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Squier Standard Strat Upgrade Advice

Discussion in 'Squier Strat Forum' started by Shaolindelt, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. Shaolindelt

    Shaolindelt Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    39
    57
    Feb 12, 2018
    Kentucky
    8369BAEF-0BE3-446B-A43E-8EC14DCEA001.jpeg I am new here and I’m combing through the forums now, but figured I’d have some specific questions that might be worth its own thread. So, this is definitely in the upgrade/advice thread. I’ll try to be clear and any advice is welcome!

    First - I have a Squier Standard Strat (Cherry Sunburst) I picked up used. First guitar, and I love the feel. The guitar was setup well when I got it, low action, intonated, and holds its tuning quite well.

    I’m an advanced beginner guitarist, have mainly focused on my guitar playing for a few years and now just starting to look at the technical side and kind of want to play around a bit and learn more. I have a Fender Mustang GT amp and love the modeling features as its helping to teach me a lot about pedals and amps I’d like to get in the future.

    I have a PRS Angelus acoustic and would like to add some more electrics at some point down the line. Specifically, I’d like to pick up a Les Paul style, an HSS Strat and probably an MIA Strat (SSS) just because. I’ve played some $1000+ guitars and liked them, but I will say, I like the feel of my Squier and would like to keep it around anyway as my “first” as I think it’s a solid guitar.

    However, I would like to upgrade it and learn more about everything involved in it so when I get to the MIA Strat I can make better decisions and upgrades. :) I won’t be selling this guitar off, so not too worried about resale but rather using this as a place to play and learn.

    Some concerns I’d like addressed - pickups just seem meh - would like something richer. Tone/volume controls seem to make big jumps rather than letting me dial in. Longer sustains would also be nice but that might be more the amp side of things.

    As for tone/style of play - I love the clean tones of the Strat. Mayer, Gilmour, SRV are some influences and styles - blues, pop type sounds, and the blues jr amp is a fun one I’ve gotten to play with. Any upgrades to this guitar I’d like in that realm but I also would like to keep this guitar fairly versatile.

    So my thoughts are I’d like to kind of get an idea of where to start and what’s worth it. Any suggestions are welcomed as for what I maybe should look at and where/what to buy. I’m making a list top down with my thoughts, but let me know if I’m off any where.

    Tuners
    The guitar holds its tuning well overall. Would like to maybe upgrade to some locking tuners or just something better, and I don’t mind reaming out or drilling new holes if needed, but I don’t see a huge benefit right now since I’m not having tuning problems. Low priority right now (but maybe an easy upgrade anyway). Any suggestions?

    Nut
    Again, maybe an easy upgrade so I might go for it but not sure how much improvement I’ll see. Would dropping in a new bone nut be worth it?

    Frets
    May get a file to catch a few rough edges, but frets are in good shape and not popping. My initial setup was good so I think we are safe here.

    Pickups
    This is one place I’m interested in playing a bit. I definitely want to stay with all single coil, but open to ideas of what might be worth wiring in here. Thought about Tex Mex, but curious about other ideas and thoughts and some Seymour Duncans.

    Switch
    I’ve heard the Squier Strats don’t have the best switches, and if I’m already under the hood ... I don’t mind changing it up.

    Pots
    One area of complaint I do have on the guitar ... I don’t feel like the tone and volume controls let me dial in as much as I want. As I bleed off the volume I hear little change, a little change, and then a bigger jump towards nothing. It’s like I have 8-10 and then jump to like 1-4 with not much in the middle. I’d definitely like to upgrade here. Also, I’ve heard some rewiring ideas about connecting the second tone to the bridge pickup and I could see the value there and open to ideas.

    Output Jack
    No issues here but willing to entertain ideas if I’m not thinking of something.


    Saddle and Tremolo
    Tuning and intonation are good, but open to ideas if an upgrade makes sense for other reasons. I’ll be honest, I need more education here. I don’t use a whammy bar and haven’t had issues with anything from the saddle to the block, so I haven’t really invested too much time here. Might help with increased sustain, so what should I look for?


    I think that about covers it but if I’m missing anything, feel free to ask! Thanks for any advice or assistance!


    Oh - and I will doing the work myself so unless there is something that someone believes only a luthier should do, let me know.
     

  2. IronSchef

    IronSchef Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    55
    931
    May 17, 2012
    Flew Here On My Dragonfly
    Great guitar to mod - its got good bones :)

    If you want some awesome, hand wound in the USA, pickups at a crazy good price, check out Rose Pickups. I have never heard of anyone who did NOT love these after installing a set!

    https://www.rosepickups.com/
     
    Shaolindelt likes this.

