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Thread: How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

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    Default How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    A lot of us start of on beginner or entry level guitars or get them as a backup and then realize that these are pretty nice and comfortable to play for example my made in China Affinity Strat is a very comfortable and good looking strat in Metallic Blue.
    The rose wood fretboard and maple neck has a very comfortable grip and the finish is top notch.I liked it so much that i decided to start to use it live and that is when i realized the difference between a pro level strat and an entry level strat.I was getting horrible feedback and the tuning stability was way off and i had to retune after every song.
    Back home after the gig this got me thinking as to why my American strat does not have these problems and on investigation i found that the US Strat has 5 springs in the tremelo cavity and the Squier has only 3 therfore the bridge was moving about too much and causing tuning problems,i had a spare spring lying around from an unfinished project which i promptly installed in the tremelo cavity and that immidiately gave the bridge a firmer feel and it reduced the tuning problems.The floating bridge thing is a sure shot disaster for Squier type strats and one should tighten the tremelo claw spring so that there is very little rocking motion upwards a la Steve Vai on the bridge.

    The squealing pickups and feedback were really irritating at the gig so i promptly threw out the bridge and the neck pickup but wait i kept the middle pickup because it is reverse wound for noise cancellation in positions 2 and 4 on the 5 way switch-cool!
    I had a good stash of pickups from the last Guitar Centre sale i went to and i chose the Seymour Duncan Hot Rails for strat in the bridge and put the Seymour Duncan Custom Staggered SSL-5 Single coil pickup in the neck.On soldering all these parts together i did the Eric Johnson trick that is wiring the bridge pickup to the lower tone control pot and the bridge pickup to the higher tone pot so that i can control the shrillness of the bridge pickup.

    The guitar sounded like a classy beast and i was feeling really stupid for having shelled out loads of money on the US Strat though i really love it the way it comes ready out of the box.

    The last thing i did was put a graphtech nut and graphtek bridge saddles on the Squier and it was ready for world domination all it needed was a decal on the neck/head stock that said The Best Strat in the world in bold italics.The graphtek nut has micoscopic teflon-more slippery than graphite,rolls the strings back into tune.The graphtek saddles/string savers-super slick string savers help stop premature breakage .Microscopic ball bearing lube action makes them even more slippery than graphite.

    This guitar has become my main touring axe and i plan to actually rub the Squier deacal off and write something stupid or maybe get Eric Johnson to autograph the Head stock with a sharpie cause a lot of the ideas came from studying what he does to his Fender's!

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    Mojo's Minions Lake Placid Blues's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    You can still go further. Replace the entire bridge with one of those GFS "for import guitars" trems using a steel sustain block and bent saddles just like the EJ or a real 56 strat.
    http://www.guitarfetish.com/Made-in-...ock_p_489.html

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    Cool Re: How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    'You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear'is the US equilivent....

    1. By the time you replace the harness and pickups you can buy a 'better quality' fender.

    2. Find a pre 1992 MIM strat. It is all US materials simply assembled there...more than a bargain and if you upgrade the harness or pickups you haven't pissed your money away...

    3. If you get a Korean MIK one, the pickups width is different as well as the thickness of the guitar and body materials....
    Last edited by jozLuck; 05-27-2013 at 07:44 AM. Reason: add on

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    Li'l Junior Member MetalManiac's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    Quote Originally Posted by jozLuck View Post
    'You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear'is the US equilivent....
    perhaps not, but you CAN put Lipstick on a pig, and thats just what I did.

    I got this full size and thickness solid Alder Squier Limited Edition British Racing Green body from someone here for 50 bucks. Then I lucked out and found the perfect neck, cause the Maple neck i had on just had to much sizzle going on with the cheap "Alder" or whatever the Chinese use that they call Alder.

    So I got this Squier neck for 60 shipped off the Bay, and it had new Jumbo frets on it, and has a Pro Nitro finish. Nice thick slab rosewood board ( looks to be real Rosewood), and I did a bang up job leveling the frets.
    Then it still sounded thin, so new pickups were in order, so i put a fat sounding humbucker and some overwound single coils, a brass nut, some locking tuners, and then I filled and redrilled the bridge and installed me a full size American Strat Tremolo with steel block cause I couldn't hang with the narrow Squire bridge and the cheap zinc block. I also put the decal on.

