pocket and it was beautiful. It was such a snug fit I could hold the guitar by the neck without it bolted on. Score!

I bought some hardware. Then I was thinking about pickups. It occurred to me that, on the one hand, I should go cheap because this was a learning exercise, but on the other hand if I was lucky enough to build a good guitar I would be really annoyed with myself if it was let down by crap pickups. So I went to Bare Knuckle here in the UK and got a pre-wired pickguard. Cost more by itself than either of the last two guitars I bought! Building a cheap guitar appears to have gone out the window.

Prevaricated for ages, then finally summoned up the courage to get started. I bolted the neck on. All good. Tried to fit the bridge, and could not get the measurements to work at all. Then I realised I'd bought a 22-fret neck that was too long for a Strat body. Ah.

Now, I do have a Tele Cabronita with a 22-fret neck, so I figured okay, I'll need to get a different neck for the Strat body, but if I get a Cabronita-cut Tele body I could use this neck on that. Found one - cool pirate motif on an aged body; beauty's in the eye of the beholder - so I bought that.

It arrived, and looks great. Dry fitted the neck. Still too long. The 22-fret neck on my Cabronita, I now notice, has an overhanging fretboard. My neck doesn't.

Did I mention somewhere above that I'm smart? Yeah, apparently not.

So now I have two bodies, and one neck, and none of them match, so now I have to build three guitars.

Hopeless. It feels funnier now than it did at various steps along the way.

But I was watching a Matt's Off Road Recovery video today and he was building something and said he didn't yet know how it was all going to fit together, and he'd probably get it wrong first time but that was okay because he'd get it right the second. I thought that was absolutely brilliant, so I'm going with that! Video below in case anyone's interested - great channel, lovely guy.

Anyway - all the best with your build.

 

Telenator

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Here's a quick form from my book, Custom Guitar Building: A New Approach For a New Era.
It helps people to organize their thoughts by running down the list and filling in the details where necessary.
Many find this very helpful.

Here’s a form to help you plan your ultimate guitar:



Body:


Scale Length:

Wood:

Finish:

Weight:

Routing:

Bridge Type:

Neck Mounting:

Neck Pocket:



Neck:

Scale Length:

Wood:

Finish:

Heel Shape:

Neck Profile:

Fingerboard:

Fingerboard Radius:

Width at Nut:

Fret Wire:

Number of Frets:

Truss Rod Type:

Tuner Ream:

Nut Slot:

Inlay:

Side Dots:



Pickups:

Type:

Active/Passive:



Electronics:

Active/Passive:

Switching Options:

Tone Circuits:

Custom:



Hardware:

Tuning Machines:

Bridge:

Nut:

Strap Buttons:

String Trees:

Output Jack:

Finish:



Appearance:

Pickguard:

Control Knobs:

Pickup Covers:
 

Milspec

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Don't enter into it with a rigid plan, allow the project to take a life on it's own as it gets created. Every build I have done, they always ended up a little different than what I planned going in.....and all ended up better for it.

1. Get a one piece body.

Most factory guitars are not, of course, but the ones that I built that were all ended up sounding more acoustical and dynamic to my ears. It wasn't a huge difference, but I could always pick out a 1 piece body just by sound so there must be something to it. As for brands? I have built most of them myself, but have also used bodies by "newmoonlaser" off fleabay and warmoth with excellent results. If you are new to building, get one that is properly pre-drilled for the bridge plate and neck pocket...it will save you a lot of headaches.

2. Spend the money on the neck.

That is what separates a great player from an average one and that includes the fret work. I buy mostly Warmoth necks or Fenders and then have my luthier really do a nice fret job on them. It makes a HUGE difference.

3. Don't over-pay for the rest of the stuff.

Don't fall into the trap of trying to build the guitar with all the high end brand name stuff thinking that it will make it better....it will not. The key is to achieve a proper balance of parts to make an instrument that just works brilliantly rather than a spec sheet that does not. Most people tend to try and build the "ultimate telecaster" with all the parts that cork sniffers push in forums only to end up with a guitar that just doesn't work together.

Look for deals on pick ups, control plates, etc. and install what you turn up. You can always change those things out down the road if you choose to, but you will be fine with any decent quality examples. I have some wilkinson bridge plates along with some high end plates and they both get the job done.

