Making a bullet better?

Discussion in 'Squier Tele Forum' started by d barham, Jul 7, 2020.

  1. d barham

    d barham Tele-Holic

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    I picked this little gem up last fall on a whim. A little adjusting here and there and it plays great. I’d like a bit more sound out of it.

    it currently has what it came with new. Would changing the mini pots to 250k pots alone make much difference? Or should I consider changing pickups too?

    the guitar was cheap to start with. I’d like to keep it cheap(ish). What’s my best bang for the buck?
     

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  2. LutherBurger

    LutherBurger Friend of Leo's

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    I have the Lake Placid Blue version. I like everything about the volume and tone controls, but I replaced the pickups with these and I think they're fantastic -- bright, clear, and higher-output than the underwound stock ceramics.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0744MTPSK/?tag=tdpri-20
     
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  3. BBQedIguana

    BBQedIguana Tele-Meister

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    I have a Bullet as well - the tiny pots in it are already 250K - are you meaning to put in bigger 250K CTS pots? If so, I can confirm they fit into the control cavity with no problems (my Bullet has them now!). But likely that change won't give you the difference in sound you're after.

    I upgraded mine with two humbuckers - that's probably not what you're after. I'm not sure what to recommend because I'm not sure what you mean by "keep it cheap(ish)". When I bought my Bullet for $250 (CAD), I sunk another $200 (CAD) in mods - to me that was cheap(ish)! :)
     
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  4. Vinnie1971

    Vinnie1971 TDPRI Member

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    Did you need a new control plate or did the CTS pots fit? When I put CTS pots in a Squier standard telecaster I needed a control plate with bigger holes.

    I’ve got spare alpha and CTS pots to go in mine


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  5. BBQedIguana

    BBQedIguana Tele-Meister

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    My CTS pots fit right into my control plate - no problems. The pots I bought were Fender branded - perhaps they have specifically sized shafts? (Ok, that sounds a bit dirty, I'll admit!)

    I also have an Oak Grigsby 3-way switch, but the control cavity is too shallow for it - I did the math and I could route it out, but I'd only have 1/8th an inch of wood left, so for now I'm putting up with the box switch.
     
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  6. LutherBurger

    LutherBurger Friend of Leo's

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    I found that interesting when I took mine apart. The small Alpha pots' bushings are their usual 8mm diameter, but the holes in the plate are large enough to accommodate 3/8" bushings. The plate is essentially identical to my MIM Standard plate.
     
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  7. don

    don Tele-Meister

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    @BBQedIguana any tips on that - was thinking of doing the same thing? The route in the bridge, what hardware and pups did you use etc!
     
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  8. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Just go out and buy a better guitar ....

    It's less work ...

    And more rewarding ...


    And you'll have a backup, in case you break a string or something....
     
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  9. BBQedIguana

    BBQedIguana Tele-Meister

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    The routing at the bridge was minimal - just trimming it out to take the humbucker. I used a router, put a piece of card board between the router and the guitar (cereal box - Chex I think it was!) and used a small straight bit to open up the cavity. I went really slow and was very careful. Another thing I did was set the depth to about 1/8" shy of the "floor" so the new bits I removed were a little more shallow. The reason I did that was that all the cavities in my guitar had shield paint in them (much to my surprise!). When I was done, I coated the exposed wood with more black shield paint - but I didn't have a lot, so I didn't want to remove any that was already there.

    The pups were both Wilkinsons - a pair of their Asian imports. They weren't expensive, but they sound great. The neck one is a chrome covered unit, and the bridge one is just open. I also replaced the 250K tiny alpha pots with 500K CTS pots and a 0.022 uF capacitor (the Tele had a 0.047 uF cap originally).

    The soldering went easy-peasy and before I knew it the guitar was hooked up to my amp and I was rockin' it! The pups are much hotter than the stock Tele pups. So much so, that on my Mac mini, when hooked up via a USB cable, the pups cause mild distortion even on the clean channel. I suspect I might have mis-configured something in GarageBand, since it doesn't do this on my real amp - on the clean channel both pups sound just fine. The neck pup sounds awesome (gritty, growly, angry) and the bridge pickup is a little mellower and actually still has some of the "quack" (but not much).

