contemplating a partscaster... which ingredients for me??

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by re-animator, Apr 9, 2008.

  1. re-animator

    re-animator Senior Member

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    well.... I've decided to take the plunge and really go all out and build my dream guitar. All the specs I want that fender just doesn't make yet.... I just want to make sure I'm getting what I really want.


    I've always lusted for a really nice strat, and I think this is the time to go after it.



    My favorite strat tones come from:

    Jimi Hendrix, Rory Gallagher, Eric Johnson, David Gilmour, Mark Knopfler, John Mayer, Jeff Beck, and Ronnie Wood. In approximately that order.


    Here's what I have decided on so far:


    12" radius rosewood neck with medium jumbos in a Soft-V shape. V-Shape is the most important thing to me. I just love the way it feels and it still allows your hand to feel comfortable with even a very flat 12" radius neck.. I may change my mind to maple, but I'm pretty much diggin rosewood. I'm totally a lost-dog in the world of nut widths, and i could use some help here on that. I like the wide/flat classical feel, but making complex chords is also really important to me. I'd strongly prefer 21 frets, but 22 frets shouldn't be that big of a deal.

    I'm definitely a devotee of Fralin pickups, and I think I'll opt for their callaham "special wind hendrix" pickups. They're supposed to be close to the hendrix and eric johnson spec'd pickups. I don't think I'll be getting something unsatisfactory from Fralin. Callaham hardware/trem and electronics will probably also be a must.


    I think body wood is the big wild card for me. Don't know whether to go for alder or swamp ash. I know that a light weight body is quite important to me. I've always found lighter strats to be more toneful and "violin-like". I know Rosewood is a bit warmer and softer in the attack than a maple neck, so maybe its a good idea to be a little bit brighter in the body with swamp ash?? I definitely like the warm violin-like lead tone of alder bodies, but I want to retain a punchy rhythm response (think Rory Gallagher... almost tele-like) and tonal complexities for clean chordal work. I'm not quite sure if i want alder or swamp ash. All I know is that it has to be olympic white :bow




    well, what say ye?? is ash or alder the way to go?? what about nut width? How about vendors?? I think I'm going through warmoth (body), USACG (neck), and Callaham (pickups, hardware, electronics). I've never built a guitar, but I'm a whiz with setups and I've got great attention to detail with this sort of thing.






    someone steer me in the right direction :D
     
  2. loiking

    loiking Member

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    Looks like you've preety much got it all sorted. I'd say that Alder is your thing if you like Hendrix, Beck and Gallagher who are all definately Alder Strat kinda guys. IMO Alder works better with Rosewood as well.
     
  3. JimH

    JimH Member

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    Erm you seem to need no help at all! - I did it last year and it turned out pretty well, one thing is though - putting together various parts may not produce the tone you expect - so don't be too disheartened if not exactly as you pictured it. Try and appreciate what it is, I'm sure it'll be great with that spec - great, but maybe not what you expected.
     
  4. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    You should get a Warmoth compound neck10"~16" (out performs a straight radius in terms of next fret clearance at same action) and you should also consider stainless steel frets .
    Don't go too light with the body no less than 3 1/2 lb as it starts to sound thin (not resonant).
    Good luck and keep us posted "with pics"
     
  5. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    Why dose it matter what it says on the Headstock ????
    Go ahead and build YOUR guitar without the compromises .
     
  6. pacomc79

    pacomc79 Member

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    sounds like everything is sorted out right to me. I generally prefer the alder body but the logic makes sense.

    The Cryo dipped Fralin Vintage Hot's would be good if you don't go for the SRV/Hendrix wind. Probably with a baseplate?

    You just getting the entire fralin hardware kit? Probably would make sense anyway. I have had good luck with the Gotoh vintage locking machine heads if you want locking.. same mass and weight as the regular ones from that period but you may not care about that.

    what wiring? Blender, EJ configuration with the second tone wired to the bridge?

    What color? Neck Finish?


    Definately make sure you get everything shielded, you might go ahead and get the guard from Callaham too as well as his shielding plate. That kind of makes it simple.
     
  7. Figher53

    Figher53 Member

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    If you can swing it, include the Suhr BPSSC.
     
