Squier Vintage Modified 72 Thinline Telecaster - DEEP review, mods and thoughts

Discussion in 'Squier Tele Forum' started by morneau33, Sep 26, 2015.

  1. morneau33

    morneau33 TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    3
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2014
    Location:
    Saint Paul, Minnesota, US
    After hearing the announcement from Fender/Squier during Summer 2014, I was eager to save up $300 and purchase their new offering, the Squier Vintage Modified 72 (VM72) Thinline Telecaster. I’d lusted after the Fender MIJ 72 Thinline Tele (and later MIM) years ago, but as merely a semi-pro/amateur player, I could never justify spending $800 on an instrument that might never leave my home. With solid recent reviews published about both Squier’s Classic Vibe and Vintage Modified series’, I hoped against hope that the build quality of these new instruments would prove it to be a steal, and it sure has been!

    The reasons I wanted this exact model are several; hardtail bridge for sustain, ash body prefered over basswood, semi-hollow for resonance, glossy vintage maple neck and fretboard, ‘Genuine’ Fender Wide Range Humbucker (WRHB) pickups and flexibility in body routing in case the re-worked pickups were god awful and needed replacing, and two of my favorite finishes, natural and 3-tone sunburst (sorry guys, no black).

    I know that buying an entry-level+ guitar in the $200-$400 means that modifications may be needed, and sometimes necessary. I was prepared for that and have done moderate repair and upkeep on all of my instruments for years, and figured that if anything was needed to bring the instrument up to my standards, I could afford to invest the time, money and effort into small-ish fixes over the coming months and years.

    To my great surprise, the instrument was in wonderful form straight out of the box. It needed a setup, as nearly all instruments do, but soon after I had it intonated and set up to my preferred specs, it had all I needed from such an affordable instrument; good tuners that hold, resonant wood with an attractive grain, solid build, and a very workable tone.

    As time wore on, I continued to play it, learn about it reading this and other forums, and think about how the instrument might be improved. The following are my collected thoughts on this guitar.

    I called Musicians Friend to order because I heard but if you order through them over the phone, they will offer you 12% off their list price. It was true! Down to $260. Within a few days, I had a new VM72 in Natural finish.

    The bridge sandals are, in fact, the wrong size. The stock instrument comes with spacing of 2 1/8" saddles when the instrument should be retrofitted with 2 1/16" saddles. They and the other parts I will list below can easily and affordably be purchased through www.guitarpartsresource.com, who I find to be simple to use and affordable.

    As is standard recommended practice nearly everywhere, I decided to gut the electronics and replace the pots (CTS 500k), caps (Orange Drop .022), switch (CRL) and jack (Switchcraft) with premium parts, hoping to brighten what I had found, in comparison to nicer instruments, to be a bit of muddiness.

    By the time I had the energy, thought and resources to go about plotting and making these changes, I had enough money saved in my NGD fund to buy another of these beauts before Squier inevitably jacks up the price. So, I purchased a second VM72, this one in sunburst, specifically for heavy modding and customization (more on that later).

    So while I had these 2 identical guitars, I figured I would set up the second, make the planned electronics upgrades to the original, and see what I could glean from the differences between the two.

    The other thing I was now freed up to experiment with was the wax potting in the WRHB pickups. We all know that wax potting didn't become the norm until after the electric guitar's 'golden age'. It is also well known that cheap pickups, especially, are not only treated with this feedback preventing/sound-dulling treatment, but often paired with substandard or at times ‘just-plain-wrong’ electronic components at the factory to either save money or make more lucrative instruments appear better. (The most common mismatches are incorrect potentiometers.)

    So, while the setups on these two VM72s are not identical but only approximate, here is what I can say about what I've learned with a fair amount of certainty.

    The cheapest and easiest mod for better playability is to replace the bridge saddles. It’ll only set you back $18 for the correct sizing. I went with the IMPORT KIT available on this page http://www.guitarpartsresource.com/saddles_genuinefenderstrat.htm
    After having read different, it turns out that both of my VM72s were fitted with correct 500k pots. They were cheap small ones and I replaced them with CTSs anyhow, but let it be known that mine, as least, did not come with the incorrect 250k pots.
    While I have not cranked up the newly un-potted WRHB pickups (I live in an apartment), I can say with some authority that removing the wax from inside the pickup covers brightened up the sound a little. It becomes most apparent when I really dig in.

