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Squier Strat Affinity Refurbishment Help

Discussion in 'Squier Strat Forum' started by kiwi, Dec 22, 2008.

  1. kiwi

    kiwi Strat-Talk Member

    Dec 21, 2008
    New Zealand
    Hi all, I’ve purchased a junk shop Squier Strat Affinity Series sunburst with rosewood looking fretboard, 22 frets, no trem bar, and serial number CY98082325 for the equivalent of US$60. I understand that this was made in 1998. It was covered in grime and looked rather lonely in the shop so I thought I’d have a go at fixing it up for myself as I have some ex Squier Strat Japan pickups and a clean Fender 3 ply shielded pick guard that could to go on the unit.

    Being new to Squiers I have a few questions which I’d appreciate some help on:

    Was 22 frets an option on the Affinity Series?

    The finger board is in terrible condition with the last six frets showing serious pitting or wear and the wood there is much darker presumably from years of use. To clean it I’ve given it a really good scrub with lemon oil let that dry then rubbed in heaps of real bees wax. It’s still looking ‘well used’ but the wood seems much happier up there now. Are there any other suggestions on better wood treatment?

    To clean it I’ve stripped all the metal work off except for the neck plate on the heel which, by the way is blank, with no Squier or Affinity engravings. Is that standard on the older Squiers? The body is a nice solid and heavy block of a quite blonde looking wood, any idea what it’s made of?

    The bridge is a six screw affair, held in back with three springs. It looks like the old style bridge but with cast saddles. The saddles have small numbers cast into them, are there actually any difference between them? The saddles springs and set screws are not in very good condition and one is missing a spring. I’ve got a similar looking set of saddles that came from a Korean ‘Guitar Technology’ bridge kit with the same threads, etc, but maybe the saddle springs aren't as strong. Would a swap out be OK?

    Last but not least are the tuners. I’ve seen some crummy engineering in my time but these babies take the cake. The pegs are sloppy as, the brass helical gears are worn and held on to the end of the pegs with screw that are mostly loose. The winder sits in a flimsy metal frame of bent tinplate covered over by a square cover held down with two corner screws. I guess I could Loctite the screws in place but that’s not going to fix the winder mounting. I don’t want to spend a fortune on expensive tuners so I’m looking for relatively cheap upgrade. Any suggestions?

  2. Phat-O-Caster

    Phat-O-Caster Strat-O-Master

    Apr 16, 2008
    Having tried to polish a turd myself the best way I found was to upgrade one of my other guitars and use the leftover parts. You can get some decent tuners from GFS -don't know what the shipping costs would be. Have fun

    Fender Style (Six on a Side)

  3. Euthymia

    Euthymia Strat-Talk Member

    Nov 6, 2008
    Alameda, CA
    Sounds like you've got a lovely "rescue Strat" there. Congratulations!

    To quote Ian Fleming "You've saved her from the scrap heap, and I'll eat my hat-if I had a hat to eat-if she doesn't repay you for what you've done today."

    The saddles and saddle springs should swap right in with no problem. Some of the screws may be of different lengths, but you can figure out which ones should go with which strings based on where you have to set the intonation and height.

    As for the tuners, is the neck playable with those frets so worn? You may want to eBay a replacement neck with tuners and swap that in.

    If you want to have a go at dressing your frets, the Thomas-Ginex system is newbie friendly.

    If you decide to stick with the neck and replace the tuners, the going rate for no-name diecast tuners seems to be about USD $25. Guitarfetish and numerous eBay sellers have them.

    My Chinese Squier has a blank neck plate. I've never heard of a 22-fret Affinity, but that series plays pretty loose with the specs.

    Photos, before and after!

    Oh, and one of my methods for finding out what kind of wood is on a painted body is to scrape away some paint in a pickup or control cavity, or really, anywhere that's covered by the pickguard. By 1998, it should be solid, not plywood, but who knows.

  4. kiwi

    kiwi Strat-Talk Member

    Dec 21, 2008
    New Zealand
    In the process of looking for parts I ended up with a 1997 YN black Affinity for US$50, bought just for parts you understand. However the neck is almost perfect with almost no fret wear and OK tuners so I’m keeping it. This Affinity had been stored on a stand for its 12 years in the bright NZ sun and the white pick guard, covers, and knobs all have a lovely creamy hue. This looked terrible on the black but just beautiful when transferred over to the sunburst.

    I’ve put the new white Fender three ply guard along with the PU covers from the 'burst on the black Affinity for playing now while I take the time to give the sunburst a makeover as a relic.

