Modded Squire Bronco "Special" - two pickups!

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by T-34, Jun 14, 2020.

  1. T-34

    T-34 Wanna go headless? Supporting Member

    It's "special" because some models distinguish one-pickup from two-pickup models this way!

    So, this bass started as a regular unremarkable black Squier Bronco "Affinity Series" - it's a very cheap 30" scale bass with rudimentary bridge and tuners and a single coil pickup from a stratocaster. With its 6 poles hidden under a plain white pickup cover.
    I've bought it because I wanted a shortscale, and the Gibson LP Junior bass I've got just before was defective. Had to send it back to the store and rage bought the cheapest shorty I could find :D


    I've got it the very last day before lockdown and having more free time, decided to mod it to make it better.
    The idea was to first add a second pickup, bit over the period of two months it all evolved even more - I ended up changing its bridge and tuners, and getting two strat-sized dual blade humbuckers too.

    In the following messages I'll post some of the progress pictures for those of you who may want to do the same to your Broncos.

    mikewalker, Nebula24, Duder and 7 others like this.
  2. T-34

    T-34 Wanna go headless? Supporting Member

    Allright, first thing is to create a template for the pickup rout - a MDF sheet, a jigsaw, two files (flat and round) and some time later it's there:


    Routing out the pickup cavity - even during the routing I had a very big suspicion: it smelled absolutely like ash.
    Squiers aren't supposed to have ash bodies, are they?
    Well, it smells like ash, it looks like ash and it feels like ash, I guess it isn't a duck :D :



    By the way, carbon paint everywhere in the electronics cavity - Squier doing it better than Gibson here. The LP JR DC I've sent back, had no trace of shielding anywhere at all.
    To keep up, I've painted with carbon paint the new bridge pickup cavity too.

  3. T-34

    T-34 Wanna go headless? Supporting Member

    After that, I've added a three-way switch between the pots and installed a second strat pickup ("donated" by my very much unused Affinity Stratocaster)

    And like that the bass lived for about a month.

    White sock alert!


    Was it better - sure, I had two more sounds!
    Was I satisfied?

    No :D

    The worst thing with the Broncos are the crappy tuners - difficult to tune and not precise at all.
    But the two-saddle bridge is pretty horrible too. Also being mostly neck pickup player, the single coil hum and noise bothered me. The next message will describe the following mods!
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
  4. T-34

    T-34 Wanna go headless? Supporting Member

    The tuners - this was easy, I had already four nice black Gotoh style tuners lying in my parts box from the past projects.
    The bridge wasn't tough to find either, the same parts box revealed four individual one-string bridges, also black! Now, the theme announced itself - what was missing is a black pickguard, black potentiometer knobs and black pickups.

    The only thing I had to buy were the pickups - after some search on ebay, I found cheap but nicely looking stratocaster-size humbuckers:



    For those of you who are interested: Vintage look hot rail humbuckers 8.5k P74 | eBay
    these are generic cheap hot rails clones under fancy covers. I've seen similar ones sold under GFS brand (but not as cheap).

    I've got four :) two for the Bronco and two for my Squier Strat (it's an HSS and the single coil noise always bothered me)

    Then I made the pickguard out of a blank 3-ply sheet, cut it out with a jig saw, files and a cutter blade to make a bevel.

    Another look at the ash wood visible in the neck pocket:

    New tuners (I had to drill the holes larger, from 12 to 14 mm)


    New individual bridges positioned to keep the original saddle pitch (18 mm):

    The pickguard

    And black speed knobs!
  5. T-34

    T-34 Wanna go headless? Supporting Member

    The electronics diagram just in case. The only thing added here is the 3 way switch, everything else is stock (except I rewired the tone pot the way I like)


    And the final result!


  6. J_Bass

    J_Bass Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2008
    Porto, Portugal
    Let's see the rest!
    T-34 likes this.
  7. cm3ohana

    cm3ohana Supporting Member

    Aug 1, 2005
    That is bada$$. The black speed knobs are a nice touch.
    4 Strings Good, edencab and T-34 like this.
  8. T-34

    T-34 Wanna go headless? Supporting Member

    Like what? :)
    J_Bass likes this.
  9. T-34

    T-34 Wanna go headless? Supporting Member

    I like seeing numbers! Knowing my tone pot is at 6.5 and not "in the middle-ish" is nice :D
    cm3ohana and J_Bass like this.
  10. J_Bass

    J_Bass Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2008
    Porto, Portugal
    Very nice!

    I guess we were posting at the same time, I missed the completed bass post.

    Edit: love the look of the bass, great choices on hardware!
    T-34 likes this.
  11. T-34

    T-34 Wanna go headless? Supporting Member

    The looks kind of suggested itself - just reused what I had already :)
    I also like true black & maple looks, this helped!
    J_Bass likes this.
  12. cm3ohana

    cm3ohana Supporting Member

    Aug 1, 2005
    You’ve given me inspiration to do something more with my Bronco’s.
  13. T-34

    T-34 Wanna go headless? Supporting Member

    You can't see on the photos, but I've also got the Gibson style pot position markers there
    mikewalker and cm3ohana like this.
  14. T-34

    T-34 Wanna go headless? Supporting Member

    Now, how does it sound?
    What I can say is that it certainly isn't worse than before :smug:
    The pickups are good - not too trebly, not too muddy, just in the middle how I like it. The string-to string balance is great, there are no strings that are too loud or too soft.

    I've already recorded quite a number of sound clips on this bass - before, during and after the mods. I you're interested, it's all here: YouTube

    three covers that I've made after the mods were done:

    The strings are GHS Brite flats, heavy gauge (G is .48)

    both pickups:

    both pickups:

    neck pickup only:
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2020
  15. T-34

    T-34 Wanna go headless? Supporting Member

    Wait a sec, these aren't Bronco necks!
  16. BAG


    May 5, 2014
    New Zealand
    What a fantastic job you've done with that! Looks and sounds great.

    I noted something similar when changing pickups on my fretless. It has a Warmoth neck with very good tuners and bridge on a Squier VM 70's jazz body. It has less noise than just about any single coil bass or guitar i'd ever used. When I went to install some Bill Lawrence J45 pickups I noted that the cavity shielding paint was very well applied and also noted that the pickups (I assume they were stock) were very well built including cloth covered wires. Much better attention to detail than I expected in any Squier. I'm assuming those stock pickups were quite good as the difference between them and the J45's was virtually non-existent which was a little disappointing.

    As for the Gibson, I'd expect a LOT more from the DC Jnr considering that here in NZ they are $1900.
    dkelley and T-34 like this.
  17. moderatelyfunky

    moderatelyfunky Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2020
    Fantastic work. Thanks for posting. Great playing too.
    dkelley and T-34 like this.
  18. moderatelyfunky

    moderatelyfunky Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2020
    Are the black terminations on the pots indicating grounds?
  19. 6Bass101


    Apr 2, 2016
    Fort Mill, SC
    They look like short scale Jaguar necks.
  20. cm3ohana

    cm3ohana Supporting Member

    Aug 1, 2005
    Yep, they’re SS Jaguar necks. I actually preferred them to the Bronco necks. There’s nothing wrong with the Bronco necks. Just a personal preference.
    T-34 likes this.