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Thoughts on partscasters

dangeroso

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,615
I've come to the conclusion that I'm not going to find a Telecaster off the rack that has all of the nonstandard features/options that I want. I could buy a standard Tele and start swapping parts, but then I'm buying a bunch of parts I'll never use. I'm sure that I could get a very nice custom Tele from a good builder like Danocaster or K Line that would be perfect, but it won't be cheap.

So, I'm looking at a Warmoth build, but I'm curious to hear from those have gone this route. How do you avoid building a dud? Is parting the guitar your only hope of selling if it doesn't work out? Any horror stories or cautionary tales?
 

gigs

Member
Messages
11,132
For many years I never found a tele I bonded with. Until I built a partscaster about a year ago. Did the research and decided to use an unfinished pine body (from StewMac), Warmoth 1 piece maple neck (compound radius, std thickness, biggest frets they have), Lindy Fralin bridge pickup, SD hot rails neck pickup. Good hardware. My only partscaster build so I really took my time finishing the body (no paint, just some stain and boiled linseed oil - LOTS of coats). Neck purchased unfnished (no stain, just many coats of spray-on high gloss poly).

Absolutely love it. It has become my #1.

Maybe I just got lucky. I dont know. Total cost below $900. Total effort on my part approx. 20 hours. (Lots of sanding and finishing)

 

UMT

Member
Messages
879
I built a Hardtail Strat HH.... It turned out 'ok.' The only way I can dispose of it without taking a total bath is to part it out and I'm still going to lose money.

I'm glad I did it because I learned alot but I'll never do it again...

This is my experience.
 

craigoslo

Member
Messages
419
I did a warmoth/callaham tele a few years ago. It turned out great and had all the options I wanted, but for the cost I could have ordered a ron kirn tele.
 

dirk_benedict

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,481
OP - what are your non-standard specs exactly?

I've got two mongrel guitars that were put together from parts...but the finished product looks like something not too distant from what a factory guitar would be. I don't believe either of the builders (not me) had any magic formula in matching parts, and I'm very pleased with both instruments.

I think if you get way off the reservation with wood combinations, cosmetics, the more of a bath you will take on resell.

And remember, there is usually a reason why production guitars have specs they do. Yes, you can bolt on any neck with 4-screws in theory, but some things just tend to work better than others, which is why they became standard in the first place.

SO, if you are looking at a 3-humbucker tele with a 7.25-16" compound radius tung oil finished cocobolo neck and a pine purple sunburst tummy cut body rear-routed and drilled for a Wilkinson trem and a b-bender...by all means have at it. Total crapshoot.
 

Matt L

Member
Messages
11,535
I've built tons of partscasters. I tend to go in cycles. I'm working on a few new ones right now. Some turn out great, some don't. I think the more I learn, the better the odds are becoming. The process is fun, and knowing exactly what specs you like really helps the end result. I've been able to recoup most of my money on certain builds, mainly because I didn't spend much, but others make more financial sense to part out. The ones that didn't turn out well have always been those that used lower quality parts.
 

dangeroso

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,615
For many years I never found a tele I bonded with. Until I built a partscaster about a year ago. Did the research and decided to use an unfinished pine body (from StewMac), Warmoth 1 piece maple neck (compound radius, std thickness, biggest frets they have), Lindy Fralin bridge pickup, SD hot rails neck pickup. Good hardware. My only partscaster build so I really took my time finishing the body (no paint, just some stain and boiled linseed oil - LOTS of coats). Neck purchased unfnished (no stain, just many coats of spray-on high gloss poly).

Absolutely love it. It has become my #1.

Maybe I just got lucky. I dont know. Total cost below $900. Total effort on my part approx. 20 hours. (Lots of sanding and finishing)

Nice!
 

the_rising

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
972
I built one once a few years that I didn't really like - having said that it was basically a "kit" guitar with some upgrades so it wasn't top-end by any means.

