Building a Partscaster: A Great Father and Son Project

how to build a parts guitar

After my son got his new Gretsch, he spent the following week amplifier hunting.  He was determined to get a VOX AC30, but settled for a Fender Blues Junior III.

A sudden urge for another guitar – early signs of guitar acquisition syndrome

In no time, he realized he needed another guitar.  Actually, he owned another guitar, but he had some burning desire to get more intimate with it by replacing the pickguard or pickups.  He couldn’t do that with a brand new Gretsch, nor could he make any mods to either of my American Standard Strat or Tele, which I conserve as “original.”

“Andrew, you just got the Gretsch.  Why do you need another guitar now?”

“I’m bored.”

The partscaster project

The project started with a Barracuda Strat copy.  This Barracuda had been in the house for around 10 years and was a pretty good starter guitar.  Barracuda Strats can sell for around $250.  

“Buddy, I actually like the Barracuda, especially the neck.  What exactly do you want to change or modify?”

“Everything.”

To me a partscaster is built from spare parts lying around the house or whatever.  I never had the notion that you actually could spend money on parts to build a guitar.  Geez, building a partscaster can carry some underestimated costs.  I figured, just go buy a MIM Stratocaster.

Hunting for guitar parts

It turns out the only spare anything I had on hand would be a tremolo bar.  Andrew scoured the local garage sale sites, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Amazon, and even Kijiji.ca.  It turns out that the COVID-19 pandemic created a shortage of parts with everyone having the same idea as this father and son duo.  Even some of my die-hard guitar junkies were dry and couldn’t even spare a pickguard.

The first things he needed to change was the neck.  At no time did he have intentions to make a Strat copy or replica.  That is, he didn’t want to buy a Strat neck and apply Fender decals to try to pass it off as an actual Strat.  He wanted to replace the neck so he could practice setting up a guitar and making truss rod adjustments.  Noble and valiant enough I thought.

He found a fabulous neck, which matched the guitar’s body specs.  Beautiful maple fingerboard.  Nice.  

“Andrew, please let me know before you screw the neck to the body so I can make sure it’s installed right.”

Some guitar parts are not easily replaceable – Isn’t that why God has graced us with luthiers?

Under my advice, he had drilled some pilot holes a little too deeply (note:  the Amazon-fulfilled neck didn’t have pilot holes drilled)

It turns out that some of the pilot holes were drilled too deeply, which meant that only 2 of the 4 screws were properly tightened.  This could be a problem.  I offered to remove the neck, and re-fasten the neck with different screws.

“Don’t worry about it, dad.  I ordered another neck.”

I thought, “Great, we’re acquiring parts to build two partscasters!”

I was somewhat concerned that he would spend money to buy parts until he got them to fit.  Isn’t the point of a building a partscaster to save money?”  

Squier Classic Vibes Strat Parts

Andrew hit the jackpot when a local Montrealer was posting a Squier Classic Vibes Strat wired pickguard with pickups.  Perfect.  This Classic Vibes Strat was brand new and this dude was also looking to build a somewhat upgraded partscaster

So my son recounts to me how he convinced the guy that he needed a neck and would he be willing to part with it.  Apparently, the guy says he was intending to change the neck anyways.  Andrew used the Jedi mind trick to inform the seller that he needed to remove the neck now and sell it to him when he would arrive in the following 45 minutes.

I’ll post more photos and describe the setup shortly.

About Grasshopper James 28 Articles
Hi I'm Grasshopper James from Montreal. Welcome to my blog and thanks for visiting. I've been rocking it here since 2007 with my Fender Stratocaster American Standard, Fender Telecaster American Standard, Fender Blues Deluxe '57 Reissue, Ibanez TS9, Boss TU-3, Boss ME-25, Boss GT-3, Boss OD-1, Ernie Ball Slinky 10-46, Jim Dunlop Jazz III Pick, and a Parkwood PW-510.

Be the first to comment