Guitar Review: Is Squier by Fender a Good Brand?

Updated on December 4, 2017
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Guitar Gopher is a guitarist and bassist with over 30 years of experience as a musician.

Are Squier guitars worth it? This review will look at the good and bad of Squier by Fender.
Are Squier guitars worth it? This review will look at the good and bad of Squier by Fender.

What Is Squier by Fender?

Squier guitars and basses are among the most popular instruments sold online and in guitar shops around the world. A couple of things account for this. For one, they are inexpensive instruments, with many models costing under $200. This makes them accessible to beginning guitarists, or even experienced players looking for a solid foundation for a project guitar.

Another reason Squier guitars are so popular is the Fender name. Since Squier is owned by Fender, arguably the most successful guitar company in the world, you know when you get a Squier it is something more than an average beginner's guitar.

Fender makes affordable versions of their Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jaguar, Jazzmaster, Jazz Bass and Precision Bass under the Squier brand. This puts these classic designs in the hands of new musicians who otherwise couldn't justify spending the money. These guitars might cost less, but they're every bit a Fender

The Squier reputation varies, and people seem to either love them or hate them. Some experienced guitarists say they are the best deals in the guitar world. Other advanced players dismiss them as beneath them. But if you're considering a Squier you're probably new to the guitar.

Maybe you've heard both sides of the story, and your biggest question is simply: Are Squier guitars any good?I

I've played guitar for over 30 years, and I've probably heard it all when it comes to Squier criticisms. Personally, I consider many Squier models among the best electric guitars for beginners. I can't help notice that the loudest complaints often seem to come from those who aren't really sure what they are talking about. For new musicians, this has to be pretty confusing.

In this article I'll break down of the pros and cons of Squier by Fender. By the time we're done hopefully you'll have a better idea of what these guitars can do for you, and whether they are a good fit for your budget and skill level.

Squier: The Bad

Let's get the negative points out of the way and then move on to the good stuff. You've most likely heard them all already, so here are the issues one by one.

1. Squier guitars are low-budget instruments intended for newbies who have never touched a guitar before.

Some of them, but this isn't a bad thing, depending on your goals and skill level. Most professional musicians would not depend on Squier to meet their needs, but if you are a beginner they are about as close as you're going to get to a real Fender guitar without shelling out big money.

2. Squier quality control is not the best.

True enough for any guitar in this price range, and this means it's important to buy from a retailer, either online or locally, with a good return policy. If you're buying in person, it’s important to check out many instruments before you decide on one.

Inspect the neck alignment, the fretwork and the electronics to make sure everything has been assembled correctly. You should do this on any guitar you purchase, but inexpensive guitars in particular can exhibit minor issues.

3. Squiers are tough to play and keep in tune.

Sometimes, but this is usually due to bad setups, and inexperienced players who do not know how to work on a guitar. Often it is not a fault of the guitar itself. Straight from the factory no guitar is set up perfectly, but for Squiers this is sometimes an especially evident problem.

There may be issues with the fretboard shrinkage or expansion, causing the frets to appear uneven and pokey. The action may need to be adjusted to make the guitar is easier to play. All of these problems can and should be fixed by a good guitar tech if you can’t do the work yourself.

4. Squier guitars are not designed to last a lifetime.

Maybe not, but if you take good care of yours it certainly could. The materials and construction are intended to result in an inexpensive guitar for a novice player who will eventually move on to something better. Squier hopes that means a new Fender guitar someday, but for now they'll to give you just enough of a Fender taste to keep you hooked.

Unfair? Not really. You won't regret becoming a Fender junkie for the rest of your life, that's for sure.

5. Squiers sound awful.

This is a complaint from experienced guitar players, for the most part. Or, just as often you'll hear it from guitar players who don't know any better, but heard it from someone else. The Squier sound is similar to the Fender sound with a few differences veteran guitar players may pick up on.

Squier pickups are a little weaker, and the body materials used do not allow for the richness of tone found in Fenders. Again, Squier is hoping to please a demographic of beginning guitarists, not veteran tone freaks who are extremely picky.

These are low-budget instruments that sacrifice a little sound to keep costs affordable. For the money, Squier guitars sound just fine.

