Author Topic: Partscaster advice  (Read 4665 times)

Leevibe

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Partscaster advice
« on: April 03, 2014, 08:52:13 AM »
Hey guitar builders. I've been wanting a strat for a few years now and I've decided to start saving up and selling some old gear so I can get one. I'm going to be on a very tight budget, like $500ish so it's going to be a Mexican strat or a partscaster. The latter sounds way more fun, but every time I look into it, it doesn't seem to pencil out. Am I wrong? Can I build a good partscaster for the same price I can buy a new Mexican built strat?

I've looked at warmoth and I would definitely go that route if I could afford it. I've also spent time looking at the parts on STRATosphere, but even there it adds up quick. Part of the issue is that I've decided to be a little picky. I tend to get something and stick with it so I want to get it right the first time.

So, my perfect strat would look something like this:

- non-relic
- Lake Placid Blue
- nitro would be great but poly is fine for me
- white pick guard & pickups
- vintage-y single coils, not noiseless or humbucking
- tremolo bridge
- standard 5 way switching
- maple fretboard
- Fender logo on the headstock or blank headstock
- decent tuners
- quality nut

Send me any and all advice. I want to know if I should go for it or save myself the headaches and buy the Mexican strat. Also, any and all advice about building is welcome. I know next to nothing about fitting the neck pocket or setting the neck angle etc. And you can feel free to tell me why my color/fretboard choices are wrong.  ;D (For me the only thing cooler than lake placid blue would be lake placid blue + rally stripe!)

jimijam

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Re: Partscaster advice
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2014, 09:08:31 AM »
A warmoth strat is gonna cost around $700 to $900 if you use decent new pickups and hardware.   I doubt you could beat the price of a new mex strat, and very good condition mexi strats, with upgraded pickups and hardware can be had for way less if you shop wisely. This is the route i'd take.
    you could find a decent playing strat and you could swap parts out as you go or have work done. like having the frets expertly finished and a bone nut installed...locking tuners. upgraded trem bridge or saddles. And PICKUPS! the pickups will have hand's down the biggest effect on tone. And  finding the right ones can be a lifetime pursuit. I just installed some bare knuckle '63 venneer single coils in my mjt relic and they have been the best gear purchase I've ever made. you may have to compromise a bit at first but you can take your time to get exactly what you want without bankrupting yourself doing it. and with a lot of research you can learn how to build a strat that smokes just about anything off the shelf.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2014, 09:13:23 AM by jimijam »
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GermanCdn

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Re: Partscaster advice
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2014, 09:14:54 AM »
If you're planning on painting the guitar yourself, you can probably get it done for less than $500.  Neck is going to run you somewhere in the $120 - $170 range from Warmoth, Stewmac, Mighty Mite, etc.  I'd pick from the first two, the two MM necks I have purchased both had serious issues, the worst of which was a heel that was not symmetric and therefore unuseable.

Body wise, you can get good unfinished bodies from either Warmoth or Stewmac for about the same price as the neck, depending on your options.  I'm pretty sure Stewmac also still sells there flame top burst bodies for about $240.  Warmoth finished bodies will run you in the $300 range, though you might find one in the Screaming Deals section for less if you're lucky.

Hardware wise, go with Guitarfetish.  Solid block brass bridge is $35, a good set of vintagey single coils is $70, pickguards are $20 ish, their Schaller style locking tuners are pretty sweet for $35, and you can get a US wiring hardness for about $25 if I'm not mistaken.  Don't buy their bodies or necks - they're cheap because they are cheap.  Bought one set.  Was the absolute hands down deadest sounding body I have ever played, and I've had 372 guitars (and now I'm off to my therapists office because of it).

Waterslide "F" decals can be found on ebay for under $10 usually.

One thing you also have to consider is resale value - a partscaster has a resale value typically of far less than the cumulative value of the parts.  And as Jimi pointed out, finding a good quality used MIM strat is not hard to do, and usually at a steal of a price (best deal I ever found was for $250, and it had two lace sensors, an SD hot rails, and a HS case), a setup, fret dress, and hardware swap, and you've got a killer strat for the same price as a so so partcaster.  And you can sell the old parts to cover a chunk of the new parts.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2014, 09:21:00 AM by GermanCdn »
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peAk

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Re: Partscaster advice
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2014, 10:11:11 AM »



Mexican strats are nice if you get the upgrades

Excellent advice. With a fret level, new pickups and upgraded hardware...Mexico Strats are a serious value and great playing guitars.



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Leevibe

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Re: Partscaster advice
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2014, 10:32:07 AM »
Thanks for all the great advice. Keep it coming. I see MIM strats all the time for sub $300 but never configured the way I want in terms of color and fretboard. I agree about resale but that's not a huge factor for me. I will likely keep it for a long time. I suppose I could find a used MIM with maple fretboard and have the body refinished in LPB. Or find one in that color (not likely) and replace the neck.

peAk

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Re: Partscaster advice
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2014, 11:20:43 AM »
If you do decide to refinish a guitar.....

http://www.reranch.com/

They have all the custom Fender paints

I redid one of my Fender Strats surf green and it came out great. That being said, don't think I would ever want to do it again. It was a PITA. I never EVER want to sand a guitar body down again.

jimijam

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Re: Partscaster advice
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2014, 12:19:34 PM »


I never EVER want to sand a guitar body down again.

