What are the Differences Between Squier and Fender

Squier vs. Fender. It’s a timeless debate with no clear winner except to say that it comes down to price vs. quality with a hefty bit of personal preference thrown into the mix. Here’s a 30-second overview, with more detail below:

Squier vs. Fender Comparison

Squier:

  • Traditionally regarded as a starter guitar.
  • Product catalog has been mostly low end versions of Fender models
  • More affordable (budget) brand.
  • Guitar body may be made of non-traditional tonewoods (ex: plywood, pine, alder, poplar and basswood).
  • Hardware typically lower quality and from a variety of non-Fender factories. (Bridge, nut and tuning pegs are common complaints from experienced players)
  • Generally lower quality pickups that favor output over tonal clarity.
  • Satin neck finish tends to run a bit rougher and thicker than Fender.

Fender:

  • Historically more model choices available.
  • Guitar body usually made of traditional tonewoods (alder, ash and maple for the neck).
  • Hardware is Fender-branded and consistently better quality.
  • Pickups favoring tonal clarity over output.
  • Pickups have “that Fender tone.”
  • Tend to weigh less than Squier.
  • Cost more.

*NOTE: The use of “Fender” throughout this article refers to the Made in Mexico (MIM) Fender models. This is the Fender product line closest to the Squier line.

Squier Evolution

Many beginning guitar players start with Squier guitars. This is because of the excellent quality for the price. Squier Affinity guitars are included in many starter packs with practice amps aimed at beginners.

Quality usually follows price and when comparing Squier guitars to Fender guitars, it is generally helpful to picture a the various Squier models in a range just below and leading up to Fender. You can buy a new Squier guitar for a little over $100 to just under $500. Fender MIM guitars typically start at the $500 range and go to just under $1000. Fender American Standard (American made) models comprise the remainder into the multiple $1000’s.

Squier has a reputation for being the low end version of popular Fender models, but this has been changing in recent years. It is true that Squier started with low end, bare bones versions of the Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster but there are now a host of models exclusive to the Squier brand and of better quality.

More recently they have expanded to include: jazzmasters, Jaguars, and the Squier Classic Vibe series (clones of the Fender models from the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s).

Squier or Fender, Which is Better?

This question may seem like a Coke vs. Pepsi sort of debate, but it’s not. In fact, Squier is made by Fender. So there is really no rivalry here. It’s just a question of which branded version of guitar is better.

However, just like Coke vs Pepsi, the answer to the question Squier vs Fender is largely a personal opinion. Squier use tonewoods that are generally considered inferior, but how much effect the wood has on tone in a solid body electric guitar is debatable – especially in the less than $1000 price range.

Fender guitars are consistently better quality than Squier, but they’re also more money. The bottom line is that Squier guitars are excellent quality for a budget instrument and newer high end squiers are just as good as Fender guitars. If you’re looking for a beginner guitar, go the Squier that fits your budget and taste. Otherwise start with either a high end Squier or Mexican Fender (MIM).

Popular Squier Electric Guitars

 

 

 

 

Squier by Fender Bullet Mustang Electric Guitar – HH – Rosewood Fingerboard – Imperial Blue

 

Squier by Fender Affinity Stratocaster Beginner Electric Guitar – Maple Fingerboard, Black

 


Squier Affinity Stratocaster HSS Pack with Frontman 15G Amp, Cable, Strap, Picks, and Online Lessons – Candy Apple Red Bundle with Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD

 

Popular Fender Standard electric Guitars

 

 

 

Fender Standard Stratocaster Electric Guitar – Maple Fingerboard, Arctic White

 

 

Fender Mustang 90 Short Scale Offset Electric Guitar – Rosewood Fingerboard – Torino Red

 

 

Fender Kurt Cobain Jaguar NOS 3 Tone Sunburst Solid-Body Electric Guitar

 

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How to Sound Like Jimi Hendrix (on Budget Guitar Gear)

This article focuses on gear, not technique. You can devote many years to trying to learn Jimi’s style and play like him, but this is more about getting a guitar rig that will get you close to recreating the Jimi Hendrix tone at various times in his career.

In short, this is about capturing a tone similar to Jimi Hendrix. It’s not about playing like him.

