Price paid: $ 366
Purchased from: Argos
Sound — 8
This can cover music from blues to punk, but is a bit lacking when used for metal/hard rock with the stock pickups, since they are single coils. This guitar can sound really nice through a decent amplifier (I now have a Roland Cube 60 and have also played it through a Marshall MG100 DFX on numerous occasions), but it's a bit of a tinny sound compared to the Mexican 60t Anniversary Strat I now have. It's also thinner than my Fender, and has nothing like the same sustain, even on high gain. However, I don't find this guitar to be too noisy unless I'm near a computer screen, despite having cheap single coil pickups. All in all, not bad for a beginner.
Overall Impression — 8
I play general rock and punk music and this guitar kept me going well form a while, until I got my Fender. As previously mentioned, the guitar is decent for the price and should satisfy any beginner, but matched to professional guitars such as my Mexican Strat and Cyclone HH, it just doesn't come close, and so I'm thinking of selling it on just to pay off the Cyclone. I bought this from Argos without playing it first, and I wouldn't ever do that with a guitar these days, since you never know what you're getting. However, I got lucky and a my Squier is pretty nice for the money. Most of the Squiers I have played are also nice for the money, so presumably it's safe to buy these without playing first, especially since they're so cheap. Overall, nice action, good feel, sound above average for the price but lacks sustain and can be a bit tinny. The finish is a bit lame but that's probably just my specific guitar. Great guitar for the money or for a beginner. It could also be modified to make a low- intermediate guitar for an extra 100 or so (e.g. putting Fender stock pickups in it and getting some better tuners), though I personally won't do this as I have the real thing now. 8/10 considering the price, aiming at beginners. If you want a pro's guitar then you probably know for yourself that these won't cut it just as they are from the factory.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I've played this guitar Live a few times, before I got a better guitar. It stood up fine, and I wouldn't expect any less. This guitar is built solidly despite being cheap. I've dropped it and it's fallen over a few times, and it's only got a few dents to show for it and doesnt't sound or feel the worse for it. The tuning heads seem to hold their tuning well to say they're cheap; they out-perform my brother's Epiphone Les Paul Custom in that respect. However, they're nothing compared to my Mexican Strat; that stays in tune for a week on end even when you use the trem arm! I also found that, when I freed up the tremolo and set that up correctly, the guitar didn't hold it's tuning as well as it might, perhaps that's why the bridge was like that to begin with. The strap buttons are as solid as any out there without using straplocks. Just personal taste I guess, but I used some of the rotating plastic disk type locks for this, as I didn't consider it worth buying replacement strap buttons for the locks. I woulsn't gig with this as a main guitar anymore ebcause the sound just doesn't cut it when I have better guitars to use. I'd keep it as a backup though.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The action as set was spot on, nice and light, and the intonation was perfect. However, what was not done correctly (and I didn't realise of fix until I got my Mexican Strat) was that the tremolo block was sprung so tightly that it lay flat against the body and took enormous effort to produce any change in pitch with the whammy bar. This meant that I basically had to re set-up the whole guitar in order to fix this, but I value the experience! Everything fits together just fine. The finish is ok; the neck has a lovely satin laquer to it and the body's varnish is tough. The sunburst finish was not overly good, and the wood grain it revealed in the centre isn't matched and so looks frankly cheap. However, one thing I do love about this guitar is the neck feels pretty mcuh as good as a Fender, though somehow less solid. For the price these play the best you'll get.
Features — 9
This was my first elecric guitar. I had played my granddad's Silver series Japanese Squier Strat and liked that, so I thought I'd get one of my own. It came with a strap, a cheap and nasty lead that broke in a couple of days, some picks, alan keys, tuition booklet (which I never used) and, most importantly, a Fender Frontman 15G amp. The Frontman was pretty good, with some nice clean tones though the distortion was fairly tinny. The guitar itself has 21 frets on a rosewood fretboard. It has a maple neck and a 3-piece laminated alder body. Three single coil pickups, 5-way selector Switch and a "Vintage style" tremolo unit round it off as a Stratocaster.