Thoughts/advice on partscaster plans

Freeman Keller

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A couple of more comments. I am absolutely the last person who should comment on pickups and electronics, but I will. First, your rendering shows a standard tele control plate with two pots and a blade type switch (I think). That gives you a limited number of options with three pickups - think carefully about 3, 4 or 5 way switches and what they can do. Its pretty hard to cram any more stuff in a tele route - your body builder will want to know what goes in that hole. If you deviate from the standard tele route you'll need a plate to match or to cover it with a pick guard.

Also the reason the bridge pickup is angled on teles and strats is to move the treble strings closer to the bridge where there are more partials in the string spectrum, ie it makes the trebles brighter. It is pretty unusual for the neck or middle pup to be angled and quite usual for it to be angled the way you show it. Again, your body builder is going to want to know that and is going to want to know the exact foot print and method of mounting of your pickups. It looks like the bridge is a humbucker - again, that needs to be routed correctly and you'll have some compromises on pots and caps to work with humbucker and single coils. Just have all that figured out before you go too deeply into this.
 

Telekarster

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First rule of partscasters, if it doesn’t cost more than a new guitar you’re doing it wrong.

Man... ain't that the truth. When I built my 51 Nocaster, by the time I was done, I could've nearly bought 2 MIM vintage 50's Tele's right off the darn rack! LOL! But... They wouldn't have ever been as close to historic detail as I wanted, all the nuances etc. that I did to mine to get it as close to 1951 as I could. Plus, and a major biggie for me, was I would've never been able to say "I built this" ;) The latter has been a really fun thing to say to people who see/hear my Nocaster and and go "Man... where did you get that guitar?" :cool:
 
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Telekarster

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You've gotten a lot of really good advice here, so I can't really expound on what's already been said. My 2 cents - Take your time and go slow, think 10 steps ahead, have a plan, ask questions, and use the best quality parts you can get your hands on. If you do it right, you may end up with a guitar that will become your #1 guitar, just like I did when I built my 1st guitar. Geometry is key in all things. If the geometry ain't perfect, the guitar will never feel/play right. You've got plenty of people out here to ask questions to. Go for it man! It's an enjoyable experience and you'll learn TONS about guitars. Be prepared cause it can be addicting ;) Good luck to you man!
 

KeithDavies 100

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many years ago I wrote a few bookelets to help ya get started.. they are available free on my site... enjoy..


Ton
Wow - thanks for that, Ron, that's incredibly kind. I've just downloaded a couple. Can't believe you grew up next door to Ronnie VZ - amazing. I read that and got goosebumps!

All the very best.
 

Ronkirn

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Can't believe you grew up next door to Ronnie VZ
yep.. I was just eyeballin' the old neighborhood via Google Earth.. Ronny's place is still there and for sale... our's however is gone.. bulldozed and now there's a couple dozen condos there... kinda sad.... I remember when, as a 8 year old.. the place was surrounded by pastures for as far as an 8 year old could shoot a BB..
 

KeithDavies 100

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yep.. I was just eyeballin' the old neighborhood via Google Earth.. Ronny's place is still there and for sale... our's however is gone.. bulldozed and now there's a couple dozen condos there... kinda sad.... I remember when, as a 8 year old.. the place was surrounded by pastures for as far as an 8 year old could shoot a BB..
I grew up in Lusaka, Zambia, and lived right on the edge of town. I could cross the road there and head off into the bush, catching snakes and doing all sorts of stuff I wasn't really allowed to. But I'm the same - check that out on Google Earth now and that's all built up. Even the stream I used to explore along isn't there any more.

Apparently they call it progress. I'm not so sure.
 

nojazzhere

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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!
Most the guys replying have way more experience building than I do, but since I think of myself as "inexperienced", maybe you can relate.
I spent nearly twenty years modifying one Telecaster.....several different bridges, a bunch of pickups, and even different necks.....until I felt I knew what I wanted in my own build. First off, there's cheap, inexpensive, and then expensive in parts and components. I definitely didn't want to "cheap out" on a neck.....that's the single most important thing for me. I ordered EXACTLY the neck I wanted from Warmoth. I had a little previous experience with Guitar Fetish, particularly with bodies. Unlike what others may say, every body I'd had from them fit Fender and good quality parts perfectly. I bought a Paulownia Tele-style body from them. I then sought out good quality, but "inexpensive" hardware, (much of it Wilkinson) and Bootstrap Pickups. (Bootstrap is the best bang for your buck, without ANY sacrifice in sound quality) Exercising patience in something like this is tough for me, but I took my time, and tried to do it right. The result was a guitar that "fits" me to a "T". (pun acknowledged) I didn't keep good track of costs, but don't believe I spent over $500-600. It turned out even better than I hoped, especially for what is a "first" effort. Here's a pic.......
1659360133091.jpeg

GOOD LUCK!!!!!!! ;)
 

Happy Enchilada

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OP: You came to the right place to open this can of worms. Most of us on this forum have built partscasters.

