Make your cheap Squier play like an American Fender: Three easy upgrades
Many guitarists look for simple ways to upgrade or modify their Squier Stratocaster in an effort to get it playing like an American Fender. So where to start? A while ago, I posted a few tips on how to polish off poor finishing on fret ends to get your Squier playing better. Here are a few additional mods to make your guitar play like an instrument that cost a whole lot more.
Fender Squier Stratocaster Mods
I’m a firm believer in tweaking your guitar to make it play the way you want. Ideally, these modifications should be reversible so you don’t have to permanently change anything on the guitar. For today’s set of three simple modifications, I have drawn on the advice of Dan Erlewine for easy-to-fit upgrades to a Fender Squier Stratocaster.
This simple upgrade is easy to do and will have a big impact on your tuning stability. It will make string bending and trem use far more consistent. Plus, it makes re-stringing your guitar far easier.
Ideally, you should match your tuners to your Stratocaster, so you could use Fender’s own locking tuners or similar. Dan suggests using the Gotoh Magnum staggered versions, which you can find here. I personally use Fender’s own brand on one of my guitars and a set of Sperzels on my other one.
But you should look for ones that will fit the look and hole size for your headstock. Measure all the relevant holes and double check before ordering.
Getting a good break angle with minimum friction is where you should be headed with string trees. Having staggered locking tuners will really help here and so a good string tree should be part of the solution if you decide to upgrade your tuners.
Dan suggests using a triple string tree retainer from his Stewmac site. But I have often used either Fender string trees like these gold ones or something like these Graph Tech ones, as they are low friction.
Last up are the bridge saddles on your tremolo. The reason for changing these is that often on cheaper Squier models they are the vintage bent metal variety. These can stick in your hand or just be of poor quality metal and so sound a bit poor. In the video below Dan suggests using the Highwood contoured saddles. I’ve used everything from Raw Vintage to Graph Tech over the years. Either way, I would agree that changing the bridge saddles will make your guitar sound and feel better.
All of the above modifications are easy to fit, More importantly, they are reversible, so if you want you can go back to stock. Make sure you watch the demo video below to see how simple these modifications really are.
Editor’s note: This post includes affiliate links.
- Locking Tuners are a fantastic upgrade for a Squier Stratocaster: YouTube/stewartmacdonald
Not upgrades worth anyone’s time. Level, crown, and roll/finish the frets. That’s expensive but worth every penny for making a cheap guitar PLAY like an American Fender. Secondly, swap electronics out for better switches, pots, caps, and output jack. Easily a better and cheaper upgrade than locking tuners.
I agree on change pots and switches. Keep reading future articles and you’ll see I cover that later. At the moment I’m concentrating on making them play better, will go into making them sound better soon.
hey rob F you mr know it all
locking tuners make a huge difference especially if you use the bar
rolling frets…whatever dude, squires are pretty smooth as they are
I gotta agree with flower, there’s nothing wrong w/those guitars & changing the tuners is a huge upgrade that 1000% makes a difference & you can make more as $ allows & turn one into a great guitar. As a 30+ year player I’ve been there done that & wrote the book & gotta start somewhere?