My DIY Tele and Strat Syle Builds

DIY Tele and Strat Collection

Basic Fender-style builds like Telecaster and Stratocaster kits can be a lot of fun both to build and do a fine-tune setup for playing. They also offer a lot of opportunity for customization with your own modifications. These DIY electric guitar kits are very easy to find, and though there might be slight differences between kits, most of them are basically the same. Here are a few of the ones I have built so far, and I most certainly am not done yet. I hope you enjoy them.

Leo Jaymz Tele Style Kit

Leo jaymz Telecaster Style Kit

If you are a first-time DIY electric guitar kit builder, a Tele-style kit is undoubtedly the easiest to assemble. My first Tele build was a Leo Jaymz kit that I picked up from Amazon for around $100. The Leo Jaymz Tele is a very good quality kit, and at this price point is pretty hard to beat. The body is mahogany, a great wood to work with, and it is also heavy enough to make this feel like a real Telecaster.

The assembly was relatively easy, even though I did have to make one modification to the bridge pickup routing in order to comfortably adjust the bridge pickup height. And this Leo Jaymz kit came with a blade-type headstock that I shaped pretty closely to the Fender Telecaster shape. You can read my method for shaping headstocks in my post How to Shape a Headstock.

Like all Strat and Tele kits, this one has a bolt-on neck. That allows for a little bit of adjustment if needed, but the alignment of this Leo Jaymz kit was good from the start and didn’t require adjusting the position of the neck. All holes were pre-drilled and fit correctly.

At the time of this post, there are a couple of variations in the Leo Jaymz Tele-style lineup. One kit is very similar to the one I built, and another Leo Jaymz Tele-style kit offers a more advanced build, including humbucker pickups and a tune-o-matic style bridge with a tremolo. This new kit has a really nice roasted maple neck as well.

Leo Jaymz makes some great kits, so check out the Leo Jaymz store at Amazon.

Esquire Style “Partscaster”

Esquire Partscaster

“Partscaster” is a term generally applied to a guitar that is assembled from components that were not originally together in the same instrument. Even though the suffix “caster” hints at a Fender-style guitar, it could be any style. While shopping online I came across an unfinished Telecaster-shaped body for $20 and couldn’t resist buying it. From that purchase, I created a Partscaster.

It is said that Fender manufactured it’s first solid body electric guitar, the Esquire, in 1950. It had only one pickup. Soon thereafter, Fender introduced a two-pickup version known as the Broadcaster, later called a Telecaster. I decided to build my recently acquired Tele-shaped body into a single bridge-pickup Partscaster modeled after the Esquire.

Components were easy to gather. I needed a neck, which I found on eBay, and ordered most of the rest of the items I needed, including an Esquire pickguard without a neck pickup cutout, from Amazon. For this project, I was not concerned with finding name brand parts. For the tuning machines, bridge, pickup, and loaded control plate I just went with low-priced components that had good customer reviews. I read them all. Grand total, I built this Esquire Partscaster for about $115.

The body is sycamore, a very lightweight wood with a beautiful woodgrain. I finished it with Tru-Oil gun stock finish and am very happy with the appearance. The fingerboard is a light colored maple, so I used a dark tortoise-shell pickguard to contrast it and accent the sycamore. I used all chrome hardware, with brass saddles on the bridge to make it stand out. That’s actually the same combination I used on my Partscaster P-bass – sycamore body, red tortoise-shell pickguard, chrome bridge with brass saddles. Except for the fingerboards, they might be twins.

Esquire wiring diagram

Wiring for the Esquire single pickup required dis-assembling the loaded control plate. I decided to replace the pc-board three-way switch with a genuine Fender switch (still part of the $115 total). The first position bypasses the tone control and sends the signal directly to the volume pot. The middle position adds the tone control, and the third position sends the signal through a treble roll-off circuit for a fixed, darker tone. That is standard Esquire wiring, but I generally just leave the switch in the middle and adjust the tone control to my liking.

