When I first picked up my Squier Bullet Tele (see “The $89 Tele Surprise“), I thought it to be a decent sounding instrument, fun to play, and worth every penny. I also thought it would be an excellent platform to try my hand at guitar modding. Well, the day finally came, and I’m glad I rolled up the sleeves and dug in!
For months now, I’ve been looking at Guitar Fetish and their GFS pickups. I initially thought a set of their Fat Pat or Crunchy Pat humbuckers would be a good fit. I wanted to replace the stock pickups and re-wire to split the coils for additional sound capability. Just as I was about to hit the “checkout” button, something else on GFS’s site caught my eye — their Dream 180 pickups.
Dream 180’s are essentially two Dream 90s (GFS’ P-90 pup), wired like a humbucker and fitting in a standard humbucker format. I wanted chrome covers (although the Dream 180s come in all kings of funky casings) to give my Bullet Tele a Tele Custom look.
Seymour Duncan’s site had a wiring diagram that showed how to install two humbuckers with 1 tone, 1 volume and be able to split the coils. I knew this is is what I wanted to do. So I ordered up a neck and bridge set, along with two new 500K audio pots, a .47uf capacitor, new five-way switch and Switchcraft jack (the original jack was always coming loose). They arrived a few days later, and I was ready to go.
Once I got past some issues with my soldering iron, I pulled the Bullet apart, and began to retrofit the new electronics. I wired everything up the way I thought I was supposed to, but when I plugged it in and put a string on to test, I had nothing. A quick trip to the Interwebs showed me that I had the lugs on the switch mixed up (I was using a diagram that had two sets of four lugs, while mine is a “straight-eight”). A little remapping and trial and error go the humbuckers working, then a little more work to get the splits to work. In the end, it all works.
Then, just as I was about to re-mount the control plate, I realized it wouldn’t fit! It seems the new, higher quality pots I put in wouldn’t fit the cavity. So I decided to add the “reverse control plate” mod and switch things around. Viola…it was all back together!
A new set of 10’s later, a quick set up, some height adjustments and I must say, I am very, very pleased. It sounds great (I will put more up later on the tone and what each position sounds like), looks great and is more versatile than before!
So one year later, that $89 surprise has become a rather dreamy player!