Why would anyone build a Partscaster?


Senior Stratmaster
May 7, 2012
Birmingham UK
Mozz asked about buying a particular body today for a project and I got to wondering why we builds Partscasters. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve built a few myself but occasionally question the logic. These are perhaps the most common reasons:


Not really a good reason at all. OK, if you absolutely HAVE to have a guitar built out of American parts you might be able to build yourself a Partscaster Strat from genuine parts cheaper than buying an American Standard, but actually there won’t be much in it. Could you build a partscaster cheaper than buying a second hand American Standard? Almost definitely not! Notice I’m talking American Strats here. Unless you’ve found most of your parts in a skip I refuse to believe you can build a quality Mexican partscaster cheaper than you can buy new in the shops (and certainly not second hand). I don’t want to get into the whole MIA vs MIM debate again because we’re all sick of it but suffice to say one of the very few reasons I can accept for buying MIA instead of MIM is that American Strats hold their value better (having said that I could sell my classic Players today for more than I paid for them 5 years ago). A partscaster guitar is always going to be a partscaster and valued as such so from an investment point of view it’s a waste of money buying American parts for a partscaster. Essentially then I would say if your reason for building a partscaster guitar is to save money, stop and do your calculations again.

Unique Features

I could be persuaded to go along with this one but with the vast range of strat models and variations offered by Fender today it’s difficult to believe they don’t offer something to suit virtually any taste. But yeah if you absolutely cannot find the feature set you want and building your own seems to be the only option, maybe you should go for it. But wait - Let’s go back to cost again and examine that. My last project was a P90 loaded tele with a rosewood body with maple cap. Absolutely gorgeous body and very unique. I had no intention of building another tele (my third) but I could just see this body in transluscent cherry red and decided to blow the budget and put the best of everything on it. I did that and the bills quickly added up to over $1500 and all I had for that at that point was a box of bits. Yes the finished guitar is fantastic and unique but for that sort of money I could have had something built for my by Ron Kirn that was no doubt even more fantastic and every bit as unique.


This one you can’t really argue with. Everyone should build at least one Partscaster in their lives just to be able to hold something THEY have built. It also gives you a much better insight into how a guitar works so you are better equipped to set up and mod your other guitars. But my advice is to approach it as a fun project and nothing more. Remember it will always be a partscaster and limited in value so don’t be as stupid as me and throw a ton of money at the best possible parts. Set out to build yourself a workhorse and just have fun.


Strat-Talk Member
Jun 16, 2012
New York
I'll take options 2 and 3 for me with the acceptance of the reality of option 1 :)

As I am staring down the barrel of jumping into my first build I realize I might be saving money now, but I'll not get what I spend later if I ever need or want to.
I want a specific color and I want a maple neck that just isn't available on an Am Std. I would have to go up to a Deluxe, which is too expensive and then I compromise on color to even have a shot at getting one close to my budget.
I am not going for top of the line or vintage parts and from my limited browsing and calculating it looks like I can do it with a reasonable investment. Fun to be had along the way and I'll be left with a Strat of my color choice, neck preference and (hopefully) playability and sound I like.

Johnny V

Senior Stratmaster
Apr 18, 2011
Well, it's certainly fun, and unless you can show me a stock lightly relic'd nitro Sonic Blue Fender Thinline with 22 frets, abalone inlays, a birdseye maple .90 to .99 "C" neck, Klein Broadcaster and Filtertron pickups, and a Callaham bridge, I'm gonna say there's some strength behind the "unique features" argument, as well.

Number 1 is trickier because partcasters aren't exactly cheap. The one described above cost just over $1000. If I spent that on parts for something identical to an MIA, well yeah...maybe not so smart. But, if you go back to the "unique features" argument, you could otherwise only get those on a much more expensive, custom guitar. You mention Ron Kirn, and maybe I'm wrong here, but I was under the impression he charged a good bit more than $1500 for guitar built to customer spec. I'm certainly not suggesting that a partscaster is likely to be on par with the craftsmanship of Ron's guitars, but I don't think you can take the same amount of money and turn around and buy a Kirn either.

Resale can be tough, obviously, but you may also take a nasty hit selling a guitar you custom spec'd with a builder. And, it's not like you can try out a dozen of them and pick the best one. You get what you get, and it may turn out to be a dog. Again, same with something from a custom builder.

I disagree that you shouldn't spend money on good parts, though. It may not be a good financial investment; wouldn't be anyway. Instead it's an investment in an instrument you intend to own for the long haul. I mean doesn't the fact that it's unlikely to be worth reselling make it that much more important that it be a guitar that satisfies in every respect? Seems to me, buying top-notch parts only increases the likelihood that it will.


Gone strangling
Jul 19, 2011
A van down by the river / Canada
if i like a neck on one guitar, the body of another and the p ups from another. i can mash em all together,.

i have 3 strats, and in the back of my mind i have the possibility of 20 different variations should i decided to part them into each other.

and also. its fun

no one makes a partscaster for profit. its not gonna happen. those mods you do speak to you and no one else.

Bryan Lake

May 27, 2012
Crestview Florida
I just bought a really cool strat clone for $125. They go new for $350, but the guy obviously switched the pickups. He played stupid like he didn't know anything about guitars, but I bought it anyway because I like the neck and the body, especially the body, which has a distressed sunburst finish that feels like a faded nitro. Daddy likes. The neck aint bad either, which has a nice dark rosewood fingerboard and 22 XJ frets.


