The name squier always reminded me of the word squire. Squires were the knights’ assistants way back when dragons were real and horse riding was mandatory. Which is a fun association to have, because every time someone mentions a Squier to me, the first thing that comes to my mind is a young man loaded with weapons, food, water and other necessities that he would never end up using. Maybe that is why I think of the Squier guitars as of beasts of burden? Well, let’s take a closer look at the Squier by Fender “Stop Dreaming, Start Playing” set, and figure out whether it is a beast of burden, metaphorically speaking.
First and foremost the design of the guitar. Because yes, I am shallow enough to look at how a guitar looks before I listen to it. Don’t deceive yourself, so are you. Squier guitar designs are rather simple in their looks. They have a stratocaster reminiscent cutaway and body shape, with a nice and white pickguard and a solid color over them. Nothing flashy and yet fun enough to warrant a good look at a squier guitar. This is all I have to say about the design, so I hope you are satisfied enough.
The body of the guitar is made out of Agathis. I don’t get to speak too much about this tonewood, since it is just now, slowly, becoming more and more popular in the guitar manufacturing world. The fact that it is cheap to grow and even cheaper to manipulate and work with means it is a great replacement hardwood for basswood. It does have some virtues, which, generally speaking, are the same as that of basswood.
The guitar has a nice resonance with the lower tones, yet is also slightly brighter than the basswood. It is also rather light, making carrying it around on your shoulders a breeze and fun thing to do, most of the time. The only issue agathis does have is that it is in fact, not that hard of a hardwood. Damaging it is not a hard job, so dents and scratches will be appearing on your guitar at a higher rate than on average, if you are not careful.
The neck of the guitar is made out of maple. Which is a nice trade-off for the use of Agathis in the body. Maple is a very sturdy hardwood, giving you the confidence that it will not be breaking, denting or scratching at any point of you owning this guitar, at least the neck part. The neck is bolted onto the body of the guitar, which is a decent enough option at this price level and since the manufacturer does not mess up the alignment, I am all for it. The fretboard of the guitar has a nice rosewood surface.
The guitar comes with a Synchronous Tremolo Bridge. This means you get a bunch of OK things when you could have had fewer options but better quality. The action is decent, the string stability is ok and the tremolo bar is fun, until you realize how bad the tuning stability of this instrument is.
The nut of the guitar is made out of plastic, which has always made me a little angry when I see it. I mean, spend a little more manufacturers and the guitar will have a little less string buzz and better harmony. Alas, the don’t, so you get the string buzz problem.
The tuning machine of the guitar is a little detail not many buyer think when they first get to buy an instrument. Which is unfortunate since, you know, tuning stability is a nice thing to have. As it is, the string stability on this guitar could be better. Combine it with the tremolo bar of the guitar and you have given yourself something to cry about at night.
The guitar comes with a set of three Single Coil pickups. I love myself a good single coil pickup, since they have a tendency for a very warm, smooth, twangy sound that I find incredibly attractive. I like to play single coils and to listen to them. The problem is, when the guitar has string buzz and decides to go with single coils, the string buzz is barely mitigated. The single coils here are decent enough, with the output sound being detailed enough and powerful enough to love. Still, a little on the lacking side even for an intermediate player.
The controls are fairly simple and something you’d expect out of a setup like this. Two knobs for volume and tone, as well as a triple setting lever for the pickup configuration.
While the guitar has a whole bunch of things going for it, the sound is probably the most exciting part. Warm, smooth and strong enough to grab the attention of anybody in a room. Lovely indeed, except for the problem of string buzz, which keeps seeping through because of the plastic nut. Replace that, and you have yourself sound good enough for any beginner to get used to.
This is not a guitar for a beginner. This is a guitar for someone who has been dreaming of starting to play and has finally scraped together a few hundred to pick up a bundle. No miracles to be expected out of the instrument, but whatever the guitar has, is adequate enough.