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View Full Version : USACG Guitars - Quality?


Zach.drummond
06-23-2011, 02:33 AM
How good are USACG's bodies and necks? How good are their paint jobs? Also how hard is it to assemble these with good results?

I really want to get a backup guitar sometime, but K-Line's and Nash's are so expensive...

Is there any reason why I should NOT try to DIY through USACG?

Thanks for the help! Peace!

memiller
06-23-2011, 03:00 AM
High quality, as good as any builder. It's easy to assemble the parts. The difficult bit is getting good tonal results. It'll be very playable, but might not sound the way you want since you have little to no control over the wood used.

Buy your neck and body, then determine what paticular components you want to use. Don't spec the whole thing out then expect it to work. Purchase hardware based on the sound you get from the neck and the body.

Zach.drummond
06-23-2011, 03:05 AM
I don't get what you mean...

What if I want to build a standard Tele in Lake Placid Blue, but with a Lollar Regal wide range humbucker in the neck?

cerichards
06-23-2011, 05:12 AM
I've got my fingers crossed on USACG... I've got a new neck for my Mexican Strat that should be boxed up and out in the mail this week or next. I called my order in and spoke to Tommy and he was great to talk to and nice enough to put up with a lot of questions... and here's the best part... he had answers for all my questions.
Remember that their necks do not come with a nut. They expect that the body and neck should be paired and assembled with a bridge before the nut should be cut.
I'm super excited about my neck!

mrdavek
06-23-2011, 05:21 AM
Top notch! Tommy is great & super knowledgeable!

I have done multiple builds with their necks and bodies & have always gotten stellar results!

You will be very happy.

Ed Alvarado
06-23-2011, 06:13 AM
I have purchased two Tele Body's from them, one finished and one not and both were awesome. No worries!

62Tele
06-23-2011, 06:36 AM
I'm not familiar with their finish work, but their bodies and necks are excellent. You can have control over the wood to a degree. You can spec out the wood type, weight and number of pieces when you order and they will get as close as possible. I've had two of their bodies, both one piece swamp ash, both lightweight. My current tele is one of them and started as a sub 4# body unfinished - great sounding guitar.

tapeworm
06-23-2011, 07:17 AM
never used them but they seem to have a good following around TGP. i sent you a PM about some other potential options.

RockStarNick
06-23-2011, 07:37 AM
Questions for the OP:

• Are you confident working with tools?
• Are you confident with a soldering iron
• Are you good at setting up a guitar yourself, or do you take it to a tech?
• Do you have any experience leveling/crowning your own frets?
• Can you slot a nut?

If you answered "no" to any of these, chances are, unless you bring your guitar to a tech for a proper final setup, it won't play as well as you'd like it to.

A proper setup on a homemade parts guitar is the difference between a "partsocaster" and a finished instrument.

memiller
06-23-2011, 10:35 AM
I don't get what you mean...

What if I want to build a standard Tele in Lake Placid Blue, but with a Lollar Regal wide range humbucker in the neck?

What I mean is that luthiers have the ability to accept or reject a piece of wood based on its sound at any point in the build process. You don't have that luxury with a parts guitar. You order the parts, they get shipped to you sight (and sound) unseen (unheard). It's not a good idea to say "Well, I want this bridge... and these pickups... and these saddles... with those tuners..." and just slap them together. That's why most parts builds fail is because the person assembling the pieces puts together a wish list rather than matching the right hardware and electronics to the sound of the body and neck they receive.

It's a much better idea to get the basic pieces first, then decide on everything else. Once the neck and body are in your hand you can determine what hardware would work best, and what pickups would be needed to get the tone you're looking for. By making a laundry list you just set yourself up for disaster. I've heard some people say Lollars are quite bright, and in the wrong guitar they very well could be. That's why it's better to have the parts in your hands before determining how to proceed. It does take a little longer, but the results are much better.

memiller
06-23-2011, 10:39 AM
A proper setup on a homemade parts guitar is the difference between a "partsocaster" and a finished instrument.

That's something else a lot of people don't quite get. So many parts guitars suck just because the person that built it didn't have a strong grasp of how to set a guitar up properly. It's much more involved than it seems.

At the same time, it's not difficult to learn. It's just better to learn on a beater from the pawn shop than it is on your $1200 partscaster.

telelion
06-23-2011, 01:29 PM
Agree with above posts on partscasters. In the old days like the first Dimarzio ones etc, and the assemblers, I don't think I ever heard/played a good one and could never figure out why. Now I think they can be great especially if you know what you want and it is put together expertly. And Tommy IS a fantasic guy to deal with at USCG.

