Price paid: C$ 450
Purchased from: Long & McQuade
Features — 8
These guitars come with standard Stratocaster features: 3 single coils, 9.5 inch fretboard radius, which I think is perfect! The guitars from this era had 7.5 inch radius which I don't find very comfortable to play. Standard fender controls. This is a squire so the features are pretty basic. The bridge is good if you set it up like a hardtail but is not good if you plan on using the tremolo. However, some of these guitars have flame maple necks which are AMAZING! So try and find one with the flame maple necks. I've seen a lot floating around. The Chinese manufacturer seems to not separate out the flame maple and charge more. The only Strat I've personally seen with my own eyes (I'm sure there are exceptions) that have had flame maple necks are the custom shops and the classic vibes which I find very peculiar. Tuners are good and the guitar stays in tune better than guitars I've owned that are triple the price. Pickups are decent but all the pots, jacks etc need to be replaced so you mine as well replace the pickups too with something really nice - I went with Vintage Noiseless but might switch to hot noiseless down the road.
Sound — 10
these guitars sound awesome. The real value of these guitars is in their build quality. Seriously, the build quality on these things are just F-ing unbelievable. At any price point. The way I came to own one was that I had been hired to fill in on a gig last minute. Made 450$... Driving home I saw an advertisement outside Long and McQuade (music store chain in Canada) for the Classic Vibe Strat. I had heard some older pros in Toronto talk about how great these were and they all seemed to own one. The store had order a batch of custom coloured Strats from Squire... SEAFOAM GREEN! I love seafoam green and always wanted a Strat with that colour and was saving up for an American one. So I decided to pop in and check it out (I wasn't really planning to buy it). To my amazement the guitar was just KILLER. It had one of the best necks I have ever played on a guitar... PERIOD! And it was flame maple with a flawless finish. So I bought it and upgraded the electronics (which actually were very decent).
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Eventually, I couldn't believe how often I would pick this little guy up and play for hours. At the time I had a LP Studio, LP Junior, and and American Deluxe Strat... Soon I moved in to a condo in the city and space was limited for my recording gear and guitars so I sold off my Gibsons (more of a Strat Guy) because they were just sitting in their cases... Eventually I got a gig touring for 6 months and I found myself playing this squire more and more! I kid you not, it has now become my main guitar! I even sold my American Strat... This squire was better made! Seriously it is a total MIND F*@k. So when I got back to Toronto I started shopping for a nice American Strat Elite. I was disappointed, for 2000 I could not find a better Fender. In fact the Elite series necks felt WORSE to me! And the wood did not look as nice.
I dragged my GF to half the music stores in the city and could not find one American Strat I liked better. So I picked up another Classic Vibe '50s and... OMG! It was like Sex! It was another one with the flame maple neck. The Action Fit and Finish was better than the American Elites. I'm sorry if people think I'm crazy but it was.
Reliability & Durability — 10
These guitars come with a modern poly finish. Which I actually like. The finish on these may be a little too thick maybe but I like it because I felt very comfortable taking this guy with me crossing borders, getting tossed around backstage, getting tossed around ONSTAGE. Basically the REAL way to relic a guitar. And it took the abuse better than any other guitar I've ever owned. A few times I've picked it up and it was still in tune and I've thought WTF... How? Also, it was so great to have an instrument where you don't really have to worry about anyone stealing it or about beating it up too much and breaking it because its not worth a whole lot.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall, I would say if you are a snob... Don't be! Try these out. I know a lot of pro guys that play these and you'd be surprised. I would bet any money that some song on the charts right now has one of these guitars on it. If you are looking for a guitar for your kid. Spend the money on one of these and he will be good for a while. This series of guitars really seemed to capture lighting in a bottle and there is a huge drop off between these and lower end squires I've tried recently. If you are buying a guitar and you are starting or even if you have been playing for a while and you want something really good for a good price, try out a bunch of these and take the one that feels best to you. Also look for one that has a flame/figured maple neck.