USACG Guitars - Quality?

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by Zach.drummond, Jun 23, 2011.

  1. Zach.drummond

    Zach.drummond Member

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    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!
     
  2. memiller

    memiller Member

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    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.
     
  3. Zach.drummond

    Zach.drummond Member

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    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?
     
  4. cerichards

    cerichards Member

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    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!
     
  5. mrdavek

    mrdavek Member

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    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.
     
  6. Ed Alvarado

    Ed Alvarado Member

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    I have purchased two Tele Body's from them, one finished and one not and both were awesome. No worries!
     
  7. 62Tele

    62Tele Supporting Member

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    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.
     
  8. tapeworm

    tapeworm Supporting Member

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    never used them but they seem to have a good following around TGP. i sent you a PM about some other potential options.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2011
  9. RockStarNick

    RockStarNick Supporting Member

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    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.
     
  10. memiller

    memiller Member

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    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.
     
  11. memiller

    memiller Member

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    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.
     
  12. telelion

    telelion Member

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    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?
     
  13. carbz

    carbz Member

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    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.
     
  14. memiller

    memiller Member

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    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. ;)
     
  15. Zach.drummond

    Zach.drummond Member

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    Best sentance ever. Haha

    Totally agree.
     
  16. cnardone

    cnardone Supporting Member

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    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
     
  17. Zach.drummond

    Zach.drummond Member

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    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?
     
  18. memiller

    memiller Member

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    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.
     
  19. Stefan S

    Stefan S Member

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    I´ve 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.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  20. aman74

    aman74 Member

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    + A Million.

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

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