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Would you build a custom partscaster or buy off-the shelf??

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by JB74, Feb 2, 2019.

  1. JB74

    JB74 Strat-Talker

    Mar 22, 2018
    Been having some StratoGAS lately, despite my haemorraging cash on that Starplayer TV Phonic last friday...

    I was thinking to myself.... 'Jeez, my strat is already perfect for me, but I just want something I can 'beat on'.

    Now that may sound completely arrogant or stupid to some of you. My problem is I love my strat and I also love it the way it is - in perfect condition - honestly, you would be hard pressed to know it was 8 years old, given how much it gets played.

    What worries me the most, is that every strat I pick up in stores, feels 'wrong' to me.

    So my question is for those who have partscastered before to get what they want, and how they rate it compared to a new(ish) american 'elite' or 'professional' or whatever the latest term for top of the line US strat is these days.

    My idea was Do I buy a fender branded guitar in a colour I like and go from there, or do I partscaster and hit up stratosphere and warmouth etc and build my own.

    My problem is I want a nitro finish on my neck and body preferably also nitro, but not a deal-killer on the body.

    I would happily refin, but at the same time understand that can blowout costs to the point where a cheap guitar with some reworking could eclipse the 'net worth' of a refinish job alone.

    Just after your experiences.
    Vic Interceptor likes this.
  2. jpmist

    jpmist Strat-Talker

    Mar 26, 2010
    I went the partscaster route and ended up with two I'm really proud of. All the parts came used off eBay where I either bought the specific part or a whole guitar and parted the bits I didn't need. If scanning eBay and Reverb for the exact body color, finish, contour, or neck contour, frets and fretboard and then pickups floats your boat I'd say definitely go for it.

    When I read "refinish" I usually shudder because multiple hand sanded coats in a dust free space is a deal killer for me. There are too many suitable eBay bodies available to make that worth the trouble.

    In the process of putting the guitars together I learned a lot about pickup types, neck alignment techniques, tremelo blocks, vintage bridge spacing, plus the final steps of setting up a strat up to play. There really isn't a downside to doing it if you don't mind spending the time. I don't pick up new strats in the store anymore cause they'd pale in comparison to what I already have <grin>

    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
    Ruscio, Jyates, Griffbones and 6 others like this.
  3. Red Bread

    Red Bread Strat-Talk Member

    Feb 1, 2019
    Green mountains
    I don’t think you can go wrong either way
    You know what you like and want that’s the hard part
    I like to find older MIM or MIJ starts or teleys that need love for a good price and hot rod them
    Jyates, Groovey and JB74 like this.
  4. Phat-O-Caster

    Phat-O-Caster Strat-O-Master

    Apr 16, 2008
    For me I choose partscaster-I know exactly what I like and it’s rarely found buying off the rack. I have nothing but good things to say about the Warmoth necks I’ve ordered & they usually account for 50%-60% of the build cost-don’t cheap out on the neck. I keep my guitars so resale value isn’t a concern & try to assemble with the best components I can acquire-buy once, cry once.
  5. RJ Squirrel

    RJ Squirrel Strat-O-Master

    Jan 28, 2018
    Frostbite Falls
    Just my opinion, but I think that the greatest challenge in assembling a parts-caster is sticking to a budget. Buying expensive parts, that offer little to no incremental benefit, is a quagmire waiting to happen.
  6. jaybones

    jaybones Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    The day I can find exactly what I want in a store for what I want to pay is the day I stop putting together partscasters.

    So for me, 1/5th of my strats are Fender capitol S. 2/5 are FMIC partscasters (body from FMIC), the other 3 are copies awaiting builds.
    rich724, JB74 and Groovey like this.
  7. jvin248

    jvin248 Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 10, 2014

    Find a used MIM and go from there. The more abused and the lower the price the better.

    I got the pair of these last August. The Strat got several mods (Armstrong Blender for a stealth LP, full cavity shielding, fret level to clean up wear divots and make more playable, general cleanup and setup). Several prior owners and paint chips to match. The Tele is about the same age but a case queen and remains unmodded so far (I usually put in 4-way switches).


    Or go even more daring like this guitar I got as a throw in 'hey, do want this relic thing? I'll just throw it in' ...'sure, it might be fun'. After finding the poor fretwork (that made it unplayable and a candidate for the dozen prior owners to practice their relic dreams on) and general fix up this thing plays well, monster tone, and feels like a favorite pair of jeans.


    I even have a 'Spectrum' branded Strat-Like-Object that I paid $35 used and after a fret level and Armstrong Blender mod, it's pushed other guitars off the play wall and back to their cases.

