Squier Strat pickup upgrade

Discussion in 'Squier Stratocasters' started by fable55255, Oct 14, 2013.

  1. fable55255

    fable55255 Squier Talker

    Oct 14, 2013
    I have an Indonesian Squier Affinity strat (I don't know what year, probably 2012) that I got out of a strat pack and have since upgraded my amp. I'm looking at a set of pickups sold by GFS, not the GFS pickups but the prewired pickguard for around 50 dollars.
    My question is, are they going to be a siginicant upgrade over the stock squier pickups? The reason I'm leaning towards the prewired pickguard is that I've never done anything like this before and would prefer to only have to solder 2 wires.
    The pickups I'm looking at:

    Because I'm still new to guitar I'm not sure I want to put any more money than those cost into it, or if it's even worth it.

    Link to the guitar I bought:
  2. softwarejanitor

    softwarejanitor Squier-holic

    Apr 19, 2010
    Pflugerville, TX
    My personal opinion on the $50 pre-wired pickguard is.... only a slight upgrade over stock. Your stock pickguard if sold by someone like GFS would be about a $35 unit. If you want a bigger upgrade you need to go up to something at least $75 or so for the pre-wired pickguard. If you are willing to make a bit of a compromise... buy the "unloaded" pickguard like this:


    And then all you have to do is solder in the pickups like these:


    That's 8 wires you have to solder instead of only 2... but the hard part of it (wiring the pots, cap and switch) is done for you... This route also lets you pick just about any SSS sized pickup set you want.

    It gets you nearly what this does, but at a cheaper price for just a tiny bit more work:


    Keep in mind that while the Affinity isn't the best Squier (especially for modding due to the very thin 1-1/2" body and narrow 40mm neck at the nut), once you've got a loaded pickup you can always swap back the original one, sell the Affinity and put your new loaded pickup into another Strat... like an SE, Standard, etc...
  3. fable55255

    fable55255 Squier Talker

    Oct 14, 2013
    Thanks for the reply!
    So if the narrow nut and putting in a new trem block doesn't bother me much, are there any other disadvantages to using the affinity? I think it uses an alder body. Also, in that unloaded pickguard are the pots, cap, etc good enough to justify putting in a nicer set of pickups?
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013
  4. Hermie

    Hermie Squier-holic

    Jun 30, 2013
    Dragonfire pre wired are better than GF IMHO.
  5. softwarejanitor

    softwarejanitor Squier-holic

    Apr 19, 2010
    Pflugerville, TX
  6. mikm

    mikm Dr. Squier

    Jun 4, 2012
    Not to further complicate things but I went the route of getting a wire harness and with minimal effort, I just swapped out the original harness and what was left to do was solder the wire to the claw and hook up to a new set of pups. I kept my pickguard because I feel it's easier this way for me instead of trying to get the pickguard to fit right and not bother to fill holes and drill new ones etc. If you shop carefully with a little effort you can get a decent wire harness. Mine was under $20 and had .047uf Orange Drop cap and 250k Alpha pots. Switch and jack were of unknown origin but are fine. Ebay is a good place to look for harnesses. There are many to choose from but again make sure you get the components you want at the right values etc. Good luck.
  7. justinc79

    justinc79 Squier Talker

    Jul 29, 2013
    Washington, PA
    I picked up the cheaper ceramic Guitarfetish prewired pickguard for my Chinese Affinity and thought it made it sound much better. It's not a massive leap in quality, but definitely noticeable. From what I've read, their Alnico II prewired pickguards are really only good if you're mostly playing clean. They're not hot enough for crazy distortion.

    I had never done any guitar mods or soldering when I put mine in and it's really not that hard, except for problems you'll encounter with the Affinity body. Just so you know, the pickup screws are too long for the body cavity, so you'll need to dremel about a half-inch or so off in order to get the pickguard to fit. That was the most frustrating part. I also chose to put pickups and wiring harness into the stock pickguard, which was probably harder than just drilling some new holes in the body.