But do the boutique builders and say Custom Shop Fenders really "mate" the guitar bodies/necks and parts together as in alchemy to create something any different than the partscasters gamble? The CS off the shelf guitars have their specs already set so it's not like they change the PU's or bridge based on the sound. And do the small builders really throw out a guitar neck, body, etc, that does not cut it or drastically change parts based on the sound? Especially considering most are made from our specs most of the time. First of all how can one tell as one is making it?

carbz
06-23-2011, 01:53 PM
All guitars are partscasters. Do you think guys like Suhr or Tyler sit and match certain bodies with certain necks, pickups and hardware to end up with the ideal tone? I seriously doubt it. Another thing what makes a good sounding guitar? What if you prefer a brighter sounding guitar with your amp but then you sell your amp and your new amp is too bright? The whole thing is ridiculous if you ask me. USAC guitars are super high quality aftermarket parts and have great customer service which is all you need to know. Once you have the parts you want experiment with pickups and you'll certainly find something that works for you.

memiller
06-23-2011, 01:58 PM
Agree with above posts on partscasters. In the old days like the first Dimarzio ones etc, and the assemblers, I don't think I ever heard/played a good one and could never figure out why. Now I think they can be great especially if you know what you want and it is put together expertly. And Tommy IS a fantasic guy to deal with at USCG.

But do the boutique builders and say Custom Shop Fenders really "mate" the guitar bodies/necks and parts together as in alchemy to create something any different than the partscasters gamble? The CS off the shelf guitars have their specs already set so it's not like they change the PU's or bridge based on the sound. And do the small builders really throw out a guitar neck, body, etc, that does not cut it or drastically change parts based on the sound? Especially considering most are made from our specs most of the time. First of all how can one tell as one is making it?

A builder might spec out a guitar a certain way, then realize some component isn't working. Fender might go through a dozen or more iterations of a design before they get everything right. When they do, they know how to reproduce it. The wood has to sound a certain way, these are the pickups, this is the bridge, and so on. They can choose which body and neck blanks to use out of the gigantic pile that best fit the tonal qualities of the model they're building.

Smaller companies and individual luthiers do this to some extent as well. Most of the solo luthiers I know get their lumber directly from a yard, rather than go through someplace like Stewmac for blanks. That way they can choose their pieces to fit the tone they want.

With a partscaster, you can't do that. You're getting a body and neck that you have no prior knowledge of. It's somewhat of a crapshoot, but as long as you're using a good builder you're going to get good wood.

The problem is when someone gets hung up on the spec sheet before knowing what the neck/body sounds like by themselves. For all you know you could be getting one of the brightest pieces of alder ever shaped into a Strat. Since you already bought the Lollars (which have been known to have an abundant high end) you now have an overly bright guitar.

That's where the difference is. A builder starts with a goal in mind and works towards it, choosing every component for certain properties. Building a partscaster the same way guarantees disaster and wasted time.

If you're going to build a partscaster, at least leave pickup selection for last. Try out a set of known pickups in it first and work from there to find what you really need.

*EDIT*
BTW, there's no alchemy involved. See my sig for my opinion on BS as related to the guitar. ;)

Zach.drummond
06-23-2011, 03:34 PM
...First of all how can one tell as one is making it?

Best sentance ever. Haha

Totally agree.

cnardone
06-23-2011, 08:45 PM
First of all how can one tell as one is making it?

Ask Terry McInturff or Bill Chapin. You may not buy the answer, but for guys that have built 100s or 1000s of guitars, know what they are looking for.

Having said that, I want to build myself a partscaster pretty badly.

cmn

Zach.drummond
06-24-2011, 01:30 AM
A builder might spec out a guitar a certain way, then realize some component isn't working. Fender might go through a dozen or more iterations of a design before they get everything right. When they do, they know how to reproduce it. The wood has to sound a certain way, these are the pickups, this is the bridge, and so on. They can choose which body and neck blanks to use out of the gigantic pile that best fit the tonal qualities of the model they're building.

Smaller companies and individual luthiers do this to some extent as well. Most of the solo luthiers I know get their lumber directly from a yard, rather than go through someplace like Stewmac for blanks. That way they can choose their pieces to fit the tone they want.

With a partscaster, you can't do that. You're getting a body and neck that you have no prior knowledge of. It's somewhat of a crapshoot, but as long as you're using a good builder you're going to get good wood.

The problem is when someone gets hung up on the spec sheet before knowing what the neck/body sounds like by themselves. For all you know you could be getting one of the brightest pieces of alder ever shaped into a Strat. Since you already bought the Lollars (which have been known to have an abundant high end) you now have an overly bright guitar.

That's where the difference is. A builder starts with a goal in mind and works towards it, choosing every component for certain properties. Building a partscaster the same way guarantees disaster and wasted time.

