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It's time to bring my 1994 MIM Squier Strat into the 21st century

Discussion in 'Squier Strat Forum' started by phillybri, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. phillybri

    phillybri New Member!

    Age:
    41
    4
    Jul 12, 2018
    Cary, NC
    My Squier Strat is the first "real" guitar I ever had. I got it almost 25 years old and it's in amazing shape.

    I can honestly say I enjoy playing this guitar as much as any PRS, EBMM or any other high-end guitar I've ever owned. My only complaints are 1.) it doesn't stay in tune like I need it to, 2.) the pickups are a little shrill and uninteresting.

    I'm thinking of upgrading to locking tuners, a new nut and new pickups, but I'd like to get some feedback about which specific options would suit this guitar the best.

    Thanks so much!
     

  2. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Squier-A-Holic Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    42
    Apr 19, 2014
    Windsor, Ontario, Canada
    Welcome to the forum! If you have a Mexico made Squier, it will have vintage diameter shaft tuners....the trapezoid type. Upgrading to locking tuners would mean enlarging the headstock holes slightly....using a reamer.....

    If it doesn't stay in tune that's not because of the tuners, it's either the nut, improper setup, strings not stretched properly, etc....

    The pickups in your guitar are low end ceramic magnet single coils, upgrading to some nice alnico pickups would really help tame that shrill sound - HOWEVER - you can probably also change your sound by simply lowering the pickups - the neck almost flush with pickguard surface, middle about 1/8" higher, and bridge 1/8" higher than middle.....shrill usually means too close to the strings...and it can also throw off tuning and intonation!
     

  3. phillybri

    phillybri New Member!

    Age:
    41
    4
    Jul 12, 2018
    Cary, NC
    This is fantastic advice! Thanks for your help, man...
     
    skypeace likes this.

  4. heltershelton

    heltershelton ASKED TO LEAVE THE STAGE Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jun 5, 2013
    Not Florida
    locking tuners wont make it stay in tune any better.
    i like to tighten the little screw on each tuner if its loose.....but dont tighten to the point it makes it difficult to turn.
    also, lube all contact points where the strings touch....saddles, nut, and tree(s).
    i use a little chap stick and it works well.
    and yeah, gotta stretch those strings.
     
    nickmsmith likes this.

  5. Chasy

    Chasy Strat-Talker Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    58
    222
    Jun 7, 2018
    Danbury CT
    My ceramic pickups like to stay as far away from the strings as possible. Preferably in a bag in the closet but if that isn't an option then lower them. I'm not sure what they were smoking when they thought these were ok to put in a guitar with your company logo on it. The brand damage done has to have been huge. How many kids have bought strat packs and then bought a PRS. I dunno but I bet lots.
     
    skypeace likes this.

  6. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Squier-A-Holic Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    42
    Apr 19, 2014
    Windsor, Ontario, Canada
    Your information is only your opinion, and probably 98% of this forum would disagree with you including myself.....

    You're trying to compare a $100 guitar to a $500 one....
     
    nickmsmith likes this.

  7. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 28, 2011
    Pawnee, Indiana
    Same guy who said a squier belongs in a bonfire, as if it isn't even a usable guitar. Gotta consider the source there.

    Hard to even tell ceramic from alnico pickups on sound alone, TBH.
     
    Guitarmageddon likes this.

  8. heltershelton

    heltershelton ASKED TO LEAVE THE STAGE Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jun 5, 2013
    Not Florida
    i like the ceramic stock pickups in my mim models just fine.
     

  9. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 28, 2011
    Pawnee, Indiana
    there is no room for common sense here. Get that outta here.

    All ceramic pickups are poop and must be destroyed immediately.

    But really, I put ceramic Tele neck pickups in a lot of my guitars.. not even from MIM level quality sources. Cheap, off of ebay, for like 4 bucks each.. and I love the sound of them.
     
    heltershelton likes this.

  10. Chasy

    Chasy Strat-Talker Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    58
    222
    Jun 7, 2018
    Danbury CT
    This is from 96, mine are from 99, they blow. Seriously, the bar magnets are hot glued to the side of them. I mean come on. I dunno, I don't have a lot to compare them to admittedly but they suck. They have this weird non subtle transition from subtle to icepick. It's at least worth trying something else.
     
    skypeace likes this.

  11. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Squier-A-Holic Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    42
    Apr 19, 2014
    Windsor, Ontario, Canada
    they don't blow - you just don't know how to set them properly for height.....
     

  12. Stratoskater

    Stratoskater Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    43
    Feb 8, 2011
    Raleigh NC
    Welcome. You will get lots of great advice and help here.
     

  13. dirocyn

    dirocyn Strat-Talker

    Age:
    43
    200
    Jan 20, 2018
    Murfreesboro, TN
    IDK about the pups in yours, but the ceramic pups in my Affinity weren't great, and paired very poorly with the 500k pots to make a shrill, icepick kind of sound, kinda like you described in the original post. First step was lowering the pickups, which helps considerably. Start there, it's free! I suggest you fret the guitar at the highest fret and leave room for 2 stacked U.S. Nickels between the pickup and the low E, and at least one between the pickup and the high E, just as a starting point.

    Step 2, if that doesn't tame things enough for you: remove the pickguard (you'll have to slack the strings, but not necessarily replace them) and check and see what kind of pots are in there. Note that if there's solder covering up the markings, you can measure it with a multimeter. If they're 500k pots (stock with a Squier Affinity) then either replace them with 250k pots OR add a resistor that's close to 250k (I used 220k) between Signal and Ground, parallel to the volume pot.

