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Thread: Seeking Advice On The Squier Mini-Strat

  1. #1
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    Default Seeking Advice On The Squier Mini-Strat

    Hello friends, I recently got a Squier Mini Stratocaster, in the hope that it'll provide a nice compact alternative to a full-size electric guitar. I must say, it's really pretty darn nice, especially for a relatively inexpensive instrument, and the sound thru an amp is impressive with its 5-position pickup selector switch. However, I could use some advice on two points: 1) With its shorter scale, and using "10-guage" strings, there's a sense of "floppiness" when the guitar is tuned to standard tuning. It seems that if I tune upward a half-step, that gives the string tension a "feel" that is more like what I'm used to on a full-size guitar. Do you see any reason I shouldn't tune up a half-step, and do folks commonly do this with the shorter-scale guitars? 2) I am pretty sure my strings are sitting up too high in the nut, as my clip-on tuner is showing that although the open strings are accurately tuned, the notes fretted at the first and second frets are way sharp; and it's also evident in the cringe-worthy sound I'm getting with chords played around the "first position". So, it looks like I'm going to have to get the nut slots deepened. I've never attempted that myself, and the little voice inside my head is screaming, "Noooooooooo!!!", but I'm open to suggestions. Thanks to all, and have a good Wednesday! (P.S. The neck is nice and straight with just a touch of relief, and I've tentatively dialed in a reasonable action and "zero-to-twelve" octave intonation, so the nut issue is the main concern right now...)

  2. #2
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    I have ukes, but, nuts are replaceable - some people use tiny 'files' used for cleaning welding torches, just go slowly, checking often.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  3. #3
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    Thanks, Keith! I have read about those little welding-torch files being utilized for guitar nut slot tweaking, and I just may run over to my local Harbor Freight store this afternoon and grab a set!

  4. #4
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    Hope you don't mind this tangent to your post. I recently had a mini Strat converted to a bass. I only play 21" to 24" scale bass, the mini Strat fits perfectly. I think the quality of the instrument is very good and it converted very nicely. I kept the same pickups, but had the 5 way switch by-passed since my bass playing doesn't use them, just straight to the volume and tone controls. It's become one of my favorites (out of 26).




    This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
    9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 11 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 35)

    Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
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  5. #5
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    That is so cool, Mike! What a nice conversion! In the meantime, I decided to venture into new territory (for me) and work on that nut issue myself. After reading a ton of articles on the subject, I decided that maybe the safest option for me was 600-grit sandpaper (ultra-fine texture), so I went to the hardware store and got some, and, one by one, I loosened the strings, lifted them gently out of their nut slots, and, using a small folded-over square of the sandpaper, very carefully and gradually deepened the nut slots, maintaining a slope running downward from the nut toward the tuning posts, until the notes fretted at the first, second and third frets no longer registered sharp on my clip-on tuner. I also tried to stay conscious of the principle that when a given string is fretted at the 3rd fret, there should just be a tiny amount of "daylight" between the bottom of the string and the top of the FIRST fret (just enough to be able to slide a thin pick in between). Prior to my undertaking this process, that amount of "daylight" was way too much, so that the "first-position" notes were stretching way sharp when fretted. Well, it took me the greater part of an evening, sanding, checking, sanding some more, re-checking, but finally I had all of the nut slots deepened an appropriate amount, and I also widened a couple of them in which the string had been getting pinched. I then re-checked the string height at the bridge (on an electric guitar I usually like the strings to be at such a height that a nickel will just barely slide under them without getting hung up, when placed across the 16th and 17th fret wires), and I double checked the forward-versus-rearward position of each saddle piece to make sure my octaves (zero-to-twelfth fret) were accurate for each string. Finally, I made sure that all sharp fret edges were knocked back, and I put a set of D'Addario "elevens" on it. To my amazement, this Mini Strat now feels great, sounds great, and plays very much in tune up and down the board. With the eleven-guage strings, it has a nice amount of tension, slightly less than on a full scale guitar with "tens" perhaps, but still quite compatible with standard "E to e" tuning. So, I'm pretty happy with this little guy! I just might try it out at my next nursing home gig!
    Last edited by Bill Sheehan; 10-25-2019 at 04:45 AM.

  6. #6
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    Dang it, Mike. When I was talking with Fanner months back, this is basically what I had in mind, only fretless might be even better. I don't think I'd trust myself to do a conversion but $100 for the base instrument is hard to pass up.
    Last edited by Jim Hanks; 10-25-2019 at 05:14 PM.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Sheehan View Post
    1) With its shorter scale, and using "10-guage" strings, there's a sense of "floppiness" when the guitar is tuned to standard tuning.
    For my mini guitars, I buy strings for a seven-string guitar, toss the thinnest string, and use the remaining six. Try that and see if you like the results. I especially like DR strings.

    And yes, most of my mini-guitars came with a recommendation that I tune them up to A. I prefer standard tuning.
    Last edited by Futurethink; 10-25-2019 at 12:58 PM.

  8. #8
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    Thank you, Future! For the time being, I may stick with the standard "elevens" (in E-to-e tuning) and see how things go; but I certainly won't rule out a switch to the higher tuning at some point! Have a good weekend!

  9. #9
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    Sounds like you handled it very well Bill, good on ya.


    This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
    9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 11 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 35)

    • Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
    • Member The CC Strummers: YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers

  10. #10
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    Thanks, Mike. My first decent electric guitar was a Stratocaster (natural finish, with maple neck, and the frets were imbedded right into the neck, with no separate fingerboard) that I got from Muscara Music (in either Newark or NYC, I can't remember!) in 1973, when I was 23 years old. It was $250.00 new, which included a hard-shell case. It was a wonderful instrument, and took me through the next 40 years of gigging before I made disposition of it. I remember the discovery involved in learning to adjust the individual bridge saddles up-and-down, frontward-to-rearward, to get it to intonate accurately and feel good in my hands. But looking back, I never once thought about the nut, or the possibility of doing anything with the truss rod or the "Micro-Tilt" neck angle adjustment feature! I suppose the guitar could have been "tuned in" to be a little more precise in those categories, but I was oblivious to those factors. Funny how, here at age 66, I took my first whack at deepening some nut slots!

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