Learning to set up guitars - Squier Bullet Mustang to practice on?

#1
Trust me to suddenly get another obsession aside from making Bloke on the Range vids...

So I got back into playing guitars a few months ago, and being me, I had to get into the mechanical aspects, setup and so on - since my short-lived relationship with a Godin ended after it developed horrific fret buzz after 2 weeks and plus there was a problem with the bridge that took 3 months to fix, I said "stuff it, not convinced of the level of tech support which should be perfect given how much this guitar cost" and asked for my money back.

In the meantime I bought a Line6 Variax Standard, which is basically a Yamaha Pacifica with modelling electronics. Also not cheap, but about half Godin prices (and it does what I want).

However, the setup is typically crap, as is common with non-custom guitars. So I've been watching youtube vids explaining what's going on, and I've added some neck relief which has enabled me to halve the action height without any nastiness happening. It might need just a smidge more - tbc. Also, the nut is on the narrow side, so I've got a wider one coming that I'll install and drop the height at the nut a touch at the same time.

However, I want to practice working on guitars, so need something cheap but half-decent to practice on.

This has taken my fancy:

Squier Bullet Mustang HH BLK

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Why? Price (just about £120), double-humbuckers (which I can upgrade for practice as well later), easily-accessible truss rod for adjustment, adjustable saddles that could probably be upgraded, not just a bog-standard Strat or Tele, etc etc etc.

My only worry is that if I found the Pacifica nut to put the strings a mite too close together that I might feel squished on the Mustang neck. Does anyone have any experience with them?
 
#2
Appears to be some sort of electrical device for making buzzing noises to scare the dogs. You should acquire a guitar.
 
#3
Stick to Strats of any make. They're cheap and plentiful and they have the 25.5 inch scale whereas Jaguars, Mustangs and Les Pauls have 24 - 25 inch scales, so yes you will be even more squashed.
 
#4
Fixed bridge makes it ideal to learn how to set up a Fender style guitar. I taught myself how to setup on a cheap Korean Squier Strat, changed the electrics to HSH, screwed down the bridge to stop myself being tempted by the tremelo, setup the intonation, dressed a few frets and it was a great little cheap guitar that I didn't mind putting in freight to travel with.

The happy by product of setting it up myself was actually learning how it works, even though it sounds obvious the little things like halving the wavelength to move up an octave really cemented my technical knowledge on how a guitar notes are generated. Obvious really but playing with it practically gave me a "Oh yeah!" moment.
 
#5
Appears to be some sort of electrical device for making buzzing noises to scare the dogs. You should acquire a guitar.
I have a guitar. I need such a dog-buzzer to practice my setup skills on before I let myself loose on something real.
 
#6
Agree with VG that you should start on a fixed bridge guitar. Trem system set-up, if done properly, is as much art as it is science. Stick with something relatively simple, but still inherently complex, to begin with. Even with fixed bridge, you'll be dealing with fret levels and shape, neck relief, nut slotting, string height and intonation. Adding a floating trem to that will create too many variables for a beginner to get spot-on.
 
#7
Agree with VG that you should start on a fixed bridge guitar. Trem system set-up, if done properly, is as much art as it is science. Stick with something relatively simple, but still inherently complex, to begin with. Even with fixed bridge, you'll be dealing with fret levels and shape, neck relief, nut slotting, string height and intonation. Adding a floating trem to that will create too many variables for a beginner to get spot-on.
Interestingly the Variax is set up with a trem, but non-floating. I'm not going to play with that at all, I'm leaving it as-is cos it's well-intonated-
 
#10
Stick to Strats of any make. They're cheap and plentiful and they have the 25.5 inch scale whereas Jaguars, Mustangs and Les Pauls have 24 - 25 inch scales, so yes you will be even more squashed.
To be honest with you I never noticed that. I got cheap strat type and then after trying someone else's proper gibson went over to an epiphone explorer with a 24.75 inch scale, surprisingly comfortable to play even sitting down, and just found the thinner neck easier to get on with so didn't notice any particular difference in the length of the scale. Also got a les paul shaped epiphone after that but didn't like the shape as much and got rid. For the money I found the epiphones very good quality.

Christ I feel old, that was almost 30 years ago.

Edit to add. Forget the epiphones as a cheap option, I have just looked them up and seen what they are going for these days. That was a bit of a surprise.
 
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#11
L
To be honest with you I never noticed that. I got cheap strat type and then after trying someone else's proper gibson went over to an epiphone explorer with a 24.75 inch scale, surprisingly comfortable to play even sitting down, and just found the thinner neck easier to get on with so didn't notice any particular difference in the length of the scale. Also got a les paul shaped epiphone after that but didn't like the shape as much and got rid. For the money I found the epiphones very good quality.

