#1
I've seen a Squire strat with Lace sensor red white and blues for £125.

Is there any point going with a lower end guitar with upgraded pickups and electronics ?

I can appreciate that a high spec guitar would be a more polished instrument, ie it will hold is tuning properly, the frets would be level and even across the fretboard and not be rough around the edges etc, but when it comes down to it, its the pick ups , the electronics, and the player that determines how its going to sound.


Has anyone got any good or bad experiences with something along these lines ? Im thinking i could always take the pups out and sell the guitar if i didnt like it.
#2
If the guitar was a good base to start with and was modified properly, I see nothing wrong with it. Deciding if its worth it or not is entirely up to you.


That being said, I have a few cheapos that I pumped a few modifications in and they do exactly what I wanted them to do. I'm happy but I also don't expect them to be the most amazing shit in the world either.
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#3
dude, I bought a 1971 Cort for $20 (£15.01) off Craigslist, and put some old funky Rickenbacker pickups in it, and it sounds wonderful. Don't ever knock the cheap stuff, sometimes its the best.
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#4
Yes, absolutely. I've always taken the view that the electric guitar body is just a fancy lump of wood that holds the important stuff - the hardware, electronics and pickups. I have one guitar that is a $75 pawn shop junker (it would have cost less than $50 in the US) with a $150 pickup and decent electronic parts. The tuners and bridge were good, but I replaced the cheap diecast saddles with pressed steel ones. It sounds great. My best guitar though is a cheap OLP knockoff of a Music Man bari, the only mod being replacement SD Jazz pickups. My 1982 Westone 335 knockoff is probably better made than the real deal Gibson was from that period.

The downside is that you wouldn't recover the modding cost on resale, so save the good pickups etc and replace the originals if you sell it. The whole thing is particularly attractive if you are DIY, and it has become a hobby in its own right for me. - The last lot of pickup swapping I did was just a couple of days ago.
Last edited by Tony Done at Aug 19, 2014,
#5
Yep

I personally hate Squiers, but all but one of the Fender guitars I own are MiM. I just change out the pups and a few internal things, maybe do a mod or two (I'm a big fan of the 'fat-switch' mod that allows you to run a few pickup combos in series on a strat like a humbucking guitar).

Usually equates to abouts +$250, but $700-750 for a strat that plays just as well and (IMO) sounds better than a MiA? Sign me up

Just make sure you like the way the neck feels and see how well it's set up in store (and if there's an intonation problem or a truss rod problem, definitely ask if it can be fixed before you buy).
#6
but when it comes down to it, its the pick ups , the electronics, and the player that determines how its going to sound


Right! Even if type of wood and such might affect sustain and a little bit your tone, I don't personnaly think the price difference is worth it in every case. I mean, If I could afford myself all of the high end guitars, I would definitly go for it, but since I feel most of the tone comes from the electronics in most cases, I'll upgrade those.

I can appreciate that a high spec guitar would be a more polished instrument, ie it will hold is tuning properly, the frets would be level and even across the fretboard and not be rough around the edges etc


Even that, you can google the stuff and fix it yourself if you are handy enough.

I have a Squier Strat Mini with vintage noiseless pickups. It sounds awesome truly!
#7
It depends on how much modding you need to do.

A cheap guitar with a straight neck that feels good in the hands and generally holds tune? Sure, upgrade that thang!

But there is only so much you can do, and some guitars are really just funny shaped, painted pieces of firewood.
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Last edited by dannyalcatraz at Aug 19, 2014,
#8
This is just speculation, but this is what seems to happen to me. The difference between cheap and expensive guitars is the tonewoods used, the hardware used, and the quality control. Most people would agree tonewoods matter less than pups and hardware and that the guitars tone matters less than the amp and pedals. I'm not saying tonewoods don't matter, they're just fairly minor in the overall equation. Especially considering you generally have to pay hundreds more to get an increase in quality. Plus there's so many different tonewoods so if you like maple, you'll probably prefer cheaper maple over expensive alder.

Now the hardware can be changed to whatever you'd like. Virtually everything on the guitar can be replaced. You can get the exact setup you want and the prices are generally reasonable.

In my own experience, quality control is what makes the difference. Cheap guitars can have bad fret jobs, crooked necks, won't intonate properly and the like. But they aren't designed this way, some of them just come out bad. I assume they have loosed tolerances and standards for the cheap guitars. So a high end guitar is almost guaranteed to be put together well. While two identical model $150 squiers may be sitting right next to each other and one is a piece of junk and one is a very nice guitar.
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#9
if you play it and like it I don't see anything wrong with it, very little of your tone comes from your actual guitar body so I see it as a non issue. I would check for set up and defects like warping, uneven frets, cracks ect... ect.. though to be sure it is in proper playing order.
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#10
I've got a cheap guitar that I've upgraded with top end parts that cost twice as much as the guitar initially cost. I get heaps of compliments on both my tone and its looks.
If you like a guitar and like how it plays then I see no reason not to upgrade it. Some cheaper guitars are great, where they fall down is consistency - but if you get one of the good ones then you've got one of the good ones. Some Squiers are very nice, they just need sorting out with hardware and pups (and soldering). You have to take them on a case by case basis.
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#11
Quote by Cathbard
I've got a cheap guitar that I've upgraded with top end parts that cost twice as much as the guitar initially cost. I get heaps of compliments on both my tone and its looks.
If you like a guitar and like how it plays then I see no reason not to upgrade it. Some cheaper guitars are great, where they fall down is consistency - but if you get one of the good ones then you've got one of the good ones. Some Squiers are very nice, they just need sorting out with hardware and pups (and soldering). You have to take them on a case by case basis.

