As I stated in the "Why I created Partscaster Pat's" page, I did not know what a Partscaster was until I was 50 years old. This was when I purchased my first Stratocaster. While I did fall in love with the Strat tone, it was not love at first site. What I mean by is this. I had been playing humbuckers since I was sixteen. I was raised on Black Sabbath™, Judas Priest™, and a whole genre of hard rock players back in the 70s, many I knew from posters and concerts were humbucker guys. While I was no expert concerning the guitars that my "idols" (and I do dislike that word) were using, I could identify a group, not by the singer's voice, but by the guitar sound. So I knew what I liked. I had messed with a few friends single coil guitars and was not impressed. It was just not "full" enough for me, so I actually looked down on the single coil sound. Therefore, it was a long time before I really gave the Stratocaster the chance to win me over. Actually, Blue Wolf band changed all of that. Out of nowhere I had been asked to jam with the band. Looking back in retrospect it seems like divine intervention from the "Strat Gods". After not playing with a band for ten years, I was hesitant. Bands were those things that were like a bad marriage. It had it's good times but mostly it was ego, attitude, drugs and alcohol and a bunch of child-like arguing. I was happier locked in my little sanctuary I call my studio. Anyway, I was told during the invite that they played blues and classic rock, very classic rock. Hesitantly, I took my Ibanez Les Paul copy over and jammed. The guys were nice enough and it went fairly well. However, the music was the Rolling Stones™, Bob Dylan™ and a few good blues songs. I felt that my humbucker sound did not jive well with the band. We had another guitar player on a Supro™ amp with a Tele. The guitars shared leads with a harmonica (an instrument I had never played in a band with) and then the usual drums and bass. After a few rehearsals and much research, I bought the Stratocaster. I knew the sound would do better justice to the music we played. This immediately opened up a new can of worms and challenges. The first being figuring out how to get a good tone. I had always relied on the humbucker's "balls" to give me good lead tone and never had to spend much time messing with tone. PREAMP to 9 and we were pretty much set. I could not do the same thing with the Stratocaster. My Strat is a 1987 Gun-Metal Blue American player. Because of the research I had done, I knew it was a good guitar, so why could I not get a sound I was happy with. Being a tinkerer I dove in head first. First thing I did was replace the pickups. Yes, that noise drove me crazy. I immediately found out how quickly people are willing to share their Stratocaster expertise. I had an acquaintance tell me that, by putting in noiseless pickups, I destroyed the tone of the guitar. What? He also said that "since it was no longer original, it was a Partscaster". "WTF was a Partscaster" I asked my friend. He explained that modifying any Fender™ guitar from original is a Partscaster. He also proceeded to explain how I just depreciated the guitar's value. I was pissed!
Number one, I don't give a damn about the "guitar's value". I give a damn about the guitar's play-ability and what works for me. I am not a collector and never intend to be. Maybe winning the lottery might change that perspective but, since I haven't, I stick to my current opinion.
Number two, I simply changed pickups. I have done this to almost every guitar I have ever owned. My Ibanez LP has had so much surgery it does not even know who it is anymore. But it plays wonderful! I will compare it to any Les Paul out there...and I have. Now I find out that there is this whole new class of, to the "purist", almost orphan-like guitar out there called a Partscaster and to many, they are looked down upon.
So, I started doing the research. I wanted to know what exactly truly defines a Partscaster. The more research I did, the more an interesting trend started to reveal itself. There are so many fricken opinions of what constitutes a Partscaster as there are Partscaster themselves. Here are some of the opinions out there:
- "I wouldn't call a guitar that has one thing that's not stock a partscaster, but I wouldn't call it original either"
- "If you buy a Stratocaster and modify it, it's still a Stratocaster. If you buy aftermarket parts and build a Stratocaster, you have a partscaster, whether you use any Fender parts or not"
- "A partscaster pretty much explains it's self. All the parts are put together"
- "Partscasters are a money-losing proposition, but if they are for personal use only, not for resale, I didn't mind"
- "guitar or bass, often in the Stratocaster or Telecaster style, that is constructed from parts of various other guitars, or built from a kit or using homemade or purchased parts"
- "If you own an American Standard Stratocaster and put another American Standard neck on it, you would need to call it a partscaster"
- "If you change the neck or body on an original Fender without updating the serial number of the new component with Fender, it is a Partscaster"
Confusing huh? My take on the Partscasters is this:
- If it was not built by Fender but has nothing but Fender parts it is still a Partscaster.
- I can get a $400 aftermarket, Fender authorized neck and place it on a $400 aftermarket, Fender authorized body and I have a Partscaster. This means the guitar will never be more valuable than an original Fender made product. I have issue with this because I have held some aftermarket made Strats that I felt were even better than my MIA Strat. I think it is about the quality of craftsmanship and parts, not the name on the guitar.
- Changing pickups, knobs, tuners, switches and input jack do not change an original Fender's status. Changing neck, body or bridge do.