I have been enjoying this Squier Strat for more than a year now. I noticed some electric niggles soon after receiving it, and started finding the parts I would need for a re-wire. All except for high quality screen wire. The tone controls worked, sometimes, between zero and two. Some connection problem with the neck pickup, occasionally. Would be blasting away with enthusiasm, then suddenly the volume drops and tone dies.
Last night, I fitted some of my custom polepiece cup caps to the neck and middle high E poles. I only had two caps, and persuaded the thicker one to stick to the High E of the middle pickup. It was not enthusiastic (on the pointy guitar, the caps jump out of my fingers in eagerness to attach themselves to the poles). This put the High E pole at the same height as the middle strings. Yes. Good. Now we’re getting somewhere! Quarter turn adjustment on the pickup height both sides, and suddenly I had that elusive sweet spot I was looking for. Magic. Full, round, sweet tone with absolutely no hint of icepick. Adjusted the neck and bridge heights a bit, fiddled with the volume and tone on my 5F1 copy, and suddenly the neck had that same sweet, full, magic sound. The same nice tone as the middle, now we are really making progress! Yup, same tone with the five-way on neck, quack, middle. This was good, I now know I have to replace the five way. Not sure which pickup gives the sweet tone. Might have been neck all along?
Stripping down the guitar revealed much “eina”
Baby-sized pots, CORE-TEK five way, spaghetti.
Earth mess. Why do it this way, apart from saving a few cents, and saving a few seconds during assembly? I shall fit “Earth Bus” plates between the new pots and star washers.
No wonder the pole cap did not want to stick. Them poles ain’t magnets.
I really did not want to replace pickups. But these are not the way it should be. Works well, low noise, good output, but very easy to “ice-pick”. Suggestions? Other than wind my own? I was thinking of “vintage” output Alnico 2 pickups, but apparently low magnet strength gives bright output?
Springs good to go. Can drop the pickups some more, I see. Will sleeve the springs with some soft silicone tube, even if microphonics are part of the Strat jingle.
Tone pots. 0.033 microFarad cap. Big enough, so my tone problems must be the pots, or loose connections. Linear pots? Must check.
Vintage stagger. Why? I like Kinman’s stagger best. Would like to try that. Now to find out if I can press these fake magnets up and down without breaking coils and stuck-on bottom magnets. Or swop them around rather, seeing as they are have different lengths. I could even make up a custom set if they move without breaking anything. Explore the tonal differences between sharp edges and bevelled edges? Sure.
The wiring looks standard. I want to add tone control to the bridge pickup, another reason I just had to take the guitar apart, after playing the strings for a suitable period, so as not to strip down before re-string time. I am still debating a treble bleed, but maybe, just maybe, once the tone controls work, a treble bleed may be handy. But, as it is now, turning the volume down below “8” eliminates ice-pick twangy brightness. Ideally I would like that sweeter lower volume tone at full blast too.
I also want to “upgrade” the trem block and saddles. And so forth. Sigh, any NOS Fender USA Strat available for cheap? Two, please, rosewood and maple, Alder bodies, flat stagger pickups, 9 1/5 inch radius, six-point tremolo, bent steel saddles, and so forth, black with white guards. With sweet, round sounding non-icepick single coil pickups?
“Import” sized trem block, zinc.
Zinc saddles. String spacing a useful 10.5 mm. GOTOH available please? These are not bad quality, comparing age with condition.
The internet mentions increased sustain with a heavy trem block (or a blocked trem). Well, this guitar has good sustain as is. Something to do with the trem springs, I’m sure. I like the whole “absorb and release string energy” sound dynamics from the trem system, works well on the pointy guitar too. Which also has cheap, lightweight material where it is supposed to matter.
I shall post updates as I go along, don’t hold your breath. This is going to take more time than I thought. And might cost more than the guitar will be worth.