Modding a Squier - Bronco? Cabronita? CaBronco!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ParadeMe, Sep 11, 2015.

  1. ParadeMe


    Sep 11, 2015
    Hi there. My first post. So first off: Thank you guys for all the input and knowledge I gained by browsing this forum. Kinda led to my after hour modding adventure.
    It started with the simple need for a bass. I'm recording my songs at home and just wanted a basic model within my budget. So it had to be dead silent, student's price range, one pickup config and a short scale neck. These were my initial thoughts:

    I thought about the Gretsch 2202 but people just seemed to love the older models - rumor has it that the pickups were made/designed by TV-Jones.
    Apart from that I was intrigued by Fender's off set models. Mainly the Mustang Bass. The only affordable model would have been the Mikey Way bass. But... why, you know. Maybe it was the sparkly paint job but I just couldn't warm to that instrument.
    I'm also coming from the Telecaster-League. And for me the Cabronita designs were and still are the best design next to the goode ol' originals. Cabronita basses were just too expensive for me.
    Finally - only bass within my budget: the infamous Bronco by Squier.

    Sooo... browsing Talk Bass for ideas I gained enough motivation to start this project and simply just throw all my initial thoughts together, grab my jigsaw and drill and DIY the hell out of a used 2002 Bronco bass I found on eBay (for approx. 100 of hard american currency). Also, I found a vendor, who sold "1990 Gretsch 2202 Bass Pickups" for 35 bucks apiece - done deal.

    To keep it less boring and text-heavy - some pictures:
    That's how it started.

    It was quite roomy under the hood. Actually too roomy.The pickup and the mounting ring were exactly the size of the pickup cavity. So I had to glue in some pieces of wood to support the pickup ring but also had to chop off some wood to make the wider Gretsch-pickup fit the cavity (full-time and pro luthiers: please look away now):



    Not a big deal. Clumsy but solid. Finishing off with nail polish.
    Pickup found it's place. Next in line was the pick guard. Again - if you're sensitive by nature and if you don't want to see the abusing of the finest craftsmanship Squier could offer: look away now.


    Yeah, I know. Some people wouldn't even use those tools I used for modding a bass for building a simple tree house. But the budget dictates the parameters. By screwing the pick guard on a straight and long enough piece of wood and sanding the cut surface with fine sandpaper made it look quite acceptable.

    After that, I swapped the bridge. I liked the retro looks, but the intonation drove me nuts. Common problem with those bridges. Again, eBay helped me out with a solid four-saddle solution. I disliked the chrome saddles. So I got a Wilkinson bridge and swapped the chrome saddles for brass ones (the left over Wilkinson bridge got the chrome saddles and was sold instantly):



    As you probably noticed in the last picture - I wanted to give the Bronco that Mustang swag. So, besides the shape of the body the control plate is what makes a Mustang (look like) a Mustang. The only one I found which was reasonably priced (you can find a lot of 1960something control plates for approx. 150 $ each) was a MIJ one with the rounded edges where the pick guard sits. It was not easy to get the pick guard cut with that slight rounding - but a hacksaw and more sandpaper did the job just right:



    Next: moving under the hood. First off: in the world of Telecasters are a lot of people who like straight-into-the-output-jack-wiring. It's like fixed gear cycling. Like flintlock-pistols compared to a semi-automatic. Like rubber-less... 100% denim-no-spandex-jeans. However. I tried to include this way of wiring by installing a push/pull pot. To anticipate the result: it didn't work. It sounded the same pushed (with vol/tone on max) as it does pulled (directly into the jack) or as it did when I had the pickup wired without controls for testing. Maybe it's the heights which are not as prominent on a bass as they are on a Tele. Maybe my wiring schematic. I don't know. It's kind of a useless gimmick now; "cool... a puch/pull". Gives me a killswitch with the volume on zero.
    Also, I first tried a TV-Jones Model 10 wiring. Mainly because it's supposed to be a TV-Jones affiliated pickup. I found the diagram on their homepage. It had a volume-jump when maxing the volume. Rolling it off just a wee bit made the volume drop a significant bit. Disliked it. Discarded it. Rewired everything to modern P-Bass configuration. To be found on Seymour Duncan's Homepage. Thanks, Seymour. I think the Fender Cabronita Bass' guts look alike. Not sure though. Maybe some TB-Member can tell? 500k audio taper pots, switchcraft jack, push-back wire and a .068 tone pot (and bushings to make the solid-shaft control knobs fit the split-shaft pots):


    Maybe someone here knows why my straight-into-the-jack-method failed. Maybe you can also tell me what to do with that push/pull instead.

    Well, that was it. It didn't took me too long. I worked maybe five times for one or two hours in the evening over a period of two weeks while preparing for my law degree (compensation...).

    I'm still in the process of finding out which strings to play. I have Fender Short Scale something (105-45) now and think they are too bright. I mean, I like a slightly distorted sound with grainy highs but the Fender strings are just... well, too metallic and not musical at all. Maybe I'll get me some GHS Brite Flats. A lot of people here on Talk Bass seem to like them. Also they seem to be a good compromise in terms of feel and sound (not-too-flatwound-sounding). Regular flats would be too dull for my purposes. Let's see.

    Le grand finale, in comparison with the first picture:


    So - what do you think? I'm especially interested in what you guys think about the wiring.
    But don't tell me I used the wrong tools or that my way of modding that bass reminds you of a brain surgeon with a pair of hedge shears :D
    Also - what do you think is a suitable name for that beast? CaBronco is ok, but sounds a little... off.
    Seanmo, Astronaut, BassmanM and 15 others like this.
  2. ParadeMe


    Sep 11, 2015
    And one for the family album:

  3. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I LOVE that! You made a great call on modifying the pickguard - somehow that looks just right! I think the control plate and the bridge swaps both look like they belong there. How did you fill in the screw holes from the previous PG?