Hear the Squier Vintage Modified Strat

Squier Guitars: The Good

Though there are a few negatives, it certainly isn’t fair to dismiss Squier guitars. While the points above are sometimes true of the Bullet, Affinity and Standard lines, it’s tough to find a better guitar out there for the price. If you have around $200 to spend, Squier is one of your best bets, and will provide excellent value for your money.

Squiers are meant to be inexpensive guitars for beginning players, and they are very good at exactly that. Many players, even after they have moved on to more expensive guitars, still have their first Squier and regard it with affection. Fender, through the Squier brand, has done an amazing job of giving beginning guitarists exactly what they need.

There are a bunch of Squier guitars that, when put together with a small-wattage practice amp, make in inexpensive first rig for a beginning guitarist for around $300. You can also find Squier starter packs, which contain a guitar, a Fender amplifier and all the accessories you need to begin playing.

In my opinion, Squier starter kits are a smart way for beginners to get into guitar without spending a lot of money. You don't have to hunt down each individual piece of gear - everything comes in one box. While the instrument may be of the lower-quality Affinity series, the amp is good enough to be used for the rest of your career as a practice amp.

Some Squiers transcend their name, and have started to forge a new legacy for the brand over the past several years. The Classic Vibe and Vintage Modified series guitars have gained a well-deserved reputation as great instruments.

They are more expensive guitars, and in my opinion quite a bit better than standard Squiers, but still very affordable. Many musicians find them on-par, or in some cases even better than, Standard Mexican-made Fender guitars.

As for me, I think they're close, but it's still tough to beat a real Fender, even the Standards. However, if you are on a tight budget I think it is a good idea to take a close look, especially at the Classic Vibe Series Strats.

Squier by Fender 303010500  Classic Vibe 60's Stratocaster Electric Guitar - 3-Color Sunburst - Rosewood Fingerboard
Squier by Fender 303010500 Classic Vibe 60's Stratocaster Electric Guitar - 3-Color Sunburst - Rosewood Fingerboard

The Classic Vibe Strat is a cut above the basic Squier Stratocaster. It features higher-quality components and has a feel more comparable to pro-level guitars.


Classic Vibe '60s Stratocaster

Should You Buy a Squier?

The decision to choose a Squier should be made with a total understanding of what you are getting. Expecting a Squier or be as good as a Fender isn’t realistic, and you would only be setting yourself up for disappointment.

Squier guitars are aimed at the beginning guitarist, and they fill that niche well. They are affordable, provide value, and serve as a great starting point for the career of a new guitarist.

The Classic Vibe and Vintage Modified lines are fine extensions of the Squier brand, providing options for more experienced players while still remaining affordable. They're worth a look for a veteran player who wants to expand his collection, a beginner with a few extra dollars in his pocket, or an intermediate player looking to make the jump from a less expensive Squier.

There is nothing wrong with Squier by Fender guitars, as long as you understand what they are. Choose your guitar wisely. If you decide to buy online be sure to go through a reputable source with a good return policy.

Good luck!

Squier by Fender: Your Opinion

Would you consider owning a Squier guitar?

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    • Guitar Gopher profile image

      Guitar Gopher 2 months ago

      Thanks Nicholas! I think Squiers are among the best guitars for beginners. You made a smart choice. Good luck with your new guitar!

    • profile image

      Nicholas 2 months ago

      Very usefull article, im a beginner and im getting my first Squier tomorrow.

      This reading this made me so confident about what im buying. Thanks a lot.

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      Gerald "Always late to the gig" Smith. 4 months ago

