I’ve had a Squier Contemporary Strat since my dad bought it for me in 1986. It originally looked just like this one: (This image isn’t my guitar, but they could be siblings; their serial numbers are only 18 apart.) Unfortunately, it didn’t take me long to butcher that old Squier. As a teenager, I had endless curiosity but no real skills with tools: I replaced the Fender Trem with a Kahler unit, cracking the body when I doweled the original bridge post holes and installing the Kahler studs crookedly. I drilled four holes in the headstock to install a string lock behind the nut. I replaced the humbucker with a Seymour Duncan JB that wasn’t spaced correctly for my bridge. I replaced the tone knob with a TBX control. I cracked the body again when the knobs had a chance meeting with a speaker cabinet. A friend with an auto body shop refinished it in a metallic gray to try to match the Clapton pewter Strat. (kids, right?) I played the butchered guitar for years, but as I got older and learned how to use my tools, I always regretted my teenage butchery. I finally got around to restoring it this year: I removed the string lock and filled the screw holes. I didn’t want to recreate the decals, so I just oversprayed with clear. I replaced the plastic nut with TusqXL. I replaced the Fender tuners with Gotoh staggered locking tuners. I leveled and crowned the frets. I stripped the body, steamed and filled dents, replaced the fluted dowels with properly sized plugs, and inlaid new wood where the body cracked between the bridge posts and trem cavity. I replaced the Kahler with a modern Fender two-point trem. I refinished in GM gunmetal metallic with nitro clear coats. I replaced the humbucker with an F-spaced DiMarzio PAF. It’s not my nicest guitar, but it plays great and it has a lot of memories in it. It makes me happy to see it whole — and relatively close to stock — again. 34 years later, it looks better than I do.