If you're going to build a partscaster, at least leave pickup selection for last. Try out a set of known pickups in it first and work from there to find what you really need.

*EDIT*
BTW, there's no alchemy involved. See my sig for my opinion on BS as related to the guitar. ;)


So if you are correct, then how am I supposed to build myself a good Thinline with Lollar Regals? That's a specific spec guitar. It's what I want. Are you telling me it isn't going to work?

memiller
06-24-2011, 02:10 AM
So if you are correct, then how am I supposed to build myself a good Thinline with Lollar Regals? That's a specific spec guitar. It's what I want. Are you telling me it isn't going to work?

I think you either misunderstood everything I said, or didn't read carefully enough.

What I'm saying is that it's not a good idea *WITH A PARTS BUILD* to spec everything out and say "These are the parts I am using. No exchanges, substitutions, or refunds." because, simply put, you don't have the ability to be as discerning regarding wood choice as you would building from scratch. That is the main reason parts builds, most of the time, just don't turn out as intended.

Buy your bridge, neck, and body. Tuners too. String it up, set it up, and play it for a few days... THEN decide how to proceed. This is how you would determine what pickups to use in a factory guitar... why not use the same method for a parts guitar?

Down at the core, my point is that you shouldn't be precious about your parts selection because while things might look good on paper they might not play nice in the real world and it's better to pick a component you may not want but will actually work than it is to use the components you wanted and find they sound like complete ass shortly before an Emporium post ensues.

*EDIT*
To put it another way, if you have your heart dead set on the Regals you probably won't be disappointed... hell, they're Lollars. It takes a very specific guitar to not work well with them. But it would be better to have the guitar mostly assembled, test it on its own, then decide if the Lollars will work based on that.

Stefan S
06-24-2011, 02:10 AM
Ive put together many partscasters, and some of them (especially the latest ones) were pretty close in tone quality to my Tylers, but it took a while to figure out what works and what not.
USAG makes the best aftermarket parts I ever used and have a GREAT service.
Many high profile builders use their parts.
http://inlinethumb59.webshots.com/34554/2021750760103067944S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2021750760103067944JqcezK)
http://inlinethumb54.webshots.com/40373/2986330460103067944S600x600Q85.jpg (http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2986330460103067944XRQSKD)

aman74
06-24-2011, 04:41 AM
Agree with above posts on partscasters. In the old days like the first Dimarzio ones etc, and the assemblers, I don't think I ever heard/played a good one and could never figure out why. Now I think they can be great especially if you know what you want and it is put together expertly. And Tommy IS a fantasic guy to deal with at USCG.

But do the boutique builders and say Custom Shop Fenders really "mate" the guitar bodies/necks and parts together as in alchemy to create something any different than the partscasters gamble? The CS off the shelf guitars have their specs already set so it's not like they change the PU's or bridge based on the sound. And do the small builders really throw out a guitar neck, body, etc, that does not cut it or drastically change parts based on the sound? Especially considering most are made from our specs most of the time. First of all how can one tell as one is making it?

+ A Million.

I'm sorry, but memiller and other's are just plain delusional about this issue.

Zach.drummond
06-24-2011, 05:11 AM
I think you either misunderstood everything I said, or didn't read carefully enough.

What I'm saying is that it's not a good idea *WITH A PARTS BUILD* to spec everything out and say "These are the parts I am using. No exchanges, substitutions, or refunds." because, simply put, you don't have the ability to be as discerning regarding wood choice as you would building from scratch. That is the main reason parts builds, most of the time, just don't turn out as intended.

Buy your bridge, neck, and body. Tuners too. String it up, set it up, and play it for a few days... THEN decide how to proceed. This is how you would determine what pickups to use in a factory guitar... why not use the same method for a parts guitar?

Down at the core, my point is that you shouldn't be precious about your parts selection because while things might look good on paper they might not play nice in the real world and it's better to pick a component you may not want but will actually work than it is to use the components you wanted and find they sound like complete ass shortly before an Emporium post ensues.

*EDIT*
To put it another way, if you have your heart dead set on the Regals you probably won't be disappointed... hell, they're Lollars. It takes a very specific guitar to not work well with them. But it would be better to have the guitar mostly assembled, test it on its own, then decide if the Lollars will work based on that.


Where did you hear this notion? It sounds incredibly gratuitous to build a guitar this way. The idea that one swamp ash body is going to be super bright, and that another one made of the same wood will be much darker seems ridiculous. There may be some slight differences, but I couldn't imagine needing to go to these lengths to keep my partscaster build from sounding...how did you put it? Like "complete @$$?"

:nuts

memiller
06-24-2011, 05:36 AM
+ A Million.

I'm sorry, but memiller and other's are just plain delusional about this issue.