    I set up my resistor on a push-pull pot, so I could easily A/B the sound, with the resistor added it cuts off a lot of the harsh overtones and noise.

    After that, I ultimately still replaced the pickups, I used the GFS Alnico II set. I like it a lot, but I'd rather sound like 1968 rather than "bring my guitar into the 21st century." After replacing the pickups, the effect of adding/subtracting the resistor is way less noticeable, probably because the pickups themselves produce a lot less of the harsh icepicky overtones.

    As far as staying in tune, the most common issue is binding in the nut. When you change strings, run the string through the nut slot 3-4 times to make sure it's smooth and clear, then add a little pencil lead (graphite) to the nut slot.

    I also don't care for trapezoid tuners because they can develop "tight" spots as you turn them. They stay in tune, but the aesthetic experience of tuning isn't all that nice. If you're buying tuners, buy tuners that work with your existing shaft holes, you'll probably have to drill new screw holes. Use the right diameter drill bit, stick a piece of tape on the bit so you know to stop before you drill too deep, line up All the tuners with a straight edge, and center punch All your drill holes so the bit doesn't wander. The one or two old holes that your new tuners don't cover can be filled with wood glue and the sawdust you created making your new screw holes, it'll be very close to the same color as your original wood.
     
    808K likes this.

  14. CarbonCanyon

    CarbonCanyon Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    41
    99
    Mar 30, 2018
    Mt. Rainier
    I'm a big fan of the vintage style tuners. Never need a locking set when strung properly. Get a high quality set and a tusq nut. I like lowering the pickups to get good tone, as a precious poster said.

    You'd be in it 65 bucks. Then you'd have solid tuning and can make an accurate decision regarding pickups and any future swap. If its a keeper for life and you want to try something different, you can just buy a set of Fender '59s and be done. Cost effective and quality.
     
    Will Lefeurve likes this.

  15. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 28, 2011
    Pawnee, Indiana
    I’ve played my brother’s MIM squier quite a bit. It was early 90s. It was the guitar I always looked up to as a kid. its likely the reason I even ended up playing strats.

    I owned it for a couple years and my bro has it back now. I own much nicer guitars than his, now.. but the guitar is still good. Bone stock.

    IMO you want to set up your amp and pedals for optimal sound for your guitar. Icepick is not one way I would describe the pickups. They do break up easier than alnicos.. that’s the only attribute that really sticks out to me. Otherwise, it sounds like a strat.

    I’ve played alnicos that sound way more shrill than these pickups.

    Everybody is quick to characterize certain pickups, but when played, majority of people, even experienced guitarists can’t tell a 5c pickup from a 500 dollar pickup.

    Any issues with pots are easily negated by moving the tone knob down a notch or two.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018

  16. Chasy

    Chasy Strat-Talker Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    58
    222
    Jun 7, 2018
    Danbury CT
    You are not here, otherwise, you would say yes, these blow. Perhaps they are an odd set. I dunno, but there is a reason you cant sell them for postage. I mean, when they were in there, I didn't mind them so much but now that they are gone, I don't miss them at all. Let's put it that way. The ones I have now are much easier to play. And you are free to play whatever you want and make whatever claims you want to as am I. No disrespect to your opinion, I just don't share it. And yeah, those 40.00 squires are polluting my stratocaster feed on ebay and letgo, kinda why I told him to burn it rather than sell it since the price per BTU was probably equivalent to heating oil in the UK. It was a joke, you guys need to take a breather or something. My suggestion to change the sound of this guitar for the better is to swap the pickups out. That's all. No big deal, if you insist the op keeps them, then ok. Whatever.
     

  17. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 28, 2011
    Pawnee, Indiana
    I do agree that different pickups can give different characteristics to the sound, no doubt. If you want a chimey vintage sound, then there are better pickups for that, if you want darker hard rock pickups, there are better pickups for that. But I don't think the stock ones on many squiers are junk or unusable. That's all I mean.

    Better or worse sound quality is all up for opinion. Like I said, 4 dollar Tele neck pickups with a single magnet bar on the back, sound just great to me.

    Here's a song, all the electric parts done on these pickups, which by any standard are less quality than Squier
     

  18. dirocyn

    dirocyn Strat-Talker

    Age:
    43
    200
    Jan 20, 2018
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Hey, everybody's ears are different. I know I have unusual high frequency sensitivity (I hear light bulbs and dog whistles). The stock Affinity ceramics (+stock 500k pots) caused me physical pain at modest volume levels. My experience with cheap Tele neck pickups (I've got a Rondo Furian) is that they sound great--and more important, don't cause me pain. My opinion is that $4 ceramic Tele neck pickups are MUCH higher quality than stock Affinity Strat pickups, but I suspect that's mostly because I'm a wuss about sounds that most people can't hear.

    I also agree there's no direct correlation between price and sound quality, except that if there's a particular sound you're trying to achieve, you'll probably pay a premium.
     
    nickmsmith likes this.

  19. Class A Knob

    Class A Knob Strat-Talker

    413
    Nov 25, 2017
    California
    Here's what I added. Adjust truss rod and set saddle height/intonation and my MIM is as good as any MIA.

    Screenshot_20180712-172855_Chrome.jpg Screenshot_20180712-172931_Chrome.jpg