Epiphone Les Paul vs Squier Strat Electric Guitar Review
Epiphone vs Squier by Fender
Many new guitar players wonder about the comparison between the Epiphone Les Paul and Squier Strat. Which is better for beginners? Which is higher quality? Which has a better sound, and, most importantly, which guitar is right for me?
On many levels this debate makes a whole lot of sense. Epiphone and Squier are run by Gibson and Fender respectively, and they both make budget and entry-level versions of some of the most classic guitars in history. The same kind of player who is interested in one may be interested in the other.
But veteran guitarists know the answers here are not so clear-cut. There are many factors to consider when looking at Epiphone and Squier, and, as you'll see in this review, comparing the Standard models from each brand may not give you the whole picture.
Some guitars from each manufacturer are more suited for beginners. Some are good enough to carry onstage or into the recording studio. Deciding which guitars to compare is very much dependent on the experience and goals of the player doing the comparison.
You may already know the core differences between a Strat and Les Paul, but this article will take you further into the debate and help you decide which Epiphone or Squier is the right choice for you.
Sound, Construction and Quality Comparisons
The main problem with comparing Squier and Epiphone is that Fender has an extra level in their guitar hierarchy. Where Gibson jumps straight to Epiphone, Fender has their Mexican-made Standard Series.
This means an Epiphone LP Standard is really a mid-level guitar, and I believe the better comparison when it comes to quality is between the Epiphone Les Paul Standard and the Fender Standard Stratocaster.
In my opinion, the Squier Standard Strat is better compared to a guitar like the Epiphone LP-100, which is a stripped-down version of the Epi Les Paul Standard. Both guitars are in a similar price range, and both feature similar quality.
So, really we have two separate comparisons when it comes to Epiphone vs Squier by Fender. We have the Epiphone Les Paul Standard against the Fender Standard Strat. These are outstanding intermediate-level guitars and some of the top guitars in the $500 range.
Then we have the Squier Standard Strat and the Epiphone Les Paul 100. These are among the finest electric guitars under $300, and either is a great choice for beginners.
So, let's check them out!
Epiphone LP-100 Les Paul
Like the Epiphone Les Paul Standard, the Epiphone LP-100 features a single cutaway design, mahogany body and neck, a pair of humbucking pickups, a three-way pickup selector switch and two each of volume and tone knobs. It has everything you need to call it a real Les Paul, even down to the Cherryburst top.
But of course there are differences when it comes to quality and construction. The LP-100 has a bolt-on neck compared to the set neck you'll see on Epiphone Standard Les Pauls. If you're a seasoned guitarists you might recognize that a bolt-on neck generally offers less sustain, and a little more "pop" than set neck guitars.
The pickups and electronics aren't of the same high quality of the Epiphone LP Standard, but they're very good for the price range. All in all, it's a good guitar for what it is, and if you are a beginner it's a solid option.
Squier Standard Strat
The Standard Squier Strat offers an Agathis body with a maple beck and rosewood fingerboard. While this is also a great choice for beginning guitarists, the tonewoods chosen here will bring a brighter, twangier sound that you'll get out of the LP-100.
While it's a matter of personal choice whether you prefer the growl of the Les Paul or the rip of the Stratocaster, it's fair to say that the quality of the Squier Standard Strat is very similar to the LP-100.
Beginners may find it easier to deal with the LP-100, as it features a fixed bridge compared to the vintage tremolo found on the Squier. This, in most cases, means it will stay in tune a little better.
The Squier Standard Strat is also available in an HSS configuration, which means you'll get one humbucking pickup and two single coils instead of three singles coils as on a traditional Strat. This is a great middle-of-the-road choice for guitarists who like the Strat vibe, but want a thicker tone more like you'll get out of a Les Paul.
Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop Pro
When newbies compare the Epiphone Les Paul with the Squier Strat, they often make the error of pitting the Epiphone Les Paul Standard against the Squier Stratocaster Standard. If you've read this far in this article, you know I'm going to say that's a mistake!
