Upgraded Squier Bullet Strat

Discussion in 'Squier Strat Forum' started by m37a11, Jun 4, 2017.

  1. m37a11

    m37a11 Strat-Talker

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    Hi All, I wanted to share a project that I just finished, upgrading a Squire bullet strat!

    The Guitar
    I bought this guitar at a garage sale, I thought it would be a fun project to fix up and upgrade. It is a 2012 Squier Bullet HH Strat made in Indonesia (apparently at the Cort factory?). It is a basswood body, 21 frets, with Tremelo.
    The first time I picked it up and played it I was surprised that a guitar that retails for around $100 dollars plays this good. Even the stock electronics I thought were better than the price would suggest. I play mostly hard rock/metal so, I wanted something like the Jim Root strat.

    Upgrades:
    • Pickups: EMG 81/60 Active Humbuckers, One volume 25k pot, no tone, 3-way blade (upgraded square import switch to Fender 3-way), switchcraft stereo input jack.
    • Tuning Machines: Sperzel 6-inline staggered locking tuners. These are way nicer than the junky vintage style that comes on the bullets. Used a hand-held hole reamer to widen the tuning machine posts to 10mm.
    • Nut: Graph Tech TUSQ Nut 42mm Flat Bottom Strat Nut Model: PQ-5042-00
    • Blocked off the trem and removed springs.
    • Leveled and Crowned frets

    The body was pretty dinged up and scratched so I tried to spot repair a few spots and that got away from me pretty quickly and decided I would just sand and repaint. I decided to go with a flat black Duplicolor auto spray paint and minwax satin lacquer. I got lots of help with the paint from folks on this forum and on the ReRanch forums!

    And here is the finished guitar

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    More images: http://imgur.com/a/1OxTY

    Shopping list:

    Here is the final parts tally.

    • 2012 Squier Bullet Strat Guitar - $80 @ Gargage sale
    • EMG 81/60 Pickups - $80 @ Reverb.com used
    • Sperzel Locking Staggered Tuners - $53 - @ Reverb.com new
    • Warmoth Custom Pickguard - $35 - @ Warmoth.com
    • Graph Tech TUSQ Nut 42mm Flat Bottom Strat Nut - $11 - @Amazon
    • Fender 3-way selector switch - $10 - @ Amazon
    • Hole Reamer (To enlarge tuning machine holes) - $9 - @ Amazon
    • Switchcraft Stereo Input Jack - $7 - @ Musicians Friend
    • Paint, Clear Laquer, Sandpaper, and other Misc. - $80 - Local box and auto stores
    • Level and crowing frets - FREE!
    • Blocking Tremelo - Found some left over wood shims from last remodel project
    • Grand Total US $365
    I could have definitely saved some cash (and time) by not repainting the guitar. However, I am glad I did. The satin black looks great with the WBW pickguard.

    All in all, I think it turned out great, and I learned a lot. I have several other more expensive guitars and this one gives them a run for their money! Hope you enjoy!
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2017
  2. skypeace

    skypeace Sky Pilot

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    The Bullet is a strange creature, I just keep coming back to mine, I haven't really modded it yet, just a pickguard and knobs, but I did add .75* of shim to the neck so that it sets up to 4/64ths spec action. Have the trem floating for now, although I had a low E string post screw strip out on me so I reconditioned all of the 6 holes and added a trem claw screw to that outside post position so that it went deeper into the body.

    I did replace the nut with the one from my Squier Standard but I don't think that is any kind of improvement, but with inspiration from this thread I think I will put her on schedule for a neck to bridge revamp.
     
  3. ffakefake45

    ffakefake45 Strat-Talk Member

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    Very nice! Can you tell me how you got the frets leveled and crowned for free? (I am guessing you did it yourself.) Was this your first attempt at a level/crown job?
     
  4. Believer7713

    Believer7713 The Pink Bunnyman Frankenstein Silver Member

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    Looks great...I agree with @skypeace that the bullet series can be a strange one. I never could bring myself to get rid of mine over the years and it stayed in the closet in pieces for almost a decade until last year when I completely stripped it and started over from scratch (dupli-color mirage blue/red paint on the body, brushed aluminum pickguard, Rose Robusta/Buff Beauty pickups with some alternate wiring and completely re-fretted with a set of Planet Waves Auto Trim locking tuners). I did all of the work myself too. Now it is one of my favorite guitars ever.
     
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  5. m37a11

    m37a11 Strat-Talker

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    Sure! Yes I did it myself, and yes, it was my first time leveling frets. I am by no means an expert and I am not going to pretend this is the best way to do it. To be honest the fret job on this guitar was already pretty good!

    Here are the steps I took:
    • Adjusted the truss rod to get the neck as level as possible. I used a homemade notched straight edge to check the flatness of the fretboard.
    • I marked the top of each fret with black sharpie
    • Took a small level and I applied 220 grit to one side with double stick tape.
    • I GENTLY went back and forth over the entire length of the fretboard until I touched the sharpie on every fret (being careful to follow the radius of the neck).
    • Then I put painters tape over the 12th fret, marked frets 12-21 with sharpie again, and went over the high frets until I touched the sharpie on all of the frets.
      The idea here is to lower the height of the high frets for lower action. The painters tape very slightly angles the level as you are sanding.
    • A co-worker very generously let me borrow a medium fret crowning file. Again very GENTLY restored the crown to the frets. The fret file was shaped similar to one of these but I don't think it was a stewmac one.
    • I used the fret guard that came with the file, otherwise you should definitely use painters tape to protect the fretboard.
    • Then I went over each fret with 0000 steel wool (again using the fretboard guard).
    Hope this helps. I think this is worth trying on a very inexpensive guitar first!
     
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  6. jvin248

    jvin248 Senior Stratmaster

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    .
    Those Indonesian Squiers are consistently well done.

    The China ones after some fret work can be good platforms too.

    Nice color scheme.

    .
     
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  7. jaybones

    jaybones Dr. Stratster

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    Nice!!

    Question about your electronics. 25K volume pot, 3 way switch and a stereo output jack?

    What is the purpose of the stereo output? I can't think of a reason for a stereo output without separate signals for each pup, but then the 3 way switch wouldn't be needed and you'd want more than 1 volume.
     
  8. m37a11

    m37a11 Strat-Talker

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    It is wired like that so that the 9v battery that powers the EMG active pickups is disconnected when the instrument cable is removed. No tonal reason, just helps improve battery life
     
  9. Fendereedo

    Fendereedo Most Honored Senior Member

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    Nice job, well done! :thumb:
     
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  10. jaybones

    jaybones Dr. Stratster

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    Gothca. My first partscaster has a Graph Tech Ghost system that requires a stereo out. The switch tip closes the circuit that "arms" the system.

    Didn't know that you had used that feature for your active system. Wonder if you couldn't get a mono jack that works that way. I know pedals have them.
     
  11. m37a11

    m37a11 Strat-Talker

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    That would be cool if there is a way to do it via a mono jack. I have tons of those I use for pedal builds . I never put battery in my pedals though, so i havent experimented with a battery bypass.