Purchased from: ??
Sound — 5
The tone isn't great, you can hear a bit of a real Strat tone, but it's buried behind hum and noise from the pickups and knobs. The volume control puts in a lot of hum unless it's on maximum or minimum. The tone controls have a small effect, but it's definitely noticeable (one is for the neck pickup, one is for the middle. People don't seem to understand this, and I guess they use pickup combinations and the bridge pickup and they don't notice any difference. All I can say is duh). The tone knobs can be turned down to reduce some of the hum and also for playing alright sounding jazz.
Overall Impression — 10
I play a wide range of music on this guitar, sometimes blues and rock and other misc stuff, but mostly metal. It's good for playing a bit of Chili Peppers, but for metal the neck is slow and most of the songs I know use the 22nd to 24th frets. I can do some shredding on it, but it's like 10x easier on better guitars. If it were stolen, I'd be pretty pissed to be honest. But, I get pissed off when people steal pens from me, so yeah I wouldn't replace it with another Squier Strat, that's for sure. But as far as a first guitar goes, it's been pretty f--king good to me. Better than learning on a classical guitar, by far. It annoys me how people are like "don't get it as a first guitar cos it's too crappy for that" when it definitely isn't. It was obviously made to be a first guitar. I can't recall the exact quote, but Slash once said something like "there's no point getting $50, 000 worth of gear when you can't even play right" and it's very true. You don't need the best guitar on earth when you're only learning the basics like open chords, scales, bends, legato and stuff like that. If you're exposed to average guitars like the Squier Strat, you'll very quickly appreciate what a good guitar feels and sounds like. It's also good because you can experiment with setting it up, adjusting the truss rod (not that you should just go and mess around with it or you'll snap the neck), and taking it apart to see how electric guitars are made, and if you cause minor damage in the process it doesn't matter so much. Also, you can get first hand experience fixing some of the problems you'll come across with guitars. If you learn to play as quickly as most people do, you'll probably only use it for around a year until you're serious enough about playing to need a better guitar. Before then, you're not going to be writing songs, getting famous and playing gigs, and it's not like you're going to be stuck with it forever, so why blow loads of money on it? You might decide that you don't feel like playing seriously, and you only want a guitar that you can casually pick up every now and then and play. Why get a $2000 guitar if you're only gonna play it once a month? I fully recommend it as a first guitar. Just make sure that you compare prices and find a reasonably priced set, don't wanna get ripped off or anything. When you buy it, the first thing you should do is take it to your local guitar shop/technician to have it set up properly. After that, you'll be away. Just please don't be really noobish like a lot of people I've heard about and ask about getting EMG pickups or a Floyd Rose installed in it, cos it ain't worth upgrading. You can laugh at me or flame me (and if you do you're obviously pretty immature), but I actually love my Squier Strat. It's been a great first guitar for me, I've learned heaps on it, and I'll probably keep it forever. Having a pretty average Squier Strat never put me off learning, it actually paid off. It made me practice even harder, because that I knew that once I'd learned enough, I could save up for a really nice guitar. And, well, I'm ordering that really nice guitar in 2 days.
Reliability & Durability — 7
This guitar is definitely not for gigs. The tuners don't hold too well, so your tuning is screwed up within a few hours (I use GHS 11's with loads of windings on the pegs). Hey, I guess it helps you learn to tune your guitar, and identify when the tuning has gone flat. On my guitar: the strap buttons always come loose, I've snapped (and fixed) the tremolo arm. Apart from that, it's showed itself up to be pretty damn tough. It's been treated pretty rough being taken to school, borrowed and stuff like that, tipping off its stand and just generally being knocked around. I used to be pretty bad for donking it against doorways as I went through them. It only has like 3 small dents on the edges from all of that.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
The factory set-up was poor. The action was far too high, the intonation was completely wrong (there was seriously no point trying to tune the guitar until it was properly set up) and the neck was ever-so-slightly bowed. The wood is sparse and sucks up tone and sustain, because it's very soft. At first the output jack was loose, so it didn't always make contact with the cable and it would let it fall out so I had to take it out and bend the contact back, but now it holds strongly. I ended up setting up the bridge so it can float properly, it naturally tilts forward a bit and stays there. I can pull up and get maybe 2 semitones, so its range isn't good but it works well for vibrato. One good thing is that I'm constantly changing my tunings between C# and E, and sometimes (rarely) I go to B and the bridge doesn't rise or sink like a Floyd does, it only moves by a mm or two.
Features — 5
Its a Basic Stratocaster copy. 21 frets, flush-mount Fender synchronised-style tremolo, white scratchplate on black body. 3 single-coil pickups. It has a 5-way pickup selector, volume knob and 2 tone knobs. It was made in China, no idea when. It also came with a gig bag, strap, cable, a 20w practice amp, and some celluloid picks. It's good that the guitar comes with the accessories, but they're so cheap you're better off buying higher quality ones that will last, for future guitars.