Purchased from: Overstock.com
Sound — 7
I run this through my Vox AD15VT with no effects pedals. The guitar resonates beautifully, for which I give credit to the solid mahogany body and lack of a big hole in the middle of the guitar like other strats (this is a pet peeve of mine... sorry.) Through the Vox's AC30 amp model, The 'buckers put out a very impressive clean tone, much brighter than the IBZ pickups on my Ibanez RG7321. The neck pickup is shimmery almost, and the bridge pickup is crunchy, but still brighter than most 'buckers. They are very very quiet, but you do get some fuzz when the whammy bar is above the bridge hum bucker, probably because it's made of metal, and it's getting in the magnetic field. You can get good light to moderate distortion and overdrive from this guitar, but trying to get metal sounds is a slight let-down; the pickups are just too damn happy and bright. Although I don't play much, I bet you could get great blues or jazz tones out of this. Really, it's great anything except satanic death metal screech. Then again, who can tell the difference between this screech or that?
Overall Impression — 10
I've been highly impressed by this guitar. Top of the line Squires are great instruments, as good as MIM Fenders, with better feature sets. If you're after a good guitar and can't justify paying much more for the Fender decal on the headstock, give Squire Deluxe-Series guitars a good look. If lost or stolen, I'd definitely want another, although I might try the H/S/S model, just for flavor. I'd have to say, this is the most beautiful guitar I've played, and one of the better feeling and sounding. If I could change one thing I'd see if it came in a black transparent finish! There's nothing else that needs attention, in my opinion. Finally, a disclaimer: I got this guitar on a huge discount, expect to pay about $250 USD at most retailers.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Surprisingly solid. My Affinity Strat seemed to be leaking parts and bad wiring; this one is much better. The body would probably survive a nearby nuclear blast, and all the chrome hardware is set firmly in place. No input jacks falling to pieces or selector Switch caps flying off left and right. I replaced the strap buttons with some Grover ones, but that's just a style preference. I wouldn't gig with it without backup, but that's only because I play with light-ish strings that enjoy breaking; no slur on the guitar. Finally, I should mention the trem. It is simply amazing how stable the intonation is even with liberal use of the whammy bar. I've been very impressed, especially after my disappointment with the Affinity Strat's tuning stability. This is the best non-locking trem that I've played.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
As I was buying a Squire, I was leery of the setup. I have a hand-me-down Affinity-Series Strat that is just atrocious. However, this is a Deluxe-Series Squire, and apparently much better attended to at the factory. The action was just where it should be for 90% of the guitar-playing population, although I brought it down about half a millimeter. The intonation was good, and the pickups were well adjusted (no muddyness from being too close/far from the strings). The finish was expertly done, very beautiful, and the next was well finished, very speedy. Only construction flaws were the truss rod adjustment indentation is scratched, and the backplate was screwed on with un-necessary force, so the plate is slightly indented where the screws were screwed too far in. However, these are minor, and simply the price of not having a Fender.
Features — 10
This is an Indonesian made Squire Stratocaster type electric guitar, made in 2005, I think. From top to bottom: Painted 60's style headstock with standard Squire tuners. 22 medium-jumbo frets on the Standard Fender rosewood C-shaped neck with dot inlays. A solid mahogany body in a slightly slimmer profile than a normal Strat, presumably for weight reasons. There is no pickguard, and thusly, no Standard pickup chamber in the body like regular strats. It is finished in transparent satin crimson. The pickups are two "Duncan Designed" chrome humbuckers in an H-H setup, controlled by a 3-way toggle (neck, neck & bridge, bridge) with 1 master volume control, and a tone control for each pickup. There is a chrome Standard Fender 2 point trem with satin chrome saddles, and 2 trem springs installed (mine came with a third, which I installed for better tuning stability). The hardware is chrome, and the plastic parts are black. Frankly, a beautiful instrument, and rather versatile for all kinds of things. An excellent features list, especially for a Squire.