If I spend $200 bucks for some new pickups, pots, tone cap, shielding, and perhaps a new selector switch, I'll end up with a guitar that sounds far superior than what it would have bought new. Maybe, later on down the road, I'll put a Fender neck on it. Big maybe. Don't know if that qualifies as a "partscaster" as much as a personalized strat clone.


But I digress
Oct 13, 2010
Allatoona Landing
My last project was a P90 loaded tele with a rosewood body with maple cap. Absolutely gorgeous body and very unique. I had no intention of building another tele (my third) but I could just see this body in transluscent cherry red and decided to blow the budget and put the best of everything on it. I did that and the bills quickly added up to over $1500 and all I had for that at that point was a box of bits. Yes the finished guitar is fantastic and unique but for that sort of money I could have had something built for my by Ron Kirn that was no doubt even more fantastic and every bit as unique.

I bet Ron wouldn't build you a rosewood bodied anything for $1500.

Thin Lizzy

Jun 16, 2012
I had a nice neck off a Squier S9 so built a partscaster out of leftover bits I had lying around. It plays well and sounds good with a Mighty Mite Motherbucker at the bridge.


Senior Stratmaster
May 7, 2012
Birmingham UK
Ok guys I give in :D :D

I accept that maybe Ron is gonna usually charge quite a bit more than his quoted $1500 starting price so perhaps he was a bad example in that respect.

Run with me on the general concept though, that if you throw the best parts possible at a partscaster the bill is going to end up close to the ballpark where you could get a really nice guitar built for you.


Huffing n Puffing.
Jan 28, 2012
North Wales and Retired finally
curiosity,started me, changing strings was monumentous when i was a kid,some i have built cost stupid amounts of money,at the end of the day its a nice "i have guitar assembly moment"most i have built i have broke up and got my money back and sometimes more,used mia off ebay rip it down and put it back the way you want it.Clapton played a partscaster for years "Blackie"but he was in a financial position to say"i want them pups,i want that neck,i want that body,that will do nicely thank you,throw the rest to the peasants:)He did auction it off to a good cause by the way:rolleyes:


Oct 13, 2007
UK norfolk
Mainly specs I expect. I built a Tele partscaster from a Baja neck ,a HW1 nitro burst body and SD pickups .it was my choice of parts .it worked out cheaper than buying a Baja or a HW1 .i like lightweight guitars now so my latest strat clone is made from a GFS paulowonia wood body with a rattle can fiesta red nitro paint job and just a cheap Chinese neck for now and Rose mariposa pickups with Wilkingson fittings .It plays and sounds and indeed looks nice but a I might get a Fender neck just for the sake of it .They are still better than cheap Chinese necks:D
if I had some spare dough the stratosphere ebay store have a fender Japan sT 75 loaded body going .Always wanted one of those and with a blacktop strat neck it would be a great guitar and cheaper than a whole ST75 which has the wrong radius for me .I like 22 fret medium jumbo 9.5 radius and al ot of my favorite strats dont come with that spec.

Jack FFR1846

Senior Stratmaster
May 4, 2011
Hopkinton, MA
I attempt to buy pretty much every reasonably priced MIM that shows up anywhere in the Boston area craigslists. As a result, I can swap what I really want for body color, neck color, fret size, condition, whatever and have a guitar exactly like what I want for that day. (I'm very A.D.D. so the next day, I'll change my mind). Whatever is left, I fix, level, maybe paint and bolt back together and off it goes. I've also changed things when someone is looking for a particular guitar ......usually with the other neck color. I can get them exactly what they want.


Mar 1, 2011
For the most part 2 and 3 for me as well.
I like putting them together and there's no way I want to pay for a real '66 Strat. I know I can build a copy that would pass for the real thing for less dough so I'll do it and have fun doing it.
I have 6 other partscasters four I love the others are Okay.


Strat-Talk Member
Oct 9, 2011
Deeside, Wales, UK
I only think about points two and three...I just bought all the parts I need for a new partscaster (I'll be joining in the forum soon :D)

However, I'm pretty sure that I've also come in beating cost, but then again as someone mentioned I've gone for a workhorse instead of top of the range branded parts with some exceptions.

I've gone no name body in solid 2 piece alder, olympic white with nitrocellulose finish and also a no name neck in maple with an ebony fretboard. Wilkinson tuners and bridge.

Electronics I've splashed a little on, with a set of Bareknuckle Irish Tour pickups and CTS pots and orange drop cap.

All in all the cost has come to around £480....based on the specs I'd expect to pay a lot more for a branded MIA Fender! The main reason I want to do it though is I don't have a strat currently, I love putting things together like this and while it may not be totally 'unique' specs wise, I know it's the only one put together by me - and only I will know it's little quirks under the hood.

I've rambled a little there haven't I...?


Jun 15, 2011
Its better than going home and sitting front of a tv,and I love to work with wood.If you look around you can find some really good deals on some really quality parts and end up with something you want,not something you have to settle for.For me it helps that I work in a body shop.This one I am building now is an American Fender body..b-grade,2012 american HSH pickguard and pickups,2011 MIM lonestar neck.I might have 300 in it so far.


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Most Honored Senior Member
May 26, 2006
Jacksonville, FL
considering that you can build a hellova guitar for 7 - 800 bux…. i'd say go for it…

and for those that are poo-bahing the idea…. just aren't thinking globally….

I wouldn't care if it cost double that to build one…. doing so will save you many times over that amount over the years if you are serious about the guitar.

You will be learning much that can be applied to the other's in your herd…. just being able to set ;em up will save a nice hunk.

Ron Kirn