Partscaster Strat - Share Your Experiences

TowMater

Member
Messages
647
Hello All -

I thought it would be interesting to hear about different experiences others have had with a partscaster build. My experience was terrible, but I know others have had a lot of success.

Here's my story. I spent months researching neck shapes, pickups, bridges, etc. I got what I consider to be excellent parts, and I had one of the most (if not the most) well-respected companies make the neck and body. I had my guitar tech assemble it all.

The guitar looked beautiful and the workmanship was excellent. Unfortunately, though, it sounding like pickups mounted on a 2x4. In addition, the balance was off, so it was very uncomfortable to play (it always wanted to rotate toward the headstock).

Based on the specs, it should have been equivalent to a Fender Custom Shop. Unfortunately, I outsmarted myself by trying to save money, and instead sold my $1,200 guitar for $400 on ebay after about a month of owning it.

I learned the hard way that a good strat is more than just a collection of parts. (I'm sure Elrod or Suhr could have told me that, had I been smart enough to ask and follow their advice).

All that being said, I know others have had great experiences. Share your stories!
 

mannish

Member
Messages
9,495
I have done 5 or 6 - I did not make the body, the neck, the bridge or the pickups myself. I buy unfinished bodies, necks and do all the finishing...etc - takes patience and that helps me a great deal. They have all turned out wonderful much better than anything I can get off the rack.

Such a great learning experience, I really surprised myself since I am a very impatient person.

I got waterslide decal paper started printing my own headstock decals - Loads of fun but it's not cheap.
 

dazco

Member
Messages
14,634
Sure there will be success stories, but every one of them is due to pure luck. When you build a guitar you have zero idea about how it will sound till you already paid for it and put the work in. the best materials and workmanship mean NOTHING. It's all about the wood and how resonant it is and whether it's tonally right. And a cheap body or neck could be great while one made by a good solid maker like warmoth could sound like dung.

There IS however a way around that trap....buy a guitar ! You can play it and know whether you like how it plays, you can at least get an idea of whether it sounds great or like cr@p, and if either turns out to not be as good as you first thought you can return it and no loss. build it yourself and if you are stuck with it or you lose a lot of money. I buit several years ago and learned that lesson. Also, whatever you want to believe is your prerogative, but i honestly believe that whatever the reason, i have always found fender bodies and necks tend to sound more *right* than anything else most of the time. And remember, if you build custom because you want all the specs that you desire, just buy a guitar close to what you want that plays and sounds right then mod it to your specs. That way you aren't wasting your time on something you turn out to hate. I took a 60's reissue strat i liked a lot already but did the things to it i wished it had....flattened the board radius, medium frets, routed the bridge for a full size HB, wired it like i wanted, bone nut, and vintage style gotoh lockers. Sheer perfection and i took no chances.
 

Eminor7

Member
Messages
297
Building a nice sounding Partsocaster comes down to picking the right parts. I built several parts guitars before things started to click. First and foremost, the weight of the body is critical. An alder Strat body should weigh around 4lbs. A much lighter body will have no sustain, and a much heaver body will lack resonance. I also have a preference for one or three-piece bodies because the neck and the bridge are mounted on a single piece of wood. Neck stiffness, thickness, and construction are important as well. A stiff thick neck will generally result in better tone than a thin neck. Vintage truss rod with skunk stripe construction tends to sound better than modern construction. You should also look for a neck that is either rift or quartersawn. There are always exceptions to the rule, but these rules of thumb seem to hold true more often than not.






 

Steve Dallas

Member
Messages
8,318
I've posted this several times before as this exact question seems to come up about once a month. Here's the really short version:

I have built 5. I have kept only 1 and only because of its sentimental value. None of them sounded as good as my real Fenders. Always just meh. Not even with no expense spared and all the best parts used. My last $1500 parts-O-caster sounded worse than your average Mexi Strat. Looked and played great. Sounded like poo.

YMMV. IMHO.
 

kenneth

Member
Messages
932
Not good experience for me. Really high quality parts, but didn't work well together, IMO. Didn't feel like a complete instrument, felt like parts. But there is no reason why that should have been, that I could find or explain. Ended up parting out.

So I'm not a fan, but this is my opinion.
 

scolfax

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,242
I created a partsocaster very slowly. Bought a strat and over the years upgraded every part except for the body and strap buttons. Sold the old parts off as I went.

Turned out great!

The biggest upgrade was getting a Warmoth neck. If I had *just* done that it would have been worth it.
 