    (FYI, to remove the wax was fairly simple. First remove the pickup from the pickguard, then unsolder the two points that attach the cover to the pickup, then unscrewing the four screws near the four soldered lead points on the pickup’s base. After that, the two coils are wrapped with a strip of black foam rubber and coated in paraffin wax. If you remove the strip of foam rubber that binds the two coils, they will come apart, and the bar magnet situated underneath the coils and between them and the baseplate will come loose, as well. Once everything is uncovered, though, you can easily heat, melt, and wipe away the wax with some gloves (for protection from the heat), a hairdryer, and some paper towels. Always be careful when doing this work yourself or hire a professional.)

    The total of all I did was $60, which finally brings the guitar’s cost up to the $300 listed on most websites. Overall, I’d say this joins a very small segment of current production models that constitute Best Bang for the Buck. As a base instrument, this thing has value far beyond its price tag.

    Which brings me to the changes I have planned for the second VM72 that I bought. Over the last couple of years, I’ve acquired some oddball pickups that have been looking for a project. I was so impressed with the quality and versatility of the VM72 that I figured that it would make a great instrument with which to experiment. Here’s the rundown of what I’m thinking:

    I have two sets of pickups that need a home. The first is an unmatched set of gold foils from a pair of Teisco guitars similar to those seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhiyPTJqIvQ?t=1m51s, and heard here: . The other set I have are a matched pair of Gibson Memphis Historic Spec (MHS) humbuckers from a brand new Gibson ES-345 Limited Edition, a set of these pickups can be heard in a similar guitar here: .

    Another thing I’ve wanted to experiment with is open G tuning, heavier strings (I typically play .009s, but would use .010s), and adding a jazzmaster-style tremolo/vibrato/bridge system (Fender, Staytrem or Mastery, undecided). Troubles with mounting the goldfoils in routs (they are surface-mount) means that I’ve decided to mount one of them in between the two MHS humbuckers and cut a custom pickguard. I also wondered about the switching and pots/caps situation between these two very different sets of pickups, but as it turns out, they both use 500k/.022!!!

    The reasoning behind all of these mods of a guitar that is perfectly fine the way it is, is all in the name of versatility. Between the two instruments I’ll have two different finishes, a hardtail and a trem (in the style of Sonic Youth or My Bloody Valentine), three varied pickup styles (two of which, being vintage-style humbuckers, fall somewhere between single coils and true humbuckers, the other of which is true vintage and in the style of Ry Cooder), and two different (and both useable) tunings.

    While I understand the irony of ‘tricking out’ a budget instrument, putting double an instrument’s value into its own mods, I feel like these could turn out to be a couple of seriously cool instruments when they’re all finished. What do you think?
     
    chemobrain likes this.
  2. laird

    laird Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    741
    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2009
    Location:
    Palm Harbor, FL
    IMO what makes a '72 Tele a '72 Tele are the WRHBs. I haven't had the pleasure of playing the new Lee Ranaldo-spec ones but I've done a ton of experimenting with both the MIM and the CIJ WRHBs. Both are good (but very different) pickups that can be made MUCH better with improved wiring and modification.

    My favorite guitar is a 2005 CIJ '72 Deluxe RI. It has a Telenator-modified (MOD1) MIM WRHB in the neck, a Telenator-modified (MOD1) CIJ WRHB in the bridge, Gibson 500K pots and my own progressive treble bleed circuit. Every guitar I've ever owned has benefitted from redoing the basic circuitry, so I just consider that part of the base cost of the guitar. $20 for a full complement of pots, caps, switches, wire and shielding isn't a huge investment. :)

    It's $85 plus shipping to have a WRHB modified, but the difference is ridiculous. Going from a single bar magnet to individual pole magnets makes the pickups SO much more articulate, more balanced, and clears up a lot of muddiness. Talk about best bang for the buck? A Squier 72VM rewired with Telenator MOD1 pickups is under $500! That's precisely what's driving me to pick up a 72VM.

    Changing to any other type of pickup requires a custom pickguard since the mounting holes and pickup dimensions are unique. The upside is that you can have a complete swap-out option with different pickups, controls, etc that can be switched out with just resoldering two wires (the output jack). Don't like it? Swap pickguards! Want to try something else? Swap pickguards! It may not be the cheapest way to go, but it adds some flexibility and in your case some reusability - if you come up with two setups you really love you can put one of them in your other VM72 and have them both. :)

    -Laird
     
  3. laird

    laird Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    741
    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2009
    Location:
    Palm Harbor, FL
    Another thought on the saddles and saddle width - the WRHB has a 54mm (2-1/8") pole spacing. Since the nut width at the end of the fretboard is narrower, the bridge saddle spacing needs to start wider than the pickup's spacing in order to keep the strings aligned above the poles. As it is stock the bridge alignment is good but by the time the strings get up to the neck, the high and low E strings are just 51mm (2") apart and almost completely off the poles. If you make the bridge saddle any narrower it'll affect the neck pickup's ability to collect signal from the string.

