Price paid: $ 220
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Features — 8
2012 Standard Tele: Antique Burst, rosewood fretboard. 3 way selector switch. tele-plus like bridge. platic nut. Passive Squier electronics including volume and tone pots. Agathis body (much like mahogany but much less dense). Maple neck. Gloss finish. Standard Fender tuners. String through body. I have hotrodded my Squier Tele. I installed Texas Special Tele pickups, a vintage noiseless Strat in the middle position, upgraded all the pots and installed a standard strat 5 position pickup switch (neck, neck/bridge, bridge, mid/bridge, middle). I also installed a white pearl pickguard. This made the looks pop nicely for my tastes, it accented the antique burst really nicely. I had to set up the neck when I received it. After set-up it plays nicely. Not great playability but it will definitely get me through a night with ease. So, with upgrades, I am into this guitar for around $550. But that is much cheaper than the $1200 Fender model that is very similar.
Sound — 7
From the factory, the sound is fairly low on my OMG scale. The pickups were OK but a much better and hotter set was soon to follow. The volume and tone pots were noisy so they were upgraded. The sustain is not great but acceptable. With some compression it does just fine. With the Texas Specials, I run mine through a Presonus tube preamp, then through a tube compressor, then through a Line 6 POD XT Live pedal and finally into a Fender Frontman 212. After all the upgrades, and through my gear, it sounds pretty amazing. Just wish it had a bit more sustain. Maybe a body upgrade to ash or mahogany is in its future.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
Set-up from the factory was pretty much non-existent. It took me about 3 hours to set mine up. Fit and finish were nicely done for the most part. The pickguard needed some refitting but that was just my preference. The burst was nicely done and the final clear coat was nice and evenly applied. Overall, no flaws in electronics routing, finish and assembly. The frets were nicely done. No buzzes anywhere. Pickups were in need of height adjustment badly. It took me about 30 minutes to adjust those. After I installed the new pickguard, it is a really nice looking guitar. Nothing too fancy on it but a solid workhorse.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I play mine about 6-8 hours per week. The finish is getting fairly well scratched from picks but still mostly "glossy". Strap buttons have NEVER moved. Really the only bad spot on the guitar is the 1/4" jack. Lately, it has been coming out of the guitar when I unplug at the end of the night. A simple push puts it right back in place. I believe this is a wood choice issue. I don't believe I would have this issue if Fender/Squier had decided on a better wood for this axe.
Tuners are standing the test of time quite well. The plastic nut needs to be replaced soon with something better like graphite, etc. Never had any reliability issue with mine. Always works when I need it most. I always carry a spare axe with me regardless of what it is just because accidents happen. However, if this was my one and only, it wouldn't spook me too much.
Overall Impression — 8
I've been playing professionally for 20+ years (30+ overall). I play mostly country. With the Texas Specials, I can make this one really squak for chicken pickin. With the strat in the middle position, I also can get some nice strat style sounds. I have nicer playing guitars but not one that sounds nicer. Overall, from the factory, I wasn't impressed. Just a typical cheap version of a Fender. However, after upgrading the pickups, pots and selector switch, this is a fairly nice playing and sounding guitar. Of course, I spent an extra $250 on upgrades but I made a guitar that plays and sounds much nicer than the standard Squier.
I have played some of the Classic Vibe Squiers and I am more impressed with the factory sound of those. I wish the body was a better quality wood like ash or mahogany but this agathis body does give it a unique sound when paired with the Texas Specials. If something catastrophic happened to this one I might purchase another. However, I think I would go with EMG active electronics on the second to enhance the sustain and give it some sparkle.