Amplified Parts Lollar Pickups

Amplified Parts Lollar Pickups

Amplified Parts Lollar Pickups Guitar Pickups

Advice on doing a complete Partscaster Build

Discussion in 'DIY Strat Forum' started by axejock, Aug 18, 2018.

  1. axejock

    axejock Strat-Talker

    Age:
    71
    228
    Jul 26, 2018
    Washington State
    First of all, I am fully aware that doing a parts-caster build is a no win endeavor both financially and on re-salability! But I have a large guitar collection (some very nice pieces and brands) and I find myself wanting to build a "personalized" guitar both for fun and just to see if I can build a unique and fine guitar that is nice and so I can say I did it! Practicality of the project is secondary at my age...the challenge is more of the attraction.
    So, I plan to use a Strat as my basis of choice, and start with a used bare body (preferably painted) and neck, and add all of the other parts as I go....in other words, create the plan as I go. What I would like is to hear some lessons learned on doing this and advice on what body (US, MIM, SQUIRE) and neck to start with. There are a lot of selections on ebay and reverb, but I'm leaning toward building a "White Knight" assembly. Any advice about bridges, tuners, specific woods to avoid, etc. will be appreciated. I know that most will say "don't do it", but I just want to try the challenge while I'm still capable!
     
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  2. heltershelton

    heltershelton ASKED TO LEAVE THE STAGE Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jun 5, 2013
    Not Florida
    take your time.
    before you buy a neck, do some research to see if it will fit whatever body you have.
    same thing for the bridge.
     
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  3. Groovey

    Groovey Most Honored Senior Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    NC. USA
    I love mine. All I can tell you is what I did. I didn't know what I wanted I the beginning. It was an evolution. A Chinese Squire that needed some saddles replaced. After I had it set up and playing wonderfully, I decided it needed an ebony fretboard. So off to USACG. Then I decided I really like locking tuners. Hello Schaller. Then chrome knobs and covers. Then the blender pot mod and push/pull for series combos. And finally some custom pickups. Thanks you @Bodean !

    I think your further along than I was when I started. That is, in knowing what you like and what your after. A bit of a plan or outline can't hurt.
     
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  4. Groovey

    Groovey Most Honored Senior Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    NC. USA
    Fender brand hardware can be found for reasonable prices.
     
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  5. Groovey

    Groovey Most Honored Senior Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    NC. USA
    Fender, Callaham, Wilkinson, Schaller, among others all make good bridges. I'd look at these to see what strikes your eye.
     
    simoncroft likes this.
  6. Groovey

    Groovey Most Honored Senior Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    NC. USA
    Squires and Starcasters make great starting points. There are a slew of them at shopgoodwill.com every week for cheap. May even find a white.
     
    jvin248 likes this.
  7. henderman

    henderman Most Honored Senior Member

    Dec 4, 2013
    largo,fl
    Learn as much as you can about setting up guitars.

    guitars that are assembled of dream parts I am all for but they still need to be calibrated precisely within a few thousandths of an inch at all settings to bring the joy in the playing department.

    Be sure to start with a full thickness body of 1 3/4" so all standard parts will work.
     
  8. axejock

    axejock Strat-Talker

    Age:
    71
    228
    Jul 26, 2018
    Washington State
    Early thanks for those replies. It's not that important, but I am a Mechanical Engineer and spent 45 years designing and building aerospace-type parts that fit together and work. I think I still have enough of those skills inside my brain, and if anything, I will make little things "big deals". But I also know guitars and their technology quite well, so with some patience and a little luck, I believe I can deal with the "bolt on issues" as well as the "fine tuning issues". At least I'm telling myself that.
     
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  9. Bob the builder

    Bob the builder Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    58
    May 2, 2016
    Cranston, Rhode Island
    Will ya look at that...settin up a strat IS rocket science.
     
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  10. mkgearhead

    mkgearhead Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    48
    731
    Oct 30, 2009
    Fort Morgan, CO
    I built my last one because I couldn't find a hardtail Strat with a reverse headstock. I used a GFS XGP body and a Kmise neck. I used all new parts with the exception of the Fender Lace Sensor loaded pickguard. It went together really well and exceeded my expectations sound and playability wise. Just do your homework on what you want and take your time. I find building guitars very therapeutic.
     
