2000 Squier (Cort) Telecaster


Twang King!

This is my 2000 model Squier Telecaster. My mom bought it for me for my birthday back in 2001.

It was originally the “fat” variant, with a humbucker pickup in the neck and a traditional Telecaster pickup in the bridge position. I really didn’t care for the obnoxious ceramic magnet single coil in the bridge position, so I bought a humbucker bridge and added the Guitarfetish Surf 90s.


The Surf 90 is an interesting pickup. It’s a single coil in a humbucker case. It is supposed to sound like an old DeArmond Dynasonic. I figured that hey – the Dynasonics are supposed to be ‘twangy’ pickups, and the Telecaster is supposed to be ‘twangy’, so let’s combine them! It worked rather well.

To make the guitar stand out even more, I reversed the control plate, ala Bill Kirchen. Then I put on the Muddy Waters volume and tone controls. I really like this arrangement. Working the volume control is so much easier.

The bridge Surf 90 is a tad too dark for my liking. Sounds great, but lacks a certain bite. It has alnico 2 magnets. I suppose I’d like it better with alnico 5’s. Too bad there’s no easy way to change them. Doesn’t really sound much like a Telecaster anymore, but it’s still cool.

The neck pickup is nice and fat. Not the clearest, but you can at least still hear the individual strings. It’s not all that different from the original humbucker, to be honest.

As you might expect, the magic happens in the in-between position. That’s where all the twangy goodness comes from. With both pickups in parallel, tone just oozes from this guitar. It ‘hits above it’s weight’ – lots of tone for such a cheap guitar.


Part of the reason for the more ‘expensive’ tone is that this is a true ‘string-through’ Telecaster. The strings go through the body, like the expensive Teles. Strings mounted to the bridge is a sure sign of a cheap Tele. But then a few people actually do prefer the sound of the top-mount Telecasters.


The neck on this thing is of the ‘baseball bat’ variety. I really do not like that. My thumb cramps like you wouldn’t believe. It is downright painful to play this for long periods. One day I’ll get the sander after it and profile it. Other than hurting my thumb, the guitar plays well. I’d prefer a contour body – screw tradition!



Condition: 10/10

– Cosmetics: 10/10 (needs a good cleaning)

– Working order: 10/10 (works like new)

Playability: 8/10

– Rhythm Playabiliy: 8/10 (I don’t like the baseball-bat neck, but that’s just me)

– Lead Playability: 8/10 (decent frets)

Sound: 9/10

– Bridge: 7/10 (too tame – needs more bite)

– Both: 10/10 (twang!)

– Neck: 8/10 (fat with decent clarity)

I would gig with this guitar.

Nostalgia Part 1 of 283,429

I was a little busy this weekend, watching Len Cella play the organ with his organ. Actually, I have plenty of time to write a detailed post about another one of my guitars, but if I do that each week I’ll run out in a few months and have to resort to filler posts from there on out. So I’ll put up a filler post now!

My main philosophy when it comes to modifying guitars is don’t try to do too much. It is impossible to out-engineer the people who design guitars for a living, but it is possible to eliminate the design compromises that they made to hit their price point. It’s also possible to personalize one, or maybe even make it one-of-a-kind, as long as you stay reasonable.

For example, a Gretsch is “twangy”, and so is a Telecaster. Gretsch style pickups are available in standard humbucker form, and humbucker bridges are available for Telecasters. Assuming you have a router or a good set of wood chisels, this is a straightforward mashup.

But mixing totally different guitars is a recipe for disaster. A locking Floyd won’t fit on a Gibon SG because the body is too thin. Rickenbacker pickups won’t fit on a Flying V, and a typical V needs a fat humbucker to make up for the body’s lack of resonance. Bass pickups sound awful on a guitar, even if the polepieces did line up, which they don’t.

I started modding guitars almost as soon as I got one. As I mentioned before, my first real guitar was an Electra Phoenix. It played and sounded great unplugged, but the pickups were absolute garbage. My junky Synsonics Terminator guitar, which played and sounded horrible unplugged, sounded OK through an amp. I removed the Terminator bridge pickup and put it on the Electra, and the sound improved marginally. I was hooked!

Did you ever notice that there are a lot of little screws and things on a Fender style bridge? So did I! I immediately wanted to know what they did, so I got some screwdrivers and some hex keys and began turning them all this way and that. I discovered things like how to make your guitar sound out of tune, how to make the strings buzz against the pickups,  and how to make your electric guitar play like crap. Then I discovered how to fix these things.

A friend gave me a 1950s Danelectro Silvertone. Just a body and a neck. It had tuners, but no nut. The cardboard top and back were both cracked. I painted it black to hide the damage and stuck cheap pickups on it. EMG Selects, I think. Humbucker bridge, single coil neck. I used an On-Off-On switch from the hardware store and some volume knobs from Radio Shack. I cut out a piece of red acrylic for the pickguard. It looked black until I turned on the flashlight I hid inside it. I didn’t have a flat-mount bridge, so I took apart a cheap Strat style tremolo and screwed it down to the body. I drilled holes for the strings to go through, but I didn’t know what ferrules were so the string balls stuck out the back.