      Well i have to tell you. I have always been strictly an american guitar player. Early 70-80's Stratocaster. Telecaster, or Gibson or Kramer. When Ibanez and Peavey and Yamaha amongst a slew of others came out i wasnt impressed. A friend bought a Ibanez (forget which model) and he let me play it. I was surprised to find it was adequate. And because my buddy purchased an expensive model it was more than adequate. Well, one evening after a gig my 57'-59' les paul (4 digit serial #) that was willed to me by a friend that died. He had been Charlie Prides guitarist for many years, and my Late 70's strat ( believe it was a 79' model) was stolen right out if the our truck. (I always felt insecure leaving that Gibson anywhere i couldn't be within arms reach of her and no one can call me any name i have not already called myself and still do 20 years later believe me. To this day that Gibson is the only inatimat object i have ever wept for, and did i weep. So that being said, i needed a guitar quickly so i bought a peavey horizon II. For $200.00 from a music store. It didnt take long before i respected it, then grew to love it. It had two dual coil humbuckers, a nice smooth pine neck , solid bridge, good nut, and good tuning pegs. I had to adjust a few things such as the action, intonation, file a couple frets slightly ,and install better strap fasteners. After that, that son of a b#%h felt and played just like my strat but for me it sounded even better then ole girl. I wish i hadnt sold her because i truly loved that guitar. and for the price i would buy 3 or 4 right now. So as far as a squire goes they need a little adjusting when you get them home but they really are not bad guitars at all. They are perfect for a beginner. And to you intermediate and veteren players who have turned your nose up at them, consider this. If you have ever wanted or tried to invent a sound of your own you know you wear kids gloves when performing surgery on your baby. Before you open her up. Try your ideas through a Squire. Your operation will go faster because you dont have to be so delicate. And you can open it over and over without consequences of opening you number one again and again. If you buy one and mess with it a little i think you will be surprised. I purchased mine six months ago for the hell of it off the internet from a local resident for $50 dollars. I bought it with the hopes of turning it into a strat. And your right, it cannot. But you know what i made this guitar sound like a damn good Squire. I put locking tuning pegs, two top of the line pick ups. Wont say which ones. D..m..i put a dial coil humbucker and a single coil. S...D which i gave a paraffin wax bath first. It has damn near the same action and playability as my strat had. I really like the squire as well and will not ever sell it.. I have been a musician for 40 years and would recommend a squire to everyone, with the exception of those who are close minded and stoneheaded. They dont deserve thank you Fender....

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      Richard DeFreeze 8 months ago

      I am playing 40+ years acoustic and electrics, Own high quality(Martin, Taylor and Lowden) Acoustics and own MIJ Squier Strat, MIM Fender Strat and USA Strat. Just recently got curious for the CV 60's Strat reading the reviews. I bought one and have to say, great guitar unbelievable for this price( used for 300 eur). Plays and sounds great, a Stayer!

    • Guitar Gopher profile image

      Guitar Gopher 9 months ago

      Good point, Cal. With lower-budget guitars you always want to take a close took before you buy, or make sure you purchase from somewhere with a good return policy. But, as you know, Squier is one of those brands where you can find some real diamonds in the rough.

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      Cal 9 months ago

      I bought a Classic Vibe Tele 5 years ago and my biggest GAS regret was selling it 2 years later; now they're ~£100 more expensive new. I've been playing 12 years and I just started a new hunt for a 2nd hand one. Can't recommend them enough to Tele players not looking to go over the ~£400 mark.

      The Affinity Teles my school had, back in the day, were tough and sounded good enough to start my love of Telecasters. I've also played terrible ones but that goes for any mass-produced guitar. Try before you buy!

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      Emma Nieuwenhuis 10 months ago

      I have played guitar for over two years. I cannot give anything more exact than that because I don't actually remember when I started. I am installing new Fender locking tuners and will probably replace the pickups with a new HSS set, maybe EMG, but I haven't decided yet. I regret not getting Schaller tuners, as the ones I receive next Friday will probably be made in Taiwan. I believe my guitar will be very useful and much better after all this, and a fresh set of strings.

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      Dougie 13 months ago

      My two personal guitars are MIA strat and PRS S2 Standard. I purchased a Squier Affinity combo pack for my daughter.

      When I unpacked the guitar I gave it a thorough inspection. The neck was very straight, fretwork was much better than I expected. No fret sprouts, and filed very smooth. The sunburst body had a pristine finish. The only cosmetic problem was a slightly warped pickguard, but that was an easy fix.

      Once I adjusted the truss rod and saddles, the intonation was spot on. The action is very nice, and since it has only 21 frets, the upper fret spacing is bigger, making the notes easier to play. The thinner neck and lighter body took some getting used to but its quite comfortable.

      The tuners on this Affinity are quite decent. After stretching the strings, it stays in tune surprisingly well. (I did add 2 springs and blocked the trem because my daughter doesnt need a trem). When playing unplugged, you can actually hear a very clear difference in volume when comparing to an MIA. The lighter body of the Affinity clearly magnifies the sound more than my Strat. Sustain is little weaker though.

