Published On: Tue, Feb 19th, 2013

Guitar DIY Workshop: Squier Telecaster Upgrades – Final

Lyndon Jones has a nice Squier partscaster for stage use but it could do with one or two little tweaks to make it perfect. Huw Price takes on the project and shows us how it’s done


Telecaster pickguards usually come with either five (’50s style) or eight (’60s and onwards) screw holes, so make sure you order the correct one for your guitar. Our replacement guard needed a little bit of filing and sanding to get it to fit around the end of the neck, but all of the screws more or less lined up. They were certainly close enough that we didn’t need to fill and drill new ones.


Countless books have been written about setting up guitars, but here’s a very rough guide to get you up and running. Generally we set up guitars with a small amount of neck relief. Tune all the strings to concert pitch, then try holding down the low E string at the first fret with your left hand and hold the same string down with the thumb of your right hand somewhere around the 16th fret. You should see a very small gap between the string and the seventh fret. If there’s no gap, the truss rod may need to be turned anticlockwise.If the gap seems excessive, say 2mm or more, then try turning the trussrod clockwise by about a quarter turn until the gap reduces. Set the height of the top E string so you can bend it two or three semitones without string buzz or choke out. Then set the height of the low E string so that it sounds clean and buzz-free when you play it open and doesn’t sound hollow or out of tune as you play further up the neck.
Go online and Google radius gauges for guitar – they’re easy to find – and then print them off to figure out the radius of the fingerboard on your guitar. This one is 9.5″ but vintage-style Fenders tend to have a 7.25″ radius.Carefully cut out the radius gauge and use the one that’s closest to the radius of your guitar’s board to set the height of the B, G, D and A strings. Rest the outside edges of the gauge on the E strings and then raise the height of the other strings until they just touch the edge of the gauge. With the saddle heights set, adjust the intonation for each string and your guitar should play pretty well.


The purpose of the project was to turn this Squier Telecaster into a beefier and more powerful rock guitar without compromising its versatility or tonal range. The most significant change came from swapping out the bridge pickup, and we found that the Seymour Duncan Little ’59 is a great-sounding unit that delivers a full-bodied rock tone while maintaining a crisp attack and excellent definition.
Most of the hard work went into the conversion to through-body stringing. Although this had a less profound effect than changing the pickup, we did notice a smoother and more full-bodied tone with some extra sustain. The low end also seemed to gain power, so it was really about more body and less twang. In the context of Lyndon’s guitar it was exactly the result we wanted – but hardcore Telecaster pickers may feel differently.



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