Brother Bgmacaw pretty much nailed it in his post, but I'll chip in with my two bits. Here goes:

DIY kits are cheap, and you often get what you pay for. I would avoid them and go "ala carte." To Wit:

Bodies: Don't fear the Chinese product on eBay. They have CNC machines dialed in just like everyone else, and they often cost a fraction of say Warmouth. True, Warmouth offers a bunch of "custom" options, but if you poke around eBay long enough, you'll find the body of your dreams (see Linda Lou below). And since this is your first rodeo, you should consider NOT taking out a second mortgage to cover it. Your first build may not live up to your expectations (most of ours didn't), but the key is YOU'RE LEARNING. The next one will benefit from that.

Necks: This is highly subjective. Lots of guys want a Louisville Slugger, and you can get an AllParts one that's thick. Or if you're fine with the "Modern C" shape, for around $100 you can get a Mighty Mite on Amazon that will do the trick. Warmouth, once more, offers a busload of "custom options," and you will end up paying for 'em. There are also used necks on eBay and Reverb for a reasonable price. Figure out what fits your hand and go for it.

Pickups: One word: Bootstrap. They're handmade in a garage in Ohio and you can get a Telecaster set in several different flavors for around $50. And Bootstrap will let you mix 'n match so you can get exactly the right combination. Downside is it can often take a couple three weeks to get 'em because they're swamped (duh). I have used Seymour Duncans with great success as well, but their "Hot Telecaster" set cost me 4x what similar Bootstrap parts would. And since it's your first rodeo, you can save a few bucks and still get great sound with Bootstrap.

Pots and Switch: One word: Amazon. They carry CTS and Bournes pots, which are arguably the best around. If you're going for regular metal Tele knobs, get the SOLID SHAFT pots. Everyone agrees the 250K ones are best.
Oak Grigsby switches work great, and you might consider a 4-way if you want to do some different wiring and get an additional sound out of your Tele.

Jack and Jackplate: Amazon again. They offer a package with a PureTone jack and an Electrosocket jack plate to replace the craptastic stock Tele hardware for around $12. And a reason I recommend Amazon is 2-day shipping beats 3-week shipping from StewMac, plus the return policy with Amazon is free and a breeze.

Knobs: Amazon offers a dizzying array of choices, as with the control plates. You can choose to go gold, chrome, nickel, black ... but end of day, it's still a Telecaster with that beloved one tone/one volume and pickup selector switch setup that is zenlike in its simplicity.

Tuners: Amazon or Reverb. If you're building from the ground up, consider locking tuners. Fender makes a decent set, and I love Sperzels which are made in the US and a breeze to install.

GraphTech Nut and Saddles: Amazon again. Best investment in string longevity and tuning you can make. They also make string trees and offer a package with a nut and string trees for about $15.

That just about covers the main ingredients. Like the man said, building partscasters can be addictive. In a good way. Have Fun! Linda Lou says "Hi!"
1659361132061.jpeg
 

Frisco 57

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I've always started by searching for a photo of the guitar I want to end up with. The more exact the target guitar photo, the better your own build will become. Pay attention to details, use good quality parts and take your time. You will very likely end up with the guitar of your dreams!

Edit: I also keep a build log with part numbers, costs, notes on good vs bad quality parts and assembly dates. This info comes in handy usually down the road when you decide to build another guitar.
 
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FuncleManson

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Similar thick polycoated asian imported bodies. Like this:

Sorry, my examples are all Strats, but I've used one XGP body from GFS and one from goodbuy711 on eBay.

I can't think of any criticisms of the goodbuy purchase. It's an alder polyester-finished, purple-to-blue chameleon color with nice carves, and the routs and holes required no work whatsoever. Including shipping and taxes, it was about $133 to my door.

s-l1600 (8).jpg s-l1600 (10).jpg

The XGP, which are the better bodies from GFS, is a little blockier. Mine's poplar (I think, I couldn't really find that info anywhere) with some sort of poly Sherwood Green finish. Routs were fine, but the neck-mounting holes were off by a significant amount. One was off by a full diameter and the others by a radius or more. I had to dowel and re-drill them. Not a huge deal, but definitely a mark against them. $106 to my door.

20220719_064650.jpg

First rule of partscasters, if it doesn’t cost more than a new guitar you’re doing it wrong.
Gonna have to respectfully disagree with this. There's no way I could buy new guitars spec'd out like my better partscasters for anywhere near what they cost me to cobble together.

