You’ve been looking at that loaded Stratocaster pickguard online for a while now but you’re unsure as to why you should replace ALL of the electronics in your prized Strat… and, at $299, it’s not cheap.
We’re going to help you make up your mind. One way or the other.
If you have a MIM Strat, a Squier Strat, a MIJ Strat, or a knockoff Strat of some kind, chances are that you, at some point will ponder changing out the pickups. Or the wiring. Or both.
Manufacturers want to make money. (who doesn’t?) They try to figure out how cheaply they can make a guitar and still inspire consumer confidence in that guitar enough to make you want to buy it. The problem is not what you can see: the neck, the body, the pickguard. That stuff is, usually, pretty flashy looking. The problem is what you CAN’T see… the electronics.
If you’re a manufacturer, it’s easy to skimp on the electronics… no one really sees it, if you’re thinking about buying a Squier, you’re not expecting it to be a great guitar anyway… but great electronics (assuming everything else on the guitar is ok) can make a cheap guitar sound GREAT!
Upgrading the entire pickguard of electronics can give you more reliability and a higher quality of sound & tone. Better caps (paper-in-oil compared to cheap “chicklet” caps used by manufacturers), you get to choose the alnico makeup in your pickups (AL2, 3, 4, 5, or 8 magnets), you actually get to speak with the person that will be creating the loaded pickguard to tell him/her what kind of sound/tone you are looking for rather than just playing the cheap and very generic setup that came with your Squier.
The builder will ask what kind of music that you plan to play with it… what kind of tone will you want out of it… Are you a strummer? Or a picker/lead player? Are you looking for a nice, crisp, clear string definition? Or do you want it to break up quickly creating a gravely, bluesy tone?
The downside, of course, is the cost… usually $250-$350. And, if you just wanted an inexpensive guitar to beat around on, it may not make sense to spend more than the cost of the guitar to upgrade the electronics. Here are the questions that we ask a player when it comes to upgrading the complete electronics package: Does it play well? Does the neck feel good in your hands? Is the action good? Does it stay in tune when you play it?
If you answered “Yes” to those questions, your guitar might be a good candidate for a new, custom-built, loaded pickguard.
Give our shop a call if you’re considering this and we’ll be happy to take some time to talk about the options with you… (614)600-1001.