4. If you can't solder worth a crap, don't learn it on this guitar build.

If you are skilled with the iron at this point, learn that separately from building the guitar. Buy your control plate assembled and wired, it will save you headaches and embarrassment down the road. My first build, I screwed up pots trying to solder with an iron that just didn't heat up well. It was ugly and I ended up taking it to my luthier and telling him that it was my nephew's guitar. He fixed it and told me that the kid should never be allowed near a soldering iron ever again!! I had to practice and buy better tools to finally become decent at it.

5. Have a luthier finish the job

On all of my builds, once done, I hand them off to my luthier to dial them in and do the set-up. It never takes much, a tweak here and ther, but I end with a great player when it comes back.
 

Freeman Keller

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My humble thoughts. Its pretty east to screw together a bunch of parts, that's Leo's genius. If everything is licensed by Fender there is a reasonable change it will all go together without big issues. Where people fall down is in two areas - finish and setup.

Most of us can't get as good a finish on our home made guitars as a professional does, so we come up with alternate finishes that are "good enough". Depending on your standards and expectations good enough might be, but don't expect it to look like a pro put the paint on. A cardinal rule is to practice on scrap so when you get your body get cutoffs of the same wood from the builder.

Setup is a fairly complex subject, starting with a guitar having proper geometry, perfectly leveled frets and then all the little details. I have never seen an aftermarket neck that I was satisfied with the frets (six or seven Warmoth, several Mighty Mite), factory cut nuts are a compromise, yadda yadda. To do a setup right takes a bunch of tools that you probably don't have. I have people assemble guitars and bring them to me for setup. (I have written a thread and some documents for this forum on setting up guitars, if you would like I can give you links)

Wiring can be tricky too if you haven't done a lot of soldering.

I can't comment on bodies - I make my own. I have assembled a few Warmoth bodies and necks, they are as good as you can get. They are expensive as they should be. I have no experience with DIY kits but they have a bad reputation - hardware is mostly junk, you'll probably end up replacing a lot of it.

I don't believe you assemble a guitar to get a cheap guitar, you do it for the experience and enjoy the process.
 

telestratosonic

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Hey all!

I've been wanting to build a custom guitar for a while now, but I just keep reading threads and searching for places to buy parts and can't really make a decision on where to start. I've attached a concept of the design I'd like to create which took inspiration from the Brent Mason signature tele and the Fender Parallel Universe Elite Nashville tele using the one I created on Halo guitars' website as a base. I also added some text for further context/explanation

The main thing I'm wondering (other than thoughts on my plans) is what everyone's experience is with cheaper bodies off of ebay, etsy, and/or reverb, how they compare to a known company like warmoth, guitar fetish, fretwire, etc. or maybe a full DIY kit and just selling off any parts I don't wind up using, and if there are any sellers you'd personally recommend. Did the bodies wind up working well with whatever neck you used or are they not worth considering? I know it'll be a "you get what you pay for" thing, but I figure I'll probably have to do some routing of my own so it'd be a better idea to get something cheaper so I won't cry as much if I botch the surgery. Plus the only thing I'm really concerned about quality-wise are the electrical parts and the neck; the body just has to be stable, functional, and not fall apart. In other words, I've seen the term "rat rod" be used and I guess that may be the aesthetic it winds up being and I'm ok with that

I was able to get pretty close to what I want using Halo's customizer, but the pricing is a little more than I'd like to pay even if it comes with all the work done for me (that's gonna be half of the fun). I've also looked into Warmoth, but I think at least for the body I could get a cheaper base platform and make any necessary mods myself to both save money and make it more DIY. I'm not too confident with soldering and routing, but I have experience with power tools and wood working/cutting and think I'd be able to pick up what I need to. I may still go to Warmoth for the neck as I haven't found what I want available and doing any modding to a neck seems like a completely different level from modding a body.

So, in short, if you've looked over my plans and have any advice as to where to start or what ideas of mine are not worth further consideration, let me know! I'm trying to ensure I don't sink a bunch of money into this just to realize I'm in over my head by trying to do too much myself or especially that something won't work the way I want. Thanks!
There's USA Custom Guitars (https://usacustomguitars.com) in Puyallup, Wa; Tonebomb in Calgary,Alberta (https://tonebomb.com); and another company around Nashville ( I think) whose name escapes me. I made the mistake of buying a no-name, (probably made-in-China) piece of crap awhile back.