    In general, I have found I play these beaten and abused guitars a lot more than the case queens so they don't get scratches and dings and whatnot.

    So don't fuss around with ordering new parts to make up a guitar. Get a used beater, fix it up so it plays, and play it with vigor.

    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
    Jyates, garyhoos1, JB74 and 1 other person like this.
  8. AncientAx

    AncientAx Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Nov 24, 2010
    1499E33A-14FD-473C-ACF2-02D13446BD27.jpeg Partscaster , got about 350 in it .
  9. Groovey

    Groovey Most Honored Senior Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    NC. USA
    You can get carried away with the cost of parts for a parts caster.

    That being acknowledged, I'm in love with mine. I ended up at about $900 including case and custom strap. A maple, 1 3/4 in wide at the nut, ebony fretboard neck with abalone dots from USACG. Schaller staggered locking tuners, bone nut, custom pickups, custom wiring (blender mod with push/pull Vol for series. I'll be adding a Schaller 3801 vintage bridge soon.

    None of these mods were necessary. Just what I wanted to make it mine. My original motivation for all this was the disire for an ebony fret board. I'm originally a Gibson guy. The 1 3/4 neck was to assist in fingerpicking. As I played acoustic only for a full 25 yrs before this.

    I also have a few Strats on my radar. An Elite. And a 2013-end Deluxe. Now if only I could justify the expense...:whistling:
    Stratbats and JB74 like this.
  10. Groovey

    Groovey Most Honored Senior Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    NC. USA
  11. Bladesg

    Bladesg Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 31, 2013
    IMO very easy to answer. If you're into flipping guitars or buying selling then don't do partscaster. If you're like me and buy/build forever guitars then for sure build a partscaster.

    I'd recommended that you don't compromise on what exactly you're after so you won't be forever chopping and changing parts out. Do it right the first time.
    Ruscio, Jyates, Marcoroni and 2 others like this.
  12. rolandson

    rolandson Most Honored Senior Member

  13. Dare1

    Dare1 Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 16, 2011
    On my third build now. Would recommend.
  14. BuffaloHound

    BuffaloHound Strat-Talker

    Sep 25, 2018
    Sarasota florida
    I think guitars were made to be played. And anything else is a disservice to the instrument. Unless you have a collectors item, or bought a guitar that you couldn’t afford and want the option of selling it for a premium in the future, I say play it and enjoy the slow process of relic-ing.

    I think there’s a lot to be learned from creating a partecaster, but I don’t agree with your reasoning for do so.
  15. heltershelton

    heltershelton BANNED Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jun 5, 2013
    i built my last two guitars. dont think ill be buying any more production guitars unless its a classical or a les paul.
  16. Swampash

    Swampash Senior Stratmaster

    Jun 13, 2012
    Build, every time.
    Jyates and JB74 like this.

    LOSTVENTURE Strat-O-Master

    Jun 15, 2007
    I have no problem either way. Maybe I've been lucky, but I've owned more than a dozen production Strats, currently down to 9, and they have all been winners.
    And since I'm more of a player than a builder, I'm feeling pretty good about the collection.
    I'm just not inclined to take the time for a build, knowing that I'll never recoup the cost if I screw it up.
    JB74 likes this.
  18. pgjstrat

    pgjstrat Strat-Talker

    Dec 26, 2018
    Pensacola, FL
    I plan to build one eventually. Just started playing so don’t really know enough to to know what I like. I’m perfectly happy with my MIM so far....but I do want t build one. I like to tinker with things. Last year I wanted to get an AR I built one, and it came out awesome. Bought the parts all separately and built it in the garage with some basic tools. So much pride in ownership when it’s built with your own hands. Plus you get intimately familiar with how it works. But then I also want a MIA, just because. I have a feeling I will own three guitars before the year is out.
    Ruscio and Jyates like this.
  19. thomquietwolf

    thomquietwolf Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Dec 2, 2010
    Peardale CA
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  20. sp8ctre

    sp8ctre Strat-Talker

    Mar 8, 2014
    Long Beach, CA
    Don't build a partscaster or you may end up with 4 or 5 of them!

    I just thought I jump in the water and build one. Use a Squier or a used MIM body. Put what suits me in it
    add a nice neck and be done.

    Well I am currently on number 7 and have a body loaded and waiting on a neck for #8...

    It's an addiction, but my lord how satisfying it is when you get them right!

    20180814_103218.jpg 20180818_142106.jpg 20190120_224140.jpg 20190120_224341.jpg 20190202_184928.jpg 20190202_185017.jpg
    Zeekrider, Jyates, AfroBill and 5 others like this.