Delusional how, exactly?

Is it a delusion that skilled luthiers choose their woods based on tonal properties, and that if certain pieces of wood don't meet the criteria for the model they're building they reject it? Well no, that's just absolute fact.

Maybe I'm delusional because I think you should build a parts guitar with the same kind of care that said skilled luthier does, even if it's your first build. Nah, that can't be it.

Perhaps the delusion is that I think it's a good idea to know what you're working with in terms of body wood tone before choosing hardware and electronics that might set you back HUNDREDS of dollars and not sound particularly good with what you're putting them on.

That HAS to be it. As we all know, everyone on TGP craps money and can afford to throw it away on stuff that doesn't work right.

:facepalm

Where did you hear this notion? It sounds incredibly gratuitous to build a guitar this way. The idea that one swamp ash body is going to be super bright, and that another one made of the same wood will be much darker seems ridiculous. There may be some slight differences, but I couldn't imagine needing to go to these lengths to keep my partscaster build from sounding...how did you put it? Like "complete @$$?"

:nuts

Two Tele bodies made of swamp ash. One weighs 3 lbs 8 oz. The other weighs 4 lbs 12 oz. Tell me there won't be any difference in sound.

There will be, and it's THAT kind of difference in density and moisture content that you pretty much can't control if you're buying a pre-made body. If you don't think that matters much you are sadly mistaken.

Build your Thinline. It will probably sound great. Then again I could probably strap some strings on my bookcase and it would sound great with Lollars taped onto it. All I'm saying is don't be surprised if you get it put together and the results just aren't what you expected.

Zach.drummond
06-24-2011, 05:46 AM
Two Tele bodies made of swamp ash. One weighs 3 lbs 8 oz. The other weighs 4 lbs 12 oz. Tell me there won't be any difference in sound.

There will be, and it's THAT kind of difference in density and moisture content that you pretty much can't control if you're buying a pre-made body. If you don't think that matters much you are sadly mistaken.

Build your Thinline. It will probably sound great. Then again I could probably strap some strings on my bookcase and it would sound great with Lollars taped onto it. All I'm saying is don't be surprised if you get it put together and the results just aren't what you expected.

I started this thread to find out if USACG makes good products or not. That's all.

I really don't have the patience to argue with you over 1 lb 4 oz of theoretical gibberish. It's not worth it. Chillax.

mike@switchback
06-24-2011, 06:03 AM
USACG makes great products and offers great customer service.

Zach.drummond
06-24-2011, 06:06 AM
USACG makes great products and offers great customer service.

Thankyouuu.

That was all I needed.

mike@switchback
06-24-2011, 06:15 AM
Thankyouuu.

That was all I needed.

Oh, and the prices are very fair too.

Give them a call and talk through what you are interested in and I would bet you come away pleased.

clemduolian
06-24-2011, 07:27 AM
USACG=Aces. Great customer service and great products.

Good luck with your build.

Lex Luthier
06-24-2011, 07:46 AM
I am more than happy with the Tele I built from USACG parts. Frankly it is a better guitar than most of the Custom Shop Nocasters I've tried. I A/B'ed my USACG with a real '53 Tele and it hung right with it. Can't ask for more than that!

Johnne Lee
06-24-2011, 07:53 AM
Many "boutique" builders utilize USCG necks and bodies (even some who won't admit it.) They're fine kit!

Every instrument is a "parts - whatever". And no, you can not predict with true accuracy what the finished product will sound like. Scale length is the single most significant design aspect that determines the ultimate tone.

That being said...

Build your parts guitar and play it. If you technique and taste are up to snuff your tone will follow.

Guitar players expend excessive energy obsessing about the tools of the trade. We spend $5K on a PRS (or whatever), buy a 100 watt amp to play in a small venue, and spend far to little precious time actually developing our music ! Sheesh....

Build that sucker and let it rip!

Geosh
06-24-2011, 12:15 PM
I have built 2 using their bodies:
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4019/4344576415_c2565f2603.jpg
Started out with Tom Short mini humbuckers and sounded really good, but wasn't exactly what I wanted (and I think that is what the other guys was talking about and being able to spec it out 100% before hand. It may work out great, or you may decide to change things...) Now it has a TV PowerTron in the bridge and I swapped out to a rosewood fretboard neck. Sounds absolutely killer now!

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5139/5547341928_e8d3494c35.jpg
This one worked right off the bat. I used the maple neck I took off the red one and threw in some Classic '57s and it just kills! This guitar puts my buddies Les Paul's to shame.

