Project Supercharge Sunburst Squier

I bought my Squier Affinity HSS Stratocaster 2021 model (Brown Sunburst) as my first electric guitar two months ago as part of a starter kit which set me on my path of learning with Justin Guitar. After a few weeks of playing and learning with it, I started to notice little things that bothered me which led me to my next guitar purchase of an Epiphone Les Paul Modern. I love the Epi LP, the sound, fit, and finish are beautiful compared to my Squier which highlighted the differences between cheap starter-pack guitars and mid-level quality guitars. Since sadly they don’t sell real Fenders here in Kuwait, I decided to embark on a complete revamp project for my Squier affinity to see if I could turn it into a better quality guitar until the day I can get my hands on a Fender Player Plus HSS Strat.

Besides upgrading the quality of the components, I also wanted to tweak the look of the guitar. While I love the Brown Sunburst finish, I didn’t like the white outline on the pickguard and am not a fan of chrome components (unless it’s an all-black guitar like my Epi LP). So I replaced the pickguard with an all-black one (I saved the old pickguard with the older components still attached in case I need to restore them one day) and replaced the tuners, nut, bridge, saddles, and jack with black-colored versions.

Here are some videos of me playing it after the upgrades.

These are the components I replaced (pretty much everything except the neck and body) with accompanying photos:

Graph Tech Ratio Electric Locking Machine Heads 6 in-line staggered posts in Black Finish tuners (PRL-9721-B0)

Graph Tech Black TUSQ XL 42 mm Flat Bottom Strat Nut (PT-5042-00)

Graph Tech String Saddles for Electric Guitar (PS-8000-00)

ObsidianWire Custom HSS / HSH for Strat® Gen2 harness (7-way switch custom)

Seymour Duncan Vintage Hot Stack Plus Pickup x 2 (noiseless pickups for neck & middle)

Seymour Duncan 59 Custom Hybrid Humbucker Pickup (SH-16 bridge)

Musiclily Pro 11-Hole Round Corner HSS Guitar Strat Pickguard

Musiclily Pro 52.5mm Vintage 6-Screw Tremolo Bridge 36mm Solid Brass Block for Squier Strat (Black)

Maxcheer Guitar Input Jack Socket Plate (Black)

Musiclily Pro Imperial Inch Size 1 Volume 2 Tone Strat Knobs Set (Black)

D’Addario Guitar Strings - XL Nickel Electric Guitar Strings - EXL110-3D - 10-46 Regular Light

Schaller S Locks Guitar Strap Locks (Black Chrome)


Before the upgrades:

New components installation:

Final result after the upgrades:


Notes on the upgrade process & lessons learned:

I did quite a bit of research on what components I should get and what will fit into this guitar as apparently, these Squier Affinity guitars don’t use standard Fender sizes when it comes to body and cavity size (important for the bridge and block sizes), tuner holes, pickguard, knobs, etc. I honestly don’t know how these Squiers are licensed by Fender if everything is a different size. So I had to dig into a lot of the Amazon comments & reviews to decipher whether a component would fit into my Squier or not, and even then it’s a hit and miss as different year models have different sizes.

The best way to minimize all these issues is to look for components that have sizing diagrams (not all of them did) and measure everything on your existing guitar and components before ordering. Luckily that paid off, as almost everything fit near perfectly with little modifications required. The only ones I had issues with were the output jack plate (had to try 3 different ones before finding one that fit with a new hole that needed drilling), and the nut (I accidentally ordered an acoustic one instead of the one I intended to order in the first place).

As for getting things working, test your pickups before closing everything up! I spent a whole day putting everything together only to find out that no sound came out of the pickups. The next day I had to disassemble it and test everything. Luckily I found a minor grounding issue with the output jack cavity which I managed to fix easily.

Another painful lesson I learned, is to take it slowly and gently with anything that’s being stubborn. When attempting to remove the old nut (which had apparently been superglued into place), I spent half an hour or more gently tapping away at it with a wood block. In a moment of frustration, I tapped a little too hard and sent a chunk of the headstock flying off (you can see the fracture line in one of the closeup photos of the headstock above the nut). My heart stopped beating for a few seconds and my stomach dropped out. Luckily I managed to salvage the damage done by supergluing the piece of wood back on and letting sit for a few minutes to settle back into place before installing the new nut. That left a small gap between the wood and the new nut, but luckily it doesn’t seem to have affected the stability of the new nut. I might have to figure out how to fill that space with something in the near future.

The final lesson (for now) is having realistic expectations. I thought the sound of the guitar would be massively different and instantly noticeable which would launch me into blues/rock stardom! The problem with that is, I’m only a beginner guitar player and can’t really differentiate between subtle differences in sounds and tones. Obviously, my guitar-playing skills haven’t changed due to the new upgrades, but shining, polishing, and smoothing of the frets and fretboard, and performing a full setup of the guitar has made playing it and practicing with it much more pleasurable (it was literal torture before because the frets stuck out so much that they shredded my left hand).

