12

I'm totally new to learning how to play the electric guitar, but I am motivated to start practicing/learning. I've done a little research on the types of guitars out there and I think that my first guitar has to be a Fender Stratocaster. I'm probably looking for an HSS because this gives me a variety of genres to play, but I mainly want to focus on metal/rock.

That said, what is the difference between Fender and Squier? Looks like the latter one lacks reputation and is generally not preferred, is this true? Would a Squier be suited to what I said above?

6
  • 1
    Shopping advice is off-topic here, but we can answer the question about Fender vs Squier so I am editing to narrow it down to that.
    – user28
    Apr 22 '16 at 4:06
  • 2
    If you are totally new to guitar, then a Squier would be a reasonable choice. Fenders are more expensive because they cost more to make due to using more expensive materials and labour. There are many types of guitar and it is probably better to wait until you have more of an idea what you are looking for before making too large an investment. Don't get too hung up on pickup configuration, you can play any style with any configuration. You may not be able to emulate exactly the sound of a particular player but the notes will be the same and the tune will be completely recognisable. Apr 22 '16 at 11:19
  • 3
    Just remember Tom Morello won his first Grammy of a guitar that cost him 200 dollars
    – Neil Meyer
    Apr 22 '16 at 11:49
  • To me the big difference lies in the trem.
    – Neil Meyer
    Apr 24 '16 at 9:38
  • @DaveHalsall remember that not all Squiers are created equal. The Squier Affinity range is not great quality, but inexpensive. The Squier Vintage Modified and CLassic Vibe ranges are good quality and punch above their weight in quality Jul 6 at 10:54
12

The main difference is in the price and the quality. The fender guitars are more expensive and tend to be of higher quality, whereas Squier guitars are made more cheaply and have lower quality. By this I don't mean that the Squier guitars are low quality and bad, but (usually) they are not so good as a Fender guitar.

By good and low quality, I refer mostly to the sound, the playability and the durability of the guitar. A high quality guitar will be able to produce a high quality sound, whereas a low quality guitar's sound will not. Similarly, a low quality guitar might not be that easy to play. Using low quality woods might cause pain on your arm, whereas a high quality guitar will have woods that are comfortable for your hands, so you can play for hours without getting any pain. Lastly, a low quality guitar isn't made to last a lifetime.1

The Squier guitars are being made in China and Indonesia, but in the 80's they manufactured them in Japan and they were of pretty good quality. If you look for used squier guitars from the 80's (on Ebay or something) you'll see that they are more expensive than some new ones, and that they where made in Japan.

The Fender guitars are made in the USA and receive more attention in the production. Some of the guitar parts might be of higher quality (not necessarily all of them), but what makes the quality better is the whole production.

You should also look into the Mexican Fender Guitars. They are somewhat above the Squier models and somewhat below the American ones, both pricewise and qualitywise. Again, not every model will be like this.

If you have time, you go in depth in this article: Squier vs Fender Stratocaster Guitar Review. It shows many different squier and fender models and it explains what's up with everyone.

1Keep in mind, that a beginner won't easily notice all these differences. That's why many people start off with these kind of guitars (like me). They are great for someone who doesn't want/cannot spend a lot of money on guitars just yet, so a cheap solution is a good choice in this case.

4
  • 2
    Good point about the 80's MIJ squiers BTW - some of those are significantly more sought-after than some equivalent Fenders.
    – topo morto
    Apr 22 '16 at 9:12
  • 1
    The last time I checked, the "Fender" brand (not Squier) was used on guitars made in Mexico, Japan, and the US (listed in order of price and typical quality - lowest to highest). Is that no longer true? Apr 22 '16 at 13:57
  • @ToddWilcox You're correct. They also make guitars in Korea and I would assume other countries as well.
    – user28
    Apr 22 '16 at 21:38
  • @ToddWilcox youre correct about locales still, but mexican (now), and japanese (always) are not sufficently worse made than the US models, given the huge differential in price for US models. Mexican made is really good now, Japanese has always been good. QC on US models can be really variable; I've seen some shockingly bad ones Jul 6 at 10:57
9

Before addressing the question directly, a short, simplistic and far from complete list of things that make a good guitar:

  • it makes good sounds
  • it doesn't make bad sounds (or when it does, they're not the guitar's fault)
  • it's comfortable to play
  • it's consistently in tune up and down the fingerboard
  • it stays in tune
  • the above points remain true ten years after you bought it, and without expensive maintenance/repair

So Fenders meet those criteria and Squiers don't? Of course that's not always true. It's impossible to boil down to a single difference between Fenders and Squiers, because both badges cover such a range of price and quality, and there can even be some overlap between them.

The best answer I can think of is consistency. The higher up the range you go, the better the quality control, and the less likely you are to find a lemon. Buy an American made Fender Strat, and you're pretty much guaranteed a good guitar, and with a little care it will stay a good guitar for as long as you need it to. At the opposite end of the market, buy a Squier Bullet Strat and if you're lucky you might get a good one, but more likely you will have a playable beginner's guitar (as long as it's been set up properly in the shop). The neck won't feel as good as the Fender, the sound won't be as good, and it won't stay in tune as well. After a few months you'll wonder why the sound keeps cutting out and you'll figure out you need to keep tightening the nut on the input jack. If you don't know what "scratchy pots" are, chances are you soon will.

