Squier guitar price hikes - is it time to abandon the brand?
It might be time to stop buying Squier and start buying Rondo.
(This is a reader requested article. If you'd like to request something for me to write about, email me.)
This email came in. Jonathan writes:
Rich - would love to see a post discussing how good of a value you feel Squier is now that they've raised prices on many of their guitars.
I know you've touted the brand for many years and own a number of their guitars. I personally had a CV 50s Tele for a while and loved everything but the neck. Still a great buy with an inevitable price hike or look elsewhere?
Let's answer this question first:
Does the Squier brand follow the inflation rate?
Actually, they stay slightly ahead. Or at least in America they do.
The cost of a Squier Bullet Strat is listed by Fender as $149.99. That link goes to Amazon and you'll see the $149.99 has not been reflected just yet, but will shortly within the next few months. If you want a Bullet Strat cheap, GET IT NOW or you will pay more for it real soon. I'm not kidding.
When I bought a Squier Bullet Strat back in 2006, the cost was $119.99. Using the US Inflation Calculator (you can Google that if you want to see it for yourself,) this is what something bought for $119.99 should have cost in December 2015:
So the hike of the Bullet Strat guitar from $119.99 in 2006 to $149.99 in 2016 is about 9 bucks ahead of what inflation dictates what the guitar should sell for.
Do I agree with the price hike? No, but it does prove that Squier does follow the inflation curve and stays slightly ahead of it.
Does this mean guitar buyers should just grin and bear it?
You do have alternatives, depending if you have the option to do so depending on preference. If you like Strats, Teles, Les Pauls and other common guitar shapes, there are plenty of alternative choices out there.
If on the other hand you like more specialized shapes such as Jaguar and Jazzmaster, you have fewer alternatives and will most likely have to remain with the Squier brand.
What about Rondo?
There is the possibility that I might buy an SX brand (a Rondo brand) guitar this year. I'm feeling the urge to get a cheap all-maple neck Strat, and I can get that from Rondo for far less than Squier, and here's the kicker:
Rondo makes the better guitar. I've known this for a while now.
One thing I've never said about Squier is that all their guitars are great, because they're certainly not. I've sent back and/or traded out several Squiers because of problems. Electronics problems, neck problems, body problems, etc. Never have I said that Squier makes guitars perfect, because they certainly don't.
Rondo brands such as SX and Agile make far superior instruments that sell for less. The only reason I've not bought one is because there is literally no way to try it before buying it. Also, if I don't like the guitar and want to send it back, I'm stuck paying the return shipping fee for that, which is close to 15 USD.
However, with Squier's latest price hike, it's now worth the risk to buy Rondo because a $99 SX Strat is built better than a $300 Squier Vintage Modified Strat. So if I buy an SX Strat, the guitar + shipping is about $115. And if I try it and don't like it, that's a return cost of $15 that I lose. But like I said, it is worth the risk of losing 15 bucks, because otherwise I would be spending $320 (that's price of guitar + tax) for a Squier Vintage Modified Strat.
In other words, with Squier, it's now more true than ever I would be paying more for less compared to the SX brand from Rondo.
Is Squier worth it now?
Now as for what Jonathan asked about the Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster '50s, is it worth the soon-to-be $400 price tag?
And I'll tell you exactly why. That was the price of a FENDER BRANDED China-made Stratocaster, that being the Modern Player Series (no longer available). How do I know this? I owned one, and that was the price in 2012.
Granted, the Classic Vibe Series is Squier's top-of-the-line product for electrics. But now it's the price of a Fender model that existed barely 4 years ago? Sorry, no sale.
What about buying cheap used guitars to save a buck?
I don't recommend this unless you know how to work on a guitar neck. If you know how to level frets, replace frets, replace nuts and replace tuners and have the workspace for it, then go ahead and buy used.
When I wear out a guitar, I trade it out and just get another one. Other than my first guitar (the '89 Squier Strat), Squier guitars are not worth the effort to work on. It's better to just get rid of them and buy something else.
I mentioned above that I might be buying an SX Strat copy this year. I have a specific reason for this. I want all-maple neck Strat, but I don't want a Squier Affinity Stratocaster because that's now priced too high for what it is, and I know SX makes the better guitar for just 99 bucks.
If I decide to go SX, yes I will have to run the risk of buying-before-trying. I may hate the neck on it, and I may lose 15 bucks in shipping if I have to send it back for a refund. But maybe I will be pleasantly surprised and get something good. Time will tell.
Ultimately, you make the call
Having the accessible low-priced good guitar was Squier's game to lose.
Have they lost the game?
That's where you come in.
Your wallet does the talking here. If you think the price of a Squier electric is too expensive, then it is, and you seek out an alternative. It's your call.