  3. johnnymg

    johnnymg Senior Stratmaster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Sep 5, 2015
    Central Coast Ca
    Welcome to Strat-Talk.

    My 2 cents about a tone update would be to try to adjust your amp first. Most of the "tone" from an electric guitar will be from the amp.

    That said, if you're bound and determined to change out the pups and electronics I would highly recommend going with mid-high end loaded pickguard. Save the original pickguard so you can put it back in later. There are literally thousands of loaded pickguards available on eBay, Reverb, etc.

    Oh, a great first mod for any Fender or Squier is a TUSQ nut:
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004FF6V8G/?tag=strattalk05-20
     
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  4. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Strat-Talk Member

    93
    Dec 16, 2014
    Atlanta, GA
    You shouldn't need to change the tuners. The stock ones are fine and, since you say you don't use the trem, you don't need the extra stability of locking tuners. Just use a "loop and lock" stringing technique and you'll be fine.

    The nut should be fine also unless you're getting some binding. If that's the case, a little filing should take care of it. I've generally found nuts on inexpensive Fender-ish guitars to be pretty reliably cut (as opposed to those on Epiphones for example).

    If you don't use the trem you could deck it with 5 springs or even block it using a piece of hardwood or even metal. While you can get upgraded trem units, this may be of limited value to you if you don't use it.

    Electronics can become a deep rabbit hole. I agree that you should start with amp and effects adjustments first. Even a simple EQ pedal might bring you the results you want.

    The stock Squier Standard pickups aren't bad at all. They're as good as many mid-priced pickups. I'd recommend being slow about swapping them out in most cases. Work on other parts of the tonal equation first, mainly amp and effects.

    The switch is OK. The main fault of this kind of switch is long term durability with heavy usage.

    The pots are decent but not the best. You can upgrade them to better ones pretty inexpensively. You might also consider experimenting with treble bleed circuits or something like the S-1 or TBX pots to see if you like that variation.
     
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  5. stratomatt

    stratomatt Strat-Talker

    198
    Sep 23, 2010
    San Diego
    A tusq or bone nut is a good upgrade, but... unless you have a set of nut files you'd be better off leaving the stock nut in place, or taking your guitar in to a tech to fit the new nut for you. They always need some fine tuning for proper set up. An upgraded nut will NOT make any difference at all on your tone. Some argue that it does make a difference on the tone of open strings. I always change the nuts on my guitars, and can't tell any difference in tone. What a bone or tusq nut will do is give better tuning stability. Graphite (pencil lead) in your nut slots will help tremendously in this regard as well for your plastic nut. However, if you feel like setting up and fixing guitars is something you want to get into, invest in a quality set of nut files. I have a set like this http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-5...0001&campid=5338148356&icep_item=132482461890 . Yes, a bit pricey, but I've used them dozens of times with great success.
     
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  6. Bodean

    Bodean I'm So Dope I'm Illegal in 55 States Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    50
    Aug 23, 2014
    South Carolina

  7. Bodean

    Bodean I'm So Dope I'm Illegal in 55 States Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    50
    Aug 23, 2014
    South Carolina
    Welcome to the forum
    welcome.gif
     
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  8. HankPym

    HankPym Strat-Talker

    100
    Sep 11, 2017
    USA
    My advice is to keep it stock and enjoy it. No sense in spending more money if nothing is wrong with it. Just save your money for another guitar or amp!
     
    RegularJim likes this.

  9. Shaolindelt

    Shaolindelt Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    39
    57
    Feb 12, 2018
    Kentucky
    Hadn't really thought about going custom or anything, but this might be an interesting way to go. Thanks for the lead! Costs don't look too bad either!

    Agree on the amp, and the Mustang GT has a ton of options that I'm playing with. At the same time, having compared my Squier to some higher end guitars, I notice the electronics are missing a bit. The total pick guard update is an option I've considered. Might look into some ideas there.

    Also, the TUSQ nut is one I had seen before so might go that route too.

    Thanks!! Actually that is right up the alley I was looking at. Would probably be a good upgrade and isn't that expensive!

    Thanks for the reply! And that's kind of what I was thinking. I loop the strings now and they lock in quite well. The locking tuners to be honest seemed like a pretty easy change out overall, so they got to the shorter list. Thanks for the advice on the TBX - I hadn't really looked at those before but that might be a good place to start and play with. I'll explore the pots some more, but I am leaning toward that maybe being my first main upgrade unless I replace the whole pickguard.