Good luck with the build! It is a lot of fun and Tommy at USACG is a great guy to buy from! He was a lot of help for me!

memiller
06-24-2011, 01:11 PM
Started out with Tom Short mini humbuckers and sounded really good, but wasn't exactly what I wanted (and I think that is what the other guys was talking about and being able to spec it out 100% before hand. It may work out great, or you may decide to change things...) Now it has a TV PowerTron in the bridge and I swapped out to a rosewood fretboard neck. Sounds absolutely killer now!

Yes, that is PRECISELY what I was talking about. Not that it matters. Why the hell would anyone take sound advice that could save them both time and money? :facepalm

SuperSonic
06-24-2011, 01:40 PM
Tommy is the Best period! Alot of the big name guys use him and would never tell you. Get the neck and body from him. You will have no problems/

IPLAYLOUD
06-24-2011, 01:50 PM
I have heard that in the last 2 years or so, some of the tolerances and finish work has slipped just a little. They aren't final sanded or totally smoothed. If you are getting a finished body or neck, that's different.PLEASE be careful with Ferrules, Pickguard Screws, installing the neck, etc.

That said, my 2 favorite guitars have USACG necks and bodies.

walterw
06-24-2011, 08:04 PM
...how hard is it to assemble these with good results?

I really want to get a backup guitar sometime, but K-Line's and Nash's are so expensive...

you don't build parts guitars to save money (unless they're cheap parts, at which point you're just going through a lot of time and trouble to build yourself a squier :puh).

unless you can level your own frets and make a nut to at least the quality level of the better factories, then the labor cost to have those things done plus the parts themselves puts you in the price ballpark of an american fender anyway. (no free lunch and all that)

you get parts guitars because you really want the "fun" of building, or because you have a specific combination in mind that isn't available commercially.

(and sometimes there's a reason for that; i don't think it's as much of a crapshoot as memiller says, but if you go for oddball exotic woods and weird combinations of pickups and parts, you can sometimes end up with an expensive dud. otherwise, "normal" combos of wood and components should give you predictably useful instruments; if they didn't, guitar factories wouldn't be able to operate.)

XKnight
06-24-2011, 08:14 PM
Many "boutique" builders utilize USCG necks and bodies (even some who won't admit it.)

This is what I was going to say as well. So, if USACG is good enough for boutique builders like Gigliotti and Kirn for example, then I'm sure it's good enough for someone that just wants to build their own partscaster.

proreverb68
06-24-2011, 08:18 PM
some of the best guitars ever...where parts guitars.

Eddie Van Halens guitar is one that comes to mind quickly. Seemed to work out ok for him.
Don't be overly impressed with name brands. I played a 199 partsocaster the other day that sounded better than some of the american made strats right in the same store.

I'm sure we could start a list of great players who played parts guitars.


The trick is knowing what to put with what.

Husky
06-24-2011, 08:32 PM
All guitars are partscasters. Do you think guys like Suhr or Tyler sit and match certain bodies with certain necks, pickups and hardware to end up with the ideal tone? I seriously doubt it. Another thing what makes a good sounding guitar? What if you prefer a brighter sounding guitar with your amp but then you sell your amp and your new amp is too bright? The whole thing is ridiculous if you ask me. USAC guitars are super high quality aftermarket parts and have great customer service which is all you need to know. Once you have the parts you want experiment with pickups and you'll certainly find something that works for you.

Actually we most certainly do separate our woods so that only certain necks get used with certain bodies. It has to do with resonance of the neck and body. There are things to avoid.

I also absolutely guide the customers when I feel the hardware and pickups won't bring out the best of his wood choices

Icegator8
06-24-2011, 10:01 PM
unless you can level your own frets and make a nut to at least the quality level of the better factories, then the labor cost to have those things done plus the parts themselves puts you in the price ballpark of an american fender anyway. (no free lunch and all that)



I've never bought a Fender that I didn't have to take to my tech to make it playable. In fact most my guitars go right to the tech. However one of the few guitars I've had that didn't need to go was a tele made out of USACG parts. The fit, finish, frets, etc... were amazing.

carbz
06-25-2011, 09:48 AM
Actually we most certainly do separate our woods so that only certain necks get used with certain bodies. It has to do with resonance of the neck and body. There are things to avoid.

I also absolutely guide the customers when I feel the hardware and pickups won't bring out the best of his wood choices John interesting you mix and match woods but again what makes one guitar sound better then another? I think the one atribute we can probably all agree on is more sustain=better. What you may consider a good recipe for the ideal tone someone for whatever reason may hear it as mediocre. Personally I've never heard a big differnce from one guitar to another if they both had the same pickup. Maybe my ears are shot? Who knows. I guess I just don't have the bionic ears most guitarist seem to have.

Gas-man
06-25-2011, 10:42 AM
I started this thread to find out if USACG makes good products or not. That's all.

