Here’s a DIY project for tone chasers: how to turn a $199 single-coil Squier Bullet Strat into a beefy humbucker-voiced 6-string, with coil-splitting in the neck pickup.
If you try this project yourself, you’ll need three Seymour Duncan JB Jr. pickups, a Pure Tone Multi-Contact Output Jack, one .022MFD orange drop capacitor, two 500k CTS potentiometers, a push/pull pot DPDT on/on switch assembly, 60/40 rosin core solder, 22 AWG non-shielded PVC-insulated circuit wire, heat shrink tubing, small zip ties, and a set of your favorite guitar strings. For tools, Dave uses a Hakko Soldering Station, small clippers, small round-nosed pliers, a Phillips screwdriver, a 1/2" nut driver, a strip of painters or masking tape, and a small jar with a lid. A Stratocaster circuit schematic will also come in handy for reference. You’ll also need to brush up on your soldering skills. (Consult “Soldering 101: A Step-by-Step Guide” at premierguitar.com to get on the good foot.)
Step one will be removing and stripping the pickguard, and then cutting wires within the circuitry so the new components can be put into place. Since this is an S-style guitar, much of the work will be done on that pickguard, which helps simplify the process. Installing the pickups—in this case, Seymour Duncan JB Jr.’s—is simple. You might need to do some routing on the pickguard to accommodate the new pots. Duncan’s JB Jr.’s come with about 10 inches of four-conductor circuit wire already attached. Strip off about 3" of that wire’s outer casing. Then you’ll see red, white, black, green, and ground wires. Peel about 1/2" of casing from the tips of each of those smaller, color-coded wires. For the neck pickup, the green and bare wire are tied together and attached to ground—soldered to the top of the middle (tone) pot. Dave carefully explains each step. For a written version with photos, see “DIY: Hot-Rodding a Squier Bullet HT” in the May 2023 issue or at premierguitar.com. There's also a companion video, specifically focused on replacing the output jack. Got a question for Dave? Go to scalemodelguitars.com.