1,000,000 Opinions

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:

  1. If it was not built by Fender but has nothing but Fender parts it is still a Partscaster.
  2. 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.
  3. Changing pickups, knobs, tuners, switches and input jack do not change an original Fender's status.  Changing neck, body or bridge do.




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