Hi gang, Short-time lurker; first-time poster. I’m preparing to purchase a new butterscotch blonde Squier Affinity Telecaster (I assume it's a 2018). I was going to post this after I bought the guitar, but thinking about it more, I realized it'd be better to get some definitive answers on some of these before I did so. I don't want to bite off more than I can chew. One of the appeals for this guitar, aside from my desire to have a tele, is that it’s a good base for learning some mods. I’ve always loved woodworking and put together a Carvin bass guitar kit when I was in high school, and always wanted to get into more of this stuff. So, now I'm going to finally take the plunge. I realize some of this stuff may not be necessary, but I’m interested in tackling them for the experience. I’d like to avoid drilling on the guitar, seeing that I don’t own a drill press and I’ve got enough experience woodworking to know that using a hand-drill isn’t worth the gamble (IMO). So here’s a list of things I’m considering doing, at some point in time with this guitar, and, perhaps a suggested order. Tuners: This is one thing that I *know* I want to do with the guitar I played at the store (and will likely be picking up). When trying it out in the store I thought the tuners needed to be replaced. I’ve searched this and other forums on the net and I’m having trouble finding a definitive answer. What options are there for drop-in tuners for the Affinity tele (201X)? I’ve seen mention of ‘Ping’ tuners, and one-post vs. two-post (I don’t know what any of that means), but the one thing that I’m aware of is that the Squier guitars have slightly different measurements so stock Fender parts don’t always fit. Is this true across the guitar or just for the tuners? I’ve seen in some places recommendations for the GraphTech Ratio tuners (I’m intrigued by the locking model although they run about $130) as an option, but if there’s a less expensive brand of locking tuner that will drop in to the affinity tele, I’m all ears. I emailed GFS and the response said there was no drop-in option for the Affinity. Is that true? Has anyone here replaced the tuners on a 2018 Affinity tele? (Note: for these if I need to drill a small pilot hole on the back of the headstock to attach the tuner, I’m not opposed to that.) Filing fret ends: From what I've seen this is one area where the cheap guitars suffer, the fine details. I get the sense it’s a pretty straightforward process or am I delusional? Is there anything specific I need to know about this that I can’t glean from a few youtube videos? Replace nut: I think it’s just cheap plastic. I’d like to put a bone or something a bit stronger in there. I assume this is just a swappable thing? If not, what specific options exist for this model? Shielding: I don’t want to get over-zealous and change the pickups just to change them (yet), but it seems prudent to shield the inner cavities of the guitar in anticipation of some other mods. This is a bit of a ‘while you’re in there, it wouldn’t hurt to do this, even if it’s a bit of work’ type of thing. Again, this is kind of a ‘learning how to do it’ mod. Do teles typically NEED shielding? Output jack plate: I’m not sure if a metal jack plate affects the grounding. I put it here because I thought it might. Is this something I can just swap out in 60 seconds or so? If that’s the case I’ll just go ahead and do it whenever. Also, is the jack plate on this model guitar standard? A drop-in plate is ideal. 4-way switch: I’ve never done any soldering, wiring, shielding, etc. before (when I put my Carvin kit together I was more focused on the woodworking aspects and had my local luthier do the electronics), but I’d like to at least try. I found this video and it makes it seem pretty doable. This seems like a decent mod for that, and I believe it can be done with the two stock pickups. I saw this kit in another thread and it seemed like a good place to start. It seems that 250k pots are pretty standard for teles. Is there an advantage to switching to a 500k, 1M pot? I want that classic tele sound, so I assume not. Also, is the control plate on the Affinity a standard size? Will the kit linked above (or this one) work with it? Through-body strings/bridge: This is one where I might actually take it to a luthier to do the actual drilling for the string/ferrule holes. This is the type of thing where I'd love to shadow the process if they'd be ok with it.... Pickups: I’m still not sure about this, as I feel like I'd need some time with the stock ones. I’d want a drop-in* alternative so I won’t have to do any routing. (*I realize there’s wiring to be done so not truly ‘drop-in’.) I’ve seen the Cavalier pickups recommended around here. I assume those would be compatible with the model I have? So those are my initial thoughts on what I'd like to try. Numbers 1-6 are probably the priority simply because they seem doable. I’ll see how much of an issue the top-load bridge ends up being. Even going with the really high end tuners it seems like I can get most of this done for under $300, which isn’t much more than the cost of the guitar in the first place. I think (hope?) these mods would make a positive difference, and be a fun/learning process. Now a few blocking and tackling type questions: I’m generally a pretty handy guy, but I actually don’t have a lot of tools. I know I’ll need to get some for these projects. Here’s a list of things I think may be helpful/necessary: Soldering iron/solder Wire (specific gauge for guitar wiring?) Wire shrink wrap (for securing twisted pairs, etc.) Digital calipers Copper tape Fret wire trimmers/fret end file (?) Finally, (I think), in terms of prepping a work space is there a neck stand that folks around here use and like? Or a work mat to put the guitar on so it doesn’t get scratched, etc.? I don’t really have a dedicated work space and I'd probably end up using a folding table in my garage. I need something I can roll up and put away when I’m not using it so as not to incur the wrath of the executive director of my household. Lots to unpack and comment on here. Any responses are appreciated. Thanks in advance.