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I've been thinking of building a partscaster. However when I price it all out I could probably buy a used production model pretty close to what I'd be building (especially when you factor in exchange and cross-border shipping). So I guess the thought is, what makes a parts build worthwhile? Why go partscaster when you could just buy a whole guitar?
 

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Good question. I built the white guitar, just bought the black. The black one is an upgraded MIM tele, the white one is a poplar body with a MIM strat neck and Gibson BB1 and 2 pickups.
Guess which cost more? The partscaster.

But, there isn't a production Tele like it, so I guess the motivation to build something is to get exactly what you want. And it's fun. Frustrating but fun.
(This was my first partscaster. )

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I've been thinking of building a partscaster. However when I price it all out I could probably buy a used production model pretty close to what I'd be building (especially when you factor in exchange and cross-border shipping). So I guess the thought is, what makes a parts build worthwhile? Why go partscaster when you could just buy a whole guitar?
I just did that recently. I put together a Fender Esquire with Fender parts including an MIM Tele body/neck. The only thing that's not Fender are the Fralin Blues Special pickup, Rutters compensated brass saddles and the wiring harness which is a Carparelli Esquire harness with the Eldred Mod. The whole thing cost me $1200+.

There's 2 things here, Esquires are not easy to find used and if they do, it's more than what I put into this partcaster. So that makes it justifiable, I think. Second, there's a bit of satisfaction putting the guitar together, which includes getting the right parts, setting it up properly and all that. But the bottom line is, don't expect to get back the money you put into it.

345315
 

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My guess would be DIY not necessarily for cost-effectiveness but when the combinations of features you want just aren’t available.

If you just want, for example, a Strat with 3 boutique singles and a rosewood neck, just get an existing one and drop your own electronics in it.
 

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If a production guitar with all the specs you're after already exists then I'd advise against building a partscaster...for the reasons you've already mentioned. Theoretically, if it ever came to resale down the road, the production guitar should provide a more predictable return. That said, I'm usually shocked at what people ask for (and seem to get) for their partscasters when selling. I've tried, but I still don't fully understand it.
 

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Here is a great example of a high quality build that he seems to be having trouble moving as parts casters never seem to retain their value as much as a licensed guitar would. Really cool looking guitar though.
 

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I have assembled some guitars to total vintage specs: a Custom Shop 1954 strat might set you back about 5 or 6K, while a partscaster built from the best vintage correct components (MJT, Musikraft, Fender Custom Shop Pick-ups, correct Bakelite plastics, neck plate, aged hardware, etc.) cost me just about $1500.
 

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Sometimes it can be fun to put together a combo that just isn't available anywhere. For me, it was a double-bound Esquire with a single humbucker and chopped Tele bridge. I've only ever seen a Nash that is anything like it (arguably a parts guitar as well), and it uses my own unique switching. It's a fun and unique guitar, I learned a lot, but I will have to keep it forever because I'll never get enough money out of it to make it worth selling.

Another problem is that you don't really know what the guitar is going to be like until all the pieces are put together. If you could try a partscaster before you spend your money, it might be worthwhile. But you can't do that.

Clapton's partscasters seemed to work well for him.
He took parts he already loved from various guitars and put them together, though. Most people who do builds probably don't get to play the neck from Warmoth or Musikraft before they buy it.

But if you can... hey, why not. I was tempted to do this once when I wanted a P-bass with a J-bass neck. It's hard to find a good one, so I was tempted to buy one of each bass that I liked, and put together a single bass. But I also planned to keep the other parts in case I wanted to restore the original basses for resale.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
If a production guitar with all the specs you're after already exists then I'd advise against building a partscaster...for the reasons you've already mentioned. Theoretically, if it ever came to resale down the road, the production guitar should provide a more predictable return. That said, I'm usually shocked at what people ask for (and seem to get) for their partscasters when selling. I've tried, but I still don't fully understand it.
I've had these same thoughts. I've still got the Tele Custom bug (lol I know). I'd really like a black 72 Tele Custom. I know, there's versions of them everywhere. But I want one with a nitro finish and a 9.5" radius board. There's the new American Original 70's, but it doesn't come in black - and it's got a price tag close to 3 grand.

There's an AV72 on Reverb that would end up costing probably about $2300 once it's all said and done (taxes, etc). Also kinda pricey.

If I did a parts build the way I wanted with all the parts I'd want, my estimates put it roughly around the $1800 mark. :confused:
 

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The story of Ben the self proclaimed master builder:

Back when I had 15 cheap guitars, I used to look at pictures of custom shop and vintage guitars and higher end Fender models and wonder when mine will look and sound like they do.

The more research I did, the more I realized that all of my guitars were covered in a plastic resin that will never allow them to look or sound that way.

I sold them all and stopped giving into my impulse to have new cheap things all the time and spent 3 grand on a Jazzmaster with a pretty nitro finish that smelt good and was sticky like my tummy after I sneeze my weener.

Once I played that for a while I wondered when my hand will stop hurting while doing barre chords??

My friend crazy Carl brought over this piece of shit parstcaster that had a super fat neck. It didn’t hurt my hand ever.

Now I know that I like fat necks and nitrocellulose lacquer finishes.

So I can spend $7800 on a custom shop or make my own for cheap.