      As the review stated, the pups and electronics were quite weak, but I had a SD Hotrail for the bridge lying around so I threw it in. Nothing very spectacular about the electronics, but they do what they are supposed to do at this price point.

      I have to admit... I really enjoy playing this guitar. Whenever I see her guitar sitting around I pick it up and am always amused by how fun it is to play. I'm seriously considering buying her another guitar and upgrading the electronics in this one and keeping it for myself.

      The neck is quite thin and may not be for everyone, but I have to give the Affinity two thumbs up. Quality may vary, but if you get a good one, they are well worth the money!!

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      BillZ 17 months ago

      I bought a Squier strat for my son. Over the years, he moved on to other guitars and gave the Squier to me. First things I did - which were absolutely necessary to keep the guitar in tune and improve playability was replace the tuners with Fender locking tuners and had a professional perform a complete setup (including leveling/polishing the frets and straightening the neck). I also upgraded the pickups to Lace Sensors (Squier pickups are fine, but I just prefer the Lace), and replaced a couple potentiometers that were starting to crackle. The Squier has sentimental value to me or otherwise I wouldn't have invested another $400+ into the instrument.

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      Jonovox 18 months ago

      I have still my first electric guitar- a cream fender squier telecaster, other than lowering the action nothing else was needed, still love this guitar, only my Martin acoustic holds a higher love!! Great guitars and would definitely recommend them!!

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      Kyle 19 months ago

      I myself started off with a squire. I had used it for about three years before getting a new stratocaster. Definently the mist favorite guitar in my collection, because of the countless hours of perfection that I achieved on it. 10 out of 10 would I recommend it to a person just starting guitar.

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      Phil Aegidiussen 21 months ago

      I have been playing for 40 years now and have played many brands and styles a lot of Ibanez in my mid period. I own several axes, including a Fender Modern player Tele plus (excellent in all regards) a Yamaha Pacifica which I rebuilt from scratch, a similarly rebuilt and redesigned Ibanez ICX120 and last year I picked up a Squier VM '51. I just loved the styling initially but when it was delivered it was even more exciting than I had imagined. The intonation was spot on (and continues to be spot on) straight out of the box. I paid at that time $169.00 for it (it's now $100.00 more but still worth it) This is a HB slanted SC pickup guitar with coil split on the HB and a rotary pu selector. It's a killer by any standard. It plays and feels (especially with tension balanced strings) like a seriously higher priced guitar. Fit and finish are top notch. The only thing I've done to improve on it is to clean up the fret ends and polish the frets. I'm conside ring selling my other guitars to pick up a Classic Vibe '60s. you can't beat Squier.

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      stevecro 22 months ago

      I wouldn't dream of giving up mu SQ series Squier, 1983-84 but I don't think they were positioned in the market place asvthey are now. There certainly weren't levels of Squier as there are now. Fender's marketing has become more sophisticated

    • Guitar Gopher profile image

      Guitar Gopher 22 months ago

      Hi Chrisdy55. That is a little expensive for a Squier. If you got a good one I don't think you'd have issue with the frets and tuning, but I can't say about the pickups. They sound decent to me but of course that's just an opinion.

      You have a few more options though. Fender also has the Modern Player Tele Thinline at this time for around $500, and the Classic Series '72 Thinline at this time for around $900. The latter is the same guitar the Squier '72 is based on.

      Keep in mind, none of these guitars have similar pickups as the Fender Deluxe version. But they are alternatives priced somewhere between the Squier and high-end Fender.

      Good luck, whatever you decide.

    • profile image

      Chrisdy55 22 months ago

      I like the new Deluxe Tele Thin line but at a cost of $1899.00 it's way out of my budget. I was looking at the Squire Thin line but at a cost of $449.00 I would highly disappointed if pickups had to be replaced, fret work had to be topped and, tuning issues being unreliable.

      What's your thoughts? Thanks, Chris.