Also, note that this is a basic list of gear that will get you close to 80% of Jimi’s tone. He was well known for trying many different techniques and gear throughout his brief career. This list covers the gear you will need to get something close to 80% of his tone. It covers the core of his sound but not every flourish, so to speak. Basically, this is not an exhaustive list for gear collectors and Hendrix aficionados. This is a list of inexpensive gear to use if you want to capture tones close to what Hendrix is most known for.

Now that the preliminary disclaimers have been dispatched, on with the list…

First up on the list is Jimi’s choice of guitar. While Hendrix is known to have played a Gibson Flying V on occasion, he is most known for playing a Fender Stratocaster.

“1969 Fender Stratocaster, original pick-ups, maple neck, strung upside down for a left-handed … genius, Jimi Hendrix.”

Ford Fairlane

If you want your tone to sound like Jimi, it’s essential to use a strat. As mentioned above, Jimi did play other guitars at times, but he’s so well known for playing a Stratocaster that it’s downright iconic. And the fact that Jimi played a right-handed strat that he strung upside down is so legendary it’s become a cliche (as evidenced by the quote above)

DENMARK - SEPTEMBER 03: Photo of Jimi Hendrix 10; Jimi Hendrix KB-Hallen Copenhagen September 3 1970 (Photo by Jan Persson/Redferns)

DENMARK – SEPTEMBER 03: Photo of Jimi Hendrix 10; Jimi Hendrix KB-Hallen Copenhagen September 3 1970 (Photo by Jan Persson/Redferns)

If you’ve got the money, then by all means go for an American made Fender Stratocaster, but the Mexican made is half the price and sounds just as sweet.

61awxcmla2l-_sl1500_Next up on the list is Jimi’s choice of amplifiers. He’s most known for two: The Marshall stack, and the Fender Bassman. Either one of these will set you back thousands of dollars if you go for the authentic. Lucky for you, modern technology makes it possible to achieve fairly accurate Hendrix like tone at a fraction of the price (and volume).

Marshall DSL15C

Marshall DSL15C

The best choice here is all tube, and for the budget conscious buyer that means the Marshall DSL15C DSL Series 15-Watt Guitar Combo Amp. It’s 15 watts of Marshall crunch and searing lead tone at just under $600.

Fender Bassman

Fender Bassman

That covers Jimi’s high-decibel, hard rock sound from such classics as Purple Haze, Foxy Lady and most of his early and mid-sixty’s sound. For his softer, more blues based side (think Electric Ladyland, especially “Voodoo Chile”) you’ll want the Fender Bassman tone, but that’ll set you back a bit more.

The Fender Mustang II

The Fender Mustang II

So, if you’re like me you’ll want something not too expensive and versatile. One of the most inexpensive and versatile amps on the market today is the Fender Mustang series. I recommend the Fender Mustang II V2 40-Watt 1×12-Inch Combo Electric Guitar Amplifier as the budget friendly option with enough bang for playing solo or small gigs. The Fender Mustang amp is a modeling amp, so it uses onboard software to model various other amplifier models and cabinets and does so convincingly. Just dial up a Marshal Plexi or Fender Bassman and voila!

The next piece of the Hendrix tone puzzle is the effects chain.

Jimi’s favored effects pedal were Fuzz and Wah, and later some Chorus/Vibe.

Hendrix Fuzzface

Hendrix Fuzzface

If you’re shooting for the authentic Hendrix Fuzz tone, you’ll want to check out the Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Distortion. If you want a good approximation for a few bucks less, check out the Dunlop FFM1 Silicon Fuzz Face Mini Distortion.

Dunlop Fuzzface Mini

Dunlop Fuzzface Mini

Jimi’s favored Wah pedal was the Vox Wah V847A, which is still available today.

VOX V845 Classic Wah Wah

VOX V845 Classic Wah Wah

Another favored sound of Hendrix in his later career was the Octave Fuzz (think “One Rainy Wish” from Axis: Bold as Love). A good choice today is the Electro-Harmonix Octavix Octave Fuzz Pedal.

Electro Harmonix Octavix Octave Fuzz

Electro Harmonix Octavix Octave Fuzz

Lastly, if you’re searching for the Hendrix “Star Spangled Banner” from Woodstock or “Machine Gun” from Band of Gypsys you’ll want to

Dunlop M68 Uni Vibe

Dunlop M68 Uni Vibe

use a Univibe pedal. The best bang for your buck here is the Dunlop M68 Uni-Vibe Chorus/Vibrato.

