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Partscaster

Jimmytwotimes

Experienced
I've been seriously considering to start building a parts guitar. Considering all the things that could go wrong, its a little intimidating for me.
I'm just looking for a little advise as to possible issues and things to look out for. Any wood recommendations etc. I was looking at Warmoth parts, but open to other options that are out there. Is it really as easy as buying a body, neck, hardware, and pickups and putting it together? So what am I really in for building one of these ?? Do you feel it was worth it and is just as good as any other guitar in the same price range ? Any advise would be appreciated !
 

Budda

Fractal Fanatic
What do you want to get out of the project, besides a new guitar?

The main thing that can go wrong is body not fitting the neck and any routing done incorrectly. Buying from warmoth, allparts etc greatly reduces this.

Do you want to assemble it or will you pay someone else?

What do you want to get out of it?
 

MojoBodies

Inspired
I may be stating the obvious and I may have left a thing or two out ;)

In addition to procuring a Body and a Neck you will need the following:

Gathering all the parts - pots, knobs, input jack, strap buttons, pickups/pickguard, bridge, wire, strings, nut, tuners, neck plate/screws
Assembly, maybe some sanding, painting/finish?
Wiring, soldering
Setup - bridge adjustment, nut filing, truss rod adjustment, maybe some fret work.
 

BBN

Fractal Fanatic
I got this itch a few years ago.
For a first build, I would get Mighty Might parts (and not spend so much on Warmoth).
I got a trans black quilt body and neck....and they are really nice.
There is a nice site (and the shop is near me, so I went over) called BYOGuitar.com
They sell all the parts you need, and they also mill some of their own bodies, etc.
Seymour Duncan has great wiring schematics on their site as well.

My advice - do it!
It's a blast and you'll learn a lot. Once you've snapped off some drill bits into some bodies, and have to find a way to fix it....common guitar problems become less intimidating.

Two of my parts casters are great playing and sounding guitars.
I also have a tele that I built from MJT parts, and it's my go-to for gigging.
Everyone who plays it, loves it.

(oh, the orange one in my profile pick is one I built....and sold to a friend, who loves it)
 

Jimmytwotimes

Experienced
What do you want to get out of the project, besides a new guitar?

The main thing that can go wrong is body not fitting the neck and any routing done incorrectly. Buying from warmoth, allparts etc greatly reduces this.

Do you want to assemble it or will you pay someone else?

What do you want to get out of it?
really, I think it would be a cool project and to have a guitar I put together myself.. not looking for a show piece - just a good playing/sounding guitar where i got to pick everything I want.
Yes I will be assembling and doing the set up work - unless something goes very wrong....
 

Jimmytwotimes

Experienced
I got this itch a few years ago.
For a first build, I would get Mighty Might parts (and not spend so much on Warmoth).
I got a trans black quilt body and neck....and they are really nice.
There is a nice site (and the shop is near me, so I went over) called BYOGuitar.com
They sell all the parts you need, and they also mill some of their own bodies, etc.
Seymour Duncan has great wiring schematics on their site as well.

My advice - do it!
It's a blast and you'll learn a lot. Once you've snapped off some drill bits into some bodies, and have to find a way to fix it....common guitar problems become less intimidating.

Two of my parts casters are great playing and sounding guitars.
I also have a tele that I built from MJT parts, and it's my go-to for gigging.
Everyone who plays it, loves it.

(oh, the orange one in my profile pick is one I built....and sold to a friend, who loves it)
Yes - have a serious itch - I have built a few pieces of furniture and done a lot of soldering in my life, so I thought this would be a great project !
Hoping not to have to drill my own holes for the bridge - I can see things going bad there if its not lined up perfectly.. haha.
Thanks for the suggestions - I will check out byoguitar !
 

Matt_B_77

Power User
A parts guitar can be great but it all comes down to who puts it together. :) As long as you are prepared to screw up anything you do, you're good to go.
 

paranoid

Fractal Fanatic
I started out buying cheap pawn shop guitars and modifing, painting, and reshaping, setting up, refretting. Once I was able to make crap guitars play look and feel better then they did when I bought them then I put a couple together from various new parts.
 

secondwindow

Experienced
I've built at least 10 partscasters using bodies and necks from Warmoth.

I always got pre-finished bodies and necks with frets and nuts installed as well as bridge studs. Those things are the most difficult to do on your own unless you're really experienced with finishing, installing frets, etc - and have all the right tools on-hand.

I'm very experienced with soldering from many years as an electronics tech. So, wiring-up pickups is easy for me. I learned to do guitar setup long ago and have done that myself since.

So, for me, it is just as easy as buying and assembling the parts. I have a good Weller soldering iron and all the fret dressing and other tools I need. Stewart Macdonald is a good source for guitar builders.

I like stainless steel frets and they take more effort in the dressing process. I've found that "micromesh" is excellent for smoothing and polishing newly-installed frets. Otherwise, the frets feel rough and the strings make a scrapingsoundagainstthefretswhen bending. Micromesh is used in aviation to smooth welding joints, polish glass, etc. I use micromesh on frets of guitars I've assembled as well as all my others over the last 20 years - Fenders, Gibsons, PRS, Kiesel/Carvin, etc. Silky smooth!

If you're not good with soldering or just don't want to be bothered, you can get a loaded pickguard. I've had success with 920D.

I really enjoyed the process of building partscasters, it was exciting to decide on every detail and see it come together. I always felt the end result was as good as any production run electric guitar.

Enjoy and good luck!
 

flash6

Inspired
I finished my first a few weeks ago. And I'm hooked, already planning my next one.