  8. wgs1230

    wgs1230 Fully Intonatable Silver Supporting Member

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    This is not my experience at all, and I've worked with a half-dozen over the past decade. More to the point, there is no such thing as "same action" when you're working with a 10-16" gradient vs. straight radius, though Ken W. would have his customers believe otherwise.
     
  9. re-animator

    re-animator Senior Member

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    I'm not really a fan of compound radius at all. 12" is where its at for me. I played an EJ strat on a few occasions and the neck was pretty sexy. Don't know why the RW strats come with the weird binding though... ugh. Also the pickups and the metal didn't take me.

    the reason I will probably not go with fender:

    Fralin pickups will go in all my single coil guitars, forever.
    stock electronics are.... not my bag.
    Trem system, tuning stability, etc. could all be a lot better.
    lastly and most importantly I want this guitar made for me and nobody else. I'm not thinking that spending $1000 in a partscaster is gonna dethrone a $2500 CS strat. I am thinking that I'll have a chance to build a strat to look and feel, if not sound exactly the way I want it. To be a personal instrument.

    I'm not too concerned about resale value. I know everyone thinks that at the beginning, but worst comes to worst I could part it out and make *most* of the money back, hopefully.


    The wiring however will definitely be EJ style, with tones wired to the neck and bridge. I don't know why all strats don't normally come like this.

    The weight I'm shooting for in the body is about 4 lbs. Looks like alder will be a good bet.

    There's an olympic white 4lb alder body on warmoth right now and its like $260. To me that seems like a great price on a body that's got exactly what I want. I just hope my tax return gets here soon!


    I was thinking of getting the pre-wired pickguard from callaham. Includes callaham electronics, your choice of fralin pickups, already wired up and ready to go.


    still not sure about the nut width yet, but I do have a nice yamaha neck that I will be slapping on in the mean time, which will help me get a feel for the guitar once I get everything else set up the way I like it.




    I will definitely post pics once the wheels are all in motion, which will hopefully be within the next month or so.
     
  10. westex

    westex Disgruntled Optimist Silver Supporting Member

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    I gotta agree on a bunch of stuff here -

    compound radius; it doesn't do it for me either, I prefer a straight 12".

    resale value: Who cares if it is a killer player, sounds great, and you intend on keeping the guitar and playing it. It'll always be worth something and you'll have the guitar you have in your "mind's eye"

    Disagree on one thing: "I'm not thinking that spending $1000 in a partscaster is gonna dethrone a $2500 CS strat" I say go ahead and think that - I have a partscaster I made from an Am. Std strat body, USACG neck (absolutely fabulous 1 3/4 ' nut, 12 " straight radius, satin finish, 6150 Stainless frets - the tech that installed it didn't have to do anything to the frets) - and it hangs in there with my $2400 custom made Melancon.

    Cheers.

    Wes
     
  11. re-animator

    re-animator Senior Member

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    very cool.

    I think in putting it together I'm gonna do my best to do most of it myself, but I have access to on of the coolest techs on the planet, and i won't hesitate to go to him.

    I've been hearing a lot of good things about USA CG necks, and how they are much more playable off the shelf than warmoth's stuff. As it stands, I'm looking at a warmoth body and usa cg neck.... callaham/fralin hardware and pickups.

    Part of me is still wondering if the callaham hardware is quite worth it or not, and maybe there's something in between Callaham and USA standard that i should be looking into... but right now I think i'll go with callaham.
     
  12. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    Sorry this is a fact I measured it with a colleague on a PLEK.
    Started out with an action of 1.4mm across the board at the twelfth fret as a reference point. If you like 12" thats up to you but don't kid yourself that straight is better unless it is flat or the strings are parallel it's just physics.
     
  13. dougk

    dougk Silver Supporting Member

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    Exactly. Build a Ferden.

    Way more fun. Trust me. Just strung this guy up

    [​IMG]

    2pc alder body I made. The neck is temporary from my 56 MIJ reissue as Im not done making the rosewood neck yet. The pg-lace sensors are from the same RI strat. They absolutely SMOKED in this body. Swapped them out for a set of tonerider classic blues last night to try out and they were even better! :D I think Im going to order up a set of Novaks for this one and put the toneriders in a hardtail Im building.

    Theres something to be said for building one yourself. Its the crack cocaine of the guitar world. The hardest thing is being willing to take the guitar back apart to actually finish it!