Christ I feel old, that was almost 30 years ago.
I like the 24.75 inch scale too. Just that if stoatman already feels squished on a Pacifica which is, I believe, 25.5 then he's only going to be more so on a Mustang.
 
#12
L


I like the 24.75 inch scale too. Just that if stoatman already feels squished on a Pacifica which is, I believe, 25.5 then he's only going to be more so on a Mustang.
It's not the length which is squishing, it's that the string spacing at the nut is a touch on the tight side (which I will shortly be fixing with a replacement nut with a standard Strat spacing).

In other words, as any girl will tell you, it's not the length, it's the girth :p
 
#13
I like the 24.75 inch scale too. Just that if stoatman already feels squished on a Pacifica which is, I believe, 25.5 then he's only going to be more so on a Mustang.
Like I said I just found the slimmer neck made if feel less of a handful so I didn't feel as cramped even thought it was that bit shorter, don't know how it works but it just felt more open and easier even though the thing was actually sorter. I have always been a contrary sod, but the epiphone neck felt like it was made for me...............ended up on bass duty playing a bloody fender precision.
 
#14
Like I said I just found the slimmer neck made if feel less of a handful so I didn't feel as cramped even thought it was that bit shorter, don't know how it works but it just felt more open and easier even though the thing was actually sorter. I have always been a contrary sod, but the epiphone neck felt like it was made for me...............ended up on bass duty playing a bloody fender precision.
I feel the same way about necks; always felt most at home on a Les Paul.

By the way, the Mustang basses are nice and shrunken too.
 
#15
Looking further (while I should be working....) perhaps a Squier strat with trem + HSS would be the way forward. Cos then I could install a Fishman piezo pickup in it that costs twice as much as the guitar does :oops: if the need struck me...

I could then pretend to be an early-2000's Steven Wilson and prance around in a croptop singing songs about religious UFO suicide cults:

 
#16
I feel the same way about necks; always felt most at home on a Les Paul.
I haven't been near one in years, can you remember the width of the Gibson neck compared to the fender style.

For Stoatman, When I mentioned mine being thinner what I was referring to was the depth, the fender felt like a half round section in the hand to me, the gibson style neck was a lot shallower and easier to get my mitts round to reach the frets, which I seem to remember were a bit more refined as well.

I really can't remember the width difference between the two though which seems to be what Stoatman is having an issue with.
 

skid2

LE
Book Reviewer
#17
Have a look at Thomann. ( the dame doesn’t want a gun cabinet in her house, not one with guns in it anyway) so I’ve been looking at fettling a Tele copy from Thomann
 
#18
So in the meantime I've been fiddling with the Variax some more, and I came to the conclusion that it had almost no neck relief. I'd been giving it progressively more over a few trial sessions, then this morning I gave the truss rod another quarter turn or so anticlockwise. What a difference! I've managed to get the action fairly low now, and the 1st fret isn't sharp any more. The last phase here will be installing a slightly wider nut and getting that down to a suitable height over the first fret. Then it should be good to go!

One thing that Line6 / Yamaha seem to have got very right here is that I've not had any choking at all, so I'm not even going to need to think about fret levelling - they seem very level and well-polished already (not as polished as the Godin was, but extremely well-done for the money). It just seems that they went for a flat fretboard and a high action, presumably as a bit of a lowest-common-denominator thing.
 
#19
The new nut arrived for the Variax but I'm waiting for my gauges to appear before i install and fettle it.

In the meantime I have a cheat - capo on the 1st fret and select "1/2 down" tuning :p
 
#20
The new nut arrived for the Variax but I'm waiting for my gauges to appear before i install and fettle it.

In the meantime I have a cheat - capo on the 1st fret and select "1/2 down" tuning :p
That's a common cheat for old acoustics. I have a Jim Dunlop capo in the 2nd fret of a 40 odd year old Eko Ranger 12 string I've carted around with me for god knows how long. It's been battered and is frail so I keep it tuned down to D.

I've gotten back into making my own music this year and have spent a fair amount of money on things that I'm actually interested in. Analogue sequencers, bass synths, drum machines, effects and cables. Lots of lovely hand crafted cables for modular bits of kit and some that glow in the dark for the bling factor.

yeah.JPG


This is about half the current set up.

One of the other things I've purchased is a hot air paint stripper. Most modern guitars these days are built to a reasonable standard but the paint is a bit shit so I've started buying things like Squire strats 2nd hand and taking them back to natural wood. Few coats of Tung Oil and then beeswax and they can come out nice.

I'll get pics of the next one I do.
 

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