Is "Build your own" strat a good option?

Discussion in 'DIY Strat Forum' started by scogs, Nov 7, 2019.

  1. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I don't think the pricing is going to work out in your favor on this one.

    That guitar, with shipping is $115

    Now you need tuners, lets say cheap ones $25

    Cheapest pickups for Tele $35

    Cheapest controls and wiring $22

    Cheapest pickguard $11

    Cheapest Socket cup jack $7

    Cheapest control plate $10

    Cheapest bridge $20

    Cheapest string furels $9

    Tele string tree $6

    Strings $5

    ============

    Total ~$265

    That's for a guitar that we don't know if any of the standard pickguards or control plates are even going to line up with the pre-drilled holes.

    That's for a guitar that you don't know if the neck is straight or if the truss rod works.

    That's for a guitar that will need a fret level as soon as you assemble it.

    That's also for a guitar that already has scratches and craters in the finish.

    That's for a guitar that if you sold it (unbranded, with cheapest of parts) you would get about $75 for.

    -

    A month or so ago, a bunch of us here got Brand New, assembled, tested, all the parts fit, Fender Squire Modified Telecasters, shipped free for $199:


    https://www.strat-talk.com/threads/...lecaster-thinline-unboxing-and-review.517656/


    So I might highly recommend you wait for a sale.

    Guitar Fetish regullarly has a 20% off sales (maybe for black friday?), but even at 25% off, it seems like you are way upsidedown on this one
     
  2. Groovey

    Groovey Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I'm not a wood worker. Nor will I spend the money and time for tools and experience to get it right on a build. I start with Squire bodies. Usually from shopgoodwill.com . Or GFS unfinished bodies. This should keep your cost at less than 50$ for a body.

    It's a start.
     
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  3. Groovey

    Groovey Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    My avatar is a Squire rebuild. Its become my number 1 strat style guitar.
     
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  4. montemerrick

    montemerrick t minus 30 and holding Strat-Talk Supporter

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  5. Andrew Wasson

    Andrew Wasson Senior Stratmaster

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    Exactly the way I see it.


    The first time I played a Telecaster was when I built mine. I had played a 1981 Fender Bullet back in the day and it was sort of Telecaster shaped and I tried to do a scratch build that was also Telecaster shaped but it wasn’t until I successfully assembled mine, that I played something that resembled the real McCoy.

    Telecasters are affectionately referred to as as shovels by some guys because they’re so simple in design. I think they’re a work of art and damn, they’ve got some get up and go to them too with that big single coil in the bridge and a decent neck pickup. I spent a lot of time honing my fretwork abilities on mine. It was a work in progress for a while, slowly getting better and now it’s just about as good as it gets.

    Mine’s a bit of a Hot Rod now, It’s got 4-way switching so it does bridge and neck in normal parallel or in series for a beefier sound. I also added a clapton preamp (I added a Middle knob for the true bypass switch and the midrange boost control). I did a white wash pickling stain and then a wipe on poly clear for sort of opaque blonde look.

    7719B417-46E8-4B0B-ACFC-C294CD235E68.jpeg
     
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  6. Cyberi4n

    Cyberi4n Strat-Talker

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    I built my own out of parts, with a tele neck on a strat body. Complete, currently waiting for Seymour pups to go in. All in including the pups its cost about £950 but I have the pleasure of knowing its unique and all mine - as far as parts and taste goes.

    https://www.strat-talk.com/threads/the-bas-dcaster.524722
     
  7. nutball73

    nutball73 Senior Stratmaster

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    Buy a body off ebay.

    Look for a neck, then find another body so buy that instead.

    Then see a bargain neck with tuners, buy that.

    Then see an Allparts unfinished neck that looks better, buy that.

    Then buy a loaded pickguard because it's a bargain MiM.

    Then buy some better tuners, so buy them.

    Go to a guitar show, see a bargain set of pickups, buy them. And a bridge. And some nuts.

