Showing posts with label 3. Purchasing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 3. Purchasing. Show all posts

Sources and Approach

There are many approaches to purchasing your parts. Each has its own attributes in terms of risk, ease of effort, cost, timeframe.
  • Purchasing at retail from shops like the Guitar Center. This is likely to be medium in expense, and unlikely to deliver truly exciting and unique parts. Also, it is unlikely that the sales staff have enough experience to add value by helping get the right parts.
  • Purchasing on the Web from places like Steward MacDonald, Allparts, MightyMite and Warmoth is another option. This can offer some better values than retail prices or Fender parts, and definitely more custom parts, but the information may be marginal. Some options, like Warmoth custom bodies and necks, can be very expensive, but then you can get some very unusual stuff (e.g., solid rosewood neck with mother of pearl inlay and your choice of nut and frets.
  • One of the Web sellers that offers amazing values and are great people to deal with are the folks at Aamp's electric guitar store. Check out the Allparts and MightyMite necks under parts (deeply discounted, as in less than on eBay).
  • Another Web retailer that I like and are really great folks are Picker's Parts.
  • Ebay is a little risky, though much less than you might think.
Ebay can be a treasure trove of parts depending on what you want to build and how self-reliant your are. Here are some tips to assist your getting the best results:
  • Stick to sellers that have lots of sales and are 100% rated (or very close). Examples include Reliable Fender, Stratosphere, Music Parts Guru.
  • Watch for a while (a week) and notice the price trends on items you are interested in.
    Get a account, it is so much easier, and they provide both the buyer and the seller some protection.
  • Don't bid directly, you will only drive the price up. Decide on a reasonable price you want to pay, taking into consideration what the shipping is, and use a bidding tool such as to bid – it will place your maximum bid for you, just in the last few seconds of the auction. You will not always win, but eventually you will win, and at the price that is acceptable to you.
  • My experience is that many times, if the deal is too good to be true, it probably is. Be very suspicious of parts that are not photographed or described well, especially if the seller does not answer questions directly and clearly and if they do not have a well established selling record of satisfied customers.

Sample Budget

The numbers presented above are representative of an USA (mostly) Strat that was built with carefully selected parts and thrifty buying via eBay. This ends up being about the same price as a used American Strat on eBay (see below). However, instead of a used guitar that looks, sounds and feels just like thousands of others you can have something that is one of a kind, and take the pride and satisfaction in bring that guitar to life all by yourself.

Typical Prices eBay Web MRSP
Mexican Strat $325 $399 $599
American Std. $699 $999 $1359
American Dlx. $1099 $1250 $1725

In this example, I went for an Allparts neck that combined vintage styling (no visible truss rod adjustment) with modern features like jumbo frets and a 12” radius. Also, this example provides a budget for a very cool pickup configuration using 2008 American pickups and an aftermarket 7-way switch (similar to the S-1 switch on the Strat Deluxe). Since this guitar was to be the primary illustration project throughout this site (Fiesta Red Strat), I specifically chose options that required the most work so that I could discuss and demonstrate more techniques.

Going down this road (non Fender USA parts), may render a guitar that will have a little less marketability should I decide to sell it later. This is because most buyers are a little skeptical of the quality and value which others, such as myself, can be relied upon to deliver. If you are not planning on selling the guitar any time soon, this route offers you more control and lower cost, though more effort and more risk (clearly, the more control you have, the more opportunity to have it come it just the way you want, or to have challenges that manifest as flaws in the look, feel or even function of the guitar).

I use a spreadsheet to track my parts, mostly because I tend to be buying and selling a number of items simultaneously, and it can be easy to loose track of where I am in a project like this (e.g., ordered, shipped, received along with overall costs). This sort of rigor is even more important if you are attempting to complete your project in a short time frame, as you will have not room for error, such as realizing that you never made your final order for the tuning machines.

The sample spreadsheet shown above serves multiple functions. Although this may seem like overkill, it really helps in a number of ways:

  • A complete and thorough shopping list is built, down to the last screw
  • The cost of the project, including supplies, taxes (where applicable) and shipping is accounted for.
  • This spreadsheet, with an initial budget, can help you stay on track with your intended overall cost, otherwise, you might get anxious and be tempted to pay a little more just to get the purchasing over with.
  • It will take a while to find and purchase all of the parts and supplies. This sort of spreadsheet can help you keep track of what you have already ordered and when/how it is being delivered.