Squier reborn, hardware upgrades only though!

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by Edika, May 11, 2018.

  1. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    Hi all, I recently managed to get from my parents house my first guitar. I had bought it used from my best friend and other guitarist in the band I used to play. We jokingly regard it as staying in the family lol. It is a Japanese made Squier with a more modern take that my friend bought new in 1994-1996 so it's quite a bit old. It has one of the fastest and more comfortable necks I have played so far. I know it has to do with the fact I learned on this guitar but the neck is so thing it really made it a struggle for me to get used to any other guitar after it. It's not paper thin but it kind of reminds me of the Ibanez necks without being as fatiguing (if that makes sense). After owning a few mid level and high end guitars I thought I'd never touch it again but whenever I'd be back home and pick it up I would enjoy playing it so much I would reconsider.

    However being an old and well used guitar the electronics were kind of going out and the Floyd Rose II bridge was also not in the best of shape. The knife edges were still in a decent shape but I had already replaced one saddle that went out and I noticed that another one had cracked. The pickups also were whatever stock no name ones they put in which didn't sound that bad honestly but I just wanted something with a bit more zaz :D.

    Pics for attention:
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    Anyway I replaced the cheap POS Floyd II with a Schaller Floyd Rose II. I know it's not the same quality and hardness of materials as an OFR but I didn't want to route the body for an OFR plus the OFR would cost as much as the guitar itself in the UK. I changed the pots to CTK 500K, as it was a two pot 500K setup, the switch to a CRL 5 way switch, a orange drop 0.047um capacitor, I used 22 gauge wires and changed the jack even though it's not the best quality and I'll be replacing it with a Switchraft one soon. I of course replaced the pickups. I wasn't sure what to put for the bridge and there were several options. Then I saw an episode of Arnold Plays Guitars that covered Omega pickups from the UK. I liked what I heard and went for the Omega Cerberus for the bridge which was immediately available and in cheaper than most Dimarzio and Seymour Duncan pickups new. It has an AlniCo5 core magnet with Ceramic flanks. The single coils I could have left as I didn't mind the ones in but I though what the heck I can try something new. I'm not really familiar with single coils and everything second hand I was seeing at the time was overpriced. New prices seemed a bit steep for an area I don't have much experience. So I decided to go with a pair of Irongear Pig Iron overwound pickups to be able to follow the Omega in terms of output. I knew that using a 500K pot might be too much for the single coils and 250K was the recommendation from Iron gear but I was planning to tune the guitar to Drop C so I figured they wouldn't be too shrill. I also installed an L shape brass block to give it a bit more oomph being a relatively light guitar.

    The guitar itself either has an Alder or Poplar body. I can't find much info about these. It has a really dark rosewood fretboard which I love and as you can see the maple neck has a bit of birdseye figuring. The frets are quite low and thin but they feel really comfortable and there's not much buzz to the guitar. I've strung it up with a D'Addario 10-56 set and tension is great for Drop C. The big question is how does it sound? It sounds great! The Omega Cerberus is a really clear and articulate pickup. It sounds really balanced and meaty. It has the warmth of an AlNiCo5 but it is considerably tighter. It has that strange quality I've seen to the Bareknuckle Blackhawk I had in a guitar where it sounds like it doesn't seem to be that hot but it actually is. EQ wise there is a tight bass response, tamed highs, meaning they're there but are not shrill and the mids avoid being fizzy or muddy. I'm really happy with it and I'd like to try their Basilisk pickup that is supposed to be higher output than this one. The Irongear pcikups are nice but still sound a bit too tame in regards to the Cerberus. The middle pickup is really twangy and has the single coil signature sound but I like the neck more because it sounds a bit deeper. They have staggered poles which I don't know how much of an effect it has on the sound. I did wire the middle pickup with the bridge pickup out of phase as my experience with Irongear pickups were that their humbuckers at least are out of phase from Seymour Duncans so I wired them "opposite" than they should. Aside from the second position though which I don't everything else sounds as it should and I'll fix it at the next pickup change. The new jack I put seems not to be of the greatest quality as there seems to be a grounding issue. I thought I did something wrong grounding the pots and pickups but when I pressed the lead in the Jack a bit more the noise stopped which indicates a faulty jack. I hope when I replace it with a Switchcraft one that the issue will be resolved.