Last year I got some input from a local luthier on how my feel preferences translate to parts/setup and then collected the parts I was interested in....once I had it all I took it to him for assembly/setup/etc and its a top-notch instrument that would go up against any full-bred Fender. The take home price, including the assembly/setup, was about $700.
 

wlalpaugh

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
226
I have a killer Thinline build on E-Bay.eBay item number:
141190616328
Incredible guitar.
 

dangeroso

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,615
How much do you want to spend?
It depends on what I'm getting. I'd pay more for a good assembled guitar than I would for a kit of the right parts. More for a known name, etc.

That said, I doubt I'd ever spend 2K for a Tele, even if it was perfect.
 

Ubersooner

Member
Messages
2,165
I would only build a partscaster if I had a very knowledgeable builder to consult. The problem with parts supplier consults, without a personal relationship, you have no idea how qualified the individual salesperson is concerning builds. Like someone said above, the archetypal guitars are a result of years in the making and its a very expensive crap shoot without the knowledge base.
 

jimpridx

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,533
I put this one together a few years ago for around $800, and it quickly became my #1 Tele. It's primarily built from quality used parts that I had laying around from other builds and Teles, and only the MJT single-piece ash body was purchased for this particular guitar. As mentioned above, if you have a good idea as to what components you want to use as well as knowing what the the ultimate result may be, a partscaster is certainly a viable option:

 

Bodeanicus

Senior Member
Messages
1,092
Carvin sells a kit for their Tele/Strat hybrid for $450. You can spec the neck radius, fretboard wood, bridge, finish etc., for a small mark up.
 
Messages
860
I built a Partso-Stat a few years ago which has had couple of neck swaps and few pickup configurations. It now has a Warmoth '59 neck with compound radius and 6105 SS frets. Mighty Mite swamp ash body, Wilkinson 6-hole vintage trem, and Fender Hot Noiseless pickup set. Overall it's decent, but if I could have all the money I put into it back I'd take it. I saved a lot of money by finishing the neck and body myself. I absolutely love the neck, but it would probably benefit from a different body and better trem.
 

scott520

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,112
I've gone this route a couple of times. Mostly replacement necks but I've assembled an entire parts-caster with MJT (who I HIGHLY recommend if you don't plan to finish the parts yourself) parts and it turned out fantastic! You learn a lot about specs that you think you like. I just knew that I'd love a compound radius...not so much. I just knew I'd love a solid rosewood neck on a tele...not so much. I figured a combo of a thick neck profile would suffice for not having a 1 11/16 nut width...not so much. I've finally found the combo that works best for me but it cost me several hundred dollars to get there. Thats my only word of caution. Be 100% sure you know the specs you "think" you want, actually work. Oh yeah, and have fun. Despite the $, I had a lot of fun learning about specs, fret works, set up, finishing, etc...
 

mrpinter

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,391
I've got three Warmoth build guitars and feel like I got really lucky with all of them. Like others have said already, a lot of having a successful outcome is the investment in good quality parts; then the care taken in assembly - getting all the details right, and getting a pro setup (and getting some fretwork done if called for) - all those things are critical too.

I paid professional techs who are experienced in building these guitars to do the work for me, and I have no regrets. For me that's the difference between a "kit" guitar and a truly custom instrument.
 

Matt L

Member
Messages
11,535
I've got three Warmoth build guitars and feel like I got really lucky with all of them. Like others have said already, a lot of having a successful outcome is the investment in good quality parts; then the care taken in assembly - getting all the details right, and getting a pro setup (and getting some fretwork done if called for) - all those things are critical too.

I paid professional techs who are experienced in building these guitars to do the work for me, and I have no regrets. For me that's the difference between a "kit" guitar and a truly custom instrument.
Yeah, the set-up and finishing work is so key. I bet some of my earlier "so-so" guitars would have been much better if I had swallowed my pride, and paid an experienced tech to finish it up for me.
 






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