Most of the upgrades I made to the guitar were in the electronics department. In order to do this yourself, some soldering skills are required, however, your local music shop will likely carry out this work for a small charge.
For this guitar, I chose the Fender 54 Custom Shop Stratocaster set. These are vintage output pickups, and are ideal for clear, chiming clean sounds, or punchy distorted rhythm playing. Pickups are of course a personal choice, and if you want to play anything heavier, I would recommend that you look elsewhere, as these do not really work with excessive distortion.
The change in tone from this mod was the most noticeable, particularly as I changed from a HSS to a SSS configuration. Overall it was a huge improvement on the stock pickups.
In order to get the most out of a new set of pickups, I would recommend replacing the rest of the electronics at the same time, particularly in a lower-end guitar such as this. The electronics is where most of the costs are cut, and the components used are usually far from high quality.
I have used CTS pots for the project, which are essentially an industry standard, and are far superior to the stock parts. Volume control is now more smooth and consistent across their entire range. I combined this with a Sprague Orange Drop capacitor, which gives a much finer degree of control over the tone.
As can be seen from the picture, I also added a genuine Fender selector switch. The original switch was very low quality, and this gives a much more quiet and stable feel to the guitar, which is reassuring in a live setting
The final piece was a Switchcraft output jack, which, again; is an industry standard. This eliminates the annoying pops and crackles which can be caused by the inferior stock jack.
The new electronic parts required a new pickguard to accommodate them, which I will cover in the next post