Upgrades for Squier Affinity Telecaster to sound like heavy rock/grunge/metal?

jawnybotth

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I have this Squire Affinity Telecaster and I want to replace the stock bridge pickup with seymour duncan hot rails and the neck pickup with lace sensor blue pickups. I want to get a very nice, polished clean, shimmering tone on the neck, not too muddy (for radiohead ok computer vibes hehe) and Nirvana, Soundgarden, Metallica, alternative/metal distortion at the bridge. I can hear that the stock neck has a pretty muddy tone and to me isn't very useful but the bridge is absolutely clean and just sounds super nice in clean tones. Is this a smart idea? How should I do it?

Also since I'm blending in single coils and humbuckers I'm conflicted on what pots to use 250k or 500k...
 
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corliss1

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I think you'll find the amp is more important for situations like this. You'll play and sound very different through a Deluxe Reverb than you would on a cranked Marshall JCM800.
 

Wildeman

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I have the Duncan Lil '59 / classic stack set in my older Affinity and its killer, it'll do that sound, also have a push pull tone knob that puts the bridge coils in series/parallel for an almost regular telly tone. I also have a stock 2019 Affinity and its stock ceramics are damn hot, i think it can rock too, but its gonna become a Esquire.
 

Skyhook

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I have this Squire Affinity Telecaster and I want to replace the stock bridge pickup with seymour duncan hot rails and the neck pickup with lace sensor blue pickups. I want to get a very nice, polished clean, shimmering tone on the neck, not too muddy (for radiohead ok computer vibes hehe) and Nirvana, Soundgarden, Metallica, alternative/metal distortion at the bridge. I can hear that the stock neck has a pretty muddy tone and to me isn't very useful but the bridge is absolutely clean and just sounds super nice in clean tones. Is this a smart idea? How should I do it?

Also since I'm blending in single coils and humbuckers I'm conflicted on what pots to use 250k or 500k...

Yeah, the SD Hot Rails is a good move for this. I was gonna suggest that after reading only the title even, but then I saw your post.
After hot-railing this thing it's mostly about pedals.... DS-1, Rat, Big Muff for the grunge. Marshall ShredMaster for all your scooped mid Metallica needs.
 

cherryburst1

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MT-2.

That's all you need.
I owned one of these. Most potent aggressive distortion pedal I ever heard. 1 was too much for anything but Heavy Metal. I would suggest installing a 500k no load pot in Tele tone circuit. You can get a little sweeter edge from the sensor with the tone in no load position. That disconnects the cap completely at that position.
 

naveed211

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I want to get a very nice, polished clean, shimmering tone on the neck, not too muddy...alternative/metal distortion at the bridge.

I achieved exactly that with a DiMarzio Twang King in the neck and a Bare Knuckle Cobra in the bridge.
 

Lucius Paisley

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I owned one of these. Most potent aggressive distortion pedal I ever heard. 1 was too much for anything but Heavy Metal. I would suggest installing a 500k no load pot in Tele tone circuit. You can get a little sweeter edge from the sensor with the tone in no load position. That disconnects the cap completely at that position.

A friend of mine uses it as a fuzz pedal. It can be quite mellow when you need it to be.
 

Ghostdriver

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I play alternative rock on my 'Norsecaster' Tele, i built it with a wax potted single coil bridge, hand wound, it puts out about 10 ohms, Alnico 3 magnets with a high wind to boost the mid range and reduce ice pickiness, you dont necessarily need a humbucker rail, i tried one of those it didnt give me what i want, this single coil rocks my world and we play loud !
 

northernguitar

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SD designed the Hot Rails to work with a 250k pot so they could be easily installed. I’m curious to hear how this works out. Dave Murray from Iron Maiden uses one in his Strat.
 

jvin248

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I've found too many SD pickups are muddy, that doesn't mean all of them will be muddy so you may be lucky on certain ones. If muddy then you'll need to put series caps on the hot leads and/or find 500kohm pots that measure at the top end max spec (so actually measures around 550kohms) or a low end of spec 1Meg volume pot.

I've had more clarity from Squier pickups due to lower internal capacitance bobbin winding method they seem to use than many recommended brands. So use your ears. If the stock pickups are too 'harsh' then check where you have them set. I often start with them low to the body and further from the strings if you want output more like weaker Alnico pickups. If you want more output, install a Steel baseplate under the bridge pickup. It needs to be magnetic steel (check with a refrigerator magnet) and at least 1/8th inch thick, you can cut your own from metal scraps you may have around. Newer Indonesian Squier pickups tend to have lower kohm windings with their classic ceramic magnet, just like Leo Fender did at G&L guitars after selling Fender -- to get a higher signal to noise ratio. I've found some in the 3.5 to 4.5kohm range while Alnico Fender pickups are classically 6kohms.

Better option than swapping pickups, at least for a first step, is keep your stock pickups and install a 4-way switch to put the pickups in series mode, for $12 or so.

If you are chasing better tone in any guitar:
1- Adjust pickup heights, generally lower is better/classic tones. Tip the pickups for more/less Bass or Treble. Adjust screw poles up if the pickup has them. Use your ears to make these adjustments over several days or ear fatigue sets in. Look at old Hendrix videos and you'll see many have low set (even though they were Alnico) pickups plus he tipped them, more bass on the bridge pickup and more treble on the neck).

2- Measure and swap Pots 'n Caps .. they are a key part of the tone system in a guitar and are often neglected.

3- Last is pickup swapping. Then go back to the top of the list. If you do pickup swapping first you will swap more pickup sets while trying a set that matches well with the pots you have.


If you do intend on a wholesale pickup swap ... Often it's best if you lift the old pickups and their wiring harness in as complete a state as possible from the guitar, buy your new pickups and also buy all new pots/switch/jack to install. That way you can lift out the mods and go back to stock very easily if you miss the original tones or want to flip the guitar. 'upgraded' pickups/etc don't increase the sale price of a guitar -- one players 'upgrades' is another players 'downgrades' they expect to have to undo and buy new parts or at a minimum worry about sketchy soldering skills of the old owner.

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