You may be thinking of building a Fender Partscaster. You’re looking at various listings for cool Fender Telecaster necks and maybe various bodies and pickup combinations. In this article we’ll look at the pros and cons of Partscasters to help you decide. So, should you build a Partscaster? Let’s find out!
First, What is a Partscaster?
A Partscaster is a generally a Fender guitar that is pieced together by mixing and matching parts from different models of usually the same instrument. You can also certainly build a non-Fender Partscaster using various brands that make parts to fit Fender guitars, such as Warmoth and All Parts. You could also build it with Squier parts, or a combination of various fitting components.
Additionally, Fender Pastscaster are usually built using components from the same type of guitar. For example, a Telecaster Partscaster is usually built using a myriad of Tele specific components. A Stratocaster Pastscaster is then most often built using Strat specific components. That said, there are some common mixes and matches that are done between instruments very often. For example, putting a Stratocaster neck on a Telecaster Deluxe or a Jazz Bass neck on a Precision Bass body. Furthermore, companies like Warmoth can build you custom combinations to go with any of your creative ideas.
While maybe not quite as common, Fender Jazzmaster Partscasters and Jaguars are built often enough to be considered. Same goes for Jaguar basses, Aerodyne Fenders and other more obscure models. The common trait however is that Fenders are usually built by bolting together a bunch of fitting parts. In contrast, Gibson Partscasters are not as popular because the necks are glued on so all you can really do is mix and match hardware and pickups.
How Much Does a Partscaster Cost?
The cost of a Fender Partscaster depends on many factors. You might be able to save a few bucks by carefully buying all the parts of the same model. This could allow you to build a guitar that is the same as a factory model. Say for example, you want a Vintera 50s Stratocaster. You can then carefully order all the parts to match the stock factory model. This is something that is fairly easy to do with a company like Stratosphere Parts. You can also find parts on Reverb. Many online stores that sell complete Fenders will also often sell necks, bodies, and electronics. This is specially true if it’s a current popular Fender model and there are many parts for it in circulation.
This approach is interesting, but given it’s unlikely that you’ll end up with matching serial numbers, the guitar is always going to bit a bit of a Frankenstein, just to save a few bucks.
The true magic of building a Fender Partscaster is to build something customized by you with a unique combination of parts that YOU WANT.
In comparison to the first example, you can easily end up building a Partscaster that is even more expensive than a similar MIA Fender (Made in America, or in Corona, CA). If you are very selective with your parts choice and even include some Fender Custom Shop components you can end up with a really high-end, and really expensive, but super high quality guitar.
What Is the Resale Value of a Partscaster?
Let’s address the elephant in the room really quick. Even though you might be able to save some money by building one, a Partscaster is almost always going to end up losing you money if you decide to sell it. Even though it’s a “custom” guitar, it is in no way like a Fender Custom Shop guitar, a Mod Shop guitar, or even a production model.
You may not have a direct comparison to a stock Fender to be able to price it right. You will not have a Fender certificate of authenticity that matches the serial numbers and build. I’ve seen genuine Fender Custom Shop certificate of authenticity documents for sale online, but they aren’t all that great if you weren’t able to collect the same serialized parts to match it. Not to mention, that’s a bit of a poser move. If you are building a parts guitar, just accept it for what it is.
So again, you should build a Partscaster only if your goal is to build something unique, with a specific combination of parts and you do not want to pay $5000+ for a Fender Custom Shop guitar. But remember, that Custom Shop guitar will hold its value pretty well and your Partscaster won’t.
What if I Still Really Want to Sell a Partscaster
Many guitarists shopping around will immediately dismiss a Partscaster. However, if you are really good with descriptions and photos you might be able to at least get the message across that you have something special. It also helps if you have clout online from being in a well known band or maybe if you are a famous YouTuber. The key here would be to get the attention of prospective buyers that are willing to look more closely at your list of parts and consider the value of each individually. Say for example your Strat Partscaster happens to have an MIA Fender Ultra Stratocaster neck and or a Custom Shop body, pickups or neck. You’ll need to be able to prove it. This could certainly help with the value.
You can still expect the guitar isn’t going to fetch the kind of money an original would, but at least it’ll be considered to be of some good value. I would still recommend you keep it, or perhaps sell the parts individually. This will depend on the circumstances.
Should You build a Partscaster?
So let’s address this once and for all. I think that anyone that’s serious about guitars in general would really enjoy building a Partscaster. This is maybe not for someone that tends to hold on to only one or two guitars at a time, but for those of us the end up collecting a few. It can really be a fun learning experience and you may well end up with a guitar that you love and keep for years to come. Just be sure you understand the caveats of building a Partscaster.
I also don’t encourage you do it for the sake of saving some money. I don’t think it’s worth it for that reason. You’ll only save a couple hundred bucks. You might be better off funding a new complete guitar on sale, and come out mostly even. But if you want something unique, that you chose how to combine, I highly encourage it.