rich menga books gear search about contact
***Secret FSR Fender guitars? Yes, they exist, and they're right here

What does "student guitar" mean?

Squier by Fender Bullet Strat with Tremolo, Rosewood Fretboard with Gear Guardian Extended Warranty - Fiesta Red

Sometimes you will see a guitar labeled as being "student." What does that mean?

The above guitar, a Squier Bullet Strat, is a "student" guitar; there are two reasons why it is labeled as such.

  1. Low price.
  2. Slightly smaller than "full" size.

Where did student-size electric guitars start?

While there have been many guitar makers that have offered student-size electrics, the company best known for it is Fender.

As the electric guitar exploded in popularity in the 1950s and on into the 1960s, Fender decided to offer a few electric models that were smaller, purposely priced cheaper and had only the simplest electronics.

An example of this is the Fender Music Master:

1964 Fender Music Master
(Above: 1964 Fender Music Master)

The Music Master was a dirt simple 3/4 scale guitar. Some came with two pickups, but many just had one. Scale lengths came in short scale 24.0-inch or really short 22.5-inch.

These were marketed as beginner guitars. Small, cheap and affordable.

Is the Music Master just a simpler version of a Mustang?

Basically, yes. The Mustang (still available new today in Squier and in Fender flavors,) has a split pick guard with metal covering for the knob controls and a vibrato system, while the Music Master had just a single-piece guard and no vibrato system.

Were there ever 22.5-inch scale Mustangs?

Yes. Fender did make a handful of Mustangs with the super-short 22.5-inch scale, although I personally wouldn't own one because that's very itty-bitty.

How does student size relate to a Stratocaster shape?

This is where things get interesting.

A student-size Stratocaster shape guitar is not 3/4 size, but rather 7/8 size.

In plain English, that means the body and only the body is slightly slimmer.

As far as I'm aware, all Squier Stratocaster guitars have a 7/8 body, and this is the primary reason why tremolo blocks from an full-size Strat bridge system will not fit correctly and stick out from the back of the body.

The neck however is almost exactly the same size as an full-size Strat. Same 9.5-inch fingerboard radius, same modern C shape, same 25.5-inch scale length. The only thing that's truly smaller is the nut width (only when compared to USA Strats, since Squier Vintage Modified and Mexico-made Fender Strats have the same nut width.)

Are slim-profile Squier bodies truly student guitars?

Only in the respect that they're low-priced.

Today's student guitars don't follow the original 3/4 sizing that the Music Master did. In addition, you get the same full electronics capability that the full-size Strats do, whereas originally you didn't.

What is a "true" student-size guitar?

The Squier Mini. That guitar has a 22.75-inch scale length and is "hardtail" (no vibrato system.) That's a small guitar made for people with short arms and small hands.

So yes, Fender still does make a true student-sized guitar. It just happens to be a Squier brand in a Strat shape instead of the Mustang shape, and simply labeled as Mini, as in miniature.

Is a 7/8 size a "kid's guitar?"

Absolutely not.

The Squier Mini is a true kid's guitar. But something like the Squier Vintage Modified Stratocaster? That's an adult-size guitar.

To say a 7/8 body is "for kids" is like saying 17-inch wheels on a car are "training wheels" compared to 18-inch when they're obviously not.

Reality check: Many Strat players prefer the 7/8 body size

This is something I mentioned before but will bring it up again.

If a guitarist has been playing Squier Strats for a while, then "upgrades" to a Fender Strat, there is the very likely possibility he or she will hate the feel of the full-size Strat body.

It's not that the full-size body will weigh significantly more than the 7/8, but the added thickness can be uncomfortable.

In seated position, if you notice a full-size Strat profile "digs" into your body more, or if when playing standing the body seems to slide around more in a way that just doesn't feel right, chances are you actually like the 7/8 size better simply because that's what you're used to.

Guitar players that discover they prefer the 7/8 size Strat body are both delighted and disgusted at the same time.

The delight comes from the fact that their preferred body shape is from a brand that's very affordable.

The disgust comes from the fact they know there is no Fender Strat that exists they will ever be able to truly enjoy - unless they spend major cash on a Fender Custom Shop build and specifically instruct the shop to use a 7/8 body shape and fabricate a custom short tremolo block that will fit in it.

This begs the question: Should Fender build a 7/8 size Strat?

I think they should. Not an American nor a Mexico model, but a China-made model. There are already China-made full-size Fender Strats like the Modern Player Series (and yes, that is absolutely a full-size Strat.) I don't think it would be too difficult to introduce a Fender-branded 7/8-size Strat. Just call it the Stratocaster "S" model, with S meaning slim or student.

I figure it like this. If Fender made a 7/8 Strat that's Fender-branded, it should be marketed as a "high-end student guitar" of sorts. All the good Fender bits and bobs, just in a slightly smaller body size with low pricing. A China-made Strat in that flavor would fit the bill quite nicely. Have it as a street price of around $350 to $375 (slightly below Modern Player) and it would be a winner and sell well. I'm sure of it.

image
Best ZOOM R8 tutorial book
highly rated, get recording quick!

141211

More articles to check out

  1. The guitar some buy in threes because they can: Grote GT-150
  2. You're not allowed to change a brake light in a new car?
  3. Unexpected surprise, Casio F201
  4. Why the Epiphone Explorer is better than the Gibson (for now)
  5. You should surround yourself in guitar luxury
  6. Forgotten Gibson: 1983 Map Guitar
  7. Casio MTP-V003, the one everyone missed
  8. Just for the look: Peavey Solo guitar amp
  9. Spacehunter, that '80s movie when 3D was a thing
  10. The Ice Pirates 1984