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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Cheap Electric Guitars That Should Cost More, but Don’t.

There are many lists of cheap guitars on the web. Heck, I’ve even written a few myself. This is not one of those lists. This is a list of excellent guitars that should sell for more, but don’t. They are truly great guitars at affordable prices.

Many of these are the more affordable version of major guitar makers. For example, Epiphone is the affordable version of the Gibson guitar. Sometimes, the price difference is due to different components that are used, sometimes it’s a difference of where the guitar is assembled. Epiphone Les Paul guitars have different components than Gibson Les Pauls, but the difference is usually not noticeable to the novice or hobbyist.

Ibanez Artcore AF75

It’s hard to find a hollowbody electric guitar at this price, and harder still to find such a good quality one. The Ibanez AF75 is part of their Artcore series of hollowbody guitars, with a maple body and mahogany neck and ultra-smooth rosewood fretboard it has the look and feel of an old-fashioned jazz box. The AF75 comes with a pair of Classic Elite ACH humbucker pickups for everything from a warm jazz tone to classic rock growl.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS
Jazz Tones Demo:

 

Classic Rock Demo:

 

Epiphone Limited Edition Wildkat

If you’re looking for an ax with a sense of style – whether you play blues, jazz, rockabilly or just plain rock – look no further than the Epiphone Limited Edition Wildkat Electric Guitar in Pearl White.

Epiphone has been a leader in archtop guitar design since the 1930’s, but they’re not afraid of a little innovation. The Wildkat Royale is just such a design. Epiphone’s WildKat is a beautiful blend of pearl white finish accented by gold sparkle binding, gold Hardware and a gold Bigsby tailpiece. Vintage style dogear P-90 pickups round out the Royale vibe and give the WildKat classic tone and bite.

The Epiphone Wildkat is a smaller body, semi-hollow guitar that provides great vintage sound and vibe at a surprisingly affordable price. The WildKat features a solid mahogany body that is routed to create an acoustic guitar-like body. It’s got plenty of tonal versatility too, with bridge volume, neck volume, master tone and master volume controls. The WildKat also has premium 16:1 Grover machine heads, likely to help offset the Bigsby’s tendency to mess with the tuning. But the Bigsby was never really meant for dive bombing solo’s anyway.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Watch the Review

Or watch this demo for more rock tones:

 

Epiphone LP Special II Les Paul

The Epiphone LP Special II is on this list because it is the Les Paul Electric Guitar that you can afford!

Epiphone was one of Gibson’s main competitors until Gibson bought the company. Being that Epiphone is now owned by Gibson, and they both make Les Paul style guitars, you can imagine that the differences other than price are such that the weekend warrior or hobbyist isn’t going to notice. (see the link at the top of this post for more on that)

So while the Epiphone LP Special II isn’t top of the line like the Gibson Les Paul, it is a very good guitar and it isn’t going to set you back $3,000 or more either.

The body and neck are mahogany, while the fingerboard is a smooth rosewood. It’s got 700T and 650R open coil humbucker pickups for long sustain and searing Les Paul tones. Also included are the LockTone Tune-O-Matic bridge and stop-bar tailpiece.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Watch the Review:

 

Fender Telecaster

The Fender Telecaster solid body electric guitar has been around since the birth of Rock and Roll, and with good reason – it’s a work horse! Its simplicity of design and versatility make it an easy guitar to play, and an old stand by for seasoned players when that flashy new ax runs afoul of the tech gods and starts to glitch.

All the Fender guitars on this list are made in Mexico, which is why they don’t cost twice as much. Unless you’re a pro, you won’t notice the difference otherwise.

Fender Standard Telecaster

First up in the Tele line is the Fender Standard Telecaster, with Maple Fretboard. This is the classic, no frills Tele. Complete with 2 single-coil pickups (neck and bridge), C-shaped neck, 9.5″ fretboard radius and medium jumbo frets, master tone and master volume knob, and pickup selector. That’s it. Not a lot can go wrong here, but once you master the finesse of the tone knob and the appropriate playing style, you’ll be amazed at what you can play with such a simple rig.