    While it may not exactly sound like a vintage Strat, the thing rips under a good amount of gain/compression, sounds nice and thick, and plays really good with very low action, and for not a relatively whole lot of money. ;





    Last edited by MetalManiac; 05-27-2013 at 12:45 PM.
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    Toneologist dotsdad's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    Quote Originally Posted by Lake Placid Blues View Post
    You can still go further. Replace the entire bridge with one of those GFS "for import guitars" trems using a steel sustain block and bent saddles just like the EJ or a real 56 strat.
    http://www.guitarfetish.com/Made-in-...ock_p_489.html
    Amen to that. Best thing you can do for a Squier is to replace that tiny zinc block with a fat steel one!
    “The hell with the rules. If it sounds right, then it is.” - Edward Van Halen

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    Default Re: How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    A couple years ago, I would have said a match and some gasoline and then a trip to the music store was the only way to make a Squier play better. These days not so sure. I've seen quite a few MIC Fender/Squier guitars that were as good, if not better than their MIM counterparts. I played a Squier Classic Vibe not long ago that almost made me want to sell my 01 American Standard.
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    Default Re: How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr 9finger View Post
    A couple years ago, I would have said a match and some gasoline and then a trip to the music store was the only way to make a Squier play better. These days not so sure. I've seen quite a few MIC Fender/Squier guitars that were as good, if not better than their MIM counterparts. I played a Squier Classic Vibe not long ago that almost made me want to sell my 01 American Standard.
    I could not agree more those classic vibe strats are just unbelievable,i played one the other day and i swear it felt as good as a 57 reissue,only thing is i do not think the pickups are as hot as the 57 re-issue well thats another story in itself...

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    Default Re: How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    I replace any stock Fender pickups w/ other pickups, usually Duncan's, anyway. It's a non issue for me. The only Fender pickups I've like are the Custom Shop 69's and even then that's only in certain guitars.
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    Default Re: How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    In Aus the normal Fender price is quite high (lets not talk about Gibson prices either) which makes buying parted out guitars very viable.

    I bought a CV 50's Squier body/trem recently. I attached a B.Hefner neck to it, and adapted a spare KGC brass block so it would fit the trem.
    With 3 of Zhangbuckers finest singles in it, its as good as any of my other strats I've played. As a comparison I'm now selling my 2 US made strats as they're not really being played.
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    Default Re: How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    I had a CV Strat that I parted out just recently. It was soo good. I ended up getting a 2006 Fender MIJ Strat that I liked a lot too. I was actually trying to decide which one I liked more... haha. Ultimately I chose the Fender for a few reasons (lighter weight and thicker neck) but they were both amazing.

    I have thought about getting a CV Tele to satisfy tele cravings.
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    Default Re: How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    I've seen quite a few posts like this since the Zephyr contest was announced.

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    Li'l Junior Member MetalManiac's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    Personally I think the love for Chinese squires is way overblown. Sure, I like mine a lot, but no way would I put it even close to the same category as a MIA Strat. Not close. Lots of wishful thinking and tonal deafness going on. Everyone wants to get something for nothing, and keep the change. IN my opinion.
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    Default Re: How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    I am not a strat guy. Nor am I a Fender guy, except for their amps. But I have to say, I was in a store recently and was soooooo tempted by a MIC strat. It was white with black scratch plate, HSS, and had a gorgeous neck. It will not surprise me one bit if I go back and buy that sucker within a week.

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    Default Re: How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    Quote Originally Posted by MetalManiac View Post
    Personally I think the love for Chinese squires is way overblown. Sure, I like mine a lot, but no way would I put it even close to the same category as a MIA Strat. Not close. Lots of wishful thinking and tonal deafness going on. Everyone wants to get something for nothing, and keep the change. IN my opinion.
    Kinda like you deciding your Frankensquier deserved to wear a Fender decal?
    Last edited by Little Pigbacon; 05-27-2013 at 05:40 PM.
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    Default Re: How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    Quote Originally Posted by MetalManiac View Post
    Personally I think the love for Chinese squires is way overblown. Sure, I like mine a lot, but no way would I put it even close to the same category as a MIA Strat. Not close. Lots of wishful thinking and tonal deafness going on. Everyone wants to get something for nothing, and keep the change. IN my opinion.
    Jerry...in the last 4ish years...I've seen you post some questionable guitars and seen you say even more questionable things. You've posted videos where you were so badly out of tune it would make deaf kids cry. I don't ever want to see you comment on someone being tone deaf, be it myself or anyone else on this forum until you learn how to use a freaking tuner.
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    Default Re: How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    Quote Originally Posted by MetalManiac View Post
    Personally I think the love for Chinese squires is way overblown. Sure, I like mine a lot, but no way would I put it even close to the same category as a MIA Strat. Not close. Lots of wishful thinking and tonal deafness going on. Everyone wants to get something for nothing, and keep the change. IN my opinion.

