Squier guitars are widely known as being affordable guitars that many beginners buy as their first guitar. Although, are Squier guitars good?
Squier guitars are widely considered the best budget friendly performing guitars with high playability. With the brands recent factory move to Indonesia, Squier has been producing quality guitars that are competing with higher priced brands like Fender and Gibson in market share.
Continue reading to find out what makes Squier guitars good and if they are the best option for beginners.
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Are Squier Guitars Made By Fender?
Squier Guitars are a subsidiary brand made by Fender Instruments. In 1982, Fender felt a lot of pressure from the Japanese guitar manufacturers as well as customers to produce an inexpensive quality guitar. Because of this, Fender introduced the Squier series of guitars in mid-late 1982.
Fender chairmen, Bill Schultz had previously worked at Yamaha so he had a deep knowledge on Japanese production processes. Companies like Ibanez were eating up the market share with inexpensive but good guitars. He then decided to create another line of guitars to compete with the Japanese manufacturers.
He did not want to use the Fender name because he wanted to keep Fender as a premium brand. Instead, the name Squier was used. Squier was a string company that Fender acquired in 1965 after seeing their massive success. In the mid 1970’s, Squier strings were re-branded as Fender and the Squier name would be retired.
It wasn’t until 1982 that Fender would bring the Squier name back. Japanese manufacturers were making copies of Fender and Gibson guitars and selling them in Europe at an alarming rate. These guitars were of similar quality and much cheaper. In an effort to regain that market share while not diluting the Fender name, Fender reintroduced the Squier name and started production in Asia.
Initially, the guitar had a full Fender logo with a small Squier Series mark as seen below. This ended up being too confusing for consumers against the American made and more expensive Fender models.
In 1983, after the confusion, the labeling was replaced with a full Squier name in place of the Fender name. A small “By Fender” was placed under the Squier name plate. Later in 1983, Squiers started to appear as officially licensed cheaper versions of their Fender counterparts in the United States. Thus the Squier we know today was born.
Are Squier Guitars Good?
Squier’s dominate their price point. But does that make them good or is it all Fender family hype? Squiers are good guitars with notable playability and craftmanship at a low price point making them one of the best beginner guitars.
Although, Squier used to be a strict beginner guitarist brand. This is slowly changing and even experienced guitarists are picking up Squiers. Let’s discuss why.
Squier offers multiple lines of guitars that have held up over time. Most notably are the necks. The necks are thin but not flat, making them extremely comfortable. If you like to play Hendrix, SRV, or Mayer style with the thumb over to mute / fret the low E then a thin neck is perfect. Especially if you have smaller hands like myself.
Squier guitars also hold up over time. Many reviews of modern day Squier’s mention how it sounds the same 7 years later as it did when first purchased. Many people believe that because of the cheaper materials and manufacturing processes that the guitars would eventually downgrade over time. This is not the case for Squier.
If you are on a budget, then Squier is the way to go all of the time. Out of the box they are quality instruments and you can use some of the extra money you saved to put mods in. For example, I had a Squier Strat with Texas Special pickups that almost sounded as good as my American Fender. Almost. Combine that with an Ibanez Tube Screamer and a Boss Katana or Fender Rumble amp (Amazon links) and you are on your way to achieving the best tone out of your Squier.
In the past few years, Squier has produced guitars that are receiving riveting reviews. This is even causing some to truly question why they purchased a Fender.
“I’ve played guitar for over 50 years and I have several Squiers from bullet to the standard and several in-between. All of them are good to great guitars. The little HSS bullet that I have blew me away”Local Denver Guitar Tech
With all that being said, it is best to try out a guitar in person first before buying online. Feel is massive to creating a relationship with your guitar and buying blind online is a risky game unless you do not mind returning the guitar if it does not feel right for you. Like all guitar brands (except maybe PRS), there are some runts in the litter. For that reason, try before you buy.
Is Squier a Good Guitar for Beginners?
Squier is considered one of the best guitars for beginners because of it’s low price point and ease of play. The brand has been praised in recent years for quality made guitars coming out of the new Indonesian factory making them a top rated guitar for beginners.
As you are beginning to play the guitar, it can be a daunting task to begin a new hobby or passion. If the guitar is not set up right, many beginners will not understand that their guitar is not set up right and just think guitar is too hard. This will not be an issue with Squier.
