I own a Squier Vintage Modified '70s Stratocaster, and I'm looking to upgrade some of the parts. I've already replaced the neck and the tremolo assembly, and I've also bought (but not yet installed) a set of David Allen pickups.

I'm wondering if I should also upgrade other parts such as the volume/tone control pots, the 5-way switch, and the input jack. I know that the guitar was made in Indonesia and has cheap parts in it, but would upgrading those parts make enough of a difference to the guitar's tone and how it plays to it it worth my time and money?

  • 1
    Why did you buy a Squier if you were going to replace all the parts? Wouldn't it have been easier to just buy the parts? tbh, the worst parts of a modern Squier are the body (& who cares about that so long as it looks like what you wanted) & the neck (which are truly apalling), the rest you'd get away with. [I used to set up in-store demo Squiers for a living, 15 a day… sorry :\
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 27 '20 at 19:10
  • @Tetsujin It was given to me as a Christmas gift as my first electric guitar. And I figure I'd rather upgrade the parts and enjoy that challenge and process than just buy a whole new guitar. Also, I understand Squier necks being poor quality, but why do you say that about the body? Doesn't that not really matter for an electric guitar? Aren't things like the pickups much more important? Apr 27 '20 at 19:15
  • The bodies may as well be made of putty. they really weigh a lot & have no resonance. If you ever get to play a real early 60's Strat you'll know immediately. Half the weight, twice the sound, even before you plug it in. Pickups are 'important' for a given value of 'important'. It's all relative. if the guitar doesn't 'sing' no amount of faffing with strings or pickups will make it sing. ;-)
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 27 '20 at 19:19
  • @Tetsujin Well, I understand about the weight. But I'm still not sure if the body's "resonance" actually makes a noticeable difference on an electric guitar. I don't really buy into the tonewood argument - I've watched a number of videos (including ones with blind tests), and I'm just not convinced. The type of wood for the body and neck on an electric guitar is definitely the least important factor for the tone, though it can make a difference for how the guitar feels and plays. Apr 27 '20 at 19:27
  • OK, be convinced by whatever interweb youtuber you like. I've only been dealing with these things for 40 years,
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 27 '20 at 19:28

It's mostly that they're cheap parts, so they sound and/or play cheaply.

My experience is that cheap things can perform absolutely fine, and expensive things can perform poorly. That's not to say that sometimes being able to spend a little extra can't be useful, as it gives you a wider choice - but don't fall into the trap of thinking that more expensive is necessarily better. Cheap instruments can play very well and sound very good. Expensive instruments can have dreadful flaws. The same goes for parts.

'Cheap' isn't in itself a problem. Rather it's a good thing - it means you have more money left for times when the more expensive choice actually is more suitable for you (for some specific reason other than it being expensive!)

I'm wondering if I should also upgrade other parts such as the volume/tone control pots, the 5-way switch, and the input jack.

My experience is that (assuming you use the same value and taper pots), these things will make very little difference. But it sounds like you're enjoying deconstructing your guitar as a learning experience anyway. Why not try and find out?

One thing you will gain from this process is an excellent understanding of how the instrument works, which is very useful.


You will get a big gain in playability if you make sure you have an audio taper potentiometer on your volume control. This makes rolling off the volume feel a lot more natural.

Besides that, I would not recommend switching the other components unless you find them unreliable or noisy when you turn them. Even then, the noise can often be dealt with using an (electrical) contact cleaner.

  • 1
    Audio taper potentiometer = log pot?
    – Tim
    Apr 28 '20 at 6:12
  • Yes, an audio taper = log pot
    – tiniuclx
    Apr 29 '20 at 12:02
  • How do I know if I have an audio taper pot on my volume control? Is there a way to find out? May 2 '20 at 21:05
  • It should hopefully be listed in the specifications of your guitar. If it's not, you can sort of listen to it. Audio taper pots decrease the volume very gradually while you turn them down, and it is very easy to select a given volume level. Linear pots become very quiet very quickly (at around 7-8) and then gradually roll of to zero volume.
    – tiniuclx
    May 3 '20 at 12:32

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