Features — 7
One of the guitars in one of the studios I've worked at. A standard well known name for a budget guitar often purchased by those starting out on the electric guitar. When something is ubiquitous its easy to dismiss the object, blaming its popularity on the public's lack of knowledge. But this guitar is popular because it has proven itself to deliver enough quality for its lower price. The Squier consists of the usual stratocaster body with the three single coil pickups. Two tone knobs and a volume knob alongside a 5 way pickup selection switch. The common maple wood neck with an overlaid rosewood fretboard. The frets are the medium to large style as would be expected on a less expensive guitar.
Sound — 7
One of the aspects of a guitar that determines how much you will pay is the quality of the coils. You can pay a thousand dollars for one coil.
Those type of coils are either vintage (same with valve microphone) or coils with very dense magnetic fields and produce a sound associated with high end Gibson, Ibanez or Jackson guitars.
Again with so many guitars in this price range their isn't much bass formant with these guitars: no deep or rich bottom to the sound. They are set to a mid range tone, we could call it "beige." Nothing terrible but nothing exciting either. It's sound designed to appeal to the largest demographic of guitar players; those who want to play pop or commercial music. An alien lot that I have never understood but this is a guitar that will suit their inoffensiveness corporate pop sound. Except it's very offensive to those who want a blood and guts or passionate sound and don't get radio play because there's a load of Squier playing bands taking up the time.
It has a 5 way pole switch which is a welcome addition. Giving 5 options of sound and with a matchstick you can get 2 poles on at the same time to blend sounds too. Many guitars don't have as many 5 options, something I have berated my much loved Ibanez Roadstar II for lacking.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The passive electrics on this guitar are very simple. 3 coils wired to 3 variable resistors, the pots, then to 0.02 micro Farad capacitor linked to the jack socket. So the capacitor is going to be a standard electronics supply and not the high quality audio capacitor, hence sound quality will be of a lower standard. Although cheaply made the guitars metallic and electrical work are of sufficient quality to withstand years of use. The one in the studio has no jack problems in terms of loosening or noise when plugged in. Screws are showing no rust. Nothing is oxidised. Same can't be said of my Aria Pro II at home which has been used far less.
I don't think of strings and Fender and certainly the strings that come with these guitars can be taken off and thrown away or used to garrote the singer when he's being a prima donna. Replace the strings with almost any brand will be an improvement.
Reliability & Durability — 9
The polyurethane finish on the body of the guitar is designed to withstand playing demands and the pressures of traveling. Certainly these plastic style finishes are less vulnerable than a wooden outer layer. Having what feels to be a thicker neck makes the guitar more sturdy. I've found on ,more expensive guitars that the necks feel narrower. The finish they've added to the guitar wears well. Everyone's seen this guitar and they always seem to be in pretty good condition so the wooden body is equally sturdy.
Overall Impression — 6
A standard guitar, in a generic style but with a quality above its averageness and superior to its competitors in the same class. That has given this guitar its longevity and its popularity. It's not a guitar for serious musicianship, others may disagree are these guitars are often used by professional cover bands when they do hired gigs. Their job is mainly to play in the background or to provide dance music as opposed to having the audience focus on them.
If you can afford a more expensive first guitar or like me get many of my instruments from second hand dealers and sites like Ebay you will find a better guitar. This is a guitar for the pop and soft rock outfits, like many cheaper strats it's not a metal guitar.