    One thing I've been looking at is using the coil split on both pups and wiring in an extra switch so I can run one or both of the them as single coil - not that I'd do that a lot, but it would be nice to have.

    Bridge Pickup: Wilkinson MX1768CR "Classic Tone Ceramic PAF-style Humbucker"
    Neck Pickup: Wilkinson MX1771BK "Classic Tone Ceramic Overwound Open Style Humbucker"

    The odds are good that these are actually the same pickup. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2020
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  10. TwangerWannabe

    TwangerWannabe Tele-Meister

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    Best "bang for your buck" would be to sell it if you aren't happy with it and put that money toward a guitar you really like.

    Dumping money into modding a budget guitar is only going to have diminishing returns down the line if you go to sell it, since you'll most likely not get back what you put into it. Better to be patient, save a little more if you have to and end up with what you really want rather than trying to turn something you're not super stoked on into something you may or might not like.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2020
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  11. casey2910

    casey2910 Tele-Meister

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    Try a 500k volume pot. That is going to be my new standard.

    Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk
     
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  12. FortyEight

    FortyEight Tele-Meister

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    Iiiiiiinteresting. You hear people say 500k are only for humbuckers.... Now two people in here are saying 500k with single coils. But bbqedlquana, isn't that why it might sound overdriven? I would think maybe if you just dial back the volume that would go away.... Maybe?
     
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  13. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    I got the same Red Sparkle model last year, love it, and haven't changed anything yet except the pickguard. What I love is the playability. The dry winter caused the frets ends to stick out a bit, but I easily sanded/smoothed them down. Someday I'll upgrade the pickups, but yesterday I was playing away on it and thinking, "what a terrific guitar!"
     
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  14. BBQedIguana

    BBQedIguana Tele-Meister

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    I do have humbuckers in my Tele - thus the 500K pots. If I use the coil split on them, I can make them behave like single coils on demand - but yes, I'll still have 500K pots.

    It's all good - like you suggest, I use the volume knob to make things all good. :)
     
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  15. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's

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    The only upgrade you get from the pots is feel not any change in sound unless the measured resistance is significantly different but that can swing either way.

    I'd look at swapping the pickups if you want to change the sound. I'm assuming they're the typical low wind ceramic pickups found in most low end guitars. They don't necessarily sound bad and some people may like them but a set of your favourite alnico pickups is a safe bet.
     
  16. rocksmoot

    rocksmoot Tele-Meister

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    Its more about the process of designing and building something unique for yourself than it is about building a guitar that rivals a production US Tele for a bargain price. Its just a fun thing to do.
     
  17. FortyEight

    FortyEight Tele-Meister

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    Aaaaaaah, that makes sense!!!
     
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  18. Ronzo

    Ronzo Tele-Meister

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    In your situation, I think a 4-way switch would be the most cost-effective upgrade - IF your control cavity has enough depth to handle the switch, and IF you feel comfortable detaching the neck pickup’s ground wire from the pickup cover and soldering a separate pickup cover lead to ground.

    If it’s in your budget, a set of Bootstrap Tele pickups - pick a flavor - with the pickup cover ground pre-soldered (and RWRP) combined with the 4-way switch would get you pretty far along for less than $100 USD.

    @Bootstrap pickups are wonderful, affordable, and Ryan is an honorable man to work with. Highly recommended!
     
  19. littlebadboy

    littlebadboy Tele-Afflicted

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    What sound are you looking for?

    Changing just tone pots won't make anything considerably better. Mods are not cheap(ish) if you want a big improvement.

    I have to agree with rangercaster, if you're budget constrained at the moment. I'm big into mods, and I can tell you that it will cost you... unless this is something that would like to learn and do. But, this will not improve the value of your guitar. If you decide to go on with this, I would recommend keeping your parts so that in the event that you want to sell your guitar, just put the orig parts back on and keep your upgraded parts... unless you want to do charity for the next owner.
     
  20. Switchy

    Switchy Tele-Afflicted

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    I don't understand this attitude of saying, get rid of it, and buy a new guitar.
    Getting a bigger sound has more to do with the player, the amp, and the pedals.

    Gimmie a break! It's quite a nice guitar as is. :rolleyes:
     
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