Should I build a partscaster?

Stefan87

Country Gent
May 20, 2019
3,271
Brisbane, Australia
I know this is the kinda of question that is purely up to me... but thought I'd ask all you out there that have done it.

I have come across a unfinished Paulownia Tele body for a good price that is routed and drilled and has got me thinking if I should have a go at a parts caster tele. Bare in mind a Brad Paisley tele (where the idea of the paulownia body came from) which I tried the other week comes in at $2500.00 AUD so not cheap.

I want a reasonably light one and don't have a traditionally spec'd tele so thought this might be a good opportunity to have a go, I figure if I am smart with my budget it'd cost me about as much as a used player series tele (I know parts casters are not meant to be cheap but more custom) and I can spread the cost over a few months in stead of dropping a bulk amount at one time in a new guitar.

The thing is I have never really tackled anything like this before so am a bit nervous spending a lot of time and effort to not like the end result, but I am at least willing to have a go.

So should I have a crack at it or just save up for a already made 50/60's tele?
 

AZBrahma

Synchromatic
Dec 18, 2020
730
Arizona
Don't do it if you care about the money you'll put into it, and the complete lack of money you'll get back out of it if you sell it.

Paulownia is a VERY light wood. Easy to drill and finish and work with. Note that it can be so light as to induce some neck dive, so count on some light tuners and/or buttons that can be replaced with plastic ones.

I think building, refining, and setting up guitars is fun. I say go for it if you are comfortable with the expenditure.
 

drmilktruck

Senior Gretsch-Talker
Double Platinum Member
May 17, 2009
20,321
Plymouth, MN
I've done many parts casters. It's fun to customize things from an idea I have. However it's not for profit at all. If you need to sell it, it's usually a better idea to part it out or donate it. Can be hard to sell intact. On the other hand, if something's not feeling right for you, you can reuse some or all of the parts on your next project! There are lots of inexpensive bodies on eBay, Reverb, etc ... I usually stick with the better known companies for the necks. (Warmoth, Allparts, etc ...) I do my own finishing, with StewMac stuff (ReRanch is another supplier but last I checked they were still offline from 2020.) StewMac has a wipe on poly that is easy to use and looks very good. You can add color tint to the first few layers. The hardest and slowest part is gathering everything you need! (That and sanding!)
 

Lucky Jim

Gretschie
Oct 16, 2020
253
Kent, England
I have put together lots of Tele-based partscasters of various configurations and I'd echo totally @AZBrahma's comments. If you buy new parts you will lose money on resale as you would on a new guitar so look for good used parts for sale. I've generally had someone spray finish my partscasters which is not cheap but for natural and tinted finishes the wipe-on poly is fairly easy to use (with a little practice on wood offcuts) and looks good. It needs a lot of coats to get a really good finish so is not to be rushed.

Assembling a partscaster is much easier than building a guitar from scratch and is quite doable without special skills. You can also create something that is unlike any Fender offering which can be quite satisfying.
 

G5422T

Country Gent
May 24, 2012
4,225
usa
I know this is the kinda of question that is purely up to me... but thought I'd ask all you out there that have done it.

I have come across a unfinished Paulownia Tele body for a good price that is routed and drilled and has got me thinking if I should have a go at a parts caster tele. Bare in mind a Brad Paisley tele (where the idea of the paulownia body came from) which I tried the other week comes in at $2500.00 AUD so not cheap.

I want a reasonably light one and don't have a traditionally spec'd tele so thought this might be a good opportunity to have a go, I figure if I am smart with my budget it'd cost me about as much as a used player series tele (I know parts casters are not meant to be cheap but more custom) and I can spread the cost over a few months in stead of dropping a bulk amount at one time in a new guitar.

The thing is I have never really tackled anything like this before so am a bit nervous spending a lot of time and effort to not like the end result, but I am at least willing to have a go.

So should I have a crack at it or just save up for a already made 50/60's tele?

I would say go for it.

Yes, you'll never get your money out of it if you sell it, but you won't get your money back out of a custom shop either.

If you use a quality body and neck with the specs that you want, along with good hardware, you can end up with a custom shop build that you'll love.
 

Emergence

Synchromatic
Gold Supporting Member
May 25, 2022
711
New York
Build a partscaster? Save your sanity. Save some money and avoid do-overs There’s a custom shop for that. There are also small builders who can accommodate your needs.

Edit: I can’t let this go. You’ll get a build certificate from the custom shop or boutique builder that you can pass along to the guy who buys it from you for 60 cents on the dollar that he can show his buds when he crows about the great seat he got.
 
Last edited:

blueruins

Friend of Fred
May 28, 2013
5,059
Savannah, GA
I’ve done it and would endorse the idea. However, It can be a little more complicated than one may think.

For example, I purchased a Fender Eric Clapton body and a Fender roasted neck thinking that they would be compatible. Not so. There was a considerable gap around the neck joint, not a tight fit at all.

The neck was made in Mexico and the body in America so…

I ordered a Fender Player body and it fit perfectly.

It seems that Mexican parts fit Mexican bodies and American parts fit American bodies. It makes me wonder which one aftermarket parts fit?

As others have said, I saved absolutely no money. I could have bought a used Mexican Stratocaster for nearly half the money.

I did get to take my time and order parts as budget allowed.

Plus, I got the guitar I really wanted. I just don’t like Pau Ferro and wanted Rosewood, check. I got the exact pickups and hardware I wanted. And it comes in at 7 lbs which is important to me.

