NGD - My first Squier: a Vintage Modified 70s black strat

Discussion in 'Squier Stratocasters' started by BlueSquirrel, Feb 2, 2019.

  1. SpeedKing

    SpeedKing Squier-holic

    Apr 9, 2015
    UK
    Yeah as Barrie says on some of the original bridges they did supply saddles that were too wide and no amount of hitting /tapping/fettling will ever sort it. I tried all that with mine but bottom line... they were too wide!

    I also can't see Fender sending me a replacement full MIM unit if they weren't aware of an existing problem. Maybe it was only certain batches from a certain supplier but some VMs (only seen it on the VM70s myself) undoubtedly do/did have incorrectly sized saddles from new.
     
    BlueSquirrel likes this.
  2. BlueSquirrel

    BlueSquirrel Squier-holic

    Dec 21, 2018
    Europe
    Right, thanks a lot! I was thinking of the tremolo arm for a MIM bridge unit that would fit into the guitar before all those MIM units are no longer available (apparently they're on the verge of being discontinued as well). I can't find the right trem arm reference (Fender seems to have about three different threaded arms. On their website, they list the 10/32 threaded tremolo arm as matching the vintage-style bridge assembly, however I'd like to double check because sometimes there are mistakes on their website. Unfortunately they don't mention the actual reference number).

    I'm going to try to work on the VM's bridge first, but lightly.
    Since my teacher had no problem playing it and was even really enthusiastic about it, I don't wanna ruin it with my DIY attempts. My teacher said the name on the headstock didn't matter as long as you knew how to play and you had a sweet little axe like that one which played like a Fender should. He added that it was often better to have a Squier-named guitar that played as well as a Fender because you wouldn't hesitate to take it everywhere.

    He did mention one thing that wasn't "perfect" to him though : the tone controls on the guitar (and on the Vox AC4TV8 amp as well btw) work but have a lighter effect compared to his own guitar. I suspect that it could be because I play very quietly (I'm on the 1 Watt-setting with the volume slightly under halfway on the amp, and with the volume control on the guitar at about 5-6 as I don't want to upset the neighbours). Does it work the same on your guitar/ amp? Would the tone controls have a stronger effect if one played louder?
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2019
  3. BlueSquirrel

    BlueSquirrel Squier-holic

    Dec 21, 2018
    Europe
    So, this afternoon, I removed the strings to have a better look at the saddles.

    If you look really closely, there is a slightly different colour on the saddles' metal showing where the strings sit on them. To me, it means that the saddles are made of a "silver-coloured" plated metal. Therefore I will not try to do anything to them in case I mess up the metal finish. Let's leave the guitar stock! (as the saying goes: "Don't touch it unless it's broken"). Should the need arise for new saddles some day, I'd get the whole Fender bridge assembly + arm instead.

    Of course, while restringing the guitar, I broke the B string (did you say "clumsy", lol?!) and the closest shop didn't have any .9 gauge strings (the guitar came stock with some excellent .9 strings) so I had to buy .10s instead...
     

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    Last edited: Feb 9, 2019
  4. BlueSquirrel

    BlueSquirrel Squier-holic

    Dec 21, 2018
    Europe
    Done!

    So D'Addario XL .10s strings are fine (.10s are like "light gauge" tension on an acoustic imo).

    It should be noted that the original strings were so similar that I wouldn't have been able to tell them apart if they hadn't been lighter tension and in a D'Addario pack, so the Squier VM 70s strat comes stock with really great quality strings.

    The VM strat's tone isn't any different with the new D'Addario strings on and its vintage-style tuners are definitely fantastic! They sort of lock the strings, they're truly amazing! Restringing with them is a breeze providing you're careful not to break the B and the high E strings as the tuning machines are really strong!
    I suggest you refrain from using a string winder the first time you restring your VM strat so that you get a nice hand feel and don't overtighten the strings.

    The guitar sounds slightly louder now. As an added bonus, the tone control knobs seem more efficient, so that's a good surprise.

    I'm trying to reset the intonation at the moment. I've lubricated the saddles and I'm using the 9.5 gauge template that can be found on "Pickguardian's" website.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2019
  5. BlueSquirrel

    BlueSquirrel Squier-holic

    Dec 21, 2018
    Europe
    A BIG "THANK YOU" TO ALL!

    Finally finished setting up the saddles' heights and the intonation (I didn't attempt to float the bridge because I'm not going to use the tremolo soon).

