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Thread: Benson Pickups, Fender Squier upgrade

  1. #1
    GAStronomist stan's Avatar
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    Benson Pickups, Fender Squier upgrade

    When Adam generously offered a set of Benson Custom hand wounds as a trial set for a strat style guitar, I couldn't say "me me me..." quick enough.
    As most of you have probably found, one of the main differences between one of the large guitar company's top lines and also ran guitars are the quality of the components used. Steel vs pot metal, grades of tuners and of course, electronics.

    I have a lefty Squier Strat, purchased of ebay for under $100, that is a great feeling guitar, but sounds just a bit blah. I really like it and have wanted to do something like this with it for a while - so hot rod strat it now will be.

    lets start with the product in question. These pickups are hand wound in the USA by John Benson, and these are the Benson Custom 63 Strat. I requested an aged white set.

    From our own site here are the specs:

    Medium scatter wound for that warm tone found in the early Strat(TM) pickups that everyone is looking for.

    The pole pieces are staggered right handed AlNiCo 5 magnets in the neck and middle, bridge is AlNiCo 3.

    Magnets are slightly hand-bevelled and polished.

    These pickups are potted to avoid microphonic sound and improve durability.

    Vintage cloth leads require no stripping… just push back and solder.

    Nice, here is what arrived:







    the presentation, whilst not important is very nice...
    Last edited by stan; 25-02-2016 at 11:45 AM.

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    GAStronomist stan's Avatar
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    Now the pickup poles are biased for a righty and the strat in question is a lefty...
    Simple, turn the pickups around and mount them.
    Traditionally the wiring tail on each pickup faces the bridge when wired up, mine simply face the front and fold back, as long as they all do, then we are good to go.

    more pics, values of each pup and position are clearly labelled:






  3. #3
    GAStronomist stan's Avatar
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    here you can clearly see how the poles are biased - that is, not flat across the top, but up and down a bit.
    This is to help balance out the output of each string, because they follow the curve of the fretboard and are of different thicknesses.



    the guitar in question






  4. #4
    GAStronomist stan's Avatar
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    well guitars being what they are and we being who we are, I wanted a black pickguard.
    So, I decided to essentially build myself a loaded pickguard and put that in.









    so Allparts shielded pick guard, CTS pots, orange drop cap , switchcraft 5 way and jack and the Bensons, should do the job

    Note the wiring points forwards and then will fold back, if you are a righty, like most are rather than gifted like me, then the pickups are mounted such that the wiring points directly to where the guitar's bridge would be.
    Last edited by stan; 25-02-2016 at 11:01 AM.

  5. #5
    GAStronomist wokkaboy's Avatar
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    Pups look very nice Stan, keen to see a pic of the Squier they are going into. Also keen to hear the resistance readings of each pup.
    Don't forget to do a sound demo of the stock sound before you start the upgrade.
    Hope you are putting some nice pots/switch/jack/wiring/caps in the upgrade ?

    EDIT just saw pics of the axe and the loaded pickguard.
    Wow you got that axe for under $100, bargain !

    nice upgrades this beast should rock now !
    Last edited by wokkaboy; 25-02-2016 at 11:03 AM.
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  6. #6
    GAStronomist stan's Avatar
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    thanks wokka, they are sweet.
    flawlessly made, no edge sharpness, nice finish, nice wires, a first class product.

    their specs are

    front 6.2k ohms
    middle 6.3k
    bridge 7k

    i bought all the bits separate and doing the self assembly Ikea thing myself

    the Koreans can make some pretty nice guitars, this one was bought by a beginner new and hardly ever played, I am the second owner.
    Really after the pups , if I do the bridge and tuners it will at least equal a F made strat in quality of finish, and components, all it will need is a good player...
    Last edited by stan; 25-02-2016 at 11:14 AM.

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    GAStronomist wokkaboy's Avatar
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    glad to hear Stan they sound like really nice pups.
    Bridge/tuners and a bone nut and it will be probably better than strat quality Stan !

    don't worry about your playing Stan, sure you are fine, our biggest critic is ourselves

    One other thing check the depth of the cavity under the switch, often these flash switches are much deeper than the one you replaced.
    If you are going to copper shield all cavities chances are you may have to make it deeper under the switch
    Current Builds and status
    scratch end grain pine tele - first clear coat on !
    JBA-4 - assembled - final tweaks
    Telemonster double scale tele - finish tobacco burst on body and sand neck

    Completed builds
    scratch oak.rose gum Jazzmaster - assembled needs setup
    MK-2 Mosrite - assembled - play in
    Ash tele with Baritone neck - neck pup wiring tweaks and play in

  8. #8
    GAStronomist stan's Avatar
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    so for the wiring up, at this stage yet to be completed, I inseted the hardware into the pickguard first and simply commenced connecting it all up. there might be other ways, but this works for me.

    ok you guys who hate soldering... this is how i do it...

    this wire seems pre tinned, already has a coat of solder on it, makes it easier to solder to other bits.
    To tin it yourself, put the wire against your soldering iron and the solder on the other side. The heated solder will want to flow towards the heat source, the soldering iron...

    So it goes, soldering iron, wire, solder. When the solder begins to run it will coat the wire, pull it away then. You only need it just coated, not blobbed on.

    More is not better and will lead to a cold or dry joint and then the electrical gremlins get in and you are now chasing faults.

    Same goes for components onto lugs, enough to do the job is enough...

    I put a hook into the wire and pass it through the lug. This is the 5 way switch. I hook the wire in then pull, gently, but firmly, then squeeze the hook tight with pliers. Now I don't need 3 hands to solder it on.



    Those jiggers with croc clips are good too. Be away more metal will act as a heat sink, so things will take a tad longer to heat up. The lug/component, wire and solder all need to get hot for this to work .

    Like above, iron, lug/wire, then solder. I use an iron with a flat tip as it gets more heat in than those really pointy ones, which are great for circuit boards and other smaller jobs.



    this wire on the pickups is great, hook on, pull back the sleeve, solder, push it back down, nice. It's pull back fabric.

    ok, so the joint should look a bit like this - shiny, no pits or bumps, enough to keep the wire on, no big blobs or too much;


  9. #9
    GAStronomist stan's Avatar
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    you are right wokks this will get the full treatment eventually...

    don't know what the routing looks like yet, cavities or swimming pool. Squiers often get the swimming pool, but router and dremmel will be on standby for any extra required.

    And in true pitbull ocd, belt and braces fashion, I'll shield the cavities while I am there, thanks for that...

    As for the playing, it really is average, but it's all about fun, and what better inspiration to get better?!

  10. #10
    GAStronomist stan's Avatar
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    same goes for pots - you need to get the heat into do the job, but don't cook them...

    this is a great example of too much solder and this is going to get redone another way...

    it probably will work, but it's blobby and too much solder was fed in, this joint may eventually fail to some degree... I'll do photos of the redo

    The black wire on the lug, however, is just right.

    Last edited by stan; 25-02-2016 at 11:42 AM.

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