I really don't have the patience to argue with you over 1 lb 4 oz of theoretical gibberish. It's not worth it. Chillax.


Hey the guy was giving you good advice on what to expect in your build and made a lot of good points.

I see tons of guys who convince themselves their partscasters are great.

Mainly because they built them.

Husky
06-25-2011, 11:07 AM
John interesting you mix and match woods but again what makes one guitar sound better then another? I think the one atribute we can probably all agree on is more sustain=better. What you may consider a good recipe for the ideal tone someone for whatever reason may hear it as mediocre. Personally I've never heard a big differnce from one guitar to another if they both had the same pickup. Maybe my ears are shot? Who knows. I guess I just don't have the bionic ears most guitarist seem to have.

It is not about different but about right and wrong
The reasons to match a neck and a body is to avoid undesirable resonance which will cause issues with fret buzz and wolf/dead spots. Unavoidable but at least it is possible to steer the dead spots to areas not as bothersome. I dont think anyone considers fret buzz as desirable

carbz
06-25-2011, 12:35 PM
It is not about different but about right and wrong
The reasons to match a neck and a body is to avoid undesirable resonance which will cause issues with fret buzz and wolf/dead spots. Unavoidable but at least it is possible to steer the dead spots to areas not as bothersome. I dont think anyone considers fret buzz as desirable No but I've never heard anyone correlate fret buzz to bad tone. I would think its much more critical to use/match specific types of woods to acheive ideal tones in acoustics rather then electrics. Take into account the amount of overdrive most rock players use I just don't believe under that kind of circumstance matching woods could make at best more then a subtle beneficial tonal impact. Heck you know more then me so maybe I'm wrong.

tapeworm
06-25-2011, 12:56 PM
Hey the guy was giving you good advice on what to expect in your build and made a lot of good points.

I see tons of guys who convince themselves their partscasters are great.

Mainly because they built them.

and the flip side is, even if that guy who built his own partscaster built one better than one of the TGP beloved boutique partscaster builders, no one would admit to it because he doesn't have the same reputation or name recognition as one of TGP's beloved. Many people convince themselves that one of the boutique builts are better than one joe schmoe built because the boutique builder built it. there's bias there either way in most cases.

Teleplayer
06-25-2011, 01:12 PM
I've owned 4 partscaters that were all professionally assembled. By the time you are done with high quality woods and parts, you are into a high quality partscaster for about the same amount of dough as a used guitar from a known builder like K-Line, Nash.....even Suhr, etc.

If you are using premium parts, it's not as inexpensive as you think. Also, if you wind up getting a pro finish, build or set-up, don't forget to add that into your cost for building a partscaster.

Husky
06-25-2011, 04:24 PM
John interesting you mix and match woods but again what makes one guitar sound better then another? I think the one atribute we can probably all agree on is more sustain=better. What you may consider a good recipe for the ideal tone someone for whatever reason may hear it as mediocre. Personally I've never heard a big differnce from one guitar to another if they both had the same pickup. Maybe my ears are shot? Who knows. I guess I just don't have the bionic ears most guitarist seem to have.

Well unfortunatey I hear differences even when two guitars come from the same board. Wood density changes depending which end of the board you use. I hear the most difference with overdrive if your amp is and organic sounding and responsive amp. Also hardware is a huge factor. Being honest most any great player will make a $300 guitar sound excellent. However you might not be inspired to play an instrument you don't enjoy playing. My sorting is to avoid colliding resonance issues. Even tuning gears change the tone and especially truss rod construction for instance a straw on the rod sounds bad to me. I hate double acting rods. Even when I was at fender I used to sort through 10 or so bodies before picking one for my customer. If you wind up making a buzzicaster because of resonance issues who is going to care what the tone is like. As far as none of this mattering on electrics I disagree. It matters just as much as an acoustics. Pickups pick up the tone of the woods if everything is put well together.

memiller
06-25-2011, 04:27 PM
No but I've never heard anyone correlate fret buzz to bad tone. I would think its much more critical to use/match specific types of woods to acheive ideal tones in acoustics rather then electrics. Take into account the amount of overdrive most rock players use I just don't believe under that kind of circumstance matching woods could make at best more then a subtle beneficial tonal impact. Heck you know more then me so maybe I'm wrong.

:facepalm

Wood selection has EVERYTHING to do with an electric's tone. While there are obviously many other factors that determine what an electric ultimately sounds like, you have to start with good wood.

Easy experiment you can do at home. Take a good Fender Strat. Any model will do. Sound good? Play good? Excellent. Now, take all those parts and put them on the cheapest Squier you can find. Yeah... notice how it just doesn't sound as good? Probably flatter... lifeless in comparison. Maybe it's just a dull thud. All the same hardware. Same pickups.