    Buy strap buttons. Then see some more interesting pickups, so buy them.

    Then decide to use original Fender plastics, so buy them (they're only cheap, after all).

    Repeat continously, and at some point assemble the huge pile of pieces into guitars (after refinishing various bodies multiple times).

    Then take them apart, and reassemble a different combination into different guitars.

    Repeat until you have at least one fully assembled guitar you are happy with.

    Then start reassembling the bits left over, and buy more parts to make them complete guitars.

    YMMV.

    So far I have 4 complete guitars, and enough parts for another 3 or 4 (assuming they all have 6 pickups and 2 bridges).
     
  8. Yonatan

    Yonatan Strat-Talk Member

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    Just finished my first parts build. Plays and sounds amazing! Took 10 months (trying to find time between work and family), though of course the finish took a lot of that.

    I learned a ton!

    Mostly AliExpress parts, though I tried to avoid the cheapest parts there (especially on the neck), and pickups are Pribora (bridge) and Mean90 (neck).

    partsbuild1.jpeg
     
  9. Dreamdancer

    Dreamdancer Strat-O-Master

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    There is great value to build your own cause, first you can make it the way YOU want it and second because this ll be your baby and you ll be emotionally attached to it and never really wanna let it go.
    Make it a great project for you and your son.....get a 1:1 design of the thing in the computer, go with that in a store to cut you some plexiglass templates(that ll help you a lot) and then off you go.....you can make everything yourself except the fingerboard which i suggest you should buy it preslotted and preradiused(since it ll be your first project)....other than that it ll be a great journey and if you dont rush the steps you ll have a great guitar in the end.
     
  10. dirocyn

    dirocyn Senior Stratmaster

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    There are cheaper versions of a few of these things available. For example, I've seen Tele bridges with saddles for $14 and control plates for $7. But the point stands, you're going to spend more for parts than you'd spend for a brand new Squier Affinity (about $200) and you won't have higher-end parts than you find in a Squier.

    My Squier SE came from shopgoodwill.com, it was $47 plus about $30 for shipping. It's super common for pawn shops to have Squiers priced between $60 and $100 and they're a great starting place for modding. Often all they need to be decent guitars is strings and a setup; making them into great guitars means customizing them to your own particular taste. Of course this particular guitar I've spent more on mods than I spent on the guitar--trem assembly, pickups, pickguard--I've got about $200 in this, and it looks and sounds the way I want.
    [​IMG]

    Of course you can look at this from the other side too. If you're building from scratch and spend $250 (or even $450) and get the exact specifications you want--you could compare that to Custom Shop or one of the other expensive models and call it a bargain.

    Honestly building guitars is a hobby and craft in its own right, some people enjoy building more than playing. If that's you, it's not about the money anyway. Do what you enjoy.
     
  11. atheras

    atheras Strat-Talker

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    i have built two strats from scratch one for my daugther and one for my son.......
    57374806_2602805633127429_6252504683894538240_o.jpg
    they turned out to be great guitars....the building process was pure pleasure for me and the outcome was also very rewarding. They cost me about 550 Euros each (but i already had the basic power tools which are quite expensive). I used fender pups and tuners, babicz and Gotoh bridges, so i believe that they have quality specs. I tried to save money by using cheaper pickguards and knobs but i regretted it......so IMO go for it.......
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
  12. Vermoulian

    Vermoulian Strat-Talker

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    I've built a bunch of partscasters over the last few years, and at this point, unless I stumble across something that's just magical, I think I'll stick with guitars I build for myself for the foreseeable future. If you just bolt together a pile of parts, you may not wind up with anything particularly impressive---even at that level, there's some skill involved, and you need some set-up skills. If you want to and are willing to do the work to acquire those skills, you can build a really great guitar for yourself, and while the cheapest production guitar may be a better deal that the cheapest partscaster you could build, you can achieve quality similar to pretty high-line instruments for less. If you go with the really good components, it's nigh-impossible to find an off-the-shelf guitar with them anyway, and if you do you will pay through the nose, because it will be some sort of boutique custom thing.