    I'm also confident that you like the Gretsch pickup - please tell us more about it. Congrats on finding one for $35, that's a good buy.

    My pick for that bass would be light gauge Labella Deep Talkin' flats, but that's my choice in general.

    NICE WORK!! Clean result, looks like it was designed that way.
    dukeandrews likes this.
  4. RED J

    RED J Lol

    Jan 23, 2000
    That's nice. Though I have basically lost interest in projects a Bronco mod intrigues me.
    ParadeMe likes this.
  5. felis


    Jul 31, 2013
    Midwest, USA
    I like that a lot too. A nice, clean job.
    I'm also curious about the holes. Looks like there should be about 4 holes left over.
    Maybe they're noticeable up close, but they don't really show in the pictures.
  6. Eilif

    Eilif Grooving under the MDW runway.

    Oct 1, 2001
    That has got to be one of the most tasteful and subtly creative Bronco mods I've ever seen. All the parts just look right together. The Cabronita is a good looking bass, but yours looks better.

    Well Done!
    ParadeMe likes this.
  7. RED J

    RED J Lol

    Jan 23, 2000
    What makes it stand out to me is the tasteful contrast of the components. I don't care much for black basses especially blacked out stealth looking basses, but when you get some contrast going with chrome, the brass saddles, maple fingerboard and the small pickguard, everything just works well together. VERY nice.
    I'm not going to hijack or clog up your post but here is a thumbnail of my black bass, I love it cause of all the chrome in stark contrast to the black

  8. Antisyzygy


    Dec 8, 2014
    They're a lot of fun. They fit many sizes of pickup since the route on the body is so big.

    Here's mine :


    Series/Parallel/Split is what the switch is for.

    The tone pot is getting swapped with a No-Load tone. The tone pot is broken, so I decided to upgrade it a little if I have to replace it anyway.

    I have to swap the bridge still. I have the parts, just been too busy lately. I'll probably get new tuners for it as well at some point.
  9. Antisyzygy


    Dec 8, 2014
    The pickguard is a great idea. That makes it look so much better. I've never been a fan of huge white pickguards on black basses.

    Man, now I want to do another bronco mod......
    ParadeMe likes this.
  10. pudge


    Sep 13, 2008
    Great job.Thats a perfect upgradefor a cheap to start with bronco!Love the pickguard!
  11. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Seanmo, themarshall and ScarfFace like this.
  12. walldaja


    Apr 27, 2011
    Nice mod and great use of tools and resources at hand.
    ParadeMe likes this.
  13. ScarfFace

    ScarfFace Supporting Member

    Aug 23, 2014
    La Crosse WI
    I think that's a great name for this really nice looking bass
  14. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    Love it.
    ParadeMe likes this.
  15. jaybones

    jaybones Inactive

    Mar 4, 2015
    Kelleys Island, Ohio
    Very nice job! I'm also curious as to how you filled the extra holes, I'm guessing you did filler and black nail polish like the pickup route.
  16. Great looking bass, I'd call it Bonita, Spanish for pretty.

    I have a pretty modded Bronco and debated cutting pearloid guard down and adding a chrome control plate and Jazz Bass knobs for that mustang look.

    Attached Files:

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    GotRoot? likes this.
  17. mel0dic.bassist

    mel0dic.bassist Guest

    Jul 9, 2014
    That thing looks killer! Very inspiring! Would be cool to hear what it sounds like.

    You should call it the Bronconita!
  18. ParadeMe


    Sep 11, 2015
    Thank you! The plate is a little off, due to the routing of the control cavity. If you look closely at how the pickguard follows the contours of the body you see that the plate moves a little further away from the body's outline.
    Also i regret following the arc of the control plate with the pickguard at the upper corner - I should have cut it like the Mustang's guard, going straight up right after the control plate (for the remaining 1/2 inch). But again, I'm glad you like it!

    I put wood filler in the screw holes and dabbed some black nail polish on it. After it dried it left a tiny bulge, which I leveled by "steam rolling" it with an even round piece of wood. By doing this the polish lost its shiny surface and was pushed into the lightest cracks of the bullet proof poly finish. The result is not perfect, but since the body is from 2002 and is quite worn and slightly beaten, it hides the previous holes just right.

    You are right - I love it! I would say it's a rather bright pickup with a lot of low end though. Perfectly ballanced and very articulate, imho. But since I'm still looking for strings I like this can only be an incomplete verdict for now. I was considering Labellas too but decided against flat wound.
    I think that pickup is still up for sale. Seems like it's an nos bulk from the 90s. Just try it with "Gretsch Electric Guitar Electromatic Bass 2202 Chrome Pickup" at the 'bay. But i think there's no way to confirm if that's the sought after TV-Jones designed pickup.
  19. ParadeMe


    Sep 11, 2015
    Just answered that in the post above. Main ingedient is a bulging drop of nail polish. Main action is rolling it even after it comletely dried. My modest camera did the rest of the job.
    It works fine with a solid black body which already has its marks and scratches. But you would notice the job on a newer body - less than you would notice the holes of course. Also I think finding the right color if it's not black isn't too easy.
    I also had to cover up the screw holes around the control plate which is a lot smaller than the area covered by thre pick guard before.
  20. She's a beauty!! Well done!!
    ParadeMe likes this.