Partscasters…why not, right? The modular quality of Leo Fender’s guitars makes it possible to make your own tele or stratocaster partscaster!
After owning a few different Stratocaster and a telecaster, anyone would have had experience in removing pick guards, electronics and neck simply because the screws are easily accessible. This was Leo’s way. As an engineer, he made these guitars so that the working musician could have “as little downtime as possible” if a part needed to be replaced. I was looking to build an Eric Johnson type guitar, yet with the bite of a humbucker. A buddy of mine pieced together a tele, so I tried my hand at a strat partscaster. I made this a step-by-step post so you copy what I did. For links to the parts I used or close recommendations, scroll to the bottom of the post for the numbered list.
First things first, we needed to find a body. I looked at Allparts and Warmoth, but then stumbled onto a 25 year old Warmoth hardtail body with a HSS config. Looks like it’s got a nitro lacquer, with a vintage sized neck pocket. I was not considering a hardtail strat partscaster, yet the absence of a tremolo made all the difference in this guitar.
Pickguard, knobs and switchcap
A three ply pick guard “mint-green” or “parchment” color is certainly the way to go in order to give this a classic 50’s look to the strat partscaster.
the pick guard came with neck and middle Fender Tex-Mex pickups. The Fender Atomic humbucker was quickly placed and sold on eBay. I swapped in a Seymour Duncan Jeff Beck SH-4. This is the definitive rock pickup which needs little post adjustment.
RS Guitarworks and The Art of Tone provided the vintage, wax covered guts to this guitar. The pio cap is a .047 made by their company, accompanied by lengths of wire, a switchcraft jack/switch and CTS pots.
I would recommend anyone to shield all of the pickup and electronic cavities of the guitar body. You can read about how you can do this yourself here.
The 21-fret neck was made by Musikraft, who made this rosewood fretboard out of reclaimed wood from the Coney Island boardwalk that was torn apart during hurricane Sandy in 2012. The trussrod adjustment is at the heel of the neck (50’s style), so removing the pickguard is necessary to adjust it. Musikraft finished the neck in matte nitro with a slightly vintage tint. The fretwork was done in their stock 6105.
Read about my experience with the Gotoh staggered set 6 inline here. The coolest thing about this set is that they are rock solid, and require no string tree as the relief from the lower posts give the string a break angle that works great.
Fender Sticker Decals
I got these from a website that is no longer in service. Odd!
Had the plastic nut thrown out and a bone nut replacement made by my buddy.
Bridge and Saddles
Callaham makes an incredible bridge and saddle from steel. No graphite or other odd material. There is an amazing zing to the tone that was not there with the stock Fender hardtail bridge. I cannot recommend Callaham enough. Not one broken string yet.
I wanted a “Fender Corona, California” neck plate, so I got one.
After piecing it all together as far as I could, I brought the neck and body to my buddy Lars who shimmed the neck and set it up. Like all good things, one must wait. This guitar is not afraid of rock, jazz, country, or simple clean livin’. If you are feeling adventurous, have patience, and are willing to hunt for parts, then think about starting your own tele or strat partscaster build yourself.
[usrlist Hardware:5 “Sounds:5” “Vibe:5″ Value:4 avg=”true”]
Here’s a wrap up of the parts I used:
- Body – Warmoth Alder body
- Pickguard, knobs and switchcap – Fender issue
- Pickups – Tex-Mex and Seymour Duncan SH-4
- Electronics – The Art of Tone Strat kit
- Shielding – Copper foil
- Neck – Musikraft Custom 21-fret rosewood
- Tuners – Gotoh SD91 6 inline tuners
- Bone Nut – Bone Nut Replacement blanks
- Bridge and Saddles – Callaham
- Neckplate – Fender Corona California stamped