Squier vs. Fender. It’s a timeless debate with no clear winner, except to say that it comes down to price vs. quality. Of course, there’s a hefty bit of personal preference thrown into the mix as well.
Here’s a 30-second overview, with more detail below:
*NOTE: The use of “Fender” throughout this article refers to the Made in Mexico (MIM) Fender models. This is the Fender product line closest to the Squier line.
Squier vs. Fender Comparison
- Traditionally regarded as a starter guitar.
- Product catalog has been mostly low end versions of Fender models
- More affordable (budget) brand.
- Guitar body may be non-traditional tonewood (ex: plywood, pine, alder, poplar and basswood).
- Hardware typically lower quality and from a variety of non-Fender factories. (Bridge, nut and tuning pegs are common complaints from experienced players)
- Generally lower quality pickups that favor output over tonal clarity.
- Satin neck finish tends to run a bit rougher and thicker than Fender.
- Historically more model choices available.
- Guitar body usually made of traditional tonewoods (alder, ash and maple for the neck).
- Hardware is Fender-branded and consistently better quality.
- Pickups favoring tonal clarity over output.
- Pickups have “that Fender tone.”
- Tend to weigh less than Squier.
- Cost more.
A little bit of Squier history…
Many beginning guitar players start with Squier guitars. This is because of the excellent quality for the price. Many beginner guitarist starter packs include Squier Affinity guitars and practice amps.
Squier has a reputation for being the low end version of popular Fender models. This has been changing in recent years. Squier started with low end, bare-bones versions of the Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster. Today, there are a host of models exclusive to the Squier brand and of better quality.
For example, more recently Squier has expanded to include:
- The Squier Classic Vibe series (clones of the Fender models from the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s).
Squier vs. Fender, Which is Better?
This question may seem like a Coke vs. Pepsi sort of debate, but it’s not. In fact, Squier is made by Fender. So there is no rivalry here. It’s a question of which branded version of guitar is better.
The answer to the question “Squier vs Fender” is like Coke vs Pepsi in one way – it comes down to taste.
It’s true that Squier uses tonewoods that are generally considered inferior. This might not matter though. How much effect the wood has on tone in a solid body electric guitar is debatable. This is especially true in the less than $1000 price range.
Fender guitars are consistently better quality than Squier. But they’re also more money. The bottom line is that Squier guitars are excellent quality for a budget instrument and newer high end squiers are just as good as Fender guitars.
If you’re looking for a beginner guitar, go with the Squier that fits your budget and taste. Otherwise start with either a high end Squier or Mexican Fender (MIM).
Squier vs. Fender Mustang
Fender Offset Series Mustang MN Faded Mocha FSR Limited Edition
The Fender Mustang has been a distinctive looking and sounding Ax since it first burst on the scene in 1964. This new edition of the Mustang features modern performance-based upgrades. Fender kept the classic Mustang style made popular by My Bloody Valentine, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, and others.
This special edition Mocha finish Mustang currently sells for $499, but won’t be available for long.
“Awesome guitar for the money. The fit and finish on the guitar I received is perfect. The wood grain is beautiful. The playability and sound is wonderful. “
Fender Mustang Short Scale Offset Electric Guitar – Maple Fingerboard – Olive
“I’m loving this guitar. I got more in the guitar than I expected from the price. The Mustang is nice and light, sounds great on my little Fender Champ 20 and my Vox AC10, and I love the color. .. The Mustang is a lot of fun to play, the shorter frets and relatively low action make it really agile, and I find myself picking it up more than my Strat lately because it’s just fun to noodle around on. “
Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Mustang Electric Guitar, Rosewood Fingerboard, Sonic Blue
This the first Mustang guitar from Squier. The Squier version features a basswood body in place of the alder body on the Fender version. Alder is a lightweight wood with a balanced harmonic character. Basswood is a softer wood and often seen as a lesser, and cheaper, version of Alder. Chances are that non-professional musicians will not notice a tonal difference between the two woods.
While Squier may have saved some money on the wood choice, they did not scrimp on the pickups. The Squier Mustang features full-sounding dual Duncan pickups.
The only further differences in the Squier vs. Fender Mustang models are in aesthetic. Meaning, the choice of finish color and knobs used. The Fender models tend to have a been more of a “finished” look, while the Squier models might have some “rough” bits, particularly around the frets.
These are hardly deal breakers in our view given that the guitar sells for only $299 brand new.
“I tried out the new Fender offset series of mustangs and I felt the Squier was the better instrument. ..
These duncan designed pickups are great, they give the guitar a nice output and character. Still got that signature fender sound, but a little more mids and bass.
I love this guitar. It’s become my main for playing out, jammin’, or recording stuff at home. I highly recommend this guitar.”
Squier by Fender Bullet Mustang Electric Guitar
Last up in our Fender vs Squier Mustang review is the Squier by Fender Bullet Mustang.
Like the Squier Mustang above, this Mustang is also made from Basswood. Where it differs is in the pickups. No Duncans here. The Squier by Fender model features stock (i.e.: unbranded) humbucker pickups. Don’t don’t me wrong, they get the job done and for only $149 they get the job done very well, thank you very much!
Along with the pickup change, there is a lot more plastic on this model. Plastic tuners, plastic nut, etc…
Even given these limitations, it’s hard to say that the Squier by Fender Bullet Mustang isn’t a deal at $149.
Also, it’s a great guitar to mod!
“Usually the humbuckers on budget guitars are rather dark and muddy, but these are quite bright sounding, which was a pleasant surprise. The neck was pretty smooth.. The tuners do their job, but are nothing to write home about. The sparkly blue finish is flawless.”
Squier vs. Fender Jaguar
Here I have selected a Jaguar in surf green to make the comparison easier, but both are available in 3 color sunburst, and candy apple red as well.
Both the Fender and the Squier feature:
- “C” shape maple neck
- 24” scale length
- 9.5” fingerboard radius
- 22 frets
- 42mm nut width
- Black plastic control knobs
Keep reading to see where the Fender and Squier Jaguars differ.
The Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar has the following specs:
- Basswood body
- PPS (synthetic bone) nut
- Gloss urethane finish on neck and body
- Duncan Designed™ JG-101B Single-Coil Jaguar bridge pickup
- Duncan Designed™ JG-101N Single-Coil neck pickup
- Special Electronics
- Specially-Voiced Rhythm and Lead Circuit Controls, Tone Circuit Switch
- Chrome hardware finish
- 3 ply white pickguard
Don’t let the vintage name fool you, this Squier features modern clear-sounding Duncan Designed pickups. The fingerboard radius is also a more modern 9.5 inch radius.
The Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar sells for $399.99
American Original ’60s Jaguar
The Fender American Original ’60s Jaguar differs from the Squier in the following ways:
- Bone nut
- Alder body
- Gloss Nitrocellulose Lacquer finish on neck and body
- Pure Vintage ’62 Single-Coil Jaguar bridge and neck pickup
- Special Electronics
- 2-Position Slide Switch for Bass-Cut “Strangle” Circuit
- Nickel/Chrome hardware finish
- 3 ply eggshell pickguard
Besides the upgraded hardware, the Fender also features a nicer looking nitrocellulose lacquer finish. This finish is not as thick as the polyurethane found on the Squier, which allows the body to “breathe” and the natural tonal qualities of the wood to come out.
The Fender American Original ’60 Jaguar sells for $2,099.99