Building a Partscaster

From the ‘what is your next guitar’ thread one of my ideas is to build a telecaster, inspired by that walnut tele build but no way I have the skills or equipment to go from scratch.

Exactly how much I do I am not sure, and I know there are a lot of parts out there with a range of difficulty in building. I’m ok with a soldering iron and decent diy’er but dont currently have much in the way of guitar focused tools or woodworking stuff etc (just typical home stuff , drill, sander etc).

Aesthetically I am looking for a dark wood with a steampunk/Victorian kind of aged vintage look like these. No time frame for this but would like to start looking at parts etc, I’m in New Zealand so most things would probably end up being imported (we have local suppliers and wood but…)

Obviously I’ll need the following

  • Body - pre shaped? Holes cut, drilled? Seems a range from a plank to a basic finished blank
  • Neck - Not sure how much I want to do on this or just fit a finished one, shape headstock?
  • Pickups - probably a SS setup as I have plenty of HH guitars
  • Electronics
  • Fittings - bridge/saddle, scratchguard, switch plate etc?
  • Tuners

Obviously a few of you have built stuff before so any advice is helpful!


This could be interesting…


Sounds like a fun project, Rob, though rather you than me :grin: I have enough trouble playing and changing strings :rofl:

Like the look over the body adorned with a dragon. The dark wood and grain, right up my aesthetic alley.

On pickups, perhaps also worth considering P90s, either for both or perhaps a P90 and an SC? But I’m no wiz when it comes to guitar electronics and options. Might also depend on the music you may want to play on it eg a 5 string tele intended to play in open G :wink:


Oh dont start (me up)…

I wouldnt be adverse to a p90, guess neck position?

It’ll be a general all round blues rock/guitar I think

1 Like

Don’t have a clue as to what would be most suitable in which position, Rob.

And the cavities on the body may have an influence on what can fit without further woodworking.

My tele is a partscaster.

I’m glad i built it, but given the cost of everything, i could have bought a MIA Fender for the cost.

I’ll post up some details once i get home tonight.

1 Like

Yeah I’ve seen necks for like $800+ on their own.

Guess it’s one of 2 things, cheapest kit possible for the experience or a custom one built to your ideas.

Downside of the last one is it may not work out well…,

I had been looking at building a cheap kit, but painting the body kept putting me off.
The trigger for my build was a UK retailer posting up some relic’d bodies he’d had commissioned, which set the build in motion.

The original build thread can be found at WTF do I do with these? (Tele bits and build content!) - Making & Modding Discussions on theFretBoard

I’ve just had a look at what my build cost, and this is the rough breakdown from 2017/8-
Body - £340
Neck - £285
Gotoh bridge + various generic bits (neck plate, jack/socket - £63
More little bits + pieces - £25
Schaller machine heads - £65
Oil City Masterwound SOL67 pickups + loom - £165

The total for parts was just under £1000, plus I paid a tame luthier to give it a once over and make sure I hadn’t made any faux pas.
I have no regrets about building it, as I still love how it looks, plays, and sounds, but it certainly wasn’t a budget build.

I do have an unpainted Strat body, and roasted maple neck (it’s not flamed, so is a lot less figured than the one on my Tele) for another project, but I’ve still never decided how I want the body finished :confused:

Seeing the couple images you’ve posted, I think you might find some inspiration in this thread - Are there UK builders making “barncasters”? - Guitar Discussions on theFretBoard

1 Like

ah awesome info. Barncaster, love it!

My Strats are mainly all from parts:

You can get rattle cans of Nitro Cellulose and vintage lacquer if you want to paint them. I’ve done one of mine shell pink.

Find someone with a CNC mill and then you could have any timber you like for the body? Glue up a blank from reclaimed timber or something? I’ve never looked into it but would be surprised if there aren’t CAD designs for nearly-teles and nearly-Strats in the public domain.


CAD Guitar Model - Fender Telecaster ('58 Standard) | Electric Herald like this… Now I’m tempted! I have a pile of timber of various species.

1 Like

Some inspiration from here

They have paper printed to scale layouts they glue onto the wood (body/neck), that must help a lot?

Have to think about what I would need or find, we have a local manshed that should have some stuff to help

Pretty sure I could find some funky timber here, would need the right cut for the neck, if I went that way, building a whole neck seems a step up though

oh this is interesting… plenty of templates out there

With a bit searching, you can probably find the template for any guitar, along with sources for premade routing templates.

If you want to do some reading up about guitar building in general, try and get a copy of Make Your Own Electric Guitar by Melvyn Hiscock - It’s Here! | Melvyn Hiscock


That does look worth a read!

Hello mate. I’ve also built my own guitar (offset Tele), which probably cost about £1000GBP, maybe more. I was thinking what I could have bought for that money but then it wouldn’t be unique or mean as much to me. :blush:

I saw a Limited Edition Fender Tele based on a 52 but with a roasted ash body/roasted maple neck and couldn’t afford one, so thought I’d try and build my own, thought it would be fun. I tried to use as many Fender parts as I could, to try and closely match the guitar that inspired me.

Anyway, I’m glad I took it to a luthier to do the final setup as a neck I had fitted had maxed-out on the truss rod so had to be returned. I’ve had so many issues with this build, usually down to parts suppliers or the parts themselves, so I’ll be glad to finally get it back and play it!

I apologise for the blabbering…


I guess that’s the downside with building a parts caster, can be expensive and no guarantee of a good result.

Looks great though

1 Like

That is the big risk.

Most of the risk can be mitigated by doing lots of research, and asking the right people, the right questions.
Thankfully when I built mine, I made use of the extensive knowledge of various TheFretboard members, to ensure everything I bought was suitable for what I wanted it do. Plus they provided help when I wasn’t sure about anything.

1 Like