If you use a heat gun. the paint scrapes right off and usually leaves the sealer. very minimal sanding and you have a body ready to respray
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jimijam

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Re: Partscaster advice
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2014, 12:22:23 PM »
btw I have a couple guenuine fender tremolo bridges in the for sale section and a used mexican 50's body (surf green) both of with I'd let go for cheap. pm if interested.
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peAk

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Re: Partscaster advice
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2014, 12:23:45 PM »


I never EVER want to sand a guitar body down again.

If you use a heat gun. the paint scrapes right off and usually leaves the sealer. very minimal sanding and you have a body ready to respray

yeah, used this method also but for some reason, it still was a PITA. It was a Jap Strat from the 80's and the finish was just crazy to get off. This finish just didn't want to come off. I tried everything.

jkokura

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Re: Partscaster advice
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2014, 01:44:13 PM »
Parts casters can be built cheap, but usually you're sacrificing some part of the guitar - wood quality, finish quality, electronic quality, and/or hardware quality.

If alls you want is a cheap guitar to bang around on and learn how to assemble/work on your own guitars, then I would beg borrow and pay as little as possible to find some inexpensive stuff to learn this with.

If you're wanting a proper, 'number 1' type guitar that will be gig worthy and ready to go... I'd either expect to expand your budget or go with the Mexi strat and plan to upgrade elements you feel need it.

For the record, I am in the middle of my fourth full assembly job and am planning my fifth. These don't include my banger first try that I learned what I know on. Here's some cost breakdowns on the two I'm currently playing, and the cost of the one I'm in the middle of:

Parts Strat:
Warmoth Chambered Alder body in Fiesta Red: $270 (A really good deal on eBay
Warmoth Maple/Pau Ferro Neck: $135 (I got a really good deal from a friend)
S/S/S Dimarzio Area Pickups: $120
Schaller Vintage Tremolo: $115
Gotoh Vintage Locking Tuners: $75
Warmoth Pickguard: $25
Electronics and Hardware: ~$25
Total: $765 (that doesn't include shipping on anything, which easily adds another $100+)

Parts Tele 1:
Maverick Alder body: $140 (you can find good cheap bodies from this guy online: Maverick Guitar parts)
Warmoth Maple/Rosewood neck: $145 (Really good deal from a friend)
S/S - Dimarzio Area T pickups: $100
Wilkenson style compensated bridge: $Gift ($40? usual cost)
Mark Rutters Control Plate: $35
Fender locking tuners: $70
Pickguard, Electronics and Hardware: ~$30
Total: $560 (not including shipping, and assuming you paid for the bridge)

Parts Tele 2 (in progress):
Jason Banning Custom Thinline Body: $425 (shot in nitro, built to my specs)
Warmoth Maple/Ebony neck: $200 (still a good deal)
Tom Anderson Pickups: $190
Marc Rutters Bridge: $150
Bigsby B5 Tremolo: $150
Marc Rutters Control Plate: $35
Gotoh Locking Tuners: $75
Hardware and Electronics: ~$25
Total: $1250 (before shipping and such)

As you can see, you can get something in the 5-600 range, but I wouldn't compare the poly cheap body of my Maverick tele with fairly inexpensive parts and elements to the very custom Nitro Thinline tele with a bigsby - they're very different builds, and I expect the Banning Tele to be much better in quality and sound because of the various features I'm adding to it. However, the Maverick tele is very playable, and I enjoy it very much.

So, in the end, you can get a Mexi Tele and upgrade it for about $500, but building your own runs the gamut of $500-$1500 in cost.

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Mike B.

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Re: Partscaster advice
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2014, 04:24:31 PM »
A lot of people get an MIM in the color/neck they like and just upgrade as they can afford it. They're really pretty decent guitars, and with the right upgrades can be quite gig-worthy instruments.

Leevibe

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Re: Partscaster advice
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2014, 04:26:20 PM »
A lot of people get an MIM in the color/neck they like and just upgrade as they can afford it. They're really pretty decent guitars, and with the right upgrades can be quite gig-worthy instruments.

I think this is the direction I will be going.

micromegas

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Re: Partscaster advice
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2014, 04:47:13 PM »
Parts Tele 1:
Maverick Alder body: $140 (you can find good cheap bodies from this guy online: Maverick Guitar parts)

if I had the money right now I would go for this body: http://www.maverickguitar.ca/collections/limited-production-premium-bodies/products/rosewood-alder-double-bound-tele-body

Also don't forget Guitar Mill, they have offers now and then and the wood quality is often compared to Warmoth (online research, I don't actually bought anything from them)
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aion

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Re: Partscaster advice
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2014, 06:03:57 AM »
Watch for one of these guys on eBay:
http://www.fender.com/squier/series/classic-vibe/classic-vibe-stratocaster-50s-maple-fingerboard-lake-placid-blue/

There's your neck and body in the colors you want. The CV series is amazing and you can usually get them used for really good prices. (The blue ones don't come up very often, but one sold a couple weeks ago for $250.) Don't let the Squier name throw you off - the neck is going to be top notch. You won't get the Fender logo, but it's close. (I don't know if that neck is finished or not on that model, so you may even be able to peel off the Squier sticker.)

The hardware on the CV series leaves something to be desired, so I'd order an aftermarket switch, pots, knobs, etc. and just rewire all the electronics from scratch. Maybe a new bridge too. Most people say the tuners are great, but my CV Telecaster's tuners were garbage so you may want to replace them.

That leaves a cool couple hundred bucks to spend on pickups or something.

Another option, if the Squier logo bothers you, is to buy the whole CV guitar and then sell the neck. As STRATosphere knows well, a guitar is worth a whole lot more in pieces, so if you sell the neck you'll end up with a body for very cheap and have a little more to spend on a Warmoth or genuine Fender neck.
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