 

 

 

Pro Tips.

Here are a few bonus pro tips for nailing the Hendrix tone.

Strings.

Jimi preferred light strings, and according to Eddie Kramer, sometimes even banjo strings. This will definitely help you with bending notes. The great thing about strings is that they are probably the cheapest change you can make. Two great choices are Electro-Harmonix NIC9 Nickel Wound Ultra Light Electric Guitar Strings and D’Addario EXL120 Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings, Super Light, 9-42.

Cables.

Jimi preferred coiled guitar cables. Why is this worth mentioning? Because coiled cables in Jimi’s day had a bigger effect on tone than cables today. Coiled cables in the 60’s remove a lot of the higher frequencies which reduces the brightness you hear. This is especially important with single coil pickups, as are found in Stratocasters – Jimi’s cable choice likely mellowed the tone of his strat in ways modern cables do not.

Playing tips.

I said this post wasn’t about how to play like Hendrix, but here are some super-simple tips that are easy to implement and best of all – free!

Tune half-step down.

Hendrix tuned his guitar a half a step down (Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb). If you don’t follow suit, you won’t sound quite right for the Hendrix tone.

Pickups.

Use the middle or neck pickups as Jimi rarely used the bridge pick up.

Also, he favored rolling back the volume knob on the guitar for to get a “clean” tone, as opposed to a foot switch or channel swap…

This is all done with modern, inexpensive off the shelf gear so what you’ll get is a close approximation… not magic bullet solution…

e n j o y!

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Top Electric Guitars for Beginners Under $500

These guitars are suitable for beginners and more advanced players alike. They are middle of the road in terms of price, but the quality is top notch. They’re great for the hobbyist or even the weekend musician, or someone staring out in a more professional musical career. They touch on a number of styles and tones, and they’re attractive and fun to play.

Without further ado, here is my list of Some of the top electric guitars for beginners under $500.

Danelectro

The Danelectro company was founded in 1947 and still have a retro-futuristic vibe to their guitars. The look of these guitars conjures up science fiction visions of the atomic age, and they’ve got a distinctive sound too. If you’re the type of player who wants to get noticed for your guitar, a Danelectro is a great choice.

Danelectro D59MOD

Danelectro-D59MODThe Danelectro D59MOD is a double cutaway which features two single coil “Lipstick” pickups and vintage tuners. The Mod ’59 has basswood body and neck and a rosewood fretboard. The tone and volume knobs are dual, concentric knobs (one for each pickup).

At 6.4 pounds, it’s fairly lightweight too, which is good for the beginner or anyone who plays for an extended period of time.

The light weight and single coil pickups mean it doesn’t have the darker tonal qualities of a Les Paul, so it’s not well suited to the player looking for a more aggressive, metal tone.

Danelectro ’67 HeavenDanelectro-67-Heaven

The Danelectro ’67 Heaven is one of the coolest things out there. It’s got a classic, offset body style (similar to a Fender Jaguar) with an alligator finish, and “Souped up” single coil “Lipstick” pickups and an adjustable bridge. This is a 2013 re-issue of the 1967 classic.

Demo video:

Epiphone

Epiphone has been making musical instruments since 1873, and has made instruments for just every style of popular music. They’re mostly known these days for making more affordable Gibson clones. Gibson guitars have name recognition, but they also have a premium price tag to go with it. The truth is that it doesn’t make sense for the hobbyist (much less a beginner) to fork over a couple thousand dollars for a Gibson when they can get a better quality for the price with an Epiphone.

Epiphone Es-333 Tom Delonge Archtop

Epiphone-es-333-tom-delongeThe Epiphone ES-333 Tom Delonge Signature archtop electric guitar is built to the specifications of the Blink 182 guitarist – and it’s less than $500!

The ES-333 features the best of archtop and semi-hollowbody designs, along with Gibson USA Dirty Fingers humbucker pickups. It has a laminate maple body and mahogany neck with rosewood fretboard.

One problem with hollowbody guitars is feedback caused by too much uncontrolled resonance. The ES-333 solves that problem with a mahogany center block. This also makes for amazing sustain. An instantly recognizable Tom Delonge “paint job” of Cream racing stripes on a Brown finish round out the signature look.

