Replacement tremolo block options for the Squier Bullet Strat
This part should be easy to get, right?
Above is a tremolo block for a Squier Stratocaster. If you know Strat trem systems at all, you can see it looks nothing like what goes into the Mexico or American Fender Stratocaster models. It's shorter to fit the slim profile body of the Squier, tapered, and thinner. And yes, this is the way it's supposed to look.
If you have no idea what a tremolo block is, this is the thing that attaches to the underside of the bridge and what allows the tremolo system to do what it does. It is held in place by screws at the bridge and claw springs on the other side. The six holes you see are the channels that the strings go through.
A common problem with these blocks - and I've gone through this myself - is that after about 15 to 20 years, the zinc alloy literally starts crumbling apart. There is no fix for this. Once a block starts to crumble, there is absolutely no way to restore it.
What makes the block crumble? Natural erosion from stress. You cannot prevent this erosion. All you can do is delay it. And the only way to delay it is to not use the tremolo system. This is an alloy block, meaning it's not like wood where you can treat it with solution. The block will crumble. It will happen.
Years ago, a crumbling tremolo block was not a problem simply for the fact there weren't Squier Strats that were over 20 years old. But now there are, and this problem is now common.
How do you get a replacement block?
This is where things get weird.
The first thing you must do is grab a tape measure and get the dimensions of your block. After that, you need to measure the spacing between the string channel holes. Then you need to start shopping around for a used block that is not over 10 years old, or the block will crumble apart just like the old ones do.
It is probably true that your string spacing will be 10.5mm. What you have to watch out for is the screw pattern.
Above is the same block pictured at top with the proper bridge attachment screws.
You must get these screws. And they must fit your existing Squier bridge as well. If either doesn't match, you're out of luck.
But then there's the screw pattern as well to take into consideration. This pattern also must match what your bridge has, or once again, you're out of luck.
Assuming you can find a block that has the screws and matches the screw pattern of your bridge, I've only seen two places that sell replacement Squier Strat trem blocks. Guitar Fetish and eBay.
I don't recommend Guitar Fetish simply for the fact their block after shipping is over 40 dollars. That's simply too much to spend for any one part for a Bullet Strat by Squier. And from the photos I've seen of the block offered by GuitarFetish, it would appear there are a whole bunch of Squier Strats that the screw pattern won't match up with.
Why do block screw patterns and sizes vary from Squier to Squier?
Answer: Different manufacturers.
Anyone that has played Squier Strats knows they're made by different companies in different countries. Some are made in China (like Classic Vibe series) while others are made in Indonesia (like Vintage Modified series.)
Unfortunately, none of the blocks for sale on eBay I've seen state what series of Squier the block came from, so you just have to take the risk, buy the block and hope that it fits.
What about just buying a whole replacement trem system?
I looked into that. What I found is that yes, you can buy an entire replacement tremolo system that will fit the Bullet Strat, but... it doesn't come with the one thing you wanted in the first place, the block. The system comes with everything except that.
This is a good argument for getting a Mexico made Fender Strat instead
While I do love Squier Strats, the one thing about a Mexico made Fender Strat - even if it's just the body - is that you can very easily buy replacement parts that will fit and are readily available. The Mexico Strat does in fact have the same body and pattern measurements as the USA Fender does.
Am I saying the MIM Fender is more mod and repair friendly? Absolutely. Squier Bullet Strats are cheap, no question about it, but when that block crumbles, it's tough to find a replacement.
If you do happen to find a replacement block on eBay, it will be used and cost around $15 to $20 USD. Yes, that's expensive for a Bullet, but I've not seen blocks that sell for any less than that.