    • profile image

      sneakysnake1954 23 months ago

      I don't know why u class the standards with the affinitys and bullets, not at all the same,the modern standards have the same body thickness as the fender, a 22 fret neck, better electronics, I luv them

    • Guitar Gopher profile image

      Guitar Gopher 2 years ago

      That's awesome Pappabass! I have a Squier VM Jazz Bass I absolutely love. That's after years of playing Fenders, Warwicks, Spectors, etc. So, I totally know what you mean!

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      Pappabass 2 years ago

      I have been playing bass for many years. I currently play a 5 string & wanted a 4 for small venue/open mics. I looked & refused to look at a Squier. I saw a black on black Squier Jaguar modified, picked it up & played it. I had to bring it home. I previously owned a Fender precision and Fender Jazz, this Squier jaguar is made as good as each one. plus it sounds BETTER than the Fender precision ever did.

    • TTC12 profile image

      TTC12 2 years ago

      My Squier Strat (from a package) was a great guitar with an really good neck pickup. I had 4 American Strats - while not the same quality, it was a fun guitar to play and sounded like a Strat. Had to sell but would like to find another.

    • Guitar Gopher profile image

      Guitar Gopher 2 years ago

      Some great points Tricko. Thanks for weighing in! No intention to trash Squier here, though. Just raising some of the common issues people often have with their guitars. I agree they fill an important niche in the guitar market and for some players they are the perfect option. However, people need to understand what they are getting.

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      Tricko 2 years ago

      It sort of depends upon what you are looking for and what type of music and guitar style you like (assuming you want affordable). If you are a heavy metal shedder type, you probably want to look at LTD, Schecter, Jackson, etc.

      If you are hard rocker, probably epi les paul or sg style. The neck profile on these are typically a bound neck which has a totally different feel to me than the typical clean Fender neck.

      It just seems to me that Les Paul styles are better for chunky banging out distorted chords (ala Guns and Roses sound, etc) chords and Fenders (strats, teles, etc) are better for jangly, clean bluesy or biting sounds. I could be totally wrong but just my observation. Part of that is the humbuckers and or single coil sound.

      If you are a clean to blues, jazz, country or rock player then probably Fender. Fender covers most genres though.

      That being said, you can pretty much play any style on any guitar.

      Squier Vintage Modified and Classic Vibe are truly amazing instruments for the $.

      Played for many years with gibson, guild, epiphone electric guitars and recently got back into guitars with Fender Vintage Modified Jaguar - Wow, I wish I had this when I started. I am totally sold on the Vintage Modified and Classic Vibe lines as they are the best bang for the buck I have seen.

      Totally disagree with te way this article starts with a trashing of Squier guitars. Squier fills a big need and provides an intro to playing guitar for many players.

      I will also say, I have played many American and Mexican Strats, etc. and you can barely tell a difference between the classic vibe and those (but I am not a touring musician anymore so longevity doesn't affect me as much).

      Best advice - get the best one you can currently afford and just play, goof off and "suck" at guitar playing.... and get one you dig so you will want to pick it up and love it.

    • Guitar Gopher profile image

      Guitar Gopher 2 years ago

      Good stuff, jazzalta! Glad you love your Squier and I think you have a great attitude!

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      jazzalta 2 years ago

      I play a Squier Affinity I bought used. I found the fit and finish to be on par with anything else Fender has produced but...the electronics and tuners are not great so I swapped them out. I've been at this game for over 40 years. The reason I chose this model is due to my arthritis. I needed a slimmer neck profile and narrower nut. But the real clincher was listening to Jack Pearson play one live totally stock apparently. Thanks God I no longer have any ego left, lol. Brand names bore me now and the music is the most important thing. Joe Pass once said if you are concentrating on the instrument you are playing then you are concentrating on the wrong thing.

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      Matthew Kellond 2 years ago

      I have to say when i was younger i always wanted to have dream guitar with a leather pickguard and other stuff. Since i was only 13 i had a limited budget since i worked hard for 5 weeks for $400 dollars (not easy i didnt play video games and didnt practice) after i got the equipment and the squier candy apple red guitar i put it all together and ever since than ive never wanted more guitars unlike most players. I only have rare vintage collectables. Squier are good all the way through. I have to say squier are good as the more expensive ones.