    I used a mix of the ressources that you showed me which are all truly fantastic:
    - Fender's website (listed earlier on that thread)
    - Frudua TV video channel on Youtube (esp. for the intonation)
    - Darrell Braun's last video ("Make your cheap guitar play like a million bucks) on his Youtube channel which Fattboyzz had posted on another thread.

    Although worth mentioning: Pickguardian's radius templates (on their website) which I printed and glued on a piece of carboard.
    - and for anyone who'd speak French as well, the Youtube channel "TheGuitarGeekGarage" is interesting.

    To sum it all up, once you have a set of screwdrivers, a ruler, the little hex for the saddles, some lipbalm/ graphite, some lubricant for metallic parts and a clip-on tuner, you're good to go.

    To conclude, I'm thrilled because I'd never have thought that I could do a set-up by myself. At the beginning, I was even slightly afraid to change strings on an electric (!). I've learnt soooo much in the process! Moreover, it wasn't that complicated... the guitar sounds fantastic now! I could never thank you enough for all the great help you've given me!

    Some "after the set-up" pictures (I've kept a protective layer of plastic on the pickguard)...
     

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    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
    Las Palmas Norte and Pat V. like this.
  6. Dave M

    Dave M Squier-Nut

    595
    Feb 27, 2017
    Mira Loma, CA
    Excellent...you are on your way !!!!! Just wait there will be more..Congrats !
    I found with mine when you float the bridge like Jeff Beck style...It had more openness sound wise to it...
     
    BlueSquirrel likes this.
  7. BlueSquirrel

    BlueSquirrel Squier-holic

    Dec 21, 2018
    Europe
    Floating the bridge would be awesome!
     
  8. BlueSquirrel

    BlueSquirrel Squier-holic

    Dec 21, 2018
    Europe
    20190215_193855.jpg 20190215_233507.jpg New Fender bridge (reference 00710144049) installed, thanks to you!
    Granted, the guitar was playing fine before so there was no need for changing it. I guess I just wanted to make my first mod (!).

    You were right, the Squier bridge's saddles were wider than the Fender bridge's saddles (there was a 3 mm / 0.12 width difference in total). I'm including some after pics so that you can see how the strings sit on the saddles now (do you think it makes a big difference?).

    In the process, I've noticed that the new Fender saddles come with even better quality screws (which are useful for adjusting the intonation).

    Secondly, the Fender block is bigger (about twice as thick).

    Overall, the biggest difference (which I didn't expect) is that the guitar resonates and sustains better. I feel that there is also a change in tone (with better low end).

    To conclude, I'm thrilled! THANK YOU! (I'd like to thank everybody who has helped me. Just pm me your details!)

    Btw I haven't ordered a matching trem arm yet (hope it will fit fine...).
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2019
    Las Palmas Norte and Dave M like this.
  9. AllroyPA

    AllroyPA Squier-Axpert

    Age:
    50
    Dec 14, 2009
    Philadelphia
    Take note not to leave the plastic on too long it will start to fuse to the pickguard and cause more of an issue removing it later. Well this is what I've seen with some guitars I've bought used anyways ...
     
    BlueSquirrel likes this.
  10. SpeedKing

    SpeedKing Squier-holic

    Apr 9, 2015
    UK
    It's a much better unit than the Squier version.

    Nice upgrade and well done on your first mod! I agree with your own findings... more sustain and the whole thing feels higher quality. Really difficult now to find any quality difference between that instrument and something Fender branded...
     
    Las Palmas Norte likes this.
  11. I sold a VM 70's Strat with a Fender replacement bridge. The original saddles where as @SpeedKing says, "too wide". I did buy another one a couple of weeks later and it did not have that wide saddle issue. Despite that, I did swap it for a Fender MIM. Just a much better over all quality.

    Cheers, Barrie.
     
    BlueSquirrel likes this.
  12. mikm

    mikm Dr. Squier

    Jun 4, 2012
    NY
    That stock bridge also "rocked" up and down right where the bend was located in the bridge and the screw holes where going right through there as well. Plus the "wide" saddles, a really crappy bridge over all! I don't know how Guitarmaggdon could have remedied one like this with his method if it was in the same condition stock. I swapped mine out and it's now way better than the stock one!
     
    Las Palmas Norte likes this.
  13. I guess it's just a matter of what you're willing to settle for. It'll play with the stock bridge, but if you want a simple, inexpensive, quality bridge, the MIM is the way to go.