Garbage in, garbage out. You can't make a Squier Bullet sound like a D'Pergo but you sure as hell can go the other way if you're not careful.

Gas-man
06-25-2011, 05:33 PM
and the flip side is, even if that guy who built his own partscaster built one better than one of the TGP beloved boutique partscaster builders, no one would admit to it because he doesn't have the same reputation or name recognition as one of TGP's beloved. Many people convince themselves that one of the boutique builts are better than one joe schmoe built because the boutique builder built it. there's bias there either way in most cases.



Totally agree.

And no one then wants to say anything negative because it will hurt their resale.

One week it's NGD--this is the BEST Tele I've ever played, then you see it in the emp another week.

memiller
06-25-2011, 05:56 PM
Totally agree.

And no one then wants to say anything negative because it will hurt their resale.

One week it's NGD--this is the BEST Tele I've ever played, then you see it in the emp another week.

GAS is painful and difficult to ignore. ;)

carbz
06-25-2011, 05:58 PM
:facepalm

Wood selection has EVERYTHING to do with an electric's tone. While there are obviously many other factors that determine what an electric ultimately sounds like, you have to start with good wood.

Easy experiment you can do at home. Take a good Fender Strat. Any model will do. Sound good? Play good? Excellent. Now, take all those parts and put them on the cheapest Squier you can find. Yeah... notice how it just doesn't sound as good? Probably flatter... lifeless in comparison. Maybe it's just a dull thud. All the same hardware. Same pickups.

Garbage in, garbage out. You can't make a Squier Bullet sound like a D'Pergo but you sure as hell can go the other way if you're not careful. The thing is good quality wood can be had for very little money. If you want to pay $2500 + for attention to detail its your money and spend it how you like. Look I am not a luthier and guys like JS know what to look for when assembling a guitar but does that mean that a parts guitar I put together knowing nothing about what to look for has to sound much different then one of Johns guitars? This may sound strange but I've never in my life ever tone tested a guitar when purchasing. Pretty much every guitar I've owned I thought was cool at the time and I would generally buy a guitar based on the look, the configuration of the pickups and hardware and most important to me the neck. IMO any decent put together guitar will sound pretty dam good through a great sounding amplifier. Its not rocket science really. As long as it stays in tune, plays well and the pickup is not to dirty or squeals I'm good to go. I've never gotten rid of an instrument because I thought it sounded bad but rather just sick of it or just wanted a change. I still say its how critical your ears are and I'd hate to say it but the average listener may not even be able to tell the difference between EVH's tone and Randy Rhoads.

doublee
06-25-2011, 06:53 PM
I have done a mere 2 partscasters from USACG and both times the necks were excellent fret wise and really didnt need anything to tweak at all. My prior experience is a 52RI that I had, so I am basing my judgement on this as comparison, that and I am north of 50 years old, way north in fact. I am a very handy sort it must be said. I think the 2 partscasters were equal if not better than the Fender product. I spec'd different edge roll & bigger frets and C shape and compound radius. And I have Mare PUs and Callaham hardware mainly.

A friend has a nocaster RI and commented favorably on what I had put together. He is also a luthier BTW.

All this said however, there are MANY Many ways to screw up the assembly, and I took alot of time reading beforehand here and elsewhere.

So in summary, an experienced builder will do a better and more consistent job than a novice just screwing together parts, no matter how high quality they may be.

Theres wierd little things that go slightly wrong in assembly that need experienced diagnosis.

The experience to put your own together though is very fun, rewarding and instructional when you screw something up....the pro builders know the pitfalls already, is the difference.

SuperSonic
06-25-2011, 07:07 PM
I will put my sons USACG partscaster up against any Strat made including Custom Shops. Too many people have played it and said damn this guitar rocks and then found out we built it and look dumb founded. It was the first one I ever built and it is magic. Now that being said I am not sure I could duplicate it in 100 tries. The sesond one we tried to put together was a complete disaster. Sometimes these things just happen.

I have seen a pile of Nashes come through the local shop and every now and again one will really stand out. Still if you start with great componets you will end up with a great guitar. USACG neck and body, Lollars or Lindys, Callaham bridge and block, and nitro to me are the secret. Btw plan on spending at least a 1000.00 bucks and 45 days to do it right.

The builders out there if they are using quality components are not making a killing I promise you. Do this to save money will only come back to bite later.

bluetweed
06-26-2011, 06:30 AM
you would be surprised how many builders are getting there bodies and necks OEM from Tommy

tapeworm
06-26-2011, 10:59 AM
One week it's NGD--this is the BEST Tele I've ever played, then you see it in the emp another week.