When discussing a guitarists first guitar, price is an important factor. Between $200-$480 is as much as you would want to spend on a first guitar. The reason is because a lot of people will not stick with it statistically. Don’t let this be you if you are a beginner.
Let’s discuss some of the advantages to getting a Squier as your first guitar / as a beginner.
- Great classic look. Chances are one of your hero’s played a Strat and that inspired you to play the guitar. Playing a guitar that you admire the look of makes a huge difference. Seeing a guitar that inspires you to play will make you a better musician faster.
- Multiple price points over an array of series. With Squier, there are guitars that cost $150 and some that cost $500. This gives multiple customers of varying socio-economic backgrounds the ability to buy a Squier.
- Playability. Guitar is gonna feel awkward for a beginner no matter what guitar you buy. If someone buys a guitar that already has bad playability and feel, then they might not know the difference. Squier’s have a great feel to them with a fast and thin neck, often maple, and the tradition body contours that fit your body well.
Find out if Fender is a Good Guitar Brand here!
Why are Squiers So Cheap?
Squier Guitars are cheap because of cheaper labor practices in Asia and lesser quality materials. On the labor side, factory workers in Asia, depending on the region, can make as little as $3 an hour to as high as $5 an hour to build Squier guitars. By comparison, American workers building Fender guitars make $12-$16 an hour.
Another factor is the inexpensive materials used on Squier Guitars. The metal on Squier Guitars like the bridge, are made by using Asian pot metal. Asian pot metal is recycled metals plus steel all melted down together, casted, and made into a bridge. By comparison, Fender bridges are made out of pure steel and no recycled materials melted down. This requires an expensive machine to shape the steel and a highly trained and highly paid employee to operate it.
To expand on the inexpensive materials, wood is another driving factor. Squier uses cheaper wood, most often agathis or poplar wood. Although this changes based on price fluctuations. Squier guitars are also a quarter inch thinner than the American Fender counterpart. To summarize, Squier uses cheaper wood and less of it to create a cheaper guitar.
Is Fender or Squier Better?
From a quality and tonal level, Fender guitars are better than Squier guitars. Fender uses premium materials and robust manufacturing processes that Squier does not.
Although this comes at a premium. Fender guitars are much more expensive than their Squier counterparts. This is because you are paying for the higher quality materials and craftmanship that goes into Fender guitars. This does not mean that Squier is bad. Fender is simply top of the line guitars.
Standard Squier’s can average around $150-$460 while American Fenders can start upwards of $1500+. This is a massive difference in price. For that big of a price gap you would expect Fender to be far superior. Although, especially with the Squier Classic Vibe series, tonal differences and playability are not as easy to spot as they once were.
In terms of tonal quality, Squier’s are brighter and less warm than Fenders on average. Although, they are so much cheaper than Fender guitars and the tonal difference does not justify spending an extra thousand dollars if you are a beginner guitarist. A great video to watch on the tone differences is Marty Schwartz’s side by side comparison. After plugging into an amp and adding some pedals, the difference in tone is not completely noticeable to an untrained ear.
Best Squier Guitars
The two best Squier guitars are the Squier Classic Vibe ’50s Stratocaster and the Squier Affinity Telecaster.
Lets take a look at two of the highest rated and reviewed Squier series guitars.
Squier Classic Vibe ’50s Stratocaster
- Cost: $459 (Amazon)
- Vintage-style, 6-saddle tremolo bridge, nickel-plated hardware
- Single coil standard pickups
- Tall frets helping bends to move smoothly
- Fast feeling neck without being too skinny (medium C)
- “This instrument is VERY satisfying: good solid feel, great tone, good looks due to a high quality build, and amazing value” – Reviewer
- The best Squier guitar currently out
Squier Affinity Telecaster
- Cost: $230 (Amazon)
- The Squier Affinity Telecaster offers upgraded features from the bullet series without a large price increase.
- Thinner lightweight body
- Smooth neck and great playability
- “The neck is my favorite part about it. The one I got literally plays the best of any fender I’ve ever held. ZERO fret end issues. I’m literally speechless how good this maple neck feels. ” – Reviewer
- Amazing grab for such a low price
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