    If you're in the experience-gaining process, don't go into it expecting to save a lot of money. Figure the cost is part of your tuition for learning how to assemble guitars. Also, cheap components can be illusory. I've built instruments from Warmoth parts, and they always go together beautifully and everything fits great. I've also built instruments using GFS bodies and they're a bit more of a crap shoot. They're more likely to need extra routing/filing to get everything to fit, and more likely to have little defects. I've got some decent GFS-based partscasters, but they were absolutely more work than the guitars I built with better components. Although it will cost more up-front, you may be better off using better ingredients so the assembly process is easier.

    There are levels of how much work you want to put into a guitar. At one end of the spectrum is buying a whole guitar and just swapping some drop-in-replacement parts, and at the other end is starting with a pile of raw lumber. To get going at that first level, pretty much all you need is some screwdrivers and a soldering iron, and if you can use those, you can do a lot. As you progress along the scale, you will be looking at drilling, basic woodworking, then getting into more esoteric stuff like nut cutting, fretwork and finishing, culminating with more advanced woodworking (milling and joining bodies, shaping necks, etc.) and if you really go off the deep end you can start winding your own pickups or building your own amps. I think a big point of demarcation is finishing. Finishing is not easy, it requires dedicated space and specialized equipment (you can do some stuff with rattlecans, but if you're serious about it you need a compressor and airbrushes), and unless you go into production it's not something you're likely to do all the time. It's especially a lot to take on for the purpose of building just a small number of instruments for yourself.

    There are people for whom finishing guitars is their particular hobby. A lot of them are quite good at it, and I have all respect for them, and if you're led down that path, great. A lot of them hang out on the Reranch forums and you can learn a lot by reading stuff there. But unless it truly is your special thing, I would recommend either buying bodies and necks that are already finished (if necessary), or farming that part of things out. I took a class on finishing at the Chicago School of Guitar Making and had a chance to try a bunch of techniques with pro equipment, and the main takeaway for me was that, for the amount of finishing I would actually do, the investment in resources, equipment and supplies was more than I wanted to take on.

    The reason I am writing so much about finishing is that the GFS body/neck you posted is a B-stock item with finish flaws. I can't imagine building a guitar up from that bare frame and getting it how I like it, and then ending up with something that's flawed by finish defects. To fix them yourself can be a bigger job than you might think, and to get the guitar refinished by somebody else could be expensive. So before you use that particular body/neck as the basis for your project, I would think twice, and then think again. For not much more than the cost of that combo you could buy a non-B-stock body and neck from them, although that would be for a bolt-on build. I'm not saying you should never take on a project like the one you posted, but if you do that, be sure you know exactly what to expect so you don't wind up disappointed with an un-sellable parts guitar. (That's almost all parts guitars, by the way, but if the body is not flawed, you could potentially at least sell it to someone else looking for a project. Parts guitars are best sold as individual parts.)

    So, there's a few things to think about. Good luck with whatever you end up doing.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
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  13. Seamus OReally

    Seamus OReally Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    I have A-B'ed my hollow mahogany Zencaster against CS guitars, and the Fenders were found wanting. Building this guitar was a slow process... I started with an MIM Standard I bought new in 1996, and just started replacing pieces as I went. After some recent, final cosmetic changes, the last Fender part was finally removed. Today, it's the best guitar I ever played. I highly recommend the process.

    fullsizeoutput_662.jpeg
     
  14. Andrew Wasson

    Andrew Wasson Senior Stratmaster

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    ^ ^ ^

    This is a good way to get your head in the game too.

    After I built my Telecaster, I started getting the itch of a Stratocaster but I had a bad experience with my first brush with Strats so I figured I’d get the cheapest used MIM Strat I could get my hands on and see what happens. As it turned out one came up on Craigslist for $250 and to make things better, it was a 1994 “Squier Series”, which are known for punching way above their weight.