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  11. Seekir

    Seekir Strat-Talker

    Age:
    64
    169
    Mar 11, 2015
    Hilo, Hawaii
    I built this one with a mighty-mite neck, a scratch-built strat-style body I made with locally harvested queensland "maple", and basically everything else from GFS ("loaded" pickguard, trem, locking Gotoh-style tuners...). The MM neck is great, but in my opinion the oil-finish on it was too thin. Not a problem for me because I intended to scallop it and put a clear finish on it anyway. I'm very pleased with the staggered locking tuners and trem. The latter has a secure feeling arm that pushes in and pulls out with an allen-screw friction adjustment (better than Fender's screw-in trem IMO). The loaded guard (about $40.00) was just okay, I like the pickups so far, but the clear coat finish on the mother-of-bowling-ball near the neck pocket came away when I removed the protective plastic wrap (GFS is sending me a replacement guard free, but I'll have to transfer the electronics and re-solder the jack to make the swap). I'm an experienced wood worker, and I routed the neck pocket in my body to fit the MM neck, and I managed to make a good, snug fit. These MM necks are Fender authorized, so they will theoretically fit in standard Fender bodies, but I wouldn't count on the idea that a re-rout won't be required to enlarge the pocket, or that there won't be gaps/slop around the pocket in a random body for that matter.

    FesterStratComplete2.jpg FesterStratNeckJoint2.jpg StratBodyPrePaintsend.jpg BackOfMyBody2.JPG
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2018
  12. jvin248

    jvin248 Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 10, 2014
    Michigan
    .

    Depending how deep you've been into guitar modding in the past ... I'd say to start with a craigslist find for Starcaster, First Act, Washburn, or Spectrum Strat. You might find any of them for $10-$50 in different sorry states of disrepair abandonment. Start with the body and neck and go from there.

    Other than the body thickness issue for 'big trem blocks' (I usually deck or block the trem anyway so I ignore the 'big-tone-block' issue altogether) Tuners and control electronics are the key bits to buy. You can get the same Bourns/CTS pots, caps, CRL/OakGrigsby/Switchcraft switches/Switchcraft jack as are used in $13,000 limited run custom shop jobs for less than $25. Tuners I often leave stock and just practice 'tuning up' techniques but some like fancy locking tuners.

    Pickups can be contentious about which to choose, but often the stock pickups can work if you correctly match the pot and cap values (measured) so I start with swapping those parts before I swap pickups. Don't be afraid of the ceramic!

    The big issue in putting together is the fretwork, setup of the nut, truss rod, and saddles. Same work will be needed on the high end parts as the low end starter guitars. Build a Matt Vinson fret leveling jig first and then you can best level the frets.

    .
     
  13. axejock

    axejock Strat-Talker

    Age:
    71
    228
    Jul 26, 2018
    Washington State
    Here's a fundamental question. I've been told that Squier bodies have a lot of little "Squier only" features that make fitting standard or MIM Fender parts quite difficult. Particularly the neck to body dimensions and pickguard fits. Is this true? I know that any fit can be achieved with a little routing or shaving, but is there one body that offers the most compatibility with the most fender or similar parts? I am thinking of the hardtail approach. I'm really not ruling anything out including refinishing if necessary.
    Also, what is the neck of choice (with rosewood fretboard) of you folks. I really would rather not re-invent the wheel on the neck and body!
     
  14. Seekir

    Seekir Strat-Talker

    Age:
    64
    169
    Mar 11, 2015
    Hilo, Hawaii
    The pickups in the GFS guard are ceramics, and seem fine to me so far. The Mighty Mite neck needed no fret or nut work at all. That may be unusual, maybe I got a good one. I may need to refine the nut at some point, but really, other than the finish, this one was great right out of the box. The GFS locking tuners are one-screw types, and simple to mount if your neck has 10mm peg holes. I realized that the now common tuners with hidden prongs on the back (two of them) would probably be much more difficult to mount and align without a special drilling jig.
     
  15. Seekir

    Seekir Strat-Talker

    Age:
    64
    169
    Mar 11, 2015
    Hilo, Hawaii
    I think you'll find that neck to body fit can be problematic. Even factory builds have fit issues with their necks, and neck fit is probably the major issue for partscaster builders. I bought a new Squier strat recently with a considerable gap on the treble side of the pocket, and when I removed the neck, I found the pickguard was not flush to the inside of the pocket, and needed trimming.

    A hard-tail build would be simpler than a trem-equipped strat IMO if you have or can get a body without the cavity rout. Pickguards vary considerably in their screw placement, but this really shouldn't be an issue, if your body has been pre-drilled for a PG, you can just plug the holes that don't match and re-drill any out of place holes for your guard (unless the invisible plugs covered by the guard will trouble your sleep).

    Edit: One issue with non-factory pickguards I've found is that they rarely fit the pocket perfectly. This is easy to remedy by running a bearing-guide flush bit around the pocket with the guard mounted if you are experienced with routers. Fixing an undersized neck pocket is also relatively simple if you have a router and a top-bearing pattern bit. A loose neck pocket is another matter, and though a neck will probably work fine in a loose pocket, this issue is much more difficult to resolve if a loose pocket bothers you.

    PocketBeforePgRout.jpg PocketAfterPgRout.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2018
  16. vid1900

    vid1900 Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 25, 2016
    USA
    Don't start with anything Squier!

