How I became a "Squier guy" part 2
It's been almost 6 years since I last wrote about this, so let's catch up.
Way back in 2012, I was a Strat guy and wrote about how I preferred Squier over Fender. Some things have changed since then while others have stayed the same.
The things that have changed since I wrote that article is that I don't own the Schecter anymore (sold it years ago,) and I don't really care for Stratocaster guitars at this point. I switched over to the Jazzmaster, and as of recent have taken a strong liking to the Telecaster. At the time I write this, I have a Squier Vintage Modified '72 Telecaster Thinline on order that will be arriving in a few days.
In addition, I have gone through several guitars since that writing. And no, I did not keep all those guitars. Far from it. A general rule I live by is that if one guitar comes in, one must go out either as a trade or sold privately (usually as a trade-out.) I am absolutely not one of those guys who has stacks of guitars in cases because I consider that ridiculous. Of the guitars I had but parted with, there were Stratocasters, Telecasters, Jazzmasters, one Les Paul and one Jaguar.
What has stayed the same, although I came to know this in a roundabout way, is that I prefer simple guitars, hence the reason I've had such a strong attraction to the Telecaster lately. The Tele is one of the simplest electrics to own. No vibrato system, 2 pickups, 2 knobs, 6 inline tuners. Nice and easy. Heck, I even got used to the slab style body shape. This is very different from the Jazzmaster guitar, which by nature is very complicated.
The one biggest change however from then to now is this:
Fender guitar feel and sound doesn't agree with me
In all the time I've been playing guitars, I've owned 4 Fenders. One American (Strat,) two Mexican (Jazzmaster and Telecaster,) one Chinese (the short lived Modern Player Stratocaster HSS.)
There have been many times where I've tried out Fender guitars in guitar stores but haven't bought them. Strats, Teles, Jazzes, Duo-Sonics and Mustangs of varying models. I've had my hands on guitars from Fender USA, Fender Mexico, Fender Japan and Fender China. It's probably true I've played over 100 of them.
While Fender makes good guitars, I've been playing Squier for so long that I now know that Fender axes do not agree with me. The necks don't feel right in my hands, the sound doesn't agree with my ears, and no matter how hard I've tried to get along with a Fender, it's just never worked out.
Squier is owned by Fender and is licensed to use Fender designs. But the character of Squier guitars is different compared to Fender. A Squier axe might look like a Fender, but feels different, plays different, sounds different.
It's the neck where I feel the difference the most. The overall shape is different. Fender neck shapes are thicker, rounder and wider while Squier neck shapes are thinner, slightly "squashed" in the back and have a different shoulder shape. The fret wire size and shape is also different from Squier to Fender.
When I pick up just about any Squier in a guitar store, be it an Affinity, Vintage Modified, Bullet or Classic Vibe, it feels like home to me. I get that familiar Squier neck feel. It doesn't matter if the neck is sealed in gloss urethane, semi-gloss urethane or satin urethane. The feel is there.
When I play a Fender, I don't get that familiar feel. Whether the neck has a Modern C, Vintage Big C, U, V, Soft V or whatever shape it has, my fret hand just doesn't get along with it and I find myself fighting with the instrument.
Fender, obviously, has higher quality electronic components in their guitars compared to Squier. But most Fender electronics have tonal character that doesn't sound right to my ears. This happens regardless of model, be it Standard, Professional or Elite series.
Squier pickups are, obviously, cheap. But they have what I call "rat tone" to them. The single-coils are usually brash and trebly, and the humbuckers usually have a honky blare. No advanced tech is present in the construction of the pickups. What you get is what you get, and it's usually noisy and clacky. But the pickup sound has character, and that's what makes the sound of the guitar great and fun to experiment with.
Would my opinion change if I played a guitar Fender from the Custom Shop?
There are two main reasons I don't care for USA Custom Shop builds from Fender for two reasons. Price and style.
Currently, the lowest priced FCS guitar available to me new is just shy of $3,000. Too much.
But let's say I did have the money. I still wouldn't want it because most FCS guitars are "relic" styled, which is a style that doesn't agree with me at all.
If I was going to spend big cash on a Fender, I'd get an American Elite model to avoid that relic crapola. Elite models sell for around $2,000 at the time I write this... BUT... the feel and sound doesn't agree with me so I go right back to Squier again.
It's more than just price now
Originally I went with Squier because the guitars were cheap. But now it's solidified as my "my Fender."
I've been through enough Fenders to know that the only way I'd ever truly like one is if one were built using Squier specific shaping.
In other words, I know now that when I want a Fender, I actually want a Squier.