How I became a "Squier guy"
As most people know, I primarily play Squier guitars. Those who have been following me a while know that I also own a "premium" USA Strat and a "premium" Schecter C-1 Classic as well, but don't play them.
Some ask me why I would even bother playing Squier guitars when I already own "premium" electrics.
My answer is this:
The Squier Strat in particular is the only guitar out there that has everything I want at a price I feel comfortable with. And when I say "only guitar", I'm not kidding because in order to get a USA-made Fender-branded Strat with what I want, I'd have to probably spend $2,500 just to get it.
How I prefer my Strats are as follows:
- 21-fret "C" shaped neck with medium jumbo frets and 9.5-inch radius fingerboard
- Standard electronics only (1 volume control, 2 tone controls, back pickup not wired to a tone control which is traditional vintage spec)
- 5-way pickup selector
- 6-post vintage spec bridge (6 screws mount the bridge and do not have the 2-point modern version)
- 3 single coil pickups
Sounds simple enough, right? Well, not really.
The only USA-made Fender-branded guitar that comes close to these specs American Vintage '62 Reissue - but - that guitar doesn't come with a 5-way selector because that's not the way they made them in 1962. Yes, the guitar comes with a kit to upgrade the guitar to a 5-way, but that's not the way it comes delivered. This means that out of the box, I would literally have to take the guitar apart just to get the 5-way selector in there, or hire a tech to install it for me.
The American Standard is not vintage spec at all. It has a 22-fret neck, a 2-post bridge and "special" electronics, all of which I don't prefer.
The American Special has special electronics in it that they call a "Greasebucket" tone circuit, so I can't use that. Some players like that circuit, but I don't because I like my electronics to stay traditional.
A Fender-branded Strat that does have the specifications I prefer is the Fender Standard Stratocaster - but it's made in Mexico. A fine guitar, no question, but not US-made.
So in order for me to get a new USA-made Strat that has the specs I want, I'd have to custom order it from the Fender Custom Shop, meaning the guitar would probably cost a minimum of $2,500 just to get it. Probably more than that.
"Why not just buy a signature series model?" There's not any signature model that completely falls in line with what I prefer. The closest match is the Robert Cray Stratocaster, but it has a hardtail bridge, so that's a no-go. And yes, it's true I don't use the tremolo system, but I still like having it because I think it does add certain tonal qualities just from the way it's made.
"Why don't you just go true vintage?" I can't do that because I don't like buying guitars that are already old, and in order to get the specs I want I'd have to go back to the days when Fender was building American Strats that came with a 6-post bridge as standard equipment with guitar bodies didn't weigh a ton. In other words, it would have to be a true 1960s Strat, requiring me to "desecrate" it just to get it to the way I like by gutting and redoing all the electronics, including the addition of a 5-way switch.
In the end, for the vintage specs I want, it has to be either the Fender Standard Stratocaster or a Squier Stratocaster (at least the ones without the 2-post bridge), and that's it.
How come I don't like the 2-point bridge?
Some quick photos for explanation:
This is a 6-post bridge:
Six screws are in front of the string saddles that hold the bridge in place.
This is a 2-point:
Only two screws hold this bridge in place. For those wondering, yes it is stable, works fine and has for decades since its introduction. The advantage to having it is that this gives you an extra tilt adjustment. For example, you could have the 1, 2 and 3 strings leaning more towards the neck and the 4, 5 and 6 leaning away just by having the top screw adjusted slightly higher.
These bridge types are available on both Fender and Squier Strats. The Squier Strat models in particular that feature the 2-point bridge are any Standard or Deluxe model. All the rest have 6-post bridges.
There are three reasons why I don't like a 2-point bridge on a Strat.
First, I don't like the look of it.
Second, I just don't like the fact the entire bridge can fall out when no strings are installed. And yes, I know that's by design, and I totally admit it makes cleaning the guitar a whole lot easier when you can pull the whole bridge out tool-less without having to unscrew anything when the strings are off, but it's just something that always bothered me.
Third, in my experience with 2-point bridges, I'm never able to get them exactly positioned where I want. I don't know what it is about those bridges, but they just don't "agree" with me for whatever reason. The vintage 6-post style on the other hand always works for the way I set up a Strat.
Am I saying that 2-point Strat bridges are bad? Not at all. Some players greatly prefer the 2-point over the 6-post, and you may genuinely appreciate having that extra bridge tilt adjustment, or just like the advantage of cleaning the guitar in the bridge area a lot easier during string changes. I just happen to prefer the 6-post.
How come I prefer the simple electronics over more advanced wiring?
My answer to this is that it's the simple reason that there's less to break on the inside as the guitar gets older over time. The general rule of thumb is that the simpler the guitar's electronics are, the longer you can play it before something busts on the inside that requires you to take it apart just to fix it.
How come I like 21-fret necks over 22?
First, I prefer the look of the 21-fret over 22 on a Strat.
Second, I rarely go above the 20th fret when playing. Some like having the third octave D note on the 22nd fret so you can bend up to a third octave high E, but whenever I need notes that high, I can bend 2 semitones from the 20th to the high D or three semitones from the 21st to the high E. Given how rarely I need those notes, I don't need 22 frets.
Third, having any more than 21 frets doesn't do anything for me concerning my playing style. I'm not missing anything by "only having" 21 frets. At no time do I think, "Gee, I wish I had extra frets to get those really high notes", because I don't need to go there.
In my experience, the only type of people who actually require 22 or 24-fret guitar necks are "shredders", and I'm not a shredder.
Simpler is better
I'm also a big believer in the "less is more" methodology. Yes, it's true, I have less adjustment and tone options by specifically using vintage-spec Squier Strat guitars - but this forces me to make do with what I choose to use and concentrate on playing rather than messing around with a bunch of crap that gets in the way of all that.
Remember, an electric guitar is supposed to be simple so you can set it up easily and start rocking sooner than later.