The 6-Saddle string-through bridge provides superior intonation, sustain, and ease of adjustment. Because of this and its simple design, the Fender Telecaster has a reputation for keeping great intonation and staying in tune, even after the most abusive play.

Fender’s use of alder wood for the body provides a bright, balanced and resonant tone with pronounced upper midrange, excellent sustain, and sharp attack. It’s a great guitar for Blues, Rock and Jazz.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Watch the Review:

 

Fender Modern Player Tele Plus

For those who like the standard Telecaster, but feel that something is missing – check out the Fender Modern Player Tele Plus.

The Modern Player Tele Plus features the same body, neck and fretboard as the standard Telecaster, but the pickups are different. The Player Tele Plus replaces the single-coil bridge pickup with a humbucker, and adds a single coil strat pickup in the middle. It also has a 5-way switch for selecting a much greater range of tones.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Watch the Review:

 

Schecter Omen-6

Schecter-OMEN-6The Schecter OMEN-6 is a great hard-rock and metal guitar for anyone on a budget less than 4 figures. This guitar features a Maple neck and basswood body, Rosewood fretboard and Schecter Diamond Plus pickups in the bridge and neck position. The naturally bright tone of the maple balances the warmer tones of the basswood body, and the Schecter Diamond Plus pickups are over wound for aggressive high output pickup, to help give your  amp a friendly shove over the edge. The OMEN-6 also has high quality Schecter tuners for precise tuning and a tune-o-matic bridge with string-thru body tail for better sustain and clarity.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Schecter 431 C-6 Deluxe

The 431 C-6 is Schechter’s first “entry level” guitar to earn the “Diamond Series” name. That’s because it is built with more care and quality than many entry level guitars, but it still retains the entry level price. The Schecter 431 C-6 Deluxe looks cool, and plays great and all with an affordable price.

The Schecter 431 C-6 Deluxe comes in a very slick looking satin metallic light blue, black or white and features solid basswood body with a maple neck and rosewood fretboard. The 431 also has Schecter Diamond Plus humbucker pickups (which I think are actually produced by Duncan); volume, tone and 3-way pickup selector switch (neck, bridge, both).

Schecter 431 C-6 Deluxe
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Gretsch G5425 Electromatic Jet Club

It’s not often you see a Gretsch in new condition for a price like this. To be fair, it is an entry level guitar – but it’s still a Gretsch for under $300!

The G5425 Electromatic Jet Club features a chambered basswood body and arched laminated maple top with slick gloss finish. The neck is maple with rosewood fingerboard and “Neo-Classic Thumbnail” inlays. The chambered body gives it more sustain when plugged in, and a more acoustic sound when strummed without an amp. This makes it a pretty decent practice guitar if you want to get some licks under your fingers late at night without disturbing the peace.

Speaking of plugging in, the G5425 has two humbucker pickups – both Gretsch dual-coil humbuckers, and 3 positions: Bridge, Neck and both Bridge and Neck.

The Gretsch look is complete with pearloid pickguard and “G-Arrow” control knobs.

The Gretsch G5425 Electromatic Jet Club has a great mellow tone but is also capable of darker metal or hard rock tone as well at an incredible price.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Watch the Review:

Danelectro ’67 Heaven

The Danelectro ’67 Heaven is one of the most unique looking guitars out there. With its single coil lipstick pickups and offset body style it looks vaguely like a distant relative to a Fender Mustang or Jaguar. Rest assured, it is as unique as it’s gator skin finish.

This is a modern day reissue of the ’67 Hawk that first appeared back in 1967. The body is solid poplar, the neck is maple and the fingerboard is rosewood. The controls are about as simple as can be: volume knob, tone knob and pickup selector switch. The switch toggles between neck, bridge and a blend of both.

It’s unique, cool and surprisingly cheap. What’s not to love?

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Watch the Review:

 

 

 

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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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