That being said, I did notice a huge improvement in sustain thanks to the new tremolo brass block, the absence of hum thanks to the electrical shielding and the noiseless pickups, the lack of annoying pinging/twanging of the strings thanks to the graphite nut and the saddles, and better tuning stability thanks to the locking tuners and graphite nut. I also noticed that the annoying nose dive I used to fight with all the time had disappeared after the upgrade. I weighed the guitar, and the results explained the reason for that. Before the upgrades, it weighed 3.2 KG (7 lbs), after the upgrades it was 3.54 KG (7.8 lbs). The majority of that weight increase is due to the ObsidianWire Harness and the thicker tremolo brass block, which must’ve increased the body’s weight enough to counter the neck dive.

Allowing myself at least a week of just playing this guitar, to become better acquainted with its sounds, tones, and feel along with lots of tweaking of the truss rod, action, pickups, and saddles and even changing the string gauge (switched from 9s to 10s) has allowed me to dial-in some beautiful sounding tones which are still noticeably recognizable as a Strat but with fuller mid-ranges and less ear-piercing chimey twangs.

So overall, it’s been a great learning experience that’s enhanced my appreciation for great-sounding guitars and great-quality components which has reignited my love for playing my Squier Strat that I had shelved since I got my Epiphone Les Paul. So now I’m fortunate enough to have two guitars that I love to play and practice with :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Here are some videos of me playing my Squier after the upgrades:

Grade 1 Riffs

Bill Withers - Ain’t No Sunshine

Jimi Hendrix - Hey Joe

Looking good Firas, hope you had as much fun doing this, as when I pimped my old Affinity !
Happy NGD :wink:

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Wow, great upgrade project Firas.

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Thanks @TheMadman_tobyjenner ! To be honest, it was an emotional rollercoaster ride of excitement, frustration, fear, and love at the end :rofl: After a whole day of working on it, nothing worked. Had to take it apart the next day and test everything. Ended up being a grounding issue with the jack cavity.

The fear part came from my attempt to remove the old nut, after 30 mins. of gently tapping at it (darn thing must’ve been super glued in) I broke off a chunk of the neck (you can see the fracture line in one of the photos). Luckily I had my own superglue which I used to stick the broken piece back on. It’s left a bit of a gap between the wood and the nut, which I might have to fill in with something later on, but luckily it doesn’t seem to have affected the sound or the stability of the nut.

I also expected magical tunes and flying unicorns to come out of the guitar by the end of the project, which was a big disappointment :rofl: But after spending a week playing it and tweaking it (lots of adjustments to the truss rod, action, and pickups). I’m quite happy with the resulting tones, feel, and most importantly aesthetics :blush: Thank you for inspiring me to do this Toby!

@Richard_close2u Thanks, Richard! It was a daunting project, as I’m not much of a physical tinkerer, but I learned a lot through this project and it’s given me a greater appreciation of quality components and guitars :blush:

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As long as you didn’t follow my soldering “skills”, I kind refer to it as welding as it was so heavy handed. The “Pimp” needs a few tweaks and I plan to take it to my local luthier, as I am sure one of the split coils ain’t splitting due to to much solder. I can just imagine his expression when he looks under the bonnet “bl$$dy amateurs !” he will mutter !

We just need to here it now. But it looks great. :sunglasses:


Firas, that is awesome! Mabruk! That guitar will always be special.

Having been to Kuwait many times I know how dry it is there. I have a Squier Telecaster I bought for my granddaughter that I took to Colorado for 6 weeks. The dryness there caused the frets to protrude on the sides and I just finished filing them smooth. Not sure if you encountered that problem.

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@TheMadman_tobyjenner My soldering skills are non-existing so I took the cowards path and used the ObsidianWire harness which comes with pre-soldered POTs and uses a brilliant solder-free connector to attach all the pickups. So the only soldering I did was to remove the old solder on some of the grounding points and to solder the tremolo claw grounding wire.

Planning to record one of the few songs I can play tomorrow to compare with my earlier recording on my Epi LP.

@sticktothemuse mashkoor (thank you) Roch :blush: Yeah it will always have a special place in my heart and guitar collection. A lot of (literal) sweat and blood has been poured into it. I did have that fret issue when I first bought the guitar. The frets had stuck out so far they were tearing up my left hand. I had to wrap a bandage around the base of my index finger to stop it from bleeding and getting torn up even more than it already was every time I practiced. That led me to order the StewMac Rough Guitar Fret End Dressing And Polishing Kit which was a life (and finger) saver. Now my Squier’s neck is slippery smooth :smiley:

You’re the second person I’ve come across here that’s been to Kuwait. Did you work here or did you serve in the military?

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I used to do business with the old Ford dear AMG. But that was in a previous life:) I lived in Dubai and Riyadh for a combined 15 years.