Those are the extremes. The water gets muddier when you compare the top end Squiers and the low end Fenders. Things also get more subjective, so I'll not say much more. FWIW, here's my recent experience. I sold my Fender USA Strat a couple of years ago. After 20 years it was still going strong. I wanted a Telecaster, and I looked at the Mexican Fenders and the top Squiers. The Fenders were mostly pretty good, and generally better than the Squiers I tried, but after going round a few shops the guitar I liked best happened to be the cheapest I'd looked at, a 50s Squier Classic Vibe. Whether or not it will still be going strong in a decade or two remains to be seen, but for now I like my Squier, dare I say, better than I ever liked my Fender.

1
  • "it makes good sounds" is subjective, not objective. In other words, it's not necessarily a criterion with respect to price. Jul 6 at 3:34
1

Squire is a brand by Fender. However, they are of less quality than regular Fender guitars.

4
  • I don't know why this is downvoted - Nobody else has specifically mentioned the fundamental point that *SQUIER is a brand by Fender. And as a sweeping generalization, its true that Squiers are lower quality. Feb 11 '18 at 23:49
  • Because knowing they are two different brands or one brand is made by the other doesn't tell you the difference between the two products.
    – Bacon Brad
    Dec 6 '18 at 7:02
  • i dont think its an "even vaguely true" generalization these days. Squier instruments like the classic vibe and vintage modified ranges are at least as good as mexican fenders are these days. They are all made on CNC machines now and so the only variable is in the acoustic qualities of the wood construction and of the pickup design/materials. I've seen some shockingly bad US fenders recently that couldn't hold their own against a Squier Bullet starter model. Definitely not worth the massive premium. Even Mex fenders which had a terrible reputation until recently, are high quality items Oct 24 '19 at 7:54
  • @LevelRiverSt its not a full answer to the question asked. You have to answer the actual question, anything else is a comment. Oct 24 '19 at 7:57
1

Sometimes it's simply all in the name: Real guitarists have Strats, beginners or wannabees have squiers. Right? Not always. In fact, not even as often as not. I've owned a Squier for twenty years (a very messed up economy and numerous spells of bad luck have left me unable to "upgrade" to a Strat).

Well, that Squier stays in tune, plays easier than my Gibson 335 (which is a vintage, high-end guitar that I bought when I could afford such a guitar), and sounds identical to a Strat. The action is perfect, and I haven't had one repair done to it. I've frequently used the whammy bar, and it stays surprisingly well in tune even after hammering away on that and bending strings like crazy.

Conclusion: Just like a Honda may drive as well and as long as an Audi (though maybe not as comfortably), so can a Squier perform on par with a Strat.

Most of it is in the hands of the player anyway. Watch the beginning of "It May Get Loud" for a good example of that.

1

I live in California about 12 miles from the Fender Corona plant. Everyone close to here has been to their museum and knows much about their history. I owned at one time an average of 10 electrics and 6 acoustics. I have owned high end and cheap guitars. I often buy cheap guitars on EBay and mod them to play well and sound good.

If you really want to stay with Squier you will miss out on a crazy good cheap guitar made by Silvertone. I paid around 160 U.S. dollars and it is AWESOME. I still can't believe it's sound, quality, playability and price. It is my favorite guitar and I own MIM Fender strats, Jacksons, Ibanez, ESP, and several boutique brands. I bought the Silvertone on E Bay.

Squier/Fender if you must and can afford an American Fender it will look good, sound good, and always go up in value. Squiers can be very good or marginal but it costs you around 1/4 what the MIA Fender costs. Determine your commitment level, budget and go from there.

2
  • 1
    i dont agree that it will always go up in value. Any new item loses significant value the moment you leave the store with it in your hands. Jul 6 at 11:02
  • @Ebay ... perhaps used... which model? Do you mean a Silvertone Strat? ... if so I see one for $45. Jul 6 at 20:23
1

"Squire is a brand by Fender. However, they are of less quality than regular Fender guitars."

They are NOT disproportionately lower in quality.

A Squire may be half, or more, costly than a Fender but it's 90% the quality because the bulk of the manufacturing cost is solely due to labor costs.

Fender does not have factory outside North America (USA and Mexico).

Squires, as far as I last read, are build by Cort in South Korea as are some Ibanez, Parkwood, Squier, G&L.

All that said take a look at a Glarry. For $100-ish you can get something that is 75% as good as a Squire and you can then mess with and learn about guitars ... file the frets, change the tuners, etc.

However personally I'd get a used Squire for $100 on ebay or craigslist or Reverb.

3
  • When I read this answer, I have this strange impression that picking a guitar seems (slightly) easier than picking a piano. No idea why.
    – Clockwork
    Jul 6 at 18:50
  • Where did pianos come in? Jul 6 at 18:58
  • That was just a random off-topic comment I felt like posting.
    – Clockwork
    Jul 6 at 19:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.