Agreed. My classic vibe now cops some brootz
#12
Did the soldering look like it was done by a 12 yo? The Squier I'm upgrading atm did. The guitar itself is pretty decent but the hardware and pups are dreadful - and the soldering
By the time I've finished upgrading it, it will be a fine guitar. It already sounds twice as good with its new Seymour Duncan Hot P90. It's sounding very nice indeed actually - but it needed work.
Got Grover tuners on the way and it's going to get a Hipshot bridge (not a Trilogy this time though).
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#13
Quote by Cathbard
Did the soldering look like it was done by a 12 yo?

In a nutshell, yes. Although I haven't looked inside a huge number of guitars, the soldering to the volume pot was a big black clump of shit, which made me feel better about hacking into it to install the Hot Rails. (Didn't even need to desolder first ). The selector was okay as was the tone pot, grounding was shit. I understand that it is common practice in budget guitars to smoosh the ground wire under the bridge plate but it was barely touching in this case. All in all, probably more worth the price than say.. an American standard strat (whole 'nother can of worms, but mine has some disappointing QC issues). Also, so much muck on the forums about hot rails being terrible for cleans, which is utter crap. As long as they aren't 0.0001mm from the strings like everyone tries to do, cleans are fine. Some people don't know how to use the vol. knob. I have the neck really low and the bridge high, which gets a good page tone in the middle position, and a good clean to dirt transition going from neck to bridge.
#14
What I put in my main slide guitar (tele clone) is far better than anything that Fender puts on their guitars, let alone Squier. It's got a Hipshot Trilogy bridge, Bourns pots, Russian military cap, Switchcraft jack, Oak and Grigsby switch, Rio Grande pup, Grover locking tuners, better wire. The only thing original on it is the neck and body itself.
It's a cheap clone with like $600 worth of hardware.
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Marshall 1960A
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#15
Your guitar is like those old hot rods or shine runner cars- the precursors of the cars of NASCAR- from the 1930's-40's...

Sure, it LOOKS like your dad's sedate old sedan, but when you put your foot down...WOOSH!
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#16
I have an Epiphone Strat copy I bought from a guy for $80- probably the best $80 I ever spent.

The electronics were absolute crap, but $50 later I got a loaded pickguard (loaded with all-new pots/wires/pickups/etc.) with my own fancy wiring of a superswitch and push/pull pot added in later. For awhile, it sounded better to me than my stock DBZ Cavallo which costed me like $800. I scalloped some frets to see what the deal is with that too- not so big of a deal to screw up the neck of an $80 guitar. This is one of the great things about cheap gutars- you can mod the hell out of them and experiment with less worrying about screwing up.

The main problem I have with the strat is that a few frets kill the sustain and I can't fix it without... pretty much replacing the neck because it would probably be cheaper/easier. I have considered buying a higher quality Strat, or just a neck at some point, to do it better... it's still very playable though.

Also, after I changed pickups in the Cavallo, the Strat wasn't so good by comparison anymore- the Cavallo just feels and sounds better to play now. There's quite a bit going on there though, so that may not be a fair comparison of the guitars.

All in all, I really enjoy both guitars and they are good for different things.


TL;DR: If you think the pickups would work for what you play, and the neck is good, I say go for it.
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#17
thanks for the feedback guys


as far as it being a squier goes, what else would you immediately replace on it to improve it ?

The wood is just wood and makes no difference to the tone imo, so im thinking i could replace the neck if it was bad, but if not, the bridge, nut, locking tuners etc ?
#18
Ive got a £30 Korean VN97 Strat that ive bought for all the new bits for i just need to put em in. I had it set up properly about a year ago and it plays really nice but sounds like shit through an amp.

Ive bought some new pups including a humbucker for the bridge (2 SD SSL-6s and a SD SH-11, HSS FTW!) and ive bought black scratchplate etc to replace the white.

Really looking forward to getting the time to put it all together
#19
Quote by *Juno*
thanks for the feedback guys


as far as it being a squier goes, what else would you immediately replace on it to improve it ?

The wood is just wood and makes no difference to the tone imo, so im thinking i could replace the neck if it was bad, but if not, the bridge, nut, locking tuners etc ?


The electrics first and foremost.

You can go as far as you want with stuff like this but there becomes a point where its no longer upgrading a guitar when it ends up like Theseus' Ship

Have a proper guitar tech take a look at it and see if its actually worth spending the money on. If the neck is nice then thats over half the battle. Tuners/bridge/nut might actually be ok.

If youre gonna start replacing the neck and stuff you might as well just buy a guitar body and start from scratch lest the whole thing end up like the aforementioned ship
#20
Pickups and pots are the parts that really matter in terms of sound.

You could look at upgrading the bridge and getting a set of locking tuners if you want to improve tuning stability rather than tone.

LivinJoke is right though, it's not worth upgrading if you eventually end up with two complete guitars worth of parts. At that point you'd spend less money just buying another guitar.
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#21
Quote by *Juno*
thanks for the feedback guys


as far as it being a squier goes, what else would you immediately replace on it to improve it ?

The wood is just wood and makes no difference to the tone imo, so im thinking i could replace the neck if it was bad, but if not, the bridge, nut, locking tuners etc ?

IMO, the neck on my classic vibe is its best feature, but neck shape is quite a personal thing. A quick immediate fix though is to sand that baby down. They come drenched in poly (neck and body) and it makes it sticky and slow as hell
#22
I recently picked up a dirt cheap ($80) SX Les Paul that came with SD 59s. It feels pretty solid but the cheapness of the guitar is apparent. Sounds really rich and warm though, very surprising. Well worth $80, imo.
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