    Since I’ve owned it, I’ve changed everything except for the wood, the paint and the frets. It’s got new tuners, string tree, nut, bridge and assembly, pick guard, pickups, electronics, strap pins. Literally the only original parts are the painted body and the neck. Oh, and whenever I go trying new guitars and the music shop, I’m always reminded of how truly excellent it is.

    This is what it looked like a few weeks ago:
    C6F474C5-0931-41BD-95E3-697E6F5610BE.jpeg

    This is what it looks like now:
    6716206F-0BE2-4647-87FA-0BD1369E001E.jpeg



    I guarantee in two weeks it will be different.
     
  15. Cerb

    Cerb Anti conformist reformist Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I'm assembling a strat right now, working on the finishing at the moment. Some parts new, some parts used. I went for all the OK but cheap stuff, Wilkinson bridge and pickups, used neck, Hosco body etc. It still comes in at around $550. In other words it's a lot of fun but it ain't cheap and it's nothing you do to save money.
     
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  16. zardoz

    zardoz New Member!

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    DSCF0003.JPG I wanted to build a guitar from a kit so I first bought a practice kit on eBay, not expecting much for $59.16 shipped. Very surprised when it arrived with straight neck and perfect fit into body. I did do some upgrades like a bone nut and locking tuners. For the pickups I took off the bar magnet and added $1 worth of neodeum magnets which made a noticeable improvement. Also threw some CTS pots into it. After frets were leveled and crowned and bridge adjusted it was ready to go. Feels nice, plays nice and sounds good. Most of the work going into an expensive guitar is just bench work, not many tools needed.

    Jim
     
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  17. henderman

    henderman Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    if you can do the final set up calibrations you can make anything play as easy and in tune as possible.

    but if you can not yet do the setup calibrations - even with the most expensive parts you can find put together it may not even be playable.

    imo for your first at bat you should buy a cheap kit as a crash test dummie to hone your skills.
     
  18. zardoz

    zardoz New Member!

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    YouTube has plenty of information on the finish work and set up. Lots of other tips too, like using cheap acrylic paint from Walmart with a Tru-Oil finish or making decals from a laser printer and clear packing tape.

    Jim
     
  19. jvin248

    jvin248 Senior Stratmaster

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    .

    Buy a used beat up guitar and start replacing parts. Eventually you will have replaced all the parts except for something funny like the trem springs.

    .
     
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  20. mabley123

    mabley123 Senior Stratmaster

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    I just buy what I think are the best parts I can afford, and then send them off to Joe Glaser and let him deal with putting it together, and then PLEK the neck. I will also wait, and save money for parts I may not be able to afford at that moment.

    But you wont save money vs buying a used nice guitar, but you can basically get exactly what you want.

    Ive had suck great success that Ill never buy another name brand Fender again, unless its an older AVRI

    Id look into Musikraft for Body/Neck, or Best Guitar Parts. BGP will also do things they don't advertise on the website.

    My partscaster has a
    7-13-82 x 57 Fullerton Reissue body.. I also have a pristine -6-25-82 x 62 Reissue Ive had since new. Love these bodies.
    USA Custom Guitars neck from Tommy 7 years ago. African blackwood board, and roasted flame maple neck I supplied the wood... 12 Radius x 1 Inch Fatback x 1.625 Nut
    2 x 66 Strat pups
    1 x 65 Strat pup
    Ilitch Noise reduction Backplate
    MannMade USA Tremolo
    Gotoh SGL510Z Mag/Lok Height Adjust Post gears.
    RS Guitarworks Wiring Harness-Pots-.1uf cap.

    I did change the input Jack to gold long ago, but don't really care a lot about what it looks like, as long as it sounds, and plays well.

    Joe Glaser Assembly, PLEK

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2019
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