Eminor7

Member
Messages
297
You guys make it sound like building a good sounding Strat is rocket science--it's not! There are only a few things that one needs to get right to build a good sounding Strat. Most people go wrong by pairing up the wrong woods or not paying attention to wood density. Those beautiful five and six pound finished Strat bodies in Warmoth's Showcase get marked down for a reason. If you go into any store and find the best sounding examples, you find that the average weight of a good sounding Strat is between seven and a half and eight pounds.
 
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whaiyun

Member
Messages
3,597
I have a MJT build. I found it a success and its my #1 strat right now. The only thing is, I shouldve used a narrow bridge instead of the vintage spacing. But even so, I have very little trouble playing the high E string on the upper frets.

Get the right weight, use good electronics, and put nice pickups in there. I doubt production model Fenders pick their woods with a discerning eye when making it in the factory anyways...
 

burningyen

Member
Messages
14,696
Clearly, just choosing the best parts isn't enough. Partly because "best" is subjective in terms of what's the desired result, and partly because the real challenge is in knowing what part values to look for and how those values interact to get that result. I haven't seen any reliable pointers on that second part.
 

mannish

Member
Messages
9,495
I have had one that did not work for me but that was when I was first starting to make my own - I bought a finished body and neck was mighty mite. I have since learned what to use and what not to use.

After reading these responses I must have be VERY lucky or maybe it's real hard to make Lollar P90s, Seth Lovers, Fralins.....etc sound bad

I will be very curious to see how the current one sounds with spruce body - I am thinking it will be similar to ash..? but I really have no clue.....If it sucks I sure will have wasted a lot of time :)
 

Crowder

Dang Twangler
Messages
19,078
I think a lot of people who struggle to build a good parts guitar might be in over their heads in terms of setup, both action and pickups. I can take any off-the-rack strat and make it sound better or worse by messing with the setup. You've got to understand what makes a guitar sound good to make a guitar sound good! :) You have to know when the nut is right, how much relief to put in the neck, how high the pickups should be, etc.

Another thing I notice is that a lot of people spec unusual combinations of parts and want them to sound great. If you're building a guitar to sound like a classic strat, you should use classic strat parts. Avoid exotic woods and flat radius necks. Don't throw in the hottest pickups you can find. Don't go overboard in terms of light or heavy parts....keepp it in the middle.

Finally, I try to match a body and neck from the same parts source. This will usually give you the best fit.

My number one right now is a partsocaster. It has fended off all comers. Over the last year I have owned guitars from Anderson, Gibson, Rice, Danocaster, K-Line, McInturff, PRS, etc. Some of these I liked as well as my number one, but none of them were better in my hands.
 

carbz

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,689
I'd like to know what characteristics people refer to when they say a guitar sounds bad :dunno. Do you honestly think any of the big manufacters are putting together guitars and evaluating which configuration sounds best? I highly doubt it. Can someone like say John Suhr know a special formula that he makes no so called "bad" sounding guitars? I still say tone is 85% your rig (the way you dial it in) and your hands and I'll 15% to the actual guitar itself.
 

mannish

Member
Messages
9,495
One thing I am not going to do is stick a stinkin fender decal on something that I made. It takes too much effort to make one then give the credit to fender. no freaking way - I don't understand doing that at all, not at all. It'd be like writing a song and pretending someone else wrote it. asinine
 

Dave2512

Member
Messages
5,742
I've put together several, upwards of 20, never had a problem. Every bad partscaster I've played has been due to set up issues and odd parts choices. Big problem for me is I always lose money on the sale. Not a good thing for me since I'm a guitar flipper. Though in my experience parting the guitars out brings more money than selling a complete guitar.
 

tone?

Member
Messages
4,542
Again I will ask

Those of you that ha good experiences or bad
Who did you get the parts from?
 

Jeff el

Member
Messages
72
I've got a partscaster right now that I just can't love, despite really wanting to. Floyd routed mexi body, mighty mite maple neck, hot dimarzio bridge pickup. This thing plays pretty well (the neck was actually pretty well made) but sounds awful. I've got a MIM Wayne's World 2 Strat with some Canadian-made Fury pickups that ***** all over my partscaster. I'm going to try some Fury's in the parts guitar and if that doesn't suit the guitar, I'm going to be throwing a partscaster up on CL for cheap.
 

Eminor7

Member
Messages
297
I've got a partscaster right now that I just can't love, despite really wanting to. Floyd routed mexi body, mighty mite maple neck, hot dimarzio bridge pickup. This thing plays pretty well (the neck was actually pretty well made) but sounds awful.
GIGO!
 




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