Squier Cyclone Update

Now that I have had it for a while, it is time for an update on my Squier Cyclone. I am really enjoying this guitar. My previous review is here: Squier Cyclone Review.

I have done a few minor modifications and upgrades. In order:

Chrome humbucker cover / potted humbucker. The bridge humbucker was microphonic. I potted it, and managed to warp the plastic flatwork in the process. The required repair was a chrome humbucker cover, which I bought from Guitarheads.net. I really like the way it looks.

No more shine. I hate super shiny guitars. They look like toys, not instruments. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I like artificially aged instruments, either. I’m just not a fan of most modern guitar finishes. To cut the shine, I first disassembled the instrument. Then, I spent a good deal of time softening the glare by hand, using 000 synthetic steel wool (Home Depot #570872) and very light pressure. Then, I did a few applications of Meguiar’s Scratch X 2.0 to polish it up a bit, and then I waxed it with Mothers Carnauba Wax. It gives it a more subtle surface that exhibits a more natural shine, at least to my eye.

Upgraded electronics. I replaced the cheap 250k potentiometers with 500k Bourns potentiometers from Mouser (652-PDB241GTR02254A2). I replaced the jack with a Neutrik NYS-229. I don’t recall any modifications to fit the parts, but I have worked on a lot of instruments lately. I might have had to enlarge the holes in the control plate for the new pots. The neck pickup, as expected, had too much treble, so I placed a 500k resistor in parallel with the pickup for the SC-only position. A big part of the electronics upgrade was…

Replacement switching. I didn’t like the 3-way switch included on the guitar, so I replaced it with an Alpha 3P4T rotary switch from Mouser (SR2611F-0304-21R0B-D8-S). I now have four pickup combinations– the standard SC, SC || HB, HB positions, as well as an SC + HB, where the SC and the HB pickups are in series. This position provides a perceived volume boost, and an EQ shift that I perceive as being a bump in midrange content. Nice! I don’t have a schematic drawn up, but I could probably be convinced to do it without much effort.

Replacement knobs. The rotary switch required a new knob. I purchased a NOS Dakaware knob from Ebay (from this guy). I bought some new production Davies Molding phenolic knobs from Mouser (5164-1610AA) for the volume and tone controls. These knobs feel great to use, and look great together.

Planned upgrades. At this point, I think this guitar is pretty much were I want it. It feels great, sounds great, and stays in tune. The only other upgrade I am considering is to put some sort of a finish on the maple parts of the neck. The wood is so light in color that it makes the guitar look like a toy.

More to come!

6 thoughts on “Squier Cyclone Update

  1. Thanks for the post. Just got my cyclone and I love the way it plays, but…… Same problem with the tremolo. I loosened it up but now my low E sounds like crap. I tune it up but there is some kind of weird resonating that makes it sound out no matter what. I’m going to try some of the mods you’ve discussed. I’m hoping new strings and setting it up will make a difference. Any other thoughts? I’ve never run into this particular problem. Thanks.

  2. Hey Paul,

    What’s the problem with the tremolo?

    On mine, it was way too stiff, caused by too many / strong springs.

    Just removing a spring or loosening the spring claw will fix the stiffness, but will also cascade into a number of different problems.

    Open the back of the guitar up. Put a wedge between the tremolo block and the back of the guitar so that it holds the bridge plate exactly where you want it on the guitar. Then, tune the guitar, and hold the it with the strings-up. Start tightening the tremolo claw screws just until the wedge falls out. At that point, the tremolo will be (almost) perfectly in balance.

    If I can be of any more help, just let me know!

    Mike

    • Thx, for the insight, I am planning on buying one near future. I will replace pups with SD-Alnico Pro II in bridge, and SD-Hotrail in neck. I already own these. I may add coil splitting, since both pups are 4 wire. And was thinking of adding a active boost curcuit as well.
      I am partial to the 3 color burst though, but they are not usually on sale. I was hoping to find a dual boost curcuit, one for the splitcoil mode, not to over power the clean sound, and one for the bridge which I would want to go heavy on. Any come to mind? Thx again, dan.cotterman@aol.com. The Kurt Kobain signature modded mustang (1,400.00 retail) is like the Cyclone, but with a short 24″ scale, A SD-JB in bridge and a Jazzmaster in neck. I don’t know if that’s the one you were talking about the electronics or not.

  3. Just wanted to say thank you for the thorough review of this guitar which motivated me to pick one up last week. So far I have replaced the single coil with a tex mex tele neck pickup and the bridge with a GFS surf 90. Oh and replaced the nut with a graphtech one, and oiled the heck out of the neck which was insanely dry when I giot it. With these easy modifications and a quick setup this guitar plays like a dream. The only other thing I might do is knock down the plastic like finish on the body (like you did). And maybe add a third pickup in the middle position, since there’s plenty of space in there, maybe a gold foil of some sort. This guitar stands up against my Mexican tele as far as playability and usable tones. For a hundred and sixty bucks… I’m a fan of the squire cyclone.

  4. Hey Nik,

    You’re very welcome for the review. I’m glad it helped.

    My Cyclone has held up well, and I really enjoy playing it.

    What color did you get?

    Mike

    • I ended up getting candy apple red solely because it was the color on sale. Truth be told I’m not usually a fan of red guitars, they tend to be a little flashy for my taste… But this thing is gorgeous. I might just have to put some racing stripes on it.

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