My first mod...

Discussion in 'Squier Stratocasters' started by SquierTap, Sep 29, 2018.

  1. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-Nut

    Age:
    37
    561
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    Well, I thought I'd go ahead and make a thread for my first mod ever... I've came a long way, with y'all's help, that's for sure! Six months ago, when I came here lookin for advice about buyin a 50's Classic Vibe Tele, I couldn't even change my own strings, lol... So let's just be clear, here; This is mostly y'all's fault... Lol...

    So I started off by buying a "cheapie" guitar... Thank God, I'm a Squier Dude, through and through, lol... I found a nice 3 color vintage sunburst strat on GC's online site for 59 bucks (plus an $18 "handling" fee for used instruments) and had it shipped to my local GC...

    To be completely honest, when I picked it up and opened the box, I had some concerns... There for a second I thought maybe someone had stuck a Squier neck on some kinda strat copy body...

    But within an hour or so, the super cool and knowledgeable people on this forum (my first) had confirmed that I had myself a genuine Squier "STRAT" SE...

    The only other Strat I have is a '97 MIM and I recently found out that during that time ('95 to '97 or so) that the Mexican Squiers were actually Fender necks and bodies... So this new one did feel a little... Uh, shall we say, "Economical"... The switches and buttons felt pretty cheap... The action and frets were pretty high... Not a bit of "fret sprout" though... What else? The pickguard was a red tortoise shell and was decribed as looking like "a casino floor"... The pickguard was the main reason I thought it wasn't a legit Squier, in the first place, lol... And the input jack seemed "off"... When I plugged the cable in it, it stuck out at kind of a crazy angle, and it seemed to be stickin out really far... But the pickups sounded okay, and I decided it would fit the bill... Especially since it wound up being an SE, which is the one the modders apparently like... I guess it's the first budget/student model that has a full size body...
    So after checkin the neck relief ( I gotta get a set of feeler gauges) and givin it a quick setup, it felt pretty good... The action and the frets seemed a lil high, but nothin I don't think I can handle... And it was givin me some trouble with intonation... I had the saddles back almost as far as they'd go and it was still fretting sharp... Evidently, SEs are notorious for that, too... But like I said, the neck was my main concern and it wasn't too bad...

    So the first thing I did was get some "vintage" style open slot tuners... Ever since I got that CV '50's Tele, I'm kinda spoiled to those kind of tuners, now... Like I said, I couldn't even change strings when I first came here and with those babies, I can change 'em in about 4 minutes... 10 minutes including stretching... Since I kinda had an idea for a color scheme at this point (Green... well, GreenBurst hopefully, and black) I ordered a set of Dopro Black Vintage tuners for $19 from Amazon... I was hopin they'd drop right in without too much fuss, and with the bushings that came with them, they dropped right in the holes and fit perfectly... The only bummer was that the new screw holes didn't line up with the original Squier tuners... So I ran into my local WallyWorld and grabbed a cheap lil drill ( a NICE lil HyperTough 20V cordless one for only 24 bucks!), and a couple packs of bits... I read on another thread where Ken Warmoth recommended using a 5/32 size bit for holes for vintage Kluson style tuners, so I grabbed a couple bits, some steel wool and spent another 40 minutes lookin for feeler gauges that I never did find... Lol...
    I just dropped the tuners in the holes, lined 'em up using a straight-edge (piece of wood, lol), marked the holes with a small Phillips head, then marked my bit at the length of the screws so I didn't drill a hole through that pretty, iconic headstock, lol... And they were in in about 5 minutes... That wasn't nearly as bad, or as scary as I thought it'd be!