    (btw this should be a good strat. Its got a callaham bridge, the neck will be 9.5" radius, dual action truss rod and Im thinking hard about doing SS frets, good tuners and probably a set of Novaks eventually.. all REALLY good parts and I could build 4-5 of these for the price of a CS fender strat)
     
  14. wgs1230

    wgs1230 Fully Intonatable Silver Supporting Member

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    I was under the impression that Plek machines conformed to basic 2D planar geometry. The math speaks for itself:
    R= (h/2) + (W^2/8h)

    R= radius
    h= height of point over plane
    W= width of plane

    10-16" compound radius doesn't allow "h" to equal the same values at the 1st, 12th and 19th frets as a straight 12" radius does and maintain clearance over equivalent fret heights. You'd have to raise h1 at the nut, esp. on the outer strings, to attain equivalent positions at h2 and h3.

    (And who, aside from dedicated slide players, sets up equal string action at the 12th fret?)
     
  15. playon

    playon Supporting Member

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    Yeah I'd go with alder... but I wouldn't get it extremely featherweight, just nice & light, like around 4lbs or so. Ash seems to work better with maple necks on strats.

    Callaham makes really great stuff, all you really need from him for the tone is the tremelo block and saddles.
     
  16. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

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    You shouldn't get involved with a partscaster for resale value in the first place, so it seems like you know what you're getting into. It also sounds like you're quite particular about what you want which is good. Disregard the Fender/decal comment... that should not sway you at all.
    I always recommend buying someone else's partscaster or part of a cool guitar (loaded bodes abound on ebay) and working on a few before you really expect to build your "dream guitar". BUT, If you buy your parts from the same company you should be okay (ie. Warmoth neck & body, USACG neck & body, etc...) You get the idea.
    Callaham stuff is great, many other makers are great, shield it well, buy a preloaded pickguard (shielded) easy as pie... EXCEPT tweaking and final setup. I HIGHLY recommend adding in some cash for a pro to make it all gel. I built a few partscasters so far, some came together really well but one gave me serious grief. I paid $250 to have a tech go over the entire build and when he handed it back to me I was AMAZED! I knew he was good just by talking to him.... he could glance at the guitar and already had an idea of everything that needed to be done. Filing the nut correctly is VIP work and is extremely important. Get a pro to do that for you along with fret dressing, setup/intonation and you'll be golden... and still WAY below F*nder CS pricing.
    Don't spend $1K on a decal unless to fully expect to try and flip this guitar in the future...
     
  17. GuitslingerTim

    GuitslingerTim Member

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    I'm having a little trouble following the math, but my simple mind tells me that if the radius of the slots in a nut match the radius of the first fret, and the radius of the saddles is set so the height of the strings matches the radius of the last fret, the height of the strings should be equidistant across each fret.
     
  18. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    Remember that the strings are not parallel too the axis of a straight fingerboard and this is the problem ,and bending a string increases the error.
    Equal string action is just easier to evaluate .
    Read the action at every fret on a 12" radius with this reference point.
    Then the same on a 10"~16" and you will get more even results .
    Now measure the clearance at the next fret (when fretted) at every fret.
    Now bend a string ,the difference is massive as a percentage of clearance over the next fret at any point . Obviously this will be repeated at any action hight you set, don't take my word for it measure it you self or make a CAD model of a fingerboard and get your own results .
    The "Perfect "radius is one that is based on a cone derived from the string spacing at the nut and bridge respectively,and it is never straight unless the neck is flat or the nut and bridge string spacings are the same.
    Oh and Pleks use a 3D model of the movement of each different gauge string over a 3D fingerboard.
     
  19. wgs1230

    wgs1230 Fully Intonatable Silver Supporting Member

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    It's entirely possible to do exactly what you describe and still require the action to be appreciably elevated to achieve clearance over a compound radius vs. straight. Think about what happens to the high E when you're bending at the 12" portion of a 10-16" gradient: your string clearance diminishes is as the board under the vibrating string flattens out, and either your nut slot height or bridge saddle must be raised to compensate.

    Better yet: check out one of Warmoth's compound necks with their pre-installed nut, and measure the slot heights vs. a factory Fender nut on their 9.5" straight board.
     

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