    • Guitar Gopher profile image

      Guitar Gopher 2 years ago

      Thanks for adding your thoughts, miki. I can't say I agree about Epi. Based on the ones I've played lately they seem better than ever. I do agree that the Squier Classic Vibe Series are outstanding instruments though!

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      miki 2 years ago

      epiphones are mostly junk now

      the classic vibe squiers blow them Away

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      ljmendez 3 years ago

      yes I like the Squire, especially the mini Squier that I bought for my son when he turned 10. he still has it 9 years later and the guitar still jams, especially for a starter guitar. Also another great starter electric guitar that's very affordable and GREAT quality is the Schecter... the Omens are great guitars especially for the price...

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      Dom 3 years ago

      Been playing for 13 years, with a good seven of them being an Ibanez guy (and a small stint with an ESP LTD). Both awesome brands but decided to switch to a Strat as I grew tired of Floyd bridges (and affordable for what I got back from a trade in) and I do not have any regrets. My Squier Bullet is probably the best guitar I've owned: nice slim neck for fast leads, rich and crunchy sounding pickups for rhythm and lightweight body; don't listen to others opinions and try out any guitar before you buy it

    • Guitar Gopher profile image

      Guitar Gopher 3 years ago

      Thanks for your 2 cents, wild man! Love to hear from veteran guitarists who play Squiers!

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      wild man jax fla 3 years ago

      been playing guitar 44 years including Gillies nashville concerts with Marty Haggard / Joe Stamply have played all the top name guitars and at this time I play A squire ssh model telecaster wouldn't trade it for an American telecaster I Love the Sound /Feel and quality of the guitar. I tried a Godin don't like Im gonna sell it and buy a classic vibe

    • Guitar Gopher profile image

      Guitar Gopher 3 years ago

      I've wondered the same thing, Thatguitarguy. But I guess there will always be people willing to pay more for the name on the headstock. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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      Thatguitarguy 3 years ago

      The Classic Vibe Squiers are good looking, good sounding and great playing guitars! Over the past forty years I've owned and played A LOT of guitars including some extremely great and very valuable axes. I'm not a guitar snob but I definitely want a great tone, feel and look. (Simple, right?) These have it. I bought one and I was so impressed I bought three more! Seriously. I actually wonder if Fender is concerned that their "budget" line is near on par with their top shelf instruments?

    • Guitar Gopher profile image

      Guitar Gopher 3 years ago

      Thanks for sharing that story, Mark! Always cool to hear from veteran players who have good things to say about Squier. I play a little bass myself and grabbed a Squier Vintage Modified Jazz a couple of years ago. It's a very good instrument, especially for the price.

    • Mark Houghton profile image

      Mark Houghton 3 years ago from Stourbridge

      I own a USA Fender P bass which is a great guitar and cost around £1,000. I play bass in a band and wanted a short scale, lighter bass. Not wanting to pay a fortune as I have 12 guitars already looked at an SG and Squier Modified Jaguar. In the end I went for the Squier and cannot believe how good it is for £190. It is very well made and looks superb in black. But for me the range of tones are spot on. All I had to do was adjust one string to alleviate a slight fret buzz and that's it. It's very light and after playing for a few hours I have no backache compared to when I use my P Bass. Really impressed. I'm no Mark King but I would recommend it to anyone.

    • Guitar Gopher profile image

      Guitar Gopher 4 years ago

      Thanks for your thoughts, Deiter. I agree about the MIJ quality. Unfortunately, they can be tough for newbies to hunt down and they may not feel confident buying a used guitar. Not sure I agree about comparably priced Epiphones being better than Squier, especially the VM and CV series, but they are definitely among the top options for beginning guitar players.

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      Dieter 4 years ago

      I don't agree with this review. If you're looking for a good beginner guitar, you will find that Epiphone, for instance, offers much, much better quality for the same price. Epiphone, however, is the Gibson low-cost alternative. If you don't want to get a real Fender but you want a quality guitar at a low price, you would be better served taking the time to look for a Made in Japan Fender, which are generally quite cheap and are in my opinion much better quality than Made in Mexico Fenders, and even the lower regions of the real Fenders. Since they don't make them anymore, you'll have to go for used and look around for a while to find a cheap one. Alternatively, you can find the same old Japanese "Squier" which are also excellent quality. But we're talking about 80's production, nothing newer in Squier land.