#1
I've had a Squier Affinity Series Strat since December 2006. It was my first guitar, and i always loved it and still do. It's incredibly comfortable, reliable, well-built, and sounds really nice, too.
But lately i had been feeling "tired" of its color scheme, black body with white single-ply pickguard, pickup covers and knobs.
When i looked at it, it reminded me of your run-of-the-mill starter guitar, bought at the mall, of which everyone and their dad has one.




Here it was right before the custom work started, in all of its stock glory.


So, i started thinking of customizing it.
After many ideas that i threw down the bin, an interesting plan started to take shape.

Ever since i watched Pearl Jam's "I Am Mine" music video that the visual of Eddie Vedder's Gibson SG got stuck in my head, i thought it looked awesome. But i don't like the shape of the SG, so i wasn't planning on ever getting a guitar like his.
But now that i was thinking of customizing my Stratocaster, what if i used that visual on it?


I recruited the help of a good friend of mine who's a carpenter (and an overall freakin' genius, and also helped me before in my Dr. Boogey build.
For color reference, i gave him pictures of a blue McLaren MP4-12C. I'm a huge car fan, and i love that metallic blue paintjob on the McLaren. The way that blue changes tone depending on the light and angle is incredibly beautiful.
The paint was custom-ordered from a paint factory, and it took them quite some time and quite a few samples to really tune the color to my liking. But they got the job done brilliantly.


Time to get started, then.
The neck was very hard to take off. The joint was extremely snug; body and neck were joined perfectly even without the 4 screws. Removing the neck revealed a "JUN'06" stamp on the neck pocket.
After unscrewing all the hardware and desoldering the bridge and input jack cables, time to sand the body.




I was expecting a 3 to 5 piece body. After sanding, we saw it's a 2-piece alder body.


Sanding the body revealed a layer of metallic red under the plain black finish.
Under the metallic red layer was another layer of plain black, and then a clearcoat layer over the wood.
We kept the 1st clearcoat layer. I have no idea what the other 2 layers (1st black and then metallic red) were doing there.
My friend's theory is that the 1st black layer was some sort of base paint, the metallic red was supposed to be the final finish, but must've had some defect or something like that, so they painted over with plain black.


While we were waiting for the paint to arrive, and then while the body was being painted (which was done over a few weeks to let the paint layers settle and dry properly, as well as the clearcoat layers afterwards), we debated about re-doing the wiring and replacing the pickups and control electronics.
Since the guitar always sounded great, even in A/B comparisons with proper MIA Fender Strats, i decided i didn't want to change the way it sounded. So we kept everything stock in that department.




Also, it never was a noisy guitar, but we shielded the cavities with aluminium tape anyway. It's absolutely dead quiet now.


Putting the neck back in was another PITA, but it has a perfect joint, just like before.
Since the neck has been off the guitar, without any tension at all for weeks, i was expecting at least some bow, relief... Neck warping of some sort.
But no. Absolutely none. I measured it, and it is now as it always has been, as if it has never been taken off the guitar.
I put the strings on, and kept the same neck and bridge setup as it came from the store -- the intonation, the action... -- everything is still spot on.
This Squier Strat is definitely one of a kind, nothing short of amazing in terms of quality. It has been [ab]used for more than 6 years, then taken apart, re-painted, and put back together, and endured it all without even needing a new setup. I'm really proud of being its owner.


Now, time to show the result of the customization job!








Squier "VMC" Stratocaster
PRS SE Singlecut
tc electronic polytune
CMAT MODS Signa Drive
Blakemore Effects Deus Ex Machina
DIY gaussmarkov Dr. Boogey
EHX Small Clone
Mooer ShimVerb
DIY Beavis Devolt
T-REX Fuel Tank Chameleon
Ampeg GVT52-112
#2






The black 3-ply pickguard, black accessory kit and neck plate are all Fender genuine parts.
I went for a mix of Vintage and Modern, with the white pickguard trim and chrome "ashtray" bridge cover evoking a classy, old-school vibe, and the metallic blue finish with black giving it more of a modern, sleek look. Hence, "Custom Vintage Modern" Stratocaster.