This project currently has a Fleor single coil pickup, but I’ve recently picked up a Fleor humbucker rail that will fit in this bridge. It can be wired with a coil split, so I’ll have to give some thought to exactly how I want to configure it. Also, with the humbucker pickup I will need to replace the 250K pots with 500K pots.

Fistrock Strat Style Kit

Fistrock Strat Style Kit Completed

My first DIY Strat-style kit was a Fistrock kit I purchased at Amazon. It was also my first painted project, as all previous projects were some form of natural, stained or dyed wood finishes. This kit is made of basswood, and though it is a popular wood for DIY electric guitar kits, it is probably my least favorite.

For this kit, I used everything right out of the box without upgrading or otherwise changing any of the components except, of course, the strings. The only time I have ever used the strings that came in the kit was on a couple of bass projects when I didn’t have an extra set available. Even those were changed out later. I almost always use D’Addario strings.

The Fistrock Strat-style DIY electric guitar kit came with a standard pre-wired pickguard having three single-coil pickups and a five-way switch. The switch was already wired with the traditional Stratocaster configuration. Position 1 is just the bridge pickup, position 3 is just the middle pickup, and position 5 is just the neck pickup. Positions 2 and 4 blend the respective pickups in the positions on either side. The single volume and two tone controls are also the standard Stratocaster configuration.

Fistrock makes some great kits with quality components at a very attractive price point. The distributor, L&Y, sells through Amazon, and also offers a line of selected components and tools under the brands Holmer, Bogart, and Rubatone. L&Y offers fantastic customer service support.

Check out the Fistrock Store at Amazon for some other great deals on their DIY electric guitar kits.

Coluber Cable Strat Style Kit

Although I left the Fistrock Strat-style kit stock as it came in the box, I approached this Coluber Cable Strat-style kit already intending to make modifications. I found this unique “BQLZR” prewired pickguard at Amazon. Yeah, I have no clue what that brand name is, but they do market quite a variety of items, and this pickguard has very high customer ratings. A humbucker/single-coil/humbucker configuration, it has two little DPDT toggle switches for split-coil combinations that, when combined with the five-way switch, give this a really wide range of sound possibilites.

Unlike the Fistrock Strat-style DIY kit, this Coluber Cable DIY electric guitar kit was a challenge. Ultimately it came out great, and I am very satisfied with it but it took some work to get there. You can read about my experience in my Coluber Cable Strat-Style Kit Review.

I got a very nice finish on the mahogany body – I love working with mahogany – and the black and white patterned pickguard complements it well. I even sold the loaded pickguard that came with the kit and got a few dollars back in my pocket.

Even though this one is not currently offered, you can find a lot of Strat-style kits. For a kit you know will be good quality, try the Fistrock, Leo Jaymz, or Bexgear kits from Amazon. You can also find a variety of unbranded kits at Amazon, just be sure to examine the descriptions closely and read any customer reviews. Check out some of the Strat kits from Solo. If it is your first kit and you are uncomfortable with applying a finish to the bare wood, can even get these Solo kits with a pre-finished body.


Tele-style and Strat style guitar kits are among the most common DIY electric guitar kits around, and they are pretty easy to build. I highly recommend them for beginners as well as more advanced builders who want to make their own customizations and modifications. Each kit you do, whether a bass, 6-string, or some other configuration, will help you gain valuable experience and build your confidence.

Have you built a DIY Tele-style or Strat-style electric guitar kit? What kit did you choose and why? Share your experience in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “My DIY Tele and Strat Syle Builds”

  1. It is interesting reading your kit rundowns. I just bought the Fistrock Strat kit, have always wanted to dabble in something like this. I have some reasonable capabilities in guitar finishing and modification and I plan to optimize this kit as much as I can without dumping much additional money into it. If it doesn’t work out, then I’m out 100 bucks.

    • It is definitely a great starting point. Mine is still pretty much as originally built. You are going to have a great time, and pretty likely want to do another one. Be sure to share pics of your finished product!


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