The end result is way better than I expected. I was sure I'd make a huge mistake and end up at a luthier's to make it right. But no...I took my time and it turned out great.

It's a Warmoth body, neck, and pickguard. Warmoth applied the finish to both the neck and body and they did a great job. I was most concerned about the neck pocket, both fit and pitch, but Warmoth nailed it. Even the pickguard fits perfectly around the neck heel. They have very tight tolerances. I wouldn't hesitate to purchase from them again.

I had them install the nut too. I've made nuts in the past, but I watched a Warmoth video about the process and it sold me. It's a perfect fit and the spacing looks and feels right. I did have to widen the unwound string slots a small amount. They were grabbing just a bit, which I fixed with just a few strokes of my nut files. So prepare to perform minor nut work even if you go with their nut installation. (I play 10-46 strings - you'd probably be OK with anything lighter.)

I paid ~ $1,500 all in. That's with a lot of upgrades - it could be done for a bit cheaper. I got most of the parts from Philadelphia Luthier Tools and Supplies. Some from ebay and Amazon.



IMG_3522.JPGIMG_3523.JPG
 

Jimmytwotimes

Experienced
I've built at least 10 partscasters using bodies and necks from Warmoth.

I always got pre-finished bodies and necks with frets and nuts installed as well as bridge studs. Those things are the most difficult to do on your own unless you're really experienced with finishing, installing frets, etc - and have all the right tools on-hand.

I'm very experienced with soldering from many years as an electronics tech. So, wiring-up pickups is easy for me. I learned to do guitar setup long ago and have done that myself since.

So, for me, it is just as easy as buying and assembling the parts. I have a good Weller soldering iron and all the fret dressing and other tools I need. Stewart Macdonald is a good source for guitar builders.

I like stainless steel frets and they take more effort in the dressing process. I've found that "micromesh" is excellent for smoothing and polishing newly-installed frets. Otherwise, the frets feel rough and the strings make a scrapingsoundagainstthefretswhen bending. Micromesh is used in aviation to smooth welding joints, polish glass, etc. I use micromesh on frets of guitars I've assembled as well as all my others over the last 20 years - Fenders, Gibsons, PRS, Kiesel/Carvin, etc. Silky smooth!

If you're not good with soldering or just don't want to be bothered, you can get a loaded pickguard. I've had success with 920D.

I really enjoyed the process of building partscasters, it was exciting to decide on every detail and see it come together. I always felt the end result was as good as any production run electric guitar.

Enjoy and good luck!
awesome ! yeah- I'm not going to get into fretting or nut assembly - basically just want to pick my own (predrilled and routed) body, fretted neck, hardware and pickups - good advise !
 

Jimmytwotimes

Experienced
I finished my first a few weeks ago. And I'm hooked, already planning my next one.

The end result is way better than I expected. I was sure I'd make a huge mistake and end up at a luthier's to make it right. But no...I took my time and it turned out great.

It's a Warmoth body, neck, and pickguard. Warmoth applied the finish to both the neck and body and they did a great job. I was most concerned about the neck pocket, both fit and pitch, but Warmoth nailed it. Even the pickguard fits perfectly around the neck heel. They have very tight tolerances. I wouldn't hesitate to purchase from them again.

I had them install the nut too. I've made nuts in the past, but I watched a Warmoth video about the process and it sold me. It's a perfect fit and the spacing looks and feels right. I did have to widen the unwound string slots a small amount. They were grabbing just a bit, which I fixed with just a few strokes of my nut files. So prepare to perform minor nut work even if you go with their nut installation. (I play 10-46 strings - you'd probably be OK with anything lighter.)

I paid ~ $1,500 all in. That's with a lot of upgrades - it could be done for a bit cheaper. I got most of the parts from Philadelphia Luthier Tools and Supplies. Some from ebay and Amazon.



View attachment 79520View attachment 79521
looks great ! thanks for the great advice !
 

Daveis

Inspired
Partscasters are great. You end up with exactly what you want. And you gain the skills to fix your own stuff. The only thing I struggled with was wiring the pickups to the switches and fretboard finishing. You may need to learn about neck shims. Fret dressing and polishing is an area where if you get good at it you can surpass commercial guitars. Micromesh works well for a good shine. Stainless steel frets are harder to work than nickel but will last forever. If you dont purchase your body finished you may want to get a spray gun. I’ve used local luthiers to do fret leveling and extra pickup routes where I dont have the specialized tools. If you use single coils you may want to put extra shielding in the pickup and control cavity. There’s a ground wire back to the bridge. The downside to partscasters is if you go to sell them they dont have a brand name. You may not be able to value it as the sum if its parts. Although I have some Warmoth and USACG and Musikraft parts that should hold value.
 

dpeterson

Axe-Master
Devil is in the details and fit and finish are key. There is a lot more that goes into a guitar than people think. Screws, all kinds of them, different sizes. All the electronics. Drilling holes, sometimes need a long drill bit etc. Tons of little stuff adds up so be ready.

It's fun and if you take your time and don't rush it, you can make something cool, something you can pass down.
 

Daveis

Inspired
I forgot about the tremolo spring claw holes. You need a specialized long drill bit for that. I prefer buying a CNC body with many of those holes predrilled. I think I ended up spending close to $1000 on average for parts and materials. The parts cost adds up quick.

As dpeterson says the fit and finish especially body and fretboard will make or break it. Paint imperfections are a pain to sand out and retry. I refinished my first partscaster 3 times stripping it back to bare wood.
 
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