    The sunburst is clearly 3 piece and according to a local luthier it's alder and not agathis, I'm told you can tell by both the grain and the weight. The best bit is that the centre plank is about 5" wide with the 'joined on' bits about 4" or so wide each forming the contoured wings. This keeps the neck, trem cavity, and PU cavities all on the same bit of wood. The grain is fantastic and very well matched on this baby but it's kinda heavy at the classic 1 and 3/4" thick at the jack.

    Pictures soon.

  5. painter33

    painter33 Strat-Talker

    Dec 27, 2008
    When is "soon"? I have two Affinities ('97 and '98) 1.75" and black. I'll be painting one of them as soon as I can decide whether to over-paint or strip and paint. That one's in rough shape and probably needs a new neck. I might put a maple/maple in the better one and the rosewood in the poorer one if I can determine if a Fender neck pocket is exactly the same as the Affinity. I'd like to see your pictures, if you have them.

  6. kiwi

    kiwi Strat-Talk Member

    Dec 21, 2008
    New Zealand
    This project has taken a while as I have had several other builds on the go, all started shortly after this rescue. In the process ideas were tried and changed but the final result is way more practical from a playing point of view.

    I probably went a bit overboard on the restoration as I just love the body. That and the comment “saved her from the scrap heap” made by Euthymia probably allowed emotion to sway common sense.

    Final build details are:

    Fender 8 hole black three ply pickguard, white knobs (nod to SRV). The vintage 8 hole pattern matched the original screw holes, except for the one by the jack plate.

    GFS import steel trem block, original trem plate, and ‘Fender Fender‘ stamped saddles with new springs. A gold trem upgrade is an option, but the Fender Mexi spaced version would need a GFS Mexi steel block as the trem arm hole position is not the same on the MIC/CIC trem plate.

    Fender Custom shop Texas Specials pickups.

    D'Addario 10-46 XL nickel wound strings.

    Pots, cap, three way switch, and waxed cloth covered wiring taken (as you do) from a Fender USA vintage re-issue Strat.

    The original neck's finger board was unrecoverable and the tuners too far gone. So a new neck was taken from an unused AXL made Squier SE.

    Special note here: this CY Squier had the bridge a full ¼” further from the neck mounting holes that a standard Fender spec neck making it impossible to achieve proper intonation with a spec replacement. Turns out the original neck mounting holes were, surprise surprise, a matching ¼” closer to the nut. The Squier SE neck was a little over 1/8” closer to the nut than standard so the intonation problem was just able to be solved. Definitely a trap for young players.

    The back of the pickguard and the route areas on the body were lined with 3M aluminium foil screening. It’s a silent as a grave … until you hit the strings. I think this will be a keeper.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 7, 2010

  7. peskypesky

    peskypesky -------

    Aug 16, 2009
    holy moly! that looks gorgeous!! you did a great job! now please post some BEFORE pics. :)

  8. kiwi

    kiwi Strat-Talk Member

    Dec 21, 2008
    New Zealand
    Thanks for the comments.

    I only have one shot of the ‘before’ body taken in the junk shop where it was found it amongst furniture, a washing machine, stoves and heaters. The white balance of the shot is out; the pickguard was way more yellow than this image shows.

    Here is a shot of the neck, it’s a little hard to see but the frets have been repeatedly dressed so there is not a whole left of metal left maybe 0.5mm (0.02”). Even what’s left they’re quite worn. Also a bit hard to see is the wear on the fingerboard. I’m told that to clean this up would require a re-fret and the whole finger board sanded down. Not impossible but certainly not worth doing professionally.

    Attached Files:

  9. Kyri

    Kyri Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 28, 2009
    That looks great! I have found those affinity bodies from 98-01 or so to be pretty good, nice and resonant, I have bought a few cheap for various projects. Yours looks great, the grain is really nice!

  10. kiwi

    kiwi Strat-Talk Member

    Dec 21, 2008
    New Zealand
    Agree, these older Affinity bodies are rather good. But they did change; I've noted in 2001 model CY01 guitars the body thickness dropped from 44mm (1.75") to 39mm (1.5") or so. These also have just 21 frets.

    You see lots of confusion around Affinity body thickness and fret counts because like any device the build changes over time and varies from subcontractor to subcontractor.

    I think they are great project gats but it is essential to get one with a good neck and only lightly worn frets, perhaps from someone who gave up learning and stored it in a closet. Given the subtle dimensional differences, swapping the neck has proved to be a pain. I’ve had two early Affinities with the wrong neck screw hole positions.

