As talked about in a previous post where I lay out the background to my love of partscasters, here is a rundown of one of my more recent partscasters. It’s a combination of a Squier ’51 body and an early 90’s Peavey Predator neck. As with many of my partscasters, there really wasn’t a master plan, I just occasionally scroll through eBay and Reverb.com for parts, and sometimes a deal too good to pass up pops up.
It started with the Peavey neck on eBay for $44 + $20 shipping. Buying these old necks at such cheap prices is a bit of a gamble. They’re usually sold “as-is,” and some have had 25+ years of wear on the frets. I take a gamble whenever I come across these necks, and 9 times out of 10 I receive an awesome neck. This is one of those awesome necks. The seller didn’t know what brand the upgraded tuners are, they were on there when they bought it. However, if you’ve ever dabbled in Peavey CVLT Fandom, you know that the tuners are always the weakest point of Predators, so any tuner will probably be an upgrade. These are solid and stable, so they can stick around. Also, someone somewhere in the 25 years of this neck’s life decided to take some sandpaper to hide the fact that this is a Peavey. Not the prettiest job, but not a deal breaker for me.
After buying the neck on a whim, I set out to find a body to match it to. I was scouring for a blonde tele, but just could not find a body in the price range I was looking for. When looking for a body, I usually start with a fully loaded, or at least partially loaded body. When buying off-brand bodies, you usually run into troubles when matching hardware to the body, since you never know what kind of template the person who made the body was following. This way there is at least all of the hardware, or some of it, that takes the guess work out of piecing it together.
In my searching, I came across this fully loaded Squier ’51 body. I have a friend who is in love with these guitars, so I became intrigued. It’s a basswood body, humbucker bridge pickup, single coil neck pickup, and string-thru hardtail bridge. The body was $99 with free shipping. That was a price I could live with.
So the parts arrive in the mail. Time to bring Frankenstein’s monster to life! The Squier ’51 guitars originally had a tele-style neck, which is a square-heel neck. The Peavey Predators also have a square-heel. This is where the easy part of matching a Peavey neck to a body ends. The old Peavey Predators have a deep neck pocket, which means a thicker neck at the neck joint that most Fender-style guitars. Matching these Peavey necks to most bodies involves some time with a sanding block to shave off a few milimeters on the heel of the neck. I’ve put guitars together without completing this step out of sheer laziness and the strings wind up being about 1.5″ above the surface of the guitar, pushing the limits of bridge saddles’ and pickups’ height adjustment screws. But, after a little elbow grease, the neck fit perfectly in the pocket at a reasonable height.
I finish mashing these two worlds together, spend the time to adjust the truss rod, intonation, string height, pickup height, etc., and I’m in instant love with this guitar. The bridge humbucker actually has a good sound, overall fairly bright for a humbucker. Without a tone control, this allows more of the signal to punish the input of your amp. Then, after noodling about on this guitar for a few weeks, I accidently pulled up a little bit when adjusting the volume knob, and to my pleasant surprise, it came out! These guitars actually have coil-splitting on the bridge humbucker! Score another point for the versatility of this guitar. Now, granted, this is already a pretty bright sounding guitar, so the split-coil in the bridge position does push this guitar into an unpleasant ice-pick sound. I’ll attribute that to the volume knob being a 500k value for the sake of the humbucker. But, with the coil tap and the pickup selector in the middle position, it does get that telecaster middle position sound.
The single coil in the neck was the weak point of this guitar, it just did not match the bridge humbucker well. I settled on a Guitar Fetish Texas Strat Alnico single coil, for about $20 shipped. Dropped that in and this guitfiddle has been in my regular rotation ever since.
Here are a few shots of my using it at gigs:
The stock neck pickup did have a black pickup cover, which I actually prefer to the white pickup cover that came on the GFS pickup, but I could not get the black cover to fit on the GFS pickup. Oh well, I can live with it.
Here are a few videos of my noodling with this guitar:
On the neck pickup
On the bridge pickup
To recap the cost of this unique, lean, mean machine:
Neck: $64 Shipped
Body: $99 Shipped
Pickup: $20 Shipped
Moral of the story. If you keep your eyes open for the right parts at the right price, and are willing to use some creative problem solving and elbow grease, you can put together one-of-a-kind guitars with the specs you want for relatively low cash.