    Mmh, wait. I have and had several guitars, including Squiers and Fender, MIJ, MIA, MIK, MIC...

    In my opinion Squier guitar wood material is good. The teles fixed bridges are quite ok, the strats tremolos not as high in quality, but for example a wood block to stop the tremolo (Clapton wise) makes huge differences, so a simple bridge change does miracles.

    Pickups? I don't keep original pickups in a MIA Fender, guess what in a Squier...

    The only thing I really complain on is the fretwork, especially fret edges. With an hour or so of work you can dress the frets yourself smoothing the edges like the one in a MIA Fender and I can assure the feel completely changes, 30% of the 'feeling' of the guitar in my opinion.
    Since much of the price actually depends on the manual work on the guitar, you can save a lot of money doing some setup yourself, still having a really, really good instrument.

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    Default Re: How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    The difference between a $200 Squier and a $1000 Strat is the hardware and the pickups, and the overall craftmanship in putting together the guitar!

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker saladin's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    Quote Originally Posted by MetalManiac View Post
    perhaps not, but you CAN put Lipstick on a pig, and thats just what I did.

    I got this full size and thickness solid Alder Squier Limited Edition British Racing Green body from someone here for 50 bucks. Then I lucked out and found the perfect neck, cause the Maple neck i had on just had to much sizzle going on with the cheap "Alder" or whatever the Chinese use that they call Alder.

    So I got this Squier neck for 60 shipped off the Bay, and it had new Jumbo frets on it, and has a Pro Nitro finish. Nice thick slab rosewood board ( looks to be real Rosewood), and I did a bang up job leveling the frets.
    Then it still sounded thin, so new pickups were in order, so i put a fat sounding humbucker and some overwound single coils, a brass nut, some locking tuners, and then I filled and redrilled the bridge and installed me a full size American Strat Tremolo with steel block cause I couldn't hang with the narrow Squire bridge and the cheap zinc block. I also put the decal on.

    While it may not exactly sound like a vintage Strat, the thing rips under a good amount of gain/compression, sounds nice and thick, and plays really good with very low action, and for not a relatively whole lot of money. ;





    I'm glad the body worked out for you, I liked the color but it just didn't fit in my black and white world!
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    Gear Ho Gearjoneser's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    1. Cherry pick a good import - rings loud and balanced, lightweight, great neck, etc.
    2. Replace pots and switch, and rewire it with my favorite setup such as EJ wiring. Replace jack unless it's fine.
    3. Install high end pickups.
    4. File and burnish fret ends as needed. Some imports are so good I can skip this, but I always check.
    5. Strap locks
    6. New bridge and/or tuners if I'm unsatisfied with the stock ones.

    Since all of this adds up in price, I prefer to start with guitars that need less of it. On a US strat, I just install Surfers wired with EJ wiring and give it a perfect setup.
    Eric Johnson wiring is Master Volume, Neck Tone, Bridge Tone. Middle isn't connected to a tone knob.
    Last edited by Gearjoneser; 05-29-2013 at 12:13 PM.
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    Mojo's Minions Lake Placid Blues's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to make your cheap Squier Strat play and sound better

    Quote Originally Posted by Gearjoneser View Post
    Eric Johnson wiring is Master Volume, Neck Tone, Bridge Tone. Middle isn't connected to a tone knob.
    This the best way to wire a strat in my opinion. It puts a tone knob on the bridge pickup which needs one and the middle pickup is rarely used by itself. In the notch positions the middle pickup is in the circuit for either the neck tone knob or the bridge tone knob. If you do use the middle by itself it usually doesnt need any roll off being not that close to the guitar's bridge.

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