The Epiphone LP Standard is a much higher-quality guitar than the Squier Standard Strat. Moving up to the Epi LP Standard PlusTop Pro, the differences in quality and construction are even more dramatic.
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop Pro has a mahogany body, set mahogany beck, rosewood fingerboard, and all the other features you'd expect to see in an Epi LP. Most importantly, is has Epiphone's ProBucker pickups.
ProBuckers are a major step forward for Epi Les Pauls, bringing in some of the clarity and warmth formerly found only in Gibsons.
Once again, you have to decide if you prefer the sound of the Les Paul over the Strat. Otherwise, the MIM Strat and Epi LP Standard are similarly priced guitars, both of excellent quality, and either will serve intermediate players and gigging musicians well.
Guitar World Reviews the Epiphone Les Paul PlusTop PRO
Fender Standard Stratocaster
Many guitarists will tell you the Fender Standard Strat, also called the MIM Strat because it is "made in Mexico", is among the best bargains out there in the guitar world. For less than half the price on the legendary American Stratocaster, you get a guitar that's almost as good.
Swap out a few pickups, pots and caps and you've got yourself a customized Strat competitive with anything on the market today.
It's easy to see how this guitar is a huge step above the Squier Standard Strat. It has an alder body, maple neck, choice of maple or rosewood fingerboard, and comes in HSS and SSS pickup configurations.
If you are an intermediate player or above, this is the guitar to consider if you're into the Stat thing. While it's true that you can customize a Squier Strat with better pickups, hardware and electronics and end up with an incredible instrument, with the MIM Standard you are starting with a better guitar to begin with.
The Fender Standard Strat blows the Epiphone LP-100 out of the water, but that's not where the fair fight is found between Epiphone and Squier by Fender. If you want a guitar in the Epiphone lineup analogous to the the Fender MIM Strat, you need to look at the Epi Les Paul Standard.
Squier Vintage Modified and Classic Vibe Guitars
The Standard model aside, there are couple of guitars in the Squier lineup that just might give the Epiphone Les Paul Standard a run for its money. In fact, many Strat lovers seem to think they give MIM Standard Fenders a challenge.
The Vintage Modified and Classic Vibe series Stratocasters are Squiers with major upgrades to their specs and sound.
Instead of Agathis tonewood used in the bodies of Standard Squiers, Vintage Modified and Classic Vibe Strats use better materials like Alder (traditionally used in Fender Strats) and Basswood. They feature much better pickups and some unique designs hearkening back to Strats gone by.
Both Vintage Modified and Classic Vibe Strats will cost less than an Epi Standard Les Paul, but they are coming to be known as one of the best values out there in the guitar world.
The Squier Vintage Modified '70s Strat
Choosing Between Epiphone and Squier
So, what does all of this mean to you? Hey, remember this is all my opinion, but here’s how it boils down as I see it:
If you’re a newbie make your choice between the Squier Standard Strat and the Epiphone LP-100. These are both excellent guitars for their price range, and there aren't a whole lot of competitors that hold a candle to them.
If you’re an intermediate guitarist, or a beginner with a few extra bucks in your pocket, consider the Epiphone Les Paul Standard or the Fender Standard Stratocaster. Or, take a look at the Vintage Modified and Classic Vibe Series Strats and see if you can grab a great bargain.
Good luck choosing your new guitar! If these decisions were easy, we guitarists wouldn't own so many darned guitars!
Your Choice: Epiphone Les Paul or Squier Strat?
Which guitar do you like the best?
If you still need some advice on sorting out this whole Epiphone Les Paul vs Squier Strat thing, here are a few more articles you may find helpful.
- Everyone seems to have an opinion on Squier. Is Squier a decent brand name, or should you skip them altogether? Read this and find out the opinion of at least one veteran guitarist.
- If you love the Les Paul vibe but you're on a budget you are probably thinking about Epiphone. But what other guitars are out there that might be a better option?
- Discover the core differences between Gibson and Epiphone when it comes to the mighty Les Paul. Should you grab an Epiphone now, or save up for a Gibson?