I think my first real ‘project guitar’ that turned out OK was a green Hondo Explorer copy. My mom got it at a yard sale for a few dollars. Just a body and a neck. I scavenged halfway decent parts for it from local guitar repair shops and sold it for a small profit.

The worst project I did that didn’t turn out was my drum-playing robot, but that’s a story for another day. The worst guitar project that turned out bad was some no-name Telecaster copy. I believe it was originally a National or Raven – same diff. Terrible guitar. I couldn’t find any cheap 6 in-line tuners locally, so I used a 3+3 set. What’s a few extra holes in the headstock? I was trying to create a junked-out guitar that somebody like Jon Spencer would have. Instead, I merely ruined it. Well, it was made from actual plywood, with a terrible, terrible neck, so I couldn’t ruin it. I mercy-killed it.

D.I.Y. 2002 Squier “Stratmaster”

I was in a fit of “I’m not gonna pay $1000 for a guitar!” rage when I decided to make this one.

It was late 2013. I had just seen Man or Astro Man live, and I desperately wanted the Star Crunch signature guitar. Sure, Hallmark’s Mosrite copies have an awesome reputation, but I paid $2000 for my last car.  Paying $1000 for a guitar when I’m not even in a band just seems stupid. Besides, who really wants somebody else’s signature guitar?

I’d rather make my own “signature guitar” than pay for the privilege of having somebody else’s signature guitar, no matter how good. Is that D.I.Y. or arrogance? Well, in my case, it’s arrogance to be sure, but at least I have the woodworking ability to not make a complete ass of myself.

I love my red 1993 American Standard Strat, but I wanted the sound of a Mosrite. Seems easy enough – stick a Jazzmaster pickup on there, and voila – instant Stratmaster! Route some holes, solder some wires, there you go. But the Jazzmaster pickup is huge. Removing that much wood will compromise the structural integrity of the guitar – that’s probably the reason that the Jazzmaster doesn’t have a Strat style tremolo. Plus, carving out a huge chunk of body will affect the tone. So I decided to mod a Squier instead.


I started with a bog-standard green 2002 Squier Strat. This particular Squier was made by Cort. I got it for $150 at Guitars on George.It’s a typical Squier – fit and finish is OK for a cheap guitar, bridge was OK but made from pot metal, and the pickups stunk.


First, I bought a new tremolo, Jazzmaster “hot” bridge pickup, 3 way “SG” style switch, and a humbucker/single volume knob pickguard came from Guitar Fetish. I routed the pickguard for the new bridge pickup, and also for the original Squier neck pickup. Then I drilled holes for the switch and a tone control. Then I routed the body for the switch and bridge pickup. Everything went smoothly.


Below is a pic of what I did about all the wood I removed. Normally, there is a lot of “dead” space in front of the tremolo. I usually put a block of wood in there to give my tremolo a positive stop. This aids in tuning and also improves sustain. Instead of just gluing a block in there, I glued it in place and then surrounded it with “wood fill” epoxy putty. I doubt it will help, but it can’t hurt. You can also see where I had to enlarge the tremolo hole for the massive Guitar Fetish trem.


It played and sounded great for $250, but I wanted more. I knew that Star Crunch’s guitar has a “zero fret”. I found that Goldtone makes the Zer0 Glide – a zero fret retrofit kit for guitars. $30 seemed like an OK price, so I put one of them on.


I cut the nut slots too wide and it still works. I didn’t notice much of an improvement, but I think that next time I have to replace a nut I’ll try it again. I’d recommend it if you want the benefits of a zero fret. But get the pre-slotted version! (Not sure why I didn’t. Maybe they didn’t offer them then? It was a new product at the time).

Overall, I’m satisfied with how the guitar turned out. Blasting through my Fender Twin, it really does come close to capturing the vibe of Man or Astro Man. But it’s a one trick pony. The distortion tone isn’t all that great. The pickup selector switch isn’t in a very ergonomic position. The neck pickup (which I didn’t replace) still sucks. The Guitar Fetish bridge breaks strings more often than it should. The zero fret helps it stay in tune, but it still goes out after a few songs.


Condition: 9/10

– Cosmetics: 9/10 (nothing visible to the audience)

– Working order: 9/10 (switch isn’t in the best spot, but everything works)

Playability: 9/10

– Rhythm Playabiliy: 10/10

– Lead Playability: 8/10

Sound: 8/10

– Bridge: 10/10 (Surfy!)

– Neck: 2/10 (shrill, but who uses the neck pickup for surf?)

I wouldn’t gig with this axe, but it’s great for going deaf while playing “Inside the Atom” at home