I got a Fender "F" neck plate to replace the old "Squier" one, which was a bit scratched.
And a black leather Fender strap with white stitching and chromed logo to match the overall theme of the guitar, replacing the old black nylon Fender strap that came with the guitar.





Initially, i wanted to replace the white pickup covers with black ones as well, but we decided that the white pickup covers "popped out" in a really nice way, facilitating the "visual reading" of the guitar's design.






The metallic grain is perfect. Not too big and sparkly, not too small and unnoticeable.
It's incredible the way the blue tone changes depending on the color of the light, the source, the angle...
Also, that bridge cover. Very tasteful.





And to end here it is next to its "sister", my cherry sunburst PRS SE Singlecut (look at the wood grain on that one!).

I'm extremely happy with the result, it looks even better than i anticipated.
Hope you like it too.
Squier "VMC" Stratocaster
PRS SE Singlecut
tc electronic polytune
CMAT MODS Signa Drive
Blakemore Effects Deus Ex Machina
DIY gaussmarkov Dr. Boogey
EHX Small Clone
Mooer ShimVerb
DIY Beavis Devolt
T-REX Fuel Tank Chameleon
Ampeg GVT52-112
Last edited by Linkerman at May 7, 2013,
#3
Awesome, it turned out really nice but I think there is room for improvement in upgrading your hardware! The paintjob though is great and to me looks a lot better now.


I did something similar to my first guitar (a 2000 Squier Affinity Strat), also with the help of a very skilled carpenter friend. Originally we were going to sand my body down to the wood and then revarnish it in a thick slightly dark/smokey gloss to try to get a 1970s Strat Vibe, but having a think on it we didn't think the Alder would look right, with those 70s Strats being made from Ash.

Then my drummer mentioned he had an old Squier (a 1999 Affinity Strat - Sunburst) in his closet that hadn't been touched for years, he had tried to relic it (and failed, then gave up) many years ago, offered to give it to me to work with. So we sanded the body down to get past the hard lacquer and removed most of the damage (though some heavy damage remained). Most of the paint (but not lacquer) still remained on the guitar with bare wood showing in parts and the guitar was looking like a pretty decent reliced guitar, to the point that we abandoned the original idea and just cleaned it up more, then reapplied a clearcoat lacquer for a few coats, wet sanding up to a 1500grade and then polished it up. Then I mated this body with my original neck (99 body, 00 neck).


Then I also replaced the tuners with Sperzels, a new Graphtech TuSQ nut and string trees, kept the original pickguard (8 screw 1 ply white) but we aged it (along with knobs etc) in a sink of hot tea/coffee to try to get a more creamed look. Though it already looked far from white after 12+ years of use, the tea/coffee staining made it look even better, left it there for 3 days. For the pickup covers we did the same, though they were off a MIM Fender Strat that had much softer plyable plastic and were good to go after 1hour in a hot cup of coffee.

I've been contemplating a black 3 ply scratchplate like you have, only it becomes a pain in the ass since I want to keep the original 8 holes, 1970s style look. That said I'm not sure if a black guard works with a Sunburst.
Cornford Hellcat
Peavey 5150
Marshall 1960A
1994 Ibanez Jem 7V
Fender Stratocaster x3 (2 of them built from bits and pieces!)
Last edited by Bigbazz at May 7, 2013,
#4
Quote by Bigbazz
Awesome, it turned out really nice but I think there is room for improvement in upgrading your hardware! The paintjob though is great and to me looks a lot better now.

Thank you!

As far as the hardware goes, the tuners, nut and bridge are all stock. I don't use the tremolo arm, but the bridge isn't even locked or screwed all the way down, and it holds the tuning perfectly.
And as i said, i love the way it sounds. Why mess with something that works, you know?

Quote by Bigbazz
I've been contemplating a black 3 ply scratchplate like you have, only it becomes a pain in the ass since I want to keep the original 8 holes, 1970s style look. That said I'm not sure if a black guard works with a Sunburst.