    Even Fender does not have replacement parts (like pickguards) for a lot of those guitars.

    Just build a standard Strat.

    Buy your tuners, before you order your neck. If there is one thing that beginners mess up, it's enlarging the holes for the tuners, or breaking off the little #4 screws for the tuners.

    If you already have your tuners in hand, the neck guys will bore out the holes for you in the proper size.

    There is a pickguard seller on Ebay called "musiclilyus" that sells perfect CNC cut pickguards (literally every single hole is perfectly centered on a USA Strat), so if you buy one of these, you can change your mind any time and all your holes will be correct.

    Do not order the pickguard and spring cover separately - it's cheaper as a pair.

    You can save a lot of money by buying a body already finished! DO NOT buy a bare wood body, and then send it off to be painted.

    DO NOT buy a used body and sand off the finish and get it repainted.

    A paint job alone will cost more than just buying a new MIM body with a perfect finish for $169.

    Watch for those ebay 20% off everything coupons, if you have all the stuff in your cart, it's painless to just hit BUY and save big cash.

    -

    Since it's going to cost you way more to build a guitar over just buying a brand new American Special Strat for $699, think one more time why you are doing this....











     
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  17. tschucha

    tschucha Strat-Talker

    469
    Aug 13, 2014
    Oregon
    The neck is the most important thing for the "feel" of the guitar. With 45 years of engineering experience and a large guitar collection you obviously know by now what type of neck you want. Thick or thin, 7.25" , 9.5" or compound radius, rosewood, maple, ebony ... , locking tuners, vintage, kluson, gotoh, schaller tuners...... whatever. Find a neck that you bond with first. If you get that right the rest of the guitar will work itself out. So now that you have the neck (if you are me you have a sweet thin rosewood neck with a CBS headstock that adjusts at the headstock with vintage tuners and 7.25" radius) what do you bolt it on? Yes different bodies and necks go together imperfectly but if you got a standard sized at the body neck don't sweat it too much as it will almost certainly fit. If you have a color in mind and it's a standard color I'd recommend just buying one from Fender with the details you like for the bridge/trem. But if you are like me and want to add a wee bit of spice to your life let's go hunting. That's what I did with my last partscaster. Back in the 70s there were TONS of high quality stratocaster knockoffs coming out of Japan. A lot of the ones that copied the Fender headstock shape like Tokai are a fortune now. But a lot of other just copied the body shape. Many of these aren't so pricey. My latest partscaster uses one of these bodies. I got the guitar locally for $40. I didn't use the neck or the pickups but I really dug the looks of the sunburst. It's a 2 tone tobacco burst with a subtle but nice grain. What can I say. I liked the fact that the body is 40 years old and the $40 it cost me appealed to me too. I used the existing output jack, and tremolo, replacing only the saddles with Fender bent steel ones. All that was left was the pickups. I'm a sucker for Rose pickups and would highly recommend any of them if you need to buy new ones. For me I had a set of Rio Grande pickups laying around that needed a good home. I'm not going to get into the tonewood argument but I do like the way the Rio Grandes sound in this guitar. End result is a very, very playable guitar that has several stories with it.

    What the hell - I tend to have more fun thinking about these types of guitars than playing them. When you get old you can do whatever you damn well want to.

    Other misc stuff when building your baby.......

    Volume and tone potentiometers - 250K is spec but you know that there is always a bit of plus and minus with these. Try out a few and see which works best for you. Personally I find that pots on the higher resistance end 275-300K seem to sound better.

    Tone caps - capacitance is capacitance it don't matter what type of capacitor(s) use use only the capacitance matters. 0.47uF or 0.22uF or something else.

    Wiring? Lord knows there are tons of ways to wire a strat. I jumper the bridge pickup so the bottom tone control does both middle and bridge tone.

    String spacing? vintage or narrow?

    Nut material - bone, corian, Tusq.....

    Frets - if you get a new neck all sorts of variables with the fret sizes and materials.

    There must be a hundred different little decisions to make.

    Have fun!
     
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  18. axejock

    axejock Strat-Talker

    Age:
    71
    228
    Jul 26, 2018
    Washington State
    This is exactly the kind of "feedback" I was (and still am) looking for! Thanks. And why am I doing this when I could buy a standard strat new for $600? Partly because I'm nuts (well sort of) and mostly because I just love working on things like this that give a lot more reward if successful. I've never done a complete build before.
     
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  19. Groovey

    Groovey Most Honored Senior Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    NC. USA
    +1 on the tuners vs tuner holes. Different tuners are different diameters.

    Variation on the bridge string spacing as well.
    Acme-Guitar-Works-General-Callaham-Strat-Bridge-Spacing.jpg
     
  20. gibsonsmu

    gibsonsmu Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 16, 2015
    Texas
    Big fan of callaham bridges
     
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