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How to Upgrade Your Cheap Guitar in 3 Easy Steps

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Struggling guitarist on a budget?

You’re not alone! Many people want a great guitar but can’t afford a top-of-the-line model. Whether you’re just starting or a casual player, there’s a way to get a fantastic instrument without spending a fortune. This post is about how to easily upgrade your cheap guitar. I mean a basic but essential upgrade.

The Squier Solution

Enter the Squier by Fender. Often seen as a “budget” guitar, Squiers actually boast well-made necks and bodies – the foundation for great sound. They may not have all the bells and whistles, but that’s where upgrades come in!

My Squier Upgrade Your Cheap Guitar Journey

Strat Upgrade Your Cheap Guitar ProjectI found a barely-used Squier Infinity Strat for just $80 on Kijiji. It was clear the previous owner hadn’t played it much, but the guitar itself had potential.
Read about this project …
Here’s how I transformed it step-by-step:

Step 1: Fresh Strings Make a Big Difference

Even a rarely played guitar can benefit from new strings. Old strings lose their brightness and can sound dull. A new set, even for under $10, can revitalize your instrument’s sound. 

I usually buy the “Ernie Ball”. I remember my first time buying these strings when I had no experience yet. When the sales guy suggested them I asked: “Are they really good?”
And he answered me with a crooked smile: “Well, Jimmy Hendrix had no single complaint.” 

Step 2: Ditch the Tuning Frustration

Grover TunersCheap tuners are the enemy of a guitarist’s sanity. They constantly slip, making it a struggle to stay in tune. Imagine having to re-tune between songs! Invest in good tuners like Grover – they’re not the most expensive, but they’ll keep you playing instead of constantly tuning. I found a set for $45.

Step 3: Level Up Your Sound with Pickups

Loaded PickguardThis is where you can personalize your guitar’s sound. You can replace just the pickups, but for ease and a quicker upgrade, consider a pre-wired pickguard. It also called Loaded Pickguard. It’s a plastic plate with pre-installed pickups and controls that simply screws onto your guitar. All you might need is some basic soldering to connect the jack.

I found a great pre-wired pickguard from DragonFire on eBay.ca for around $40. As it was for a while ago I’m not sure the sell it on eBay or Amazon now. But they have own online store now. You may want to try it.
Or you can find on Amazon any other brand. The main goal is to replace the cheap & weak original electronics.

The Final Tally

Here’s the breakdown of my upgrade costs:

  • Squier Infinity Strat: $80
  • Ernie Ball Strings: $8
  • Grover Tuners: $45
  • DragonFire Loaded Pickguard: $40
  • Total: $173

That’s it! With a screwdriver and a soldering iron (or help from a friend!), you can completely transform your guitar for under $200.

Upgraded Strat

Ready to Rock?

Get ready to experience the joy of playing a guitar that sounds and feels great! This upgrade path is perfect for beginners and experienced players alike. It’s all about maximizing your playing potential without breaking the bank.

Quick Note: On the image (left) the guitar already passed the aging project.
I didn’t describe it yet but I will do it soon.

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