The first one I made was cheap and it was a piece of shit with a lot of inadequacies.

over the years I kept saving up more and buying better components and getting better at soldering and learning skills like how to finish necks and do fret work etc.

I’ve “built” about 6 they’ve gotten slightly better each time.

Now I have one guitar that cost me about $2500 to build and I can solder to a very clean and organized degree and have learned how to do various neck finishes by hand and some basic nut and fret work. I have also learned a lot about different parts and components and the specifications of originals vs subtle changes that I like etc.

It has brought a lot of pain and joy to my life. But I have a guitar that sounds and feels as good and almost looks as cool as the cool ones that I used to long for.

so long story short.. no, it’s not worth it.
I could and should have spent all this time saving for a custom shop and playing guitar.
 

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I really liked the "When it's fun, it's worth it" comment, and wanted to profusely elaborate on my version of that. As someone who quit a build because of the uncertainty of being able to make a cheap Chinese locking trem work with a cheap headless setup from a kit .. and is now flogging through a much more optimistic build where a piece of walnut that was bought for a beer has been shaped and routed to all hell to get it hopefully under 9 lbs and is now being hand sanded into oblivion, I have the following to offer:

1) If you want things that the market doesn't have but you Don't Like Building, then don't build Just to get what the market doesn't have. Figure out a way to just sort of work with what they have, manufacturers are better than I am at building and quicker and cheaper and I have accepted that. Or hire someone, and budget accordingly.

2) If you want ... And you LIKE building, then build. Build until you're sick of it, because you get to choose how you want to spend your time and your money.

3) If you want to build JUST to build, then build but don't expect it to be "worth it" monetarily. Do it for the reason I'm doing it. Because I didn't like quitting that first project and trading away that catastrophe, despite the obscene value I got, and because I want the experience of going through and completing a build and being able to say I've done it. That's what makes it "worth it" for me. Hang the $600 in total costs I paid, my overweight walnut tele is going to have EMGs and that's that.

And another thing .. you could always build some and buy some. I "built" the entire body, but I ponied up on stewmac for the rosewood neck. I was ready to solder, I've built one pedal form scratch and am working on another, but I also really wanted EMGs, and they're solderless. Time saved down the line for sure.

If I decide after this tele is done to go a bit nuts and Floyd it, a luthier in town will do the routing for $130 so that I don't have to buy a template or mess it up and ruin it. All examples of acceptable compromises imho that would allow someone to be able to actually enjoy the process of building (I maintain that this is the most important thing) as well as eventually enjoy what they have built.

If you get everything basically for free and you build it, it possibly? Is "worth it" if it all fits together and you don't have to do Any woodworking or finishing. Rarely the case. If you build something that has fret wire made from steel taken from the Soyuz somehow or something so special that this one of a kind guitar makes it so valuable to collectors, then it will also be worth it. If the labour involved for part of your build somehow would cost 8 grand at the luthier because you want to blowtorch the thing or submerge it in something for weeks, or you wanna break it with a sledgehammer and glue it back and paint the cracks etc, then if you have the time and fortitude to carry that out without a luthier then yeah it'll be worth it. Otherwise, it's gotta be for fun.
 

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It's worth it when what one wants is simply unavailable at any reasonable cost. Try as I might, I've been unable to make any Fender necks 1 3/4" wide at the nut and 1" deep from stem to stern.

Chewing up Fender bodies to get to a desired configuration is dead easy but costly. My lack of alchemy skills prevents me from changing a thick poly finish into a thin nitro finish, or getting Fender bodies down to under four pounds, for the most part.

So, I have looked elsewhere, with some success. All I can do is thank FMIC for their willingness to support Warmoth, Musikraft, MJT and various other aftermarket businesses, by being so utterly tone-deaf to the preferences of so many consumers.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
It's worth it when what one wants is simply unavailable at any reasonable cost. Try as I might, I've been unable to make any Fender necks 1 3/4" wide at the nut and 1" deep from stem to stern.

Chewing up Fender bodies to get to a desired configuration is dead easy but costly. My lack of alchemy skills prevents me from changing a thick poly finish into a thin nitro finish, or getting Fender bodies down to under four pounds, for the most part.

So, I have looked elsewhere, with some success. All I can do is thank FMIC for their willingness to support Warmoth, Musikraft, MJT and various other aftermarket businesses, by being so utterly tone-deaf to the preferences of so many consumers.
The weight of current Fenders is very interesting. I was just looking at Wildwood's Thin Skin inventory on their site today. Looks like they just got a new shipment of 52 Reissue Thin Skins and every single one of them is around 8.5 lbs.
 

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I've built well over 100 partscasters at this point- lost count. I really enjoy doing them but I also am a pro repair guy so do know what I'm doing.

I finish a lot of parts builds for customers. Most of the time it's due to a problem that they don't have the tools for or knowhow to complete. It's a great thing to do. You will find out a lot about guitars by building one. One thing that should be top of mind though is part selection. Buy high quality parts.
I just built an MJT/Musikraft tele for a customer. Body and neck were great but he put a Wilkinson bridge on it. A Wilkinson tele bridge is NOT a match for anything else on that guitar. It compromised the sound.

Probably the three most important parts if any parts build are the bridge, the nut and level frets.

Anyway, don't cheap out on parts- especially anything that the string comes in contact with. Good luck.
 
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