    In total the guitars now sounds great and on par with my more expensive stuff. It surely is something I will be keeping and not selling due to sentimental value alone, as it was my main guitar for 7 years and I did compose most of my music with it, but it plays great too. Even if I wanted to sell it I wouldn't be able to get much for it anyway.
     
  2. Grand Rabbit

    Grand Rabbit SS.org Regular

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    That's a great story! I love hearing about projects like these because those first guitars are always the best ones. When we're just picking over our first riffs and getting started, a guitar like your Squier is all anyone needs; and honestly, doing without all of the trimmings of more expensive models makes them feel more approachable and comfortable for learning on.

    I wonder how your guitar would feel with new frets, like some jumbo stainless steel frets and maybe a brass nut. That might be taking the modification a little too far considering that you probably want to keep it feeling as close to how it used to feel as possible, but I bet that would bring it one step closer towards sounding and playing like a more expensive model.

    To me, this is another indicator that while wood effects sound, the prices that we see for custom models or higher end guitars are typically price points for the name brand in conjunction with things like design, craftsmanship and attention to detail in things like the quality of the neck, i.e. laminates or quarter sawn. But if I have learned anything about Japanese guitars, it's that there was less of a distinction between the "higher quality" models and the "lower quality" guitars, particularly coming out of Fujigen. Just like the guitar manufacturers in America during the 50s, 60s and 70s, there was a particular kind of pride that the factories took in having a reputation of quality associated with all of their instruments.
     
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  3. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    I've thought about a refret and it's not something I've ruled out but I'm afraid it'll feel like a different guitar then. There is minimal buzzing in the guitar as it is so I'm not sure if it needs something at the moment.

    I've thought about refinishing it but it is also something for the future. Depending what is beneath I might just have a stain done or I might go for another solid color. Something bright and flashy 80's style.
     
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  4. Grand Rabbit

    Grand Rabbit SS.org Regular

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    Flashy 80s is always a good approach, imo. What I will say about frets, just in general, is that higher quality guitars typically have higher quality alloys, whether it's nickel or stainless steel or what have you. Even if there isn't any buzzing, the frets that are in there probably are not top notch. That is one area where a lot of lower end models will definitely skimp on. Might be something fun to consider for the future!
     
  5. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    If I can find someone that does stainless steel in N.Ireland or in the Rebublic that's not far away I'll consider it. I had one guitar refretted from a guy that's not too far away with Stew Mac jumbo frets and I'm happy with his work but he doesn't do stainless steel frets. I might try Dunlop 6100 as I lime them in my Jackson's.
     
  6. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician SS.org Regular

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    That thing looks so hot. Nice work on the upgrades. Love seeing guitars without BKP’s and instead smaller builders/less known pickups.
     
  7. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    Judging by the Cerberus pickup I can't recommend Omega pickups enough.

    By the way Switchcraft jack ordered and it'll be here in a few days :D.
     
  8. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Is that an FR-211?! I always thought they looked like the Squier version of the Heartfield Talon, which was Fender's answer to the Ibanez RG470. I've only ever seen one FR-211, and it was brought to me in trashed condition for repairs.
     
  9. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    Honeatly I'm not sure. When my friend bought I don't think he paid attention to the model and it says nothing on the guitar. Maybe if I take of the neck it might say something on the body.

    It says Floyd Rose series on the headstock if that's any indication. I haven't been able to find something that looks like this in the interwebs so any information is welcome.
     
  10. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    It actually is the FR-211! I checked for it with that name and there it is! I found the wiki too but they have the country of origin as Korea wrong.

    Any idea about the pickups in it? It seems like no name stuff.
     
  11. Grand Rabbit

    Grand Rabbit SS.org Regular

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    Now there's a blast from the past... Heartfield Talon... Buckethead plays one in his backyard solo video.

    so this is the fender version of the guitar that means so much to you :D
     
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