That goes for home builds and boutique builds, the difference with the boutique build is often the buyer will be reluctant to sell it and admit that it isn't what they envisioned when they got it or admit that it is just another partscaster.

dankayaker
06-26-2011, 08:56 PM
Built by a couple friends (for member rickmebe) . .this guitar is a beast . . . big neck . . big sound.

USACG lightweight 1 piece swamp ash body with thin nitro finish by Mike Aronson

USACG 1" super soft v maple cap quarter sawn maple neck finished with tru oil/gunstock wax finish

1 3/4" nut

16" radius

stainless steel frets

glendale compensated bridge

curtis novak pickups

hipshot open back staggered height locking tuners

shown with xits x50 amp and matching 2x12 cab loaded with 1 celestion gold and 1 celestion greenback.


http://i721.photobucket.com/albums/ww213/rickmebe/xits%20tele/xitstele3.jpg

http://i721.photobucket.com/albums/ww213/rickmebe/xits%20tele/xitstele4.jpg

http://i721.photobucket.com/albums/ww213/rickmebe/xits%20tele/tele6.jpg

Zach.drummond
06-26-2011, 09:28 PM
How is USACG's finishing though? Do they paint in house, or do they have someone else do it? Accurate colors?

DC1
06-26-2011, 09:28 PM
Here's my USACG:

http://i162.photobucket.com/albums/t272/DCC318/guitars/Senseiguitar1lores.jpg


SS frets, ebony board, 1.75" at the nut, 12" radius, paua markers, Tom Anderson pu's, Callaham HT baseplate, KTS Titanium saddles, steel threaded neck inserts. Nothing like it available from any of the big companies.

Basically, I put everything I have learned about guitars since 1980 in this one, and it is one of the best I have ever played from anyone at any price. Quality is world class with USACG.

dc

Medgeking
07-08-2011, 03:58 PM
Pardon me for skipping through reading every post, but I just thought I'd mention that I've built somewhere around 10 parts guitars using everything from Warmoth & USCCG to Carvin and random ebay parts builders. I love Warmoth because they are so flexible and can do just about anything you want. I think USACG probably has a slight edge on them in terms of quality, but they are a bit more limited in what they offer.

I would definitely avoid most of the unknown cheapo parts builders. I've learned through a variety of tests that if a guitar body seems ridiculously cheap, then there's generally a reason. Plus, I've had bodies and necks from inexperienced builders that were routed incorrectly or had other issues that killed a build for me.

I think it's a little silly to quibble about matching specific components and such though. I don't think any of the well known guitar builders wait until they have assembled a particular instrument to then select the pickups or bridge or tuners. In fact, I know that Fender, Gibson and PRS don't do that. They might do it in the R&D phase for a particular model, but then they are subject to the same problem if they have a particularly "bright" or "dark" sounding piece of alder, ash or mahogany.

There definitely is some variation from one piece of alder to the next, but I trust Warmoth, Carvin or USACG to supply a quality piece of wood and I've never once been let down.

If you want to build a telecaster with a WRHB in the neck, I say just do it man! I have so much fun building parts guitars and none of them has ever been a total disaster. I have ended up changing out parts to suit my needs, but that's all part of the fun.

JZWest
07-18-2011, 07:31 PM
Nice examples!

Blue Rocker
07-18-2011, 09:46 PM
How good are USACG's bodies and necks? How good are their paint jobs? Also how hard is it to assemble these with good results?

I really want to get a backup guitar sometime, but K-Line's and Nash's are so expensive...

Is there any reason why I should NOT try to DIY through USACG?

Thanks for the help! Peace!
USACG DIY guitar body's and necks are good and I have painted a few of their guitars
and necks.
I have seen the quality and craftsmanship of their product and it is a good product for the money. What you may not know is they do allot of building for other guitar company's out there small and large so you may be getting their product and not even know it.

oscar100
07-19-2011, 02:10 AM
interesting

memiller
07-19-2011, 02:55 AM
I think it's a little silly to quibble about matching specific components and such though. I don't think any of the well known guitar builders wait until they have assembled a particular instrument to then select the pickups or bridge or tuners. In fact, I know that Fender, Gibson and PRS don't do that. They might do it in the R&D phase for a particular model, but then they are subject to the same problem if they have a particularly "bright" or "dark" sounding piece of alder, ash or mahogany.

Yes, they do it in the R&D phase. They determine the properties necessary for the wood to have a consistent sound from guitar to guitar. Density, moisture content, whatever other criteria they feel is best for their model...

...then they walk out back to their stinkin' great piles of wood and select pieces based on that criteria. As I have said all along, it's possible for a large manufacturer to select wood based on what will sound best with the components they want. An individual doesn't have that luxury and is best off having the wood in his hands (no jokes, please :D ) before he orders hardware and electronics.