Came in just under $1K

Would have cost more to upgrade a used one.
 

drmilktruck

Senior Gretsch-Talker
Double Platinum Member
May 17, 2009
20,321
Plymouth, MN
Another option is Englishman, he can make a custom guitar for you in the Streamliner-Electromatic cost range. David will use any specific parts you have. I have quite a few of his creations. Sometimes I supplied the neck and/or the body, other times he made them. I usually have sent him pickups, parts, etc ... Great to work with. He has said he'd be happy to create a kit with the parts that you can assemble and finish yourself.
 

Stefan87

Country Gent
May 20, 2019
3,271
Brisbane, Australia
Thanks for the replies everyone.

Too answer a few posts, one reason i am thinking to have a go at it is because, like others have mentioned, there is nothing out at the moment or that i have come accross used that is the specs, colour and materials that i would want, so it would be done to what i would like.

There are teles out there that are close too what i want but nothing out there i wouldn't need to modify, and at the prices here it would be an expensive exercise, to give you an example run of the mill player series teles go for around 1400 AUD new and around 1000 AUD used and i would be modifying them too, the Brad Paisley model is very close but i just don't like the finish on it and at 2500 new or 1800 used to then refinish it just seems like a bit of a waste of money.

The body that i found is $120 AUD and they do necks as well for $195 with frets installed but no tuners so if i could build something for around the price of the new players series but what i want i would be happy with that, assembly doesn't bother me as i take any opportunity I can to build things.

As for resale value, I'm not worried about that, i get attached to things easily lol and seeing as it would be the first guitar i put together it wouldn't be getting sold so that side of things doesn't bother me.

Its more of a area i haven't ventured down before so just a bit cautious i might overlook something.
 

blueruins

Friend of Fred
May 28, 2013
5,059
Savannah, GA
Of all the guitars to assemble the Telecaster has to be about the simplest.

No trem to worry about, simple control layout. Doesn’t get much more straightforward than that.

Unless it’s an Esquire.
 

Stefan87

Country Gent
May 20, 2019
3,271
Brisbane, Australia
Another option is Englishman, he can make a custom guitar for you in the Streamliner-Electromatic cost range. David will use any specific parts you have. I have quite a few of his creations. Sometimes I supplied the neck and/or the body, other times he made them. I usually have sent him pickups, parts, etc ... Great to work with. He has said he'd be happy to create a kit with the parts that you can assemble and finish yourself.
That might not be a bad idea actually, at least i know the neck and body would go together easily, and im sure Englishman would be help of i had any questions as he has always helped me in the past.

The only thing there is shipping cost and all that but thats easy to work out, that and the dollar is absolutely terrible at the moment, not that it's a big issue anyway.
 

Stefan87

Country Gent
May 20, 2019
3,271
Brisbane, Australia
Of all the guitars to assemble the Telecaster has to be about the simplest.

No trem to worry about, simple control layout. Doesn’t get much more straightforward than that.

Unless it’s an Esquire.
I really did want to do an Esquire actually bit I kinda feel like a standard tele may be a bit more versatile, in saying that I've not played an Esquire so i don't know how goodtl they are.
 

blueruins

Friend of Fred
May 28, 2013
5,059
Savannah, GA
I’ve owned both and I missed the neck pickup.

Depends on your style of course.

The Esquire sounded slightly more glorious opened wide up but that wasn’t my whole bag.
 

Teledriver

Country Gent
Feb 12, 2011
1,047
Iowa City, IA
Thing about an Esquire is that since the body is pre-routed (as you say) then if you miss that neck pickup you can add one later :cool:👍
Yeah, compatibility can be a problem, either with a neck or in some cases the holes for a string-though bridge, or any pre-drilled holes for a Gotoh vs traditional Fender bridge, for example. Do the research, take measurements of what and where, examine the costs, try and get the items you need from as few as places as you can (for less shipping/handling hopefully), figure out what you're going to do for a finish (nitro should take a minimum of 3 weeks, 4 is better, for example....you get the idea), then jump in.
If this is a guitar you want to build to your wants/needs/dreams, then heck with worrying about selling it later and getting your money back (!). If you are going to fall in love with it, and plan on falling in love with it, then it should hopefully pass on to someone (like a child or grandchild) that will respect it and get as much out if it as you will, if not only for the importance of what it meant to you but also as inspiration.
( I can never figure out why people plan on getting a guitar and at the same time plan on selling it later...)
 

Stefan87

Country Gent
May 20, 2019
3,271
Brisbane, Australia
@blueruins that is kinda what I'm worried about with missing the neck pick up.

@Teledriver you have some very good points there, will take all that into consideration when looking.
I guess i could always just try the esquire thing first like you said, im not planning on a matched set of pickups anyway so i can always buy a neck pickup later.
 

loudnlousy

Gretschified
Gold Supporting Member
Oct 18, 2015
12,707
Germany
Building a partscaster is always a gamble.
Even good and expensive parts are not a guarantee for a nice instrument in the end.
Some parts simply don`t work together tonewise or feel-wise. And you usually don`t know until you`re done.
 

Londoner

Gretschie
Dec 18, 2020
395
UK
Built a partscaster Strat using quality parts and woods. Warmoth neck and body, Kinman pickups, CTS pots etc.
Plus a pro Plek set up at the end.
Set me back more or less what a Custom shop would have cost.
Yes, it's a nice guitar, but I'll never get back anything like it cost me should I choose to sell.
 


Latest posts

Top