Epiphone Dot Pickup Upgrade Guide
Created by the Guitar Chalk Editorial
In this build guide we're looking at pickup swaps and other possible upgrades for the Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster. We're using the '50s model - with the butterscotch coloring - as our specific example. However, these upgrades could also apply to other Telecasters in the Classic Vibe series.
These guitars are great candidates for pickup upgrades because they cut costs through parts, but generally have a good tonewood foundation.
This particular guitar uses pine and maple for the body and neck.
First we'll look at a pickup upgrade we recommend, then go into some other swap options that you may or may not want to include.
Pickup Upgrade and Other Parts
In this table are all the parts we're using for our build. Please keep in mind that we link to our partner, Sweetwater, but at no extra cost to you. This is a non-intrusive way to support our site and keep producing great content without banner ads. If you're willing, please consider buying through these links to support us. Thank you for reading and enjoying our content.
Squier Classic Vibe '50s Tele
Fender Gen 4 Noiseless Tele Set
Fender 3-Saddle American Vintage
Fender Locking Tuning Machines for Strat or Tele
The Guitar Base: Squier Classic Vibe '50s Telecaster
As we've already mentioned, the Squier Classic Vibe '50s Telecaster is our base model for this particular upgrade.
The guitar has a pine body and maple neck, but lacks quality in the pickup and hardware department. If you have a Classic Vibe Tele you like, these are some great ways to give it an injection of quality and longevity.
Even if you just do pickups and the bridge swap, you'll go a long way towards improving the quality of this instrument and making it a more serious guitar.
Pickup Set: Fender Gen 4 Noiseless Set
There are a lot of Telecaster pickup sets we could recommend here, but we're a big fan of the Fender Gen 4 Noiseless set designed for Telecasters.
Cheap Squiers guitars - and even some Fender models - can have serious problems with noise and excess hum. These pickups will likely eliminate that problem (or keep it from occurring in the future), while also dramatically improving your tone quality.
The pickup swap is easy to do with a soldering gun, though we do recommend taking pictures of the existing wiring connection in the Telecaster before you take the original pickups out. This will give you a helpful reference point, just in case there is some ambiguity with the new set.
If this is the only part of our build guide you implement, it should be well worth the effort as the Gen 4 pickup set is a high-end option used in expensive Fender guitars.
Vintage Bridge Swap
This classic vibe Telecaster uses the Vintage Tele bridge design, which we'd recommend replacing with the Fender version of the same model.
You can see this bridge uses the same four-screw setup with three saddles, which will save you from having to drill any new holes into the Telecaster's body.
Pots and Switch
We'd consider this an optional swap, but certainly worthwhile if you want to keep the Squier Tele long term.
Cheaper guitars like the Classic Vibe series typically use very cheap interior electronics, including pots and jacks. That's why jacks will often slip out and fail in these guitars, requiring repair.
To avoid this, we'd recommend the Emerson Tele kit, which comes with two pots, the three way switch and the jack.
Installation will be similar to changing the pickups out, but again, just be sure to take a picture of the existing connections before you pull them out for replacement.
With the new bridge, you'll be able to significantly improve tuning stability with the Fender Locking tuning machines, which can be used on Telecasters or Stratocasters.
To round out your upgrade, we'd throw in a set of Elixir electric strings. Assuming you've done all these upgrades, you've improved tone, noise reduction, longevity, tuning stability, and overall value for a guitar that didn't cost a ton of money to begin with.
Are all the upgrades worth it?
I think it depends on how long you want to keep the Squier. If you really like it and you don't want to spend the $700 to $800 it could cost for a new Fender Telecaster, this is a good way to bring the Fender experience to your Squier Tele for around $300 or less.
We'd break it down into three tiers:
- Basic upgrade: Pickups and bridge
- Mid-level upgrade: Pickups, bridge, and electronics
- High-level upgrade: Pickups, bridge, electronics, tuning machines, and new strings
Whichever option suits you, we think it will give you a far better experience with your Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster.
Do you have questions about the upgrade process with this guitar?
Or maybe you just want to share your upgrade story.
Either way, feel free to jump into the comments section below. We'll check it out and help out as best we can.
- Guitar: Squier Classic Vibe '50s Telecaster
- Pickup Configuration: SS
- Bridge Single Coil: Fender Gen 4 Noiseless (Tele bridge)
- Neck Single Coil: Fender Gen 4 Noiseless (Tele neck)