#1
Im getting a fender starcaster for free and I know that they're rubbish with all the stock electronics, but they make good mod bases. I only have about $250 to mod and I know pickups are necessary. Also I don't want any "just buy a better guitar" comments because what I have for the mod budget is what I have for a guitar, so that won't get me much. Plus I think the silver burst finish is pretty damn cool
#2
you'd be surprised what the right pack of strings and all can do to a cheap guitar honestly. As much as I despise les pauls with 24.75 necks they are a favorite of mine as you have a lot of holes already drilled and all.

ok so firstly if you see nuts and washers on the headstock grover 6 inline , schaller had a set of tuners they made with fender I'd consider as well.

nut? kind of overkill to mention but
graphtech tusq is what a lot of guys switch to , brass and bone are expensive but come bone is what everyone seems to drool over.

polish the frets if you haven't it makes a world of difference
lighter fluid and lemon oil on the fretboard in that order , lighter fluid elminates dirt and lemon oil rehydrates the fretboard

so a new pickguard? ebay the seller IKNMusic, you may have to re-drill holes but it's not like it's a 1950s strat so I'd go nuts

electronics
malory 0.022uf capacitors are a favorite , if not the orange drop everyone mentions. USSR surplus paper in oil capacitors are what I'd go with to be honest. With high end capacitors use heat sinks so you don't damage the capacitor as some are sensitive to heat.

CTS or bournes potentiometers. CTS push pull pots everyone says are better than bournes though

wire? 24 AWG in size. Material is up to you, cloth , nickle braided or just basic wire. The nickle braided people will probably boast a clearer sound but it would be all like damn is the guy soldering it color blind , my tip with wire for grounding especially is to be minimalistic, use as little wire as possible and solder flat to surfaces for a better connection

ok so a strat you want 250k resistance , A250k volume (Traditionally) and B250k for the tone pots. You could also go B250k across the board for a smoother 10-0 which I prefer but a lot of guys on here will say otherwise.

the higher the resistance of pots for volume the brighter the sound , this is why when you tuen the volume down the sound gets darker of course when you play.

the higher the resistance of the pots for tone the less sensitive they are. it's a longer path from 10 to 0 , some guys will go 500k or 1000k for the tone for example, but if you hardly use the tone it's not worth the switch

the larger the capacitor the more treble (lets say) gets removed , so 0.1 like a 1960s production model fender holds onto way more treble than a 0.022uf , the further the numbers go from the decimal the stronger they are.

switches? a regular 5 way blade CRL , a super 5 way to do almost anything oaks and grigsby or schaller or the fender ones i think they make are 3 suggestions for the super 5 way depending on what your local shop has.

switchcraft for the input jack

knobs are knobs, ebay or qparts.com are two places to look

keep in mind if you use your existing pots and all on the stock pickguard import shafts on pots are narrower so you'll have to widen them up with a drill or rasp (file).

copper shielding tape i really like , you get a clearer tone. remember to ground a wire to activate the shielding.

you can even use fast on connectors on the input jack to make it easier to switch pickups as the input jack and the ground wire always come off when you switch pickups and all.. or just put more wire than you think you need , depending on your skills.

push pulls , mini toggles and all I'd go nuts with on a strat , but here's a list of mods and all. Some ideas are

coil splits / coiltaps (parallel) if you're using 4 wire pickups you can get extra sounds
the fender TBX mod - cuts treble or bass for more sounds
the 7 way mod - you can use the outer 2 pickups or all 3 for more sounds
fender greasebucket mod - cuts bass and clears up noisy pickups at high gain / saturation
half out of phase - think jerry donahues sounds
torres engineering mid scoop / boost - makes the guitar breathe and choke for more sounds , david gilmour has something similar on his DG20 loaded pickguard

I can go on forever honestly with mods and schematics, seymour duncan has the best diagrams for beginners, everything is mentioned and they have almost everything you'd want. guitarelectronics.com is another place and so forth.

IKNMusic for pickguards again, they have an ebay page
strat bridge - the guitar fetish one with the brass block for 30$ (USD)
and lastly strap locks , schaller makes great ones
#3
$250 will get you a used Squier VM strat or if your lucky a MIM strat which either is way better than the guitar your getting.

But if you must mod, www.guitarfetish.com is the site to order your hardware and pickups from. Good quality/sound and inexpensive
2002 PRS CE22
2013 G&L ASAT Deluxe
2009 Epiphone G-400 (SH-4)
Marshall JCM2000 DSL100
Krank 1980 Jr 20watt
Krank Rev 4x12 (eminence V12)
GFS Greenie/Digitech Bad Monkey
Morley Bad Horsie 2
MXR Smart Gate
Last edited by Robbgnarly at Jun 17, 2015,