20210409_091341.jpg 20220314_112230.jpg 20220715_145324.jpg 20220715_163027.jpg


At the low end, I'd agree with you. My lower-cost projects (<$500) can't really compete with the nicer low-cost guitars coming out of the far east.
 

Happy Enchilada

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As far as costs go ...

Linda Lou ran me a whopping total of $523 in parts.
I've never seen another that's her equal (proud papa talking).

If you use "only the best parts" (translation: "expensive crap from Warmouth"), you can pay 3 or 4 times that.
But most of the parts you need - and top shelf parts from SD, CTS, etc. - are available every day on Amazon.
With 2-day delivery and free returns.
Try getting that out of Warmouth or ScrewMac. Not gonna happen.
I am willing to bet one could build an entire partscaster that roars out of Amazon parts.
Hmmm ... there's an idea for my next build ... The BezosCaster. 😁
 

FuncleManson

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As far as costs go ...

Linda Lou ran me a whopping total of $523 in parts.
I've never seen another that's her equal (proud papa talking).

If you use "only the best parts" (translation: "expensive crap from Warmouth"), you can pay 3 or 4 times that.
But most of the parts you need - and top shelf parts from SD, CTS, etc. - are available every day on Amazon.
With 2-day delivery and free returns.
Try getting that out of Warmouth or ScrewMac. Not gonna happen.
I am willing to bet one could build an entire partscaster that roars out of Amazon parts.
Hmmm ... there's an idea for my next build ... The BezosCaster. 😁
I love Warmoth necks and, for what I'm buying, I think they're a good a deal. The neck on my Sherwood Green Strat (bottom right above) cost me $214.33, including shipping. It's flatsawn maple w/a rosewood board, my preferred boatneck profile and 6105 stainless frets. I just had to finish it and install a nut. The same neck in roasted, which I also use, is another $55, but doesn't need a finish.

The Inca Silver Strat above cost $525 in parts, including the roasted Warmoth neck.

Otherwise, I completely agree. For Fender hardware, electronics, etc., check out GuitarAudio on eBay. They have great prices, free shipping and on eBay, they give you 10% off if you order four or more items.

Philadelphia Luthier is another of my favorite suppliers. They have a great selection of nickel hardware that's easy to age with vinegar fumes when I'm doing a vintage-inspired project.
 

Happy Enchilada

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Philadelphia Luthier is where I got my "poker chip" for the toggle switch on my Hamer Special that reads
MARY ANN / GINGER
Gets a laugh every time!
 

RickyRicardo

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When I decided I wanted to build a partscaster I bought everything from Warmoth except the pickups. I built 3 that way until I decided to jump into the deep end and build from scratch. Each one cost around $700 and all the parts fit perfectly. That was about 7 years ago and prices are today not what they were. Doing it that way was pretty much hassle free.
 

slayabouts

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Again, I appreciate all the input; it's been way more than I was expecting! I honestly expected just a few responses telling me that I should do a better job searching the forums haha, but glad to see this isn't like reddit

I had actually bought a couple of harley benton dual humbucker tele clones for about $60 each with the intention of using one as a base to replace the pickups on. I bought a second in (the likely) case I got a POS and it's a good thing I did - one had an acceptable body but a bad neck and the other was the opposite. Of course the good neck didn't fit well into the good body, so I haven't done anything with it. I can, however, at least use them to practice soldering, removing and replacing parts, etc while I figure out what to do as far as the body and neck. I wound up putting in an order for a neck and body through tonebomb.com because they were on discount, but it like everything else has a turnaround time of about 7 weeks. While I understand why it's going to take a while, I see there are close enough options on ebay that i could go ahead and get and maybe try making a simpler build in the meantime. The neck would be more expensive and not 100% to my liking, but I guess I could turn around and sell it if I don't like it
 

cousinpaul

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Guitar Mill in Murfreesboro TN is a good source for bodies. They also offer all the common routing options. A swimming-pool route might be a good choice and cheaper than oddball routes for the middle and neck pickups. It would also give you the option of changing up the pickups at a later date if you wanted to.

Regarding the neck, I think most here would agree, there's very little money above the 22nd fret.

Also, the Rail Hammer looks like it would drop into a standard HB route.
 

slayabouts

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Guitar Mill in Murfreesboro TN is a good source for bodies. They also offer all the common routing options. A swimming-pool route might be a good choice and cheaper than oddball routes for the middle and neck pickups. It would also give you the option of changing up the pickups at a later date if you wanted to.

Regarding the neck, I think most here would agree, there's very little money above the 22nd fret.

Also, the Rail Hammer looks like it would drop into a standard HB route.
It will - their p90s are designed to be HB sized. For the neck, i've opted for a 22nd fret just because there's no extra charge, but I probably wouldn't miss it if I only had 21 to work with

I've considered just going for the swimming pool, though. But I figure I can always cut out more, can't put it back in
 




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