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A great post Firas and very interesting too. I have yet to start the upgrade on my cheap Strat I bought (just trying to get my music room finished first) but you’ve made me want to get to it sooner rather than later.

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Tip my hat, take a bow, Firas. A bold and ambitious project that has paid off handsomly.

Look forward to hearing the results.

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Well done on your project, Firas, looking good. Remember to keep all the parts you replaced. Should you ever wish to part with the guitar it is highly doubtful you would get the price you paid for replacements.

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Nice choice of parts, there are some that I would probably choose differently but due to your location I don’t think you could have gotten your hands on what I would have wanted.
You should have an absolute stonkingly great guitar there, now you’ve spent the money, time and effort to get it like that……… git and learn to use it to its fullest potential! ENJOY IT :metal:t2::metal:t2::metal:t2:


@SgtColon thanks Stefan :blush: Toby’s Squier upgrade project inspired mine, so I’ll be humbled if mine inspires yours. Would love to see how your music room turns out.

@DavidP thanks David :blush: Definitely an ambitious one for me at this stage of my journey :smiley: Just happy that I could get it working after rewiring everything! I’ve recorded some songs and practice riffs on it last night. Will edit & post the videos up tonight hopefully.

@Malz thanks Mal :blush: I appreciate the advice. I’ve packed up all the old parts and saved them for easy restoration if needed. Not much of a resale market here in Kuwait, and especially not for starter guitars, but could end up giving it to a family member in the future if they’d like to learn.

@DarrellW thanks Darrell :blush: My shopping location options are limited to Amazon via a US mailbox forwarding service (few places accept shipping to that) as it’s risky shipping anything direct to here (terrible local mail service) unless they offer International shipping via DHL/FedEx. Was happy to have found (and received) the parts that I did. No regrets on the quality or installation ease of any of them except the output Jack plates (had to try a few to find one that worked). I’ve been putting in some crazy practice hours on it this past week for sure. Looking forward to many more playing hours/days/months with it :smiley:


This past week I came across some YouTube videos which helped me fix an annoying issue I’ve had with this Strat since I bought it. Even after the setup, string change, and upgrades the high E string would frequently slip off the fretboard and get caught on the edge of the neck. Turns out it a neck adjustment issue which this video helped me with (in case anyone else has the same issue):

I’m happy to say that after following the simple guide and making the neck adjustment, the high E string doesn’t slip off any more, yay!


Very cool & interesting thread Firas! I enjoyed seeing the process!!!
Great idea to wait until you had a second guitar before disassembling your Squire!!!
I remember as a teenager, my best friend & I disassembled the motor in his dad’s Fiat Spider… :roll_eyes::face_with_open_eyes_and_hand_over_mouth::face_with_peeking_eye:
Looks like your project has been WAY more successful!!!

Also appreciate the video from Phillip McKnight… my Squire Bullet has that exact same problem. As soon as I get done with this post & find a phillips head screwdriver, I’m on it!!!



You’re very welcome Tod! That issue had been driving me crazy for months and I didn’t know if it was something I was doing wrong with my strumming or the guitar itself. Looking back at my earlier photos of the Squier I can clearly see how close the string was to the edge of the neck. Glad you came across my post and hope that the video helps you fix your Squier Bullet too!

As for your Fiat engine project, that might have been be a tad bit more ambitious and complicated than swapping out a few pre-soldered components on a guitar :rofl:

Ha! You’re right about that!!!
I remember going over to his house & he was under the hood of the Fiat and parts were scattered everywhere! Apparently someone had borrowed the car and blew the engine so it had sat in the garage for months. I just grabbed a wrench :wrench: & started helping. Not very long afterwards, my buddy’s dad came home and the red-faced yelling started!!! I think I ran all the way home & it was about a mile and a half away, I was so scared!!! Not one of our finest moments!!!

Congrats on your success with the guitar project! Is it done or do yo have more planned for the future?


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At least you survived to tell the tale :rofl:

I’m trying to convince myself it’s done for now. I’ve been playing it for the past few weeks and loving the results so far (even with my limited playing skills). I can’t wait to reach the Power Chord and Blues Lead modules of Grade 2 to put that humbucker through its paces although that will be quite some time. I’m loving the different tones of the neck and middle pickups and even occasionally mixing the neck with the bridge humbucker (in auto split mode).

However, knowing that my headstock is cracked and superglued back together is triggering my OCD to replace it with a new one :rofl: That temptation led me to the Warmoth Strat Replacement Neck. The roasted maple neck with an Indian Rosewood fretboard looks so good :heart_eyes: I also prefer the Medium Jumbo frets on my Epi LP compared to the Narrow Tall ones on the Squier Strat, so that’s another temptation, but after configuring my perfect Warmoth neck and seeing that it comes out to $439 without shipping, I put that idea on hold as it’s almost a third of the price of my dream Fender Player Plus HSS Silverburst Strat which I’m hoping to buy in my upcoming September trip to London if the stores there have them back in stock by then.

Temptations, temptations… :star_struck:

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