    Cheers, Barrie.
     
  14. BlueSquirrel

    BlueSquirrel Squier-holic

    Dec 21, 2018
    Europe
    To be fair, now that I've taken the original bridge assembly out, I can see how it's doable with the more recent VM bridges like the one I got which wasn't bad. However, one must have a really delicate touch to file the saddles' sides and act carefully in order to succeed. Guitarmaggedon, you must have "fairy fingers"! (French expression ;) )

    I've weighed the guitar (on both a bathroom scale and a kitchen scale) and it's 3.65 kg / 8 lbs. now (didn't think of weighing it before changing the bridge).

    Let's adjust the intonation again and play with the DD pickups height!

    BTW, what are your favourite pickups' heights on your VM?
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2019
  15. BlueSquirrel

    BlueSquirrel Squier-holic

    Dec 21, 2018
    Europe
    Right! Thanks for your advice!
     
    AllroyPA likes this.
  16. BlueSquirrel

    BlueSquirrel Squier-holic

    Dec 21, 2018
    Europe
    The tremolo is now (happily) floating and working well.

    Since I can't edit what I've posted earlier, I would like to mention that although shops write in their description that you need a 10/32 threaded vibrato arm for the Fender vintage-style 2006-2018 Mexican tremolo bridge and the PW-29 block (part number 0071014049), a 5 mm threaded arm seems to work well.

    I've tried with the "Supvox 5 mm tremolo arm" replacement arm (part number 3675316 or F0513569VJCVO ) because it comes with three different tip colours (white, black and cream). It's made of iron with a chrome finish and available on Amazon and eBay. It's also available in chrome with a chrome tips, in gold with different colour tips and in black metal with a black tip.
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07JZ26W4B/?tag=squiertalk-20
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2019
  17. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Dr. Squier

    Age:
    43
    Sep 27, 2014
    Canada
    5mm is CLOSE but not quite, it is actually 10-32. Over time, you will perhaps wear out the threads in the block with a 5mm.....

    https://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/general/difference-between-m5-10-32-unf-331008/
     
    BlueSquirrel likes this.
  18. BlueSquirrel

    BlueSquirrel Squier-holic

    Dec 21, 2018
    Europe
    Right, thanks a lot, very interesting! I'm removing it, then!
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2019
  19. BlueSquirrel

    BlueSquirrel Squier-holic

    Dec 21, 2018
    Europe
    Another little mod: I've just replaced the big Fender alloy block with a brass block made by CeltRocka at the Strat-talk forum (aka Kevin from the UK). His craftsmanship is amazing and he is a charming person.

    His brass block is a thing of beauty! It's really high quality. Kevin included a sleeve in the block for the matching tremolo arm (which is made of high-quality steel and includes a black tip).
    The big brass block improves the guitar's overall sustain. It resonates beautifully. The sound is a little warmer, mellower, louder - the mids seem a bit more pronounced - and it has an interesting "bell-like" vibe to it. Harmonics are gorgeous imo. They really "chime".

    For anyone interested in changing their trem block, I wrote down some information about different blocks' dimensions (sorry, they are in metric system):

    1 - (First picture below) Squier Vintage Modified '70s strat's alloy block (the original block)
    depth (in the guitar's body): 40 mm
    width (across the guitar's body): 73 mm
    block's thickness at the top: 14 mm
    block's thickness at the bottom of the block: 6 mm
    weight (without the three screws for the plate): 129 g.

    2) Fender's PW-29 big alloy block
    (already pictured on this thread - It had already improved sustain and resonance a lot imo).
    depth: 41.5 mm
    width: 73 mm
    thickness at the top: 15 mm
    at the bottom: 14 mm
    weight (including the three screws for the base plate): 254 g

    3) CeltRocka's big brass block (second and third picture below).
    depth: 42 mm
    width: 73 mm
    thickness (top and bottom): 12.5 mm
    weight (including the three screws for the baseplate): 298 g

    Kevin also makes steel blocks on request (I'd love to be able to compare both brass and steel "flavours"...). I'm sure both are equally nice. If you live in Europe, I think it's totally worth it, esp. compared to GFS (Kevin's prices and shipping fees are very reasonable plus he gives good advice. He is really knowledgeable and helpful).
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2019
  20. BlueSquirrel

    BlueSquirrel Squier-holic

    Dec 21, 2018
    Europe
    A few pictures below.
     

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