    Then the next thing I did was order one of the GraphTech Tusq nuts... I ordered the flat-bottom kind that fits my strat, and they come pre-slotted but they're a lil bigger than what ya need so you can sand it down so it fits perfectly... And since I'm still learning about nut height, neck relief, and proper setup, I figured copying the original nut would be the way to go... And speaking of the original Squier nut, gettin that thing out was A JOB... I scored it with a razor and even tried to use pliers to get it out! Lol... But I'll tell ya this; I never thought that a nut could make THAT much difference... But it does! It brought the action down a bit, and it seemed to fix the intonation problem too... At one point I dropped the original nut on the counter, and it made a "plapp" sound and when I dropped that Tusq one it almost has a bell-like "chime" sound to it... And I only had to take it out one more time to smooth out a "corner" and take a lil more height off it...
    So, now I came to a critical junction... Did I want to attempt the Green-burst idea, or just leave it alone, because the sunburst that was on there WAS pretty and it had started to grow on me... But I didn't let it sink in! Lol... I figure the main reason that I bought this thing was so I could learn to mod guitars from top to bottom, and learning how to sand, paint or stain, and clear coat IS part of it... So I took it completely apart before I lost my nerve, and not even 15 minutes AFTER it was apart, one of my Squier buddies posted that maybe it wasn't such a great idea to try and strip it, because A: They didn't make a lot of the sunburst SEs, B: The paint is kind if a nightmare to get off and C: I might not like what I found under the poly... Seems alot of the cheaper SEs have really crappy plywood bodies, but one of the reasons I got this particular guitar was because it was sunburst and I could actually see some grain under the finish... But since I already had her apart, and I've heard that God hates a coward, I decided it was "Green-burst or bust"... Lol...
    I gotta tell ya, touchin that sander to that pretty sunburst paint job for the first time was just as hard to do as you'd imagine it'd be, lol... But I kept at it... That's the first time I've ever used an oscillating sander, or hell, ANY power tool besides a drill, for that matter, lol... Slowly but surely I started to see the wood, and thank God, there was some grain in there... Big surprise, right? Lol...
    So I hopped on Amazon again and ordered some black and forrest green leather dye... And I grabbed a new input jack (in black of course) and a new Seismic black tremelo bridge for $18... Just to be honest, that bridge looks pretty skinny and the block is pretty tiny, so I'm almost sure that'll eventually get replaced, but hey, you live, ya learn, ya know?
    And I ordered a new loaded pickguard... I got a black pearloid from Ammoon with a humbucker for the bridge, and the best part was it was only 25 bucks after an Amazon coupon... So this'll be the first time I ever switch pickups out, and hopefully this'll hold me till I decide to get some nicer pups, and upgrade my pots and electronics... Which leads me to the next thing I gotta get... A soldering iron kit... I've never soldered a thing in my life and outside of my guitars, I doubt I ever will, lol... So, for now I'm gonna order a cheaper one til I learn a lil bit and need somethin better...
    So far, that's where she stands... My input jack, bridge, loaded pickguard, and green dye came today, and my black dye should be here tomorrow... Still gotta grab some 400- 1000 grit sandpaper and I should be ready for at least attempting to burst this thing... The idea is to go over it really well with the black, get the grain to "pop" as much as I can, then sand it down, hit it with the green, and then start on my black for the edges... After I got the paint off I noticed a couple of white "mystery spots" that are either some kind of glue or something, or I sanded through the veneer... But lucky for me, they wound up bein in places that won't be hard to hide... Mostly the sides where it'll be black and under the pickguard... To be honest, I'm a little scared about trying to get the finish looking good, but then again I've been a little scared through this whole process... I put it to somebody like this; At best, I'll have a beautiful, totally unique custom finish that I can be proud that I did myself, and at worst, I'll have a unique finish that I did myself, lol...
    Well, that's about where it stands for now... I plan on adding all kinds of pics from the whole process so I can see my progress as this thing goes from a completely generic 3 color sunburst strat to a completely customized "Chris Key CustomCaster"...
    And my apologies to anyone who's been following the other various threads on this guitar... I just decided that I could kinda put 'em all in one and give the SE it's due...
     
    so1om, Caddy, dbrian66 and 1 other person like this.
  2. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-Nut

    Age:
    37
    561
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    So, here's how she looked when I first picked her up:
    IMG_20180918_180116231.jpg IMG_20180918_180130350.jpg IMG_20180918_180141541.jpg IMG_20180918_180323552.jpg IMG_20180918_180845873.jpg
     
  3. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-Nut

    Age:
    37
    561
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    Then after I added the Dopro Black Vintage open-slot tuners and the GraphTech Tusq nut... I LOVE the way those black tuners look on the headstock, but I'm pretty sure I'm gonna "GreenBurst" the headstock to match the body... IMG_20180922_172325361.jpg IMG_20180922_172608215.jpg IMG_20180922_191419135.jpg IMG_20180922_191514163.jpg and finally after I got her all apart... Hell, I'm proud of myself... Not only did I keep all the parts, I went so far as puttin 'em in separate envelopes and labelin 'em! Lol...
    IMG_20180924_220327769.jpg
     