Weighing a solid 12 pounds and stocked with Dirty Fingers humbuckers, the ES-333 has a nice beefy tone that lends itself well to hard rock and rock-blues styles.

Epiphone Es-339 Semi Hollow Body Electric GuitarEpiphone-ES-339-Semi-Hollow-body

If you’re looking for versatility and sustain, then look no further than the Epiphone ES-339 Semi Hollow body electric guitar! The ES-339 is one of the smaller ES series from Epiphone. It features ProBucker humbucker pickups, push-pull coil tapping knobs, which lets you switch between humbucker and single coil tones for each pickup. The body is a laminate maple and the “D” profile neck is mahogany. The tune-o-matic bridge makes it easy to keep in tune

It weighs 8.5 pounds, which makes it middle of the road in terms of weight. Also available in Natural finish.

Limited Edition Les Paul Custom Pro Electric Guitar, TV Silver

Here we get to the Les Paul.

epiphone-Les-Paul-Custom-ProI’ve always found it somewhat ironic that the guitar that is loved the world over by hard rock and metal fans was invented by an iconic Jazz and country guitarist from the middle of the 20th century.

But be that as it may, Epiphone makes killer (and quite affordable, compared to Gibson) versions of Les Paul. Here is one such version.

The Limited Edition Les Paul Custom Pro electric guitar is slightly smaller – it weighs a paltry 8lbs – than a traditional Les Paul model, but the the fingerboard and body are exact recreations of the Les Paul Custom’s iconic look. It’s a solid wood body (no laminate) with rosewood fretboard, tune-o-matic bridge and mahogany neck. It’s decked out with a ProBucker-2 and ProBucker-3 humbucker pickups. The volume controls allow for coil-tapping, which means you can switch between full humbucker or split single coil mode for a total of 6 different tonal possibilities.

Les Paul Quilt Top Pro Electric Guitar Faded Cherry Sunburst

Here’s an affordable Les Paul for all you Slash fans out there!

epiphone-Les-Paul-Quilt-TopThe Epiphone Les Paul Quilt Top Pro electric guitar, in faded cherry sunburst.

This beauty features a solid Mahogany body and carved maple top with a quilt design to the finish. It also has a set-in mahogany neck with rosewood fretboard. Equipped with 2 Pro humbuckers, each with coil-splitting (humbucker/single coil) and weighing a hefty 14lbs, this puppy is ready to rock when you are. Like the Custom Pro above, the Les Paul Quilt Top also has a tune-o-matic bridge and Grover tuners, so it gets in tune and stays in tune easily.

Wildkat Royale

epiphone-wildkatFinally, we have Epiphone’s entry to the Jazz/Rockabilly segment of the market. (Yes, I know, you can rock out on the Wildkat too but it just oozes Jazz Box looks..)

The Epiphone WildKat Royale is beautiful in a pearl white finish, with gold sparkle binding. The gold hardware and Bigsby tailpiece make for stunning accents as well. The WildKat is equipped with 2 vintage style dogear P-90 pickups which give it a hefty, bite to its tone. The gold B70 licensed Bigsby vibrato and tailpiece complete the look.

The WildKat is a limited production release, so they have a good chance of becoming moderately collectible, and at least holding their value a bit better than other mass-market productions. It’s got a semi-hollow mahogany body (with center block to dampen unwanted feedback), maple neck and
rosewood fretboard and weighs about 11 lbs.

It also features bridge volume, neck volume, master tone and master volume controls, and premium 16:1 Grover machine heads for more accurate and long lasting tuning.

Fender

Fender is one of the big players in the electric guitar market and they are well known for fine craftsmanship and innovative products. This craftsmanship extends to their budget (Squire) and Mexican made brands as well. Often times, the models made in Mexico use the same parts as American made, but with cheaper labor. The result is virtually the same quality guitar at half price.

Here are two classic models that feature the Fender logo, but are made in Mexico.

Fender Standard Telecaster

Fender-Standard-TelecasterLeo Fender’s game changing solid body electric guitar that launched the sound of Rock and Roll is still available largely unchanged today. Sure, there are artist endorsed and modified version for thousands of dollars, but you can still get a standard Tele for less than $500.

The somewhat corny history of the Telecaster is that Leo Fender wanted a modern sounding name for his modern, solid body guitar. Being the 1950’s and the heyday of the television age, he settled on “Tele” from television and “caster” from Broadcaster.