    Taking that idea a little farther, it'd be cool to put a slightly narrower pickup in the neck. PAF-type humbuckers have a 49mm spacing, but I think Gold Foils are 51mm/2". Hybrid options, Mmmmmmmm!

    -Laird
     
  4. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,005
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2003
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, California
    I have a VM Telecaster Deluxe- what a well made guitar! I toyed with the idea of changing out the pots for 500k or even 1M, but a buddy of mine said he tried it and actually felt that they picked the original 250ks for good reason.

    The stock pickups do sound a little muddy-- typical humbuckers, really. On the other hand, all I have to do is turn the treble up and the mids down on my amp a little bit and they sound pretty darn good. I have a hard time spending over $200 on replacement pickups when the guitar was about $180 out the door.

    When I was in the store I also played a Thinline version of the same guitar and it sounded much darker. Maybe it was the wiring, maybe it was the wood and/or semi-hollow construction. Not sure.

    These VMs are such an amazing bang for the buck that I'm tempted to get more even though I have too many guitars already.
     
  5. skiddd

    skiddd TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    37
    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2015
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    I own 2 of these fine instruments as of now(a VM thinline with WRHB bought on Feebay for $220 and a classic vibe one bought at my regular music store hangout)I'm a new player(5 months now)and I already see the quality in these things(I own 13 guitars already, some American some Mexican)I see nothing negative about these things. in fact I want a couple more to play around with. If I stick to the lessons and my practice schedule I should reach the level of sucks pretty soon.......... I'm gonna need the tools.......
     
  6. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Posts:
    13,099
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Location:
    Vermont
    I gig this guitar frequently.
    Plays great. Excellent value!
    Squier Tele Deluxe with MOD1's in it.
    Absolutely screams!
    [​IMG]
     
  7. skiddd

    skiddd TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    37
    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2015
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Cool picture Brother...............
     
  8. skiddd

    skiddd TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    37
    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2015
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    btw, I bought a CH ruler off you on ebay Wednesday night. love it........
     
  9. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    4,681
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2003
    Location:
    Athens-GREECE
    I don't know if they changed the specs within a year but mine (one of the very first ever made) has perfect spacing,the strings are evenly spaced across the fretboard & perfectly spaced over the poles of BOTH pickups.

    I still haven't changed a thing on mine since it sounds and plays awesome.
     
  10. GuildX700

    GuildX700 Tele-Holic

    Age:
    60
    Posts:
    889
    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2016
    Location:
    USA
    So, how are these in 2016? Still great?

    I see the price is way up from the OP price.

    Are they worth the $499 they are going for new now?

    I'd prefer the Squire as it has a 9.5" radius over the Mexican made with a 7.5" radius neck. I just can't relate to the 7.5" radius.

    The Squier looks to be just the ticket, natural or 3 tone burst ( I like both) 2 WRHB which is exactly what I want and do not have in any of my Fenders right now, thin line ash body.

    My only real concern is, how are the pickups, really, seriously? Are they more than barely acceptable stock? I'm not hip on spending money to put pickups into a budget guitar,those are really my only concerns.

    I work on guitars a lot, so I can deal with anything, I just don't want to sink a bunch of money into a Squier via new pickups.

    I guess I could go the used route and put the saved difference to pickups if need be, but I'd prefer new.

    Thoughts?
     
  11. GuildX700

    GuildX700 Tele-Holic

    Age:
    60
    Posts:
    889
    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2016
    Location:
    USA
    Bump for input.
     
  12. heffus

    heffus Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    515
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2014
    Location:
    cHICAGO
    I got one before the price increase for about $250 with a discount. It was a steal at that price and I figure it's still a good deal at the current price. It's a real quality guitar. A lot of people wine about the pickups and how they aren't real WRHBs. I don't care, mine sound sublime. Just play the damn thing. I need to replace the wobbly input jack and probably will replace the switch, but the volume pot has one of the nicest tapers I've ever come across.
     
    GuildX700 likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.