I’ve built up a bit of a backlog of things I want to blog about. I’ve been too busy working, being a Dad and a husband, and playing my Ibanez jazz box.
So there’s a couple of things I want to dash off. The first one is about the possibility of putting together a decent Telecaster out of parts. A Partscaster. I’ve thought about this before, but started thinking about it seriously again two weeks ago when I spotted an ad on Craiglist: a guy advertising Strat and Tele bodies, unfinished, supposedly returned by Fender to a supplier due to cosmetic defects. They were “solid one piece swamp ash” and “made in the US”. I pinged guitar guru Loren Hunt at The Guitar Podcast for his opinion. Based on the photos he said that they looked like swamp ash and that the $60 asking price was fair enough. But he also cautioned that I should probably take a neck to check fit, which of course I don’t have.
But this led me to thinking. Could such an unfinished swamp ash body be part of a good route to a really high quality guitar at low cost?
So I tried to price out what such a guitar could cost. I tried to pick components that would not require any really special tools or equipment. The Wudtone finishing kit requires no spraying gear, is inexpensive, thin (for good tone) and non-toxic. I’ve also tried to choose components that should on paper at least give a really great guitar.
– Unfinished Swamp Ash per Craiglist ad $60
– Body finish: Wudtone $30
– String ferrules: Amazon $9
– Bridge assembly: Amazon (Chrome American Standard) $36
– Pickguard: eBay $20
– Neck (with frets, truss rod and nut): eBay Mighty Mite $90
– Tuners: Amazon $30
– Neck plate and bolts: eBay $15
– Pickups Amazon Fender Noiseless Tele $93
– Switch-plate, electronics + jack: eBay Sigler $50
Total = $433
This price would put the Partscaster on the same price level as a new Fender MIM Telecaster. So that begs the question, if I built this Frankenstein guitar, would it be better than a MIM Telecaster? If it would only be on par then, I think I’d rather look for a used MIM (and save some money) or even buy a new one.
I’m going to pose that question on the TDPRI forums and see what the experts think.