The Telecaster is still a preferred guitar for many players today (myself included). It’s simple feature set allows for a multitude of tonal possibilities from classic Tele spank and twang to classic rock crunch without any bells and whistle to get in your way. It’s a workhorse that rarely goes out of tune or out of style.

The Fender Standard Telecaster features:

  • 2 Tele single-coil pickups, great for Country, Blues, Rock, Pop and even Jazz.
  • A modern C-shaped neck, 9.5″
  • 6-saddle strings-thru-body Tele bridge allows for improved intonation and individual string height adjustment.
  • Shielded body cavities to limit unwanted feedback.

The Standard Telecaster is a simple, solid electric guitar. It has a 3-way pickup selection switch, volume and tone knob so you get excellent control over the sound, without an overly complicated control panel getting in the way. The 6-saddle string-thru-body bridge helps to keep the guitar in tune. In short, it’s simple and dependable, which makes fro a great guitar for beginners and experienced players alike!

The Standard Telecaster comes in more color and finish variations than I can really display here, but Additional Fender Standard Telecaster Models!

Fender Standard Stratocaster

Fender-Standard-StratocasterMade famous by the likes of Hendrix, Clapton, Beck, Gilmour and Vaughan the Stratocaster was Leo Fender’s follow up to the wildly successful solid body Telecaster. Once again, as with the Telecaster, Leo wanted to capture the modern futuristic vibe that the 1960’s had to offer and hoped his use of “strato” would make people think stratosphere and evoke the excitement of the newly born space race.

Whether people got the connection he was shooting for is open to debate, but what is not debatable is that the Fender Stratocaster is still one the preeminent guitar models 60+ years later!

Strats come in a host of varieties and player endorsed versions, but you can still get a basic strat for under $500.

The Fender Standard Stratocaster electric guitar features:

  • 3 Standard Strat single-coil pickups. This is the heart of everything from the Stratocaster squawk to creamy blues goodness.
  • A modern C-shaped neck, 9.5″ freeboard radius and medium jumbo frets. Playing fast, and string-bending like your favorite bluesman is a breeze on this neck.
  • Synchronized tremolo bar for everything from dive bombs to subtle vibrato
  • Shielded body cavities to prevent unwanted feedback

The Standard Stratocaster gives you legendary Fender tone with classic styling and weighs about 10 lbs. Additional Fender Standard Stratocaster models.

Godin

Godin is a Canadian guitar company and while some of their most popular models aren’t even branded as Godin (They make acoustics under the Seagull, Simon & Patrick, Norman, LaPatrie and Art & Lutherie brands), they are better known in electric guitar circles. They are typically favored more by studio musicians and touring players than frontmen, but the construction quality and tone are just as good as the big names.

Godin Redline HB

Godin-Redline-HBNext up, the Godin Redline HB electric guitar. The Redline is Made in North American (instead of China or Mexico, as is common with this price range) and features a double-action truss rod to help ensure a straight neck and proper intonation. The neck is made from Canadian Hard Rock Maple and features Godin’s “ergo cut neck” style for ease of play.

The Godin HB Redline weighs about 13.5 lbs, and comes with 2 custom Godin humbucker pickups – a GHN1 in the neck position, and a GHB1 in the bridge position.

Here are the full specs:

  • Rock Maple neck
  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • 24 frets
  • 16 ” fingerboard radius
  • 24 3/4″ Scale
  • 1 11/16″ nut width
  • Body has silver leaf maple centre with poplar wings
  • 2x Godin humbuckers (Neck: GHN1 / Bridge: GHB1)
  • 3-way switch, 1x volume & 1x tone
  • Fixed Bridge

With its double cut-away body and hot humbucker pickups, the Godin HB Redline makes a great hard rock or metal guitar and the price is just right for the beginner or hobbyist.

 Gretsch

Gretsch-G5425-ElectromaticThe Gretsch G5435T Electromatic Pro is a very affordable and very versatile entry in the under $500 range. It features an arched top, chambered mahogany body with set maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. An Adjusto-Matic bridge with Bigsby B50 tailpiece and “Blacktop” Filter’Tron pickups complete the sound, making the G5435T a great way to own a piece of that Gretsch vibe.

I like the G5435T Electromatic Pro so much, I wrote a full review for it when it came out. You can read the full review here.

 

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