    Another reason to get one with minimum use is that the tuners are quite poorly made and not very robust. They are hard to swap out without a lot of work (reaming post holes and extra drilling for pegs or screws).

  11. spike5

    spike5 Strat-Talk Member

    Dec 21, 2009
    Melbourne, Australia
    I have had three of these - two CY98 and one CY97.
    One i stripped down to the bare wood - not easy as the sunburst has a thick coat of poly clear - i can vouch for the fact that they are alder.
    In my opinion these are the best ones for fixing up as a fender tribute as the body thickness is spot on to the originals.
    The only trouble i had with my ones is fret wear - what can you expect from a guitar that is over 10 years old.
    If you can find one of these and you can pick them up cheap you have the start of a great project.

  12. Kyri

    Kyri Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 28, 2009
    I also stripped one to the wood, and that was slightly older still, from 95. That was full thickness (at least before I sanded it down anyway)Unfortunately all was well until I got to the ply front and back that covered the alder underneath... the body was originally black and a few chips at the sides made it look like the coating would come off easily. How wrong I was! Getting that body to the bare wood took a lot of hard work sanding through the ply etc. Then I realised why the ply was there, to cover 6 pieces of alder... Anyway, I finished it and sprayed it in nitro and it sounds ok not dead like some squier standards I have played. At least with the s/b finishes you can see what you are getting. Here is a pic of the body, it had a serial YN5-something if I remember correctly.

    Attached Files:

  13. Dshillhouse

    Dshillhouse Strat-Talk Member

    Dec 31, 2009
    Burlingame CA
    What is the copper material inside the cavity?

  14. hunterlovell

    hunterlovell Strat-Talker

    Sep 22, 2009
    Baldwyn Mississippi
    its sheilding to to make less pickup noise

  15. ThaLowEndTheory

    ThaLowEndTheory Strat-Talker

    Mar 11, 2009
    I love pimpin' up old affinities. I only buy the ones with full sized bodies. 2 have been nice 3 piece alder bodies, one still remains to be seen. Replace the tuners and pots they are workable. Replace the bridge or even just the saddles. Then maybe the pickups. Just depends on what you want to spend. The first 3 I got were under $50 each, and the last was $65.


    Nice flamey necks to be found as well.

  16. Blackmore Fan

    Blackmore Fan Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 10, 2010
    The Midwest

    Could anyone answer a n00b question in regard to this. Is "3 M aluminum foil" just a fancier version of regular supermarket grade aluminum foil? Is there more to doing the job than simply super-gluing it to the cavity (and I'm assuming the back of the pickguard as well)?

    And now for the REALLY stupid question: How do I get the volume and tone knobs off (without stripping or damaging them)? In the past, any work on a guitar I owned was something I paid someone to do--going forward, I'd like to learn to handle some of the simpler stuff myself.

  17. kiwi

    kiwi Strat-Talk Member

    Dec 21, 2008
    New Zealand
    The 3M foil I used (3M 425 2" wide 5 mil thick nominal soft aluminum foil backed with an acrylic adhesive) which you can buy from stationary outlets. It’s great for lining the body route and doing the back of pickguards. Cut each strip roughly to shape with scissors and use a Stanly knife to trim it once it is pressed in place.

    Below is an example of work on an 8 hole 'guard.

    Copper is traditionally used as it can be soldered. You have to remember that using adhesive backed metal tape doesn't guarantee an electrical joint where the tape overlaps, so copper is easier as it can be soldered across the join. However I find that if you 'dimple' the overlap areas of aluminum tape using the point of a multimeter probe you can easily join sections together and it's quite reliable. Typically I'll run a row of dimples about a 1/4" apart on any seams, then test with the meter that it's good.

    You're aiming for good contact between the foil on the underside face of the pickguard and the body route foil so you need to lay 'tabs' out to the pickguard holes. The grounding will usually be via the pot bodies, although some like to run a ground wire out to a screw and star washer in the body.

    Also remember that the screening only provides protection from electric fields and RF radio waves from cell phones, nearby AM/FM stations, etc. Magnetic fields from CRT monitors and larger power transformers will still be picked up perfectly by the pups.

    To get strat knobs off do not lever them up with a screw driver! Instead wrap a soft cloth tightly around the knob and pull up while gently rocking the knob from side to side.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 13, 2010

  18. softwarejanitor

    softwarejanitor Most Honored Senior Member

    Apr 8, 2010
    Central Texas
    Ack... accidental necro-thread popping up...