I think it depends on how close the darker border of the sunburst comes to the pickguard.
If it has a lot of clearer wood showing around the pickguard, it could work.
If the darker part comes too close to the center, it can become too dark of a scheme, especially considering it's one with an old-school look.
Squier "VMC" Stratocaster
PRS SE Singlecut
tc electronic polytune
CMAT MODS Signa Drive
Blakemore Effects Deus Ex Machina
DIY gaussmarkov Dr. Boogey
EHX Small Clone
Mooer ShimVerb
DIY Beavis Devolt
T-REX Fuel Tank Chameleon
Ampeg GVT52-112
#6
It looks like this, the guitar on the left. 2 of the guitars in this picture are Squiers (the guitar on the far left, and far right in sunburst).



Part of this was testing out waterslide decals, the guitar on the left had a high quality (and expensive) decal put on it, similar to what would have been used way back on original Fender guitars (from what i've been told) and the guitar on the right had a much cheaper decal. The photo doesn't give you a good indication but on the left guitar the decal is not visible, it looks flawless up close, but not so much on the cheaper decal on the right guitar where it is easy to tell.

The guitar on the far right is my drummers 99 neck on my original Squier 2000 body. The Bass is a 1976 Fender P-Bass that belonged to my dad, originally we wanted to make the guitar look like that bass, before we gave up on the idea.
Cornford Hellcat
Peavey 5150
Marshall 1960A
1994 Ibanez Jem 7V
Fender Stratocaster x3 (2 of them built from bits and pieces!)
#7
Quote by scguitarking927
That turned out great!!! Love that blue!

Thank you!

Quote by Bigbazz
It looks like this, the guitar on the left. 2 of the guitars in this picture are Squiers (the guitar on the far left, and far right in sunburst).

Hmmm, dunno. I think the sunburst is faded enough to the point that, if you put a black 3-ply pickguard on it, it will look like a David Gilmour Strat with the paint peeling off.

Not that it would be a bad thing...
Squier "VMC" Stratocaster
PRS SE Singlecut
tc electronic polytune
CMAT MODS Signa Drive
Blakemore Effects Deus Ex Machina
DIY gaussmarkov Dr. Boogey
EHX Small Clone
Mooer ShimVerb
DIY Beavis Devolt
T-REX Fuel Tank Chameleon
Ampeg GVT52-112
#9
Quote by Linkerman
Thank you!


Hmmm, dunno. I think the sunburst is faded enough to the point that, if you put a black 3-ply pickguard on it, it will look like a David Gilmour Strat with the paint peeling off.

Not that it would be a bad thing...


Maybe you're right, anyway excellent job on your guitar. Always pleases me when I see one of the good Squiers turned into something special.
Cornford Hellcat
Peavey 5150
Marshall 1960A
1994 Ibanez Jem 7V
Fender Stratocaster x3 (2 of them built from bits and pieces!)
#11
Seriously,
You took a boring Squire, and made it very appealing! I applaud you for that one! Great work!
Gear List


Gibson Les Paul Standard
ESP M-II
Jackson KingV
Oscar Schmitt OE30

Orange Rockerverb 50
Marshall Mode Four


Gas List
Gibson Firebird
#13
Thank you very much for the words, guys.
It's nice to see that others appreciate these aesthetics as well!
Squier "VMC" Stratocaster
PRS SE Singlecut
tc electronic polytune
CMAT MODS Signa Drive
Blakemore Effects Deus Ex Machina
DIY gaussmarkov Dr. Boogey
EHX Small Clone
Mooer ShimVerb
DIY Beavis Devolt
T-REX Fuel Tank Chameleon
Ampeg GVT52-112
#14
That looks lovely! I've got a Squier Standard Tele that I like so much, all the American Fender Teles haven't interested me. I've played a lot of bad Squiers, but set up right, there's some amazing ones
Misha Mansoor:
Uplifting quote disguising failure as something to be proud of.