Easy Squier Bullet Strat mods
I've talked about Strat mods before but I figured it was time to talk about mods for this very specific guitar.
The Squier Bullet Strat seen above, while cheap, is the best low-cost traditional Strat you can buy. And like I said just recently, "traditional" means the old-style 6-screw bridge and no tone control wired to the rear (bridge) pickup.
Things to know about the Squier Bullet Strat
Slim profile body. The Bullet is thinner than a standard Strat is.
Differently sized potentiometer posts. In my experience they're slightly wider.
"Barely there" pick guard shielding. The Bullet only uses the absolute minimum shielding necessary to reduce single-coil hum.
Sealed tuners specific to Squier. The Bullet tuner does not use a nut to hold it to the headstock but rather screws in the back. In addition, the headstock holes are smaller than standard Fender Stratocaster tuners.
Mods that are not easy or not possible for the Bullet Strat
Because of the slim profile body, you cannot upgrade the tremolo block (like this one) due to the fact the block will stick out of the back of the guitar. With the Bullet you have to stick with the trem block that it comes with.
A tuner upgrade of any kind will most likely require cutting away wood and drilling new holes. This is a doable but not easy upgrade.
You may find it difficult to find replacement control knobs that fit right. I actually suggest purposely seeking out the cheapest knobs possible because as crazy as this sounds, those have a better chance of fitting correct. If they fit too tightly, the easiest way to make them fit is by filing down the inner plastic using an emery board (the thing you use to file your fingernails with.)
Also know that if all you want to do is darken the white knobs for a vintage-like slightly brown look, you can do that with a coffee stain. Make a cold cup of coffee, submerge the knobs for 15 seconds, take out and dry. If the stain isn't dark enough, repeat the stain as many times as necessary until you get the look you want.
Mods are are easy to do
Pick guard replacement. The Bullet has a 1-ply white pick guard. Replacing with a 3-ply white-black-white is simple. However, you do have to remember to shield it with proper copper tape. You also have to remember that if the screw holes don't line up, that's a very common issue that even happens on regular Fender Strats. For whatever reason, people who make pick guards seem to have a really difficult time drilling screw holes that actually fit the guitar properly, so if you have to pilot a new hole or two, that's normal.
Electronics replacement. The Bullet has plenty of room under the pick guard to throw in pretty much any replacement pickup you want and rewire the whole thing if you like.
Wiring in tone control to the rear (bridge) pickup. I wrote a tutorial on this a while ago. All it takes is soldering in a 1-inch wire. If you can wire in a pickup, you can do this. Really easy.
Staining the front of the headstock. This is done using brown shoe polish. The maple portion of the neck is urethane coated. If you polish over the urethane, yes this does work but you'll have to re-stain every once in a while to keep the color. To permanently keep the color you have to lightly sand off the urethane, then stain, then apply a clear sealant. The only part you have to be careful of is to try your best not to sand off the Squier logo.
If you want that really nice browner color, you will have to sand the headstock completely including the logo, stain and seal. If that's the way you want to go, just get a custom waterslide decal made to replace the one you sanded off. It is okay to put the decal over the sealant as Fender themselves did that at one point for years (and maybe still does?)
Replacing the tuner buttons. Easy to do. Take out the old tuner buttons, put some wood filler in the holes, let that set, then thread in your new tuner buttons.
Replacing the string saddles. From my experience, any set of regular Strat saddles will fit the Bullet. You can even get roller saddles on the cheap these days (this does help keep the guitar in tune a little better.)