    Since you say you're still new to guitar and not sure, I'd hold off doing any mods for a little while. My Affinity is the only electric I own and I didn't do anything drastic to it for over 10 years. It was only after picking up playing after a 3 or 4 year hiatus that I got the real itch to mod. And honestly, I think just taking it to a shop to get a professional setup made it sound better than the new tuners and electronics.

    However, I only suggest that so you're sure you want to invest the time and energy (and spend money on tools you might not have access to), not because the Affinity isn't worth upgrading. I think they play just fine and despite being a pain in the ass for modding, I like how lightweight the thin body feels.
  8. mikm

    mikm Dr. Squier

    Jun 4, 2012
    If you just want to experiment with tones, try just replacing the cap. It's pretty easy and can really change the sound. They come with a .022uf cap. If it's a little shrill and like ice pick type tones, try a .047uf cap. It will sound fuller and rounder. It will take the edge off. Caps are cheap. It's a good place to start.
  9. StormJH1

    StormJH1 Squier-Meister

    Dec 24, 2012
    Twin Cities, MN
    For 90% of the players out there, I really do believe that "personal preference" outweighs "subjective quality" in terms of making someone happy with their pickups. The problem of course (which I am certainly not immune from) is that "perception of quality" is very important to guitar players in their instrument. Some people are just strongly motivated by brand, reputation, and cool factor - and that's totally fine because it's your gear and you should play what makes you happy.

    But with pickups, I really think that if you throw out all the preconceived notions and message board chatter, you can be perfectly happy with that cheap set of import ceramics, even compared to some premium "upgrades".

    Most Squier Strat single coils are just fine. I put in a set of Fender Tex Mex in my main Squier Strat, and yes, it's a noticeable upgrade in quality, and probably my favorite single coil sound. On the other hand, I have a Peavy Raptor - basically a student guitar - with this blatantly import ceramic single coils and oversize pole pieces. Extremely bright and sassy on the high end, but with right amp, they absolutely kick ass. Even though I've replaced pickups multiple times on other guitars, I have no desire to remove those, because they're unique and suit what I like to play.

    In another example, I ordered the H-H pickguard from GFS, and quickly swapped out the OEM pickups for a cheap set of alnico Epiphones that you find in the $400 Epi Les Pauls. I assumed they HAD be better, but in retrospect, the ceramic OEM's were superior to my taste! (These were later replaced by P-90's anyway).

    I would still recommend the pre-wired guard from GFS or Dragonfire because it's a good value to have all the functioning switches and wiring, and saves hassle if you're less comfortable with that stuff. You can try out those pickups, and it's no loss if you have to rip out an OEM pickup and throw it in a drawer for a replacement. The pre-wired guards are great templates for incremental upgrades to the pups and pots.
  10. Strat77

    Strat77 Squier Talker

    Nov 22, 2013
    Will a preloaded MIM pickgaurd/pickups fit into a Squier Affinity?
  11. Acidhouse

    Acidhouse Squier-holic

    Sep 16, 2010
    Birmingham . . . Alabama
    You would be better off getting the set of GFS pickups and doing a swap over the prewired pg. Truthfully, there is just a couple of extra soldering points. As long as you replace the pickups one at a time, you should be fine.
    I don't think there is going to be much of an improvement from the pg that is in there and the prewired pg that you are looking to replace it with.
  12. edandis

    edandis Squier-holic

    Jan 12, 2010
    Orlando, Fl.
    I agree with softwarejanitor in that the pre-wired pickguard from GFS is only a slight improvement over the stock pickguard but the OP already stated that he only wanted something simple to install and inexpensive.

    Acidhouse is also correct in that an inexpensive set from GFS, Rose or buying used pickups from other members or Ebay will yield better results tone wise.
  13. Strat77

    Strat77 Squier Talker

    Nov 22, 2013
    Cool thanks guys...It took me a while to refind this post (new here) so I wound up posting the same ? in a different thread...this pretty much answered it though.
    I'm just so painfully lazy when it comes to these things, the preloaded seemed like the best path! haha
  14. Jeffaroo

    Jeffaroo Squier-Meister

    Aug 1, 2013
    lodi, ca