A practical story about why having a guitar BUILT is better than buying used (or new)

So, you’re looking to buy a guitar on craigslist, but you don’t know it’s history.
You think to yourself “I will buy this guitar, then pay a shop to fix it up the way i want it”.
Well, this is the story of an Austin man, who did exactly that.

Also, it’s not worth buying a used guitar no matter how good the deal seems to be, unless you can prove it’s authenticity.
If the deal is too good to be true, then it probably is. It’s either stolen, or a fake.
Made in Mexico strats for example, are a good intermediate level guitar, and sell new from $500-800 depending upon the options. If you find one for $120 on craigslist, then it’s more than likely a fake. The problem is that all fender guitars use the same size neck pockets. Aside from the “el-cheapo” absolute bottom of the line Squires, all other fender and squire models use the same neck pockets and will easily fit necks from other models. A Made in America or Mexican strat neck, WILL fit on a squire body, and visa versa. The same goes with Telecasters, Jazzmasters, Jaguars, etc. They are HIGHLY interchangeable. The other issue, is that you can buy a neck from Amazon for $40, buy decals for $18, and “create” a made in mexico neck that is convincing enough to fool anyone who doesn’t know the difference and put it onto a cheap squire body.

Just last week, a customer brought me a “Made In Mexico” stratocaster that he bought for $80 that he wanted to fix up. When I took the neck off, the body clearly said “Squire”. Upon closer inspection, the body had cracks in it, and several frets needed to be replaced, so we decided not to use the body or neck.

Moving onto the electronics, he wanted to upgrade to high end pots, switches and capacitors, since they were all from the squire and most of the stuff didn’t work.

He opted not to use the pickups that were in it because they were from the squire as well and he wanted Seymour Duncan hot rails.

The tuners were old and the wrong style for what he wanted, so we are replacing them with Klusons.
The bridge screws were rusted to the stamped saddles. The saddles themselves came off of a MIM strat, but the bridge was totally squire and had a crack in the block, so, we replaced all of those things too, and with that comes new springs, a claw and screws.

He wanted a Mint pickguard instead of a crusty, scratched up white one, so we replaced that.
The screws were gross and rusty, so we’re replacing those.

Long story short….. the ONLY thing…. literally, the ONLY thing, that we are using from that $80 guitar, is the input jack plate, the neck screws, and the neck plate. I am literally building him a brand new guitar aside from the $10 worth of parts that he is still using. Since i feel bad for this customer, I’ll probably replace those too.

Be careful when purchasing used instruments. The big thing right now, is to put made in mexico or made in america parts on cheap bodies and try to pass them off as real. “Partscasters” have always been a thing, but, what really matters is if the seller is honest about it being a partscaster.

How to identify Fender necks

Made in mexico necks have a black plastic ring around the truss rod adjustment hole.
Made in America necks have walnut surrounding the truss rod adjustment hole.
If it is just an open hole with nothing inside, and it says “Fender” on the logo, it’s either a Chinese clone, an amazon.com neck, or a squire neck that has been re-badged.

As for the BODIES, unfortunately, there aren’t many ways to tell the difference from a $30 amazon body or a Made in America body; at least not to the layman.

The only Fender bodies that are easily identifiable are the Made In America Elite Series, which have an oddly shapped cutaway and a rounded neck plate instead of a square, so that your hands can more comfortably play the higher scale notes.

Be careful.

Leave a Reply