  4. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-Nut

    Age:
    37
    561
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    This was the process for gettin the paint off... Tryin my best to use a gentle touch my first time using an oscillating sander... The first cut is the deepest, lol... Thank God there was grain in them thar hills, lol...
    IMG_20180925_075733320.jpg IMG_20180925_091506501.jpg IMG_20180925_091936849.jpg IMG_20180925_092122409.jpg IMG_20180925_100015131.jpg
     
    so1om, daan, Las Palmas Norte and 3 others like this.
  5. Mister Noonan

    Mister Noonan Squier-Nut

    645
    Jun 28, 2018
    present
  6. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-Nut

    Age:
    37
    561
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    And finally, a couple pics the way she sits now... Smooth as a baby's bottom and waitin for the "burst" to begin..
    Oh, and some "goodies"... My black input jack, my black Seismic bridge, my green EcoFlow water based leather dye, and my Ammoon black pearloid loaded pickguard with a humbucker in the bridge...
    IMG_20180925_101318885.jpg IMG_20180926_031227711_BURST001.jpg IMG_20180928_172713456.jpg IMG_20180928_172441219.jpg IMG_20180928_172731501.jpg
     
    so1om, Caddy, daan and 7 others like this.
  7. Loin Lover

    Loin Lover Squier-Nut

    567
    Jul 26, 2018
    Backwoods, USA
    Loookin' good so far. Interested in seeing her with leather dye and spit shined.
     
  8. RetiredNSquired

    RetiredNSquired Squier-Meister

    Age:
    63
    445
    Jun 20, 2018
    Canton, Ga
    Nice work so far! Yeah, I'd be nervous taking a sander to the body,too. Looks like you did a good,clean job of it! I'll be watching your progress on this, Good Luck.
     
  9. Chubbles

    Chubbles Squier Talker

    Age:
    53
    85
    Mar 6, 2018
    Philadelphia PA
    Be careful! Modding can be highly addictive. I have trouble leaving anything alone. I know I have a problem, but I'm working on it.
     
  10. littlebadboy

    littlebadboy Squier-Meister

    113
    Jul 13, 2018
    USA
    So true. All my guitars are mod'ed except for one.
     
  11. Mister Noonan

    Mister Noonan Squier-Nut

    645
    Jun 28, 2018
    present
    That is the beauty of SE's. There are enough of them out there in great shape that the prices are fantastic. I'm floored at how mine turned out, I've been playing it so much that I have not taken the time to give it a proper set up. It is a beast of a good guitar.
     
  12. IronSchef

    IronSchef Squier-holic

    Age:
    56
    Jun 18, 2012
    Flew here on my Dragonfly
    Incredible first mod!! Wow, you are going “all in” on your first one - love it!

    Thanks for sharing - eagerly watching this one
     
    Kenneth Mountain and SquierTap like this.
  13. dbrian66

    dbrian66 Squier-holic

    Age:
    48
    Jul 14, 2017
    Maryland, USA
    Looks good. Keep the photos coming as the guitar progresses along.
     
    Kenneth Mountain and SquierTap like this.
  14. kjmac

    kjmac Squier-Nut

    Age:
    62
    579
    Aug 14, 2017
    Omaha, NE
    Every Squier I have has been modded to some extent. Some are made up from parts left over after other builds. I have only refinished one body and it was a challenge. It was in such bad shape to begin with, I couldn't get the plywood perfectly smooth, so I painted it with 3-4 coats of a medium turquoise and used 000 steel wool to give it a satin finish. Hides all the blems and actually looks pretty good. Partscaster 2.jpg
     
    jjudas, duggerh, Loin Lover and 4 others like this.
  15. brians

    brians Squier-Meister

    Age:
    48
    349
    Oct 1, 2017
    South Africa
    Nice thread, must say, you've got big ones, I could never have taken a sander to that body, which looked pretty to me. But great job and you obviously having a blast doing it. Love those tuners, keep the pics coming.
     
  16. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-Nut

    Age:
    37
    561
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    Yeah, I hope it's as easy as all the tutorials on YouTube make it look! Lol...
     
  17. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-Nut

    Age:
    37
    561
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    I dunno, @Chubbles ... Seems like a good problem to have, hoss... Lol...
     
    Kenneth Mountain and dbrian66 like this.
  18. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-Nut

    Age:
    37
    561
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    Yeah, I still remember when you showed up... Right around when I did... Glad to see you're still here kickin it with us...
     
    Kenneth Mountain and dbrian66 like this.
  19. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-Nut

    Age:
    37
    561
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    I'd love to see it, hoss... Pics or it didn't happen... Lol...
     
    Kenneth Mountain likes this.
  20. SquierTap

    SquierTap Squier-Nut

    Age:
    37
    561
    Jul 14, 2018
    Nashville, Tn
    Woah! That's beautiful, man... I'd have never known you did the finish yourself! Looks great... Good job!
     
    Kenneth Mountain likes this.