Price paid: $ 199
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Features — 9
Made in Indonesia, I purchased this guitar in 2012. It has a maple neck with rosewood fretboard. Medium Jumbo 22 frets. Standard Strat bridge w die-cast saddles on each string, a string through body, and a whammy bar. This is a solid Alder body full scale Strat. High gloss polyurethane finish, stained with the grain showing through. Very pretty. A 5 position knife switch, tone controls for center and neck pickups, volume control. Three standard single-coil Alnico 3 pickups. Standard sealed tuners.
Sound — 10
The alnico 3 pickups are surprisingly good, making it very easy to get that "Hendrix" Strat tone at regular Strat settings on my amps. I use a Deluxe VM for gigs, a 25R for practice. This is a full-featured Strat, which means there is no limit to the sounds it can make with modern amplification and FX boxes. It holds true to the old standard: "If you've got a Strat, you're ready to play any kind of music." I have played many hours with this instrument and can honestly say I cannot find fault with it's tone.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The set up was pretty good, but I never go with factory set ups myself. I have my own setup that I like, which is low with 9 gauge strings. It shipped from the factory with two springs, but three are essential for good tuning stability. The pickup height was perfect and I didn't have to touch a thing. The only real problem I had was the bridge saddle screw (Allen type) on the low E, which was too high and had to be cut down to avoid chafing my picking hand. Other than that, the setup and finish was excellent.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Once I got this axe setup to my liking, I took it to rehearsals and gave it a try. It held up beautifully to my demands. The other band members were equally impressed with its tone and suggested I gig with it. So I did, and it didn't let me down. The tuning held nicely and I had no performance issues at all. It really plays beautifully. The hardware is a lot better than I expected, it is well constructed and solidly built, a lot more guitar than I expected to get at the price. I have other Strats and this one feels like it will last a long time.
Overall Impression — 9
I play R& B primarily and this guitar is very well suited to my style. (My goto axe is a Highway 1 Strat everybody calls "Greenie".) I now use the Squire as my backup on live gigs and also use it in recordings where I want that vintage woody tone from the neck pickup. It's really special on this guitar. My overall impression is that this a serious, full featured guitar with a tiny price tag, I would recommend it to any student or player who wants to add a little vintage Strat sound to their locker or just need a good guitar on a limited budget. As with all guitars, you should be ready to put in a little setup work to get it perfect, but this one can easily make the cut and is well worth the effort.