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?

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    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. – Matthew Read Apr 22 '16 at 4:06
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    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. – Dave Halsall Apr 22 '16 at 11:19
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    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

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.

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    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
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    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? – Todd Wilcox Apr 22 '16 at 13:57
  • @ToddWilcox You're correct. They also make guitars in Korea and I would assume other countries as well. – Matthew Read Apr 22 '16 at 21:38

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.

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.

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

  • 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. – Level River St Feb 11 at 23:49

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