FENDER SQUIRE '51 MODS fr: www.frettech.com

The Fender Squier '51

If I had to choose one solid body electric guitar as the "killer guitar value of the Y2K millennium" it would have to be the Squier '51. Originally street priced at $150 a few years back, it was hawked at $99/delivered during it's final swan song months just prior to being discontinued in March of 2007.

The virtues of this guitar are manyfold. A solid, one piece hard rock maple Telecaster style neck with hardwood truss rod "skunk stripe", that was clear satin finished. It sports a 9.5" fretboard radius and the typical .095" x .045" frets are neatly installed. The nut is white PVC plastic. The neck backshape is a modified "C", but with slight "shoulders" that add some chunk as opposed to a thinned "C" shape. The single action truss rod adjusts from the headstock - a blessing! The sealed tuners work quite well and the string trees are spaced correctly. The neck alone is worth the $99 price tag.

The solid basswood body is pure Strat shaped, with tummy and arm contours, and is typically of three or four piece construction and the pickup and control cavity routing is crisp and clean. It was offered in solid gloss black, vintage style sunburst or almost see-through blonde finishes. The large pickguard is a definite throwback to the original Fender '51 Precison bass guitar, and the chromed '51 Precision control plate is also part of the Squier '51. The top load bridge, as opposed to string through, appears in two or three versions and all work quite well. Top load bridges afford less string tension for any given string gauge and that enhances slinky string bending, or allows going up to a heavier gauge string.

The neck pickup is a Strat single coil with ceramic magnet, set on an angle, and the bridge pickup is an AlNiCo V magnet powered humbucker with dual slug pole pieces. The two controls are - a master 500k volume pot that's also a push-pull switch that will ground out one of the humbucker coils and make it into a single coil, and a three way rotary pickup switch. The jack is side mounted on a metal plate.

This guitar is a modder's dream, and many variations have already been accomplished by folks all over the world. The first things I typically change out are what I consider to be the guitar's weak points - the neck pickup and the nut. An AlNiCo magnet Strat single coil or ceramic Strat dual coil would be a simple drop-in mod and rid the guitar of the stock Strat ceramic pickup that sounds harsh and brittle to my ears. I'd change the soft PVC nut to one of bone or horn - most folks haven't the tools or know-how for nut changing but a precut nut of Tusq or GraphTec will be lots better in the long run than PVC. I'll install a master CTS 500K volume pot, Switchcraft short leaf spring pickup switch, Switchcraft jack, a good setup with 10's or 11's nickel roundwounds and I'm good to go. I might also swap out the tuners for a better quality set with less gear lash.

IanRicH Custom Squier '51 Control Plate

Designed for a 3-way or 5-way lever switch, your S'51 can now have a fast pickup switching function just like a Strat or Tele, plus you now can have master volume and tone controls. This superb custom control plate is a direct replacement for the stock S'51 control plate. Some body cavity drilling is required for adding any modern pickup switch. A Fender vintage style CRL switch can also be used but more careful routing and Dremeling must be accomplished. Get your IanRicH S'51 controlplate - The IanRicH website. I offer a complete IanRicH S'51 control plate retrofit service, and the labor involved with the custom plate routing, Dremeling and drilling is a service I offer for $40. Contact Rob

Below is my retrofitting of the IanRicH S'51 control plate, using a CRL 3-way switch and full size CTS volume and tone pots ....

The IanRicH website

Stock S'51, but with the pickguard top horn cut and rounded ala Strat

Same as above, but with a GFS mini-HB in the neck and the IanRicH control plate.

Neck Strat pup replaced with a Duncan Mini-HB.

Custom wooden pickguard from WoodGuarden.

Rio Grande Strat pickups for neck and bridge (custom bezel) and mini selector switch.

Single Bill Lawrence Keystone Strat neck pickup.

Rio Grande Tallboy Strat neck pickup, Switchcraft 3-way select switch.

Forstner bit body lightening holes.

Visit this site for more info and modification on the Fender Squire 51'