You get what you pay for. I've learned my lesson. I have two Warmouth necks on hand and a Tonebomb 69 Thinline body on order. The price is $170 CAD shipped. There's 10% off until tonight at midnight.

Using quality parts, the overall cost is still cheaper than an off-the-wall new USA Telecaster. I found the two new and unused Warmouth necks on Kijiji (sorta like Craigslist) here in Canada for $200 CAD each. For me, it's Canadian-made first and then I look for USA-made stuff. But that's just me.
 

4pickupguy

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If you are looking for accurate bolt together parts, run fast, run far from GF bodies. The labor I have saving both of mine I could have spec’d a boutique body. Seriously. Eden Allen bodies are where the value begins and goes up from there. Warmoth have given me the most accurate pain free parts in the 35 years I have used them. Just don’t invite the misery. The advice of remaining flexible and open to opportunities is very good. This can be the fun part of the entire project.
Are you going with a 24 fret neck like in the photo?
 

Freeman Keller

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I notice on your rendering that you show 24 frets - that changes a lot of things and will really limit your choices. (4pickuup beat me LOL)

ps - edit to add, I always recommend Melvyn Hiscock's book on electric guitar building. He covers literally everything you need to know, builds three different guitars from scratch and assembles one parts guitar. Do yourself a favor and start there.
 
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bgmacaw

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So now I have two bodies, and one neck, and none of them match, so now I have to build three guitars.

That's how you build up a nice collection of guitars without spousal complaints...

eddiemurphythink.gif



I have no experience with DIY kits but they have a bad reputation - hardware is mostly junk, you'll probably end up replacing a lot of it.

The parts in kits these days are actually decent, easily equivalent to, sometimes better than, what you'll find on inexpensive factory guitars. I suspect this has a lot to do with how guitars are manufactured in China using a factory cluster approach. I have done some parts swaps on kits I've built but it's mainly been for aesthetic reasons, not that the original parts were junk.
 

Freeman Keller

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The parts in kits these days are actually decent, easily equivalent to, sometimes better than, what you'll find on inexpensive factory guitars. I suspect this has a lot to do with how guitars are manufactured in China using a factory cluster approach. I have done some parts swaps on kits I've built but it's mainly been for aesthetic reasons, not that the original parts were junk.
That's good to know. I always thought it was a shame to buy a kit knowing you were going to replace much of it. Precision Kits up in Vancouver doesn't include the hardware and pups - that way you can start with what you want.
 

bgmacaw

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Precision Kits up in Vancouver doesn't include the hardware and pups - that way you can start with what you want.

That's a good idea. I wish more companies would offer that option, mainly because I have a huge amount of parts and pickups left over from various projects as well as buying deals on parts when I see them. Of course, if I bought a kit like this I'd probably just order even more parts, "just in case I needed them". A good example is the 3 stringer I'm working on now. I ordered 4 pickups, more knobs and tuners because I ran across a "one day sale" when I was just looking for a single pickup for the new build.
 

ChazFromCali

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Random thoughts: I think it is possible to build a tele for $600 or less - but it's gonna be a compromise on quality. I'm finding I have to get into the $850 or $900 range before I'm happy. But that's just me.

To me the neck and the p/u's are the most important items.

AE looks to have bodies that are good quality for good prices. https://reverb.com/item/44105088-ae-guitars-t-style-paulownia-replacement-guitar-body-sunburst

I have not bought anything from them but probably will on my next build.... if I ever finish the current one, lol.
 

slayabouts

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Awesome, I appreciate all the input! As far as asking if I'm planning on 24 frets, the rendering's more of a mock up by photoshopping different parts together to see how it might turn out haha, not necessarily my definitive plans. I usually opt for 22 frets when using a customizer, but I think I'd survive if it had to be 21

USA Custom Guitars seems like a good option, but it says they're offline and may not be for a few more months? They seem to offer a similar level of customization to Warmoth. Really I'm more than fine with shelling out for a nicer neck since that's what I'm actually interfacing with while the body is more just to house the pickups.

Maybe starting with a DIY kit to get my feet wet might not be a bad option. After it's put together, I can either try and sell it and put that towards a new body to try this build or try routing out for a humbucker in the bridge slot (i saw a thread showing it's do-able)

I definitely don't expect this to be perfect no matter what route I wind up taking, though. I get that I'll have set backs and will have to improvise a bit
 




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