    Thanks - honestly, I like tinkering some, and that's part of the draw of this guitar - it's nice but not super high-end or perfect, so why not play with it? That's the other part of this experiment - as I upgrade things, I'm hoping to acquire what I need to continue doing the work myself!
     
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  10. Seymour Duncan

    Seymour Duncan Senior Stratmaster

    If you have specific questions about the Duncans, let me know. Think about what you don't currently like about your pickups. If you can't put into words what you are looking for or are just hoping for 'better', I'd wait a bit until (if) you think there are any tonal problems that need correcting.
     
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  11. Shaolindelt

    Shaolindelt Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    39
    57
    Feb 12, 2018
    Kentucky
    Thanks! Definitely interested in hearing some options and opinions. I’ve sent a direct message and look forward to some options. Going the Seymour Duncan route is definitely on a short list.
     

  12. dirocyn

    dirocyn Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    42
    26
    Jan 20, 2018
    Murfreesboro, TN
    There is a huge, tremendous, humongous difference between how a guitar sounds with 250k pots (or equivalent) vs. the cheaper 500k pots that come in most Squiers. 500k pots make the sound much brighter/harsher, while 250s make the sound mellower/fatter/richer. Gilmour and SRV play(ed) strats that would have come with 250k pots in them, I'd guess Mayer does too. You are already not entirely thrilled with how the pots are behaving...it would be a good place to start.

    It makes a difference because the pot creates resistance between your signal and ground. When the pot is all the way up, there's 250 (or 500) k of resistance between the signal & ground, when the pot is all the way down the resistance drops to zero. Effectively, part of the signal "leaks" through the pot, a 250k pot leaks more than a 500. But what leaks first is the high notes. Bleed away some of the highs, and you're left with mellow.

    BTW, you can get the same effect by adding a cheap 250k resistor in parallel to the volume pot. If you can solder, that's easier and cheaper than changing out pots.
     
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  13. Ace38

    Ace38 Strat-Talker

    Age:
    47
    443
    Aug 8, 2016
    Tulsa, OK.
    This....I have a cherryburst from 06 that is probably my favorite guitar. The neck is great and the sound is perfect. Granted, for me...but once I changed the pots to 250k and did some adjustments to the stock pups, the guitar totally came alive. Try that before you sink a ton into new. Other than the plastics and the pots, its totally stock.

    Untitled-1.jpg
     
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  14. Shaolindelt

    Shaolindelt Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    39
    57
    Feb 12, 2018
    Kentucky
    Thanks! What did you do to the stock pups?


    And I can solder, so I think I might start with changing the pots to do some decent 250ks. Do Squiers normally have a capacitor in there too? I haven’t opened this up yet so this will all be new!
     

  15. Ace38

    Ace38 Strat-Talker

    Age:
    47
    443
    Aug 8, 2016
    Tulsa, OK.
    I spent about an hour with a screwdriver and my amp and just adjusted the pickup height till I got it sounding like I wanted it to. I assume they all have a cap, I don't think they'd work without it...but just in case..mine had one, hopefully yours does too...haha.
     
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  16. Shaolindelt

    Shaolindelt Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    39
    57
    Feb 12, 2018
    Kentucky
    Ok - I’ve played with the heights too... may work on that a bit more after swapping the pots!
     
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  17. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Strat-Talk Member

    93
    Dec 16, 2014
    Atlanta, GA
    Here's what the stock inside looks like (minus cat pee on yours, I hope)

    [​IMG]

    You can see the 500K pots and the .022uF cap.

    Since the electronics were ruined on mine (the reason I got it so cheap), I replaced it with a HH configuration with full size 500k pots and a .022uF orange drop cap along with a new 3 way switch.

    You may want to try a .047uF cap along with the 250k pots to see how that works for you.
     

  18. Vic Interceptor

    Vic Interceptor Strat-Talk Member

    58
    Dec 28, 2017
    Sparkleberry SC
    Before you mod that thing, look up Jack Pearson on youtube. He plays a stock Squier standard a lot of the time. He makes it sing. The best mod you can do is the cheapest - get a screwdriver and lower the neck pickup! That always makes a Strat sound better. Then raise/lower the middle one till it sounds best with the neck pickup, that 'quack' we all love. Then do the same with the bridge pickup in relation to the middle pickup to get the perfect "Sweet Home Alabama" quack, and you're done!
     
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  19. Shaolindelt

    Shaolindelt Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    39
    57
    Feb 12, 2018
    Kentucky
    Thanks - and yes ... here’s hoping there’s no feline urine in there!!! Does Fender not cover that in their warranty? I mean, if they build a guitar that seems like a good place for a cat to pee... isn’t that on them??
     
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