Squier Stratocaster

Thursday, January 31, 2008| by Will Chen

The Fender Stratocaster is without a question one of the most coveted guitars ever created. Its classic sleek design and three pickup configuration have been imitated by scores of off brand manufacturers as well as boutique custom builders. Squier (a division of Fender) provides a genuine line of Stratocasters to those on a tighter budget.

A gorgeous cherry sunburst finish immediately sets it apart from the standard Fender line. This finish has historically only been offered on high end models or as a custom finish. Other than a very faint line on the upper bout (which might actually be wood grain showing through), the finish is flawless and beautiful. The translucent body reveals subtle agathis wood grain and a tiny knot below the bridge.

The controls are laid out in the standard Strat configuration of a five-way switch, master volume, and independent tone controls for the neck and middle pickups. A twin pivoting, non-locking tremolo rather than the classic six screw design and oversized 60's style headstock furthers the guitar's custom appearance. Overall, the guitar has a solid feel and balances well on the shoulder.

The 22 fret 25 and 1/2" scale neck has a slim feel and the guitar fitted with .09 gauge strings. Set up was decent, however the review model had some issues with the nut on the g string which seemed to bind during big bends or when using the tremolo bar. With the exception of the g string, I was surprised at how well the non-locking tremolo system stayed in tune with moderate use. While the frets were nice and level, some of the fret edges were sharp towards the top of the neck. Both issues could easily be remedied with a quick setup.

A strum of the guitar unplugged revealed a bright chimey sound with that unique ring from the tremolo that only happens with a strat. The low output single coils can be noisy and these were no exception to the rule with an almost unbearable amount of hiss when plugged into either a Tech 21 Trademark 60 or an RP350 with the gain cranked. However, with the gain dialed back the guitar came to life. The middle and neck pickups have a subtle sweetness to them that begs for lower gain settings and excels at singing blues/rock leads. Flipping to the bridge setting slid me into twang territory. However, I found myself cutting back the treble slightly as the pickup is a touch bright for my taste. The output is on the low side so don't expect to chunk with this guitar, that's not really the goal here. Fortunately, you don't need to goose the gain as the guitar sustains nicely.

You can't get much closer to a real Fender than a Squier and while our review model had a few issues, the relative easy access to stock in local music stores should allow plenty of choice to get the pick of the litter.

Filed Under: Reviews, Squier