Fender vs Squier Telecaster: In-Depth Comparison

The Telecaster is one of the most popular electric guitar models of all time and has been played by countless famous guitarists. We all know that Fender Teles are more expensive than Squier Teles, but what actually is the difference between them?

In this article I’ll compare Squier and Fender Telecasters in depth, but if you’re just looking for a quick answer here it is…

Fender Telecasters are made in the USA, Mexico and Japan, whereas Squier Telecasters are made in Indonesia. Fender Telecasters are built using higher quality materials (hardware, pickups and woods) however, Squier Telecasters are typically less than half the price.

If you’re looking for a specific comparison of the most expensive Squier and cheapest Fender Telecaster, check out my comparison between the Squier Classic Vibe and Player Series for more information.

Manufacturing Country

One of the biggest differences between Fender and Squier Telecasters, is where they are made. Fender Telecasters are made in the USA, Mexico and Japan. Squier Telecasters are made in Indonesia.

Here is a list of each Telecaster model (Fender and Squier) and where they are manufactured.


Made In USA:

  • American Ultra Luxe Tele
  • American Vintage II Tele
  • American Ultra Tele
  • American Original Tele
  • American Professional II
  • American Performer Tele

Made in Mexico:

  • Vintera Tele
  • Player Plus Tele
  • Player Tele

Made in Japan:

  • Aerodyne Special Tele
  • MIJ Tele
  • Boxer Tele


Made in Indonesia:

  • Classic Vibe Tele
  • Affinity Tele
  • Bullet Tele
  • Mini Tele
  • Contemporary Tele

Indonesian-made guitars are typically mass-produced in large factories using lower quality materials which means the build-quality and quality control is not as good compared to American, Japanese and Mexican-made Telecasters. They also just don’t have the same heritage and prestige.

This is a primary reason why Squier Telecasters are cheaper. American-made electric guitars are built using the best quality materials and craftsmanship, hence the higher price point.

Check out my article on where Fender and Squier guitars are made for more info.

Pickups and Tone

Okay so this is what most players care about and rightly so. Fender Telecasters are more than double the price of Squier versions, but do they sound twice as good?

The cheapest Squier Tele’s use ceramic pickups, whereas the more expensive ones use alnico pickups which you’ll also find in the Fender versions. In my opinion, it’s well worth paying a bit more to get alnico pickups in a Tele as they sound much more authentic.

There are quite a lot of different Squier and Fender Teles available and it would be unpracticable to pit them all against each other in this kind of article. But what I will do is compare the tone of the cheapest Fender and most expensive Squier Tele.

The Squier Classic Vibe Tele actually has Fender designed alnico pickups and costs around $430. The Fender Player Tele has “Fender Player” alnico pickups and costs almost double, starting at $800.

Check out this YouTube video comparing the tones of both.

To my ears, the Fender Player Telecaster sounded brighter and definitely had a lot more cut compared to the Squier CV ’50s Telecaster which is warmer and has less twang. Both sound great though, and it’s entirely personal preference as to which you’ll enjoy the tone of more.

If you’re considering a Fender or Squier Tele, I’d highly recommend going to your local guitar store and trying the different models out for yourself so you can really figure out which you prefer the sound of.

Body, Neck and Fretboard Wood

All Telecaster main-line models use maple necks. However, a significant difference between Squier and Fender Telecasters is the species of wood used to make the body and fretboards.

  • Squier Telecasters bodies are made from either poplar, pine or nyatoh
  • Fender Telecaster bodies are made from either alder, ash or mahogany

Since Squier Telecasters don’t feature the traditional alder or ash bodies, they just don’t feel as authentic as Fender versions. Most Squiers have a poplar body which doesn’t look as attractive (when left with a transparent finish) and doesn’t sound as lively and dynamic as an alder body found on most Fender Teles.

Poplar is typically considered as a poor man’s alder, as it is cheaper to source and doesn’t sound or look as good.

In terms of the fingerboard materials…

  • Squier Telecaster fingerboards are made from either maple or Indian laurel
  • Mexican Fender Telecaster fingerboards are made from either maple or Pau Ferro
  • American and Japanese Fender Telecaster fingerboards are made from either maple or rosewood

Both Fender and Squier feature maple fingerboards on many of their Telecasters, but the darker alternative used does vary between these two brands.

American and Japanese Telecasters use rosewood which is the most expensive option. Mexican Fender Telecasters use a cheaper alternative, and so do Squier Telecasters.

Check out these articles to learn more:

Here is a table comparing the body and fingerboard woods used to make Squier and Fender Telecaster models.

Squier BulletPoplarIndian Laurel
Squier AffinityPoplarMaple/ Indian Laurel
Squier Classic Vibe ‘50sPineMaple
Squier Classic Vibe ‘60sNyatohIndian Laurel
Squier ContemporaryPoplarMaple
Fender PlayerAlderMaple/ Pau Ferro
Fender Vintera ‘50sAlderMaple
Fender Vintera ‘50s ModifiedAlderMaple
Fender Vintera ‘60s ModifiedAlderPau Ferro
Fender Gold FoilMahoganyEbony
Fender MIJ Hybrid IIAlderRosewood
Fender Aerodyne SpecialBasswoodMaple/ Rosewood
Fender American PerformerAlderMaple/ Rosewood
Fender American Professional IIAlderMaple/ Rosewood
Fender American Original ‘50sAshMaple
Fender American Original ‘60sAlderMaple
Fender American Vintage II 1951AshMaple
Fender American Vintage II 1963Alder/ MahoganyRosewood
Fender American UltraAlderMaple/ Rosewood
Fender American Ultra LuxeAshMaple/ Rosewood


The hardware found on Fender Teles compared to Squier Teles is a significant upgrade, particularly if you’re comparing the cheapest Affinity and Bullet Series Telecasters. The hardware on the most expensive Squier Classic Vibe and cheapest Fender Player Tele is actually pretty comparable.

The tuners on Squier Affinity and Bullet guitars are “closed” tuners which just don’t hold the the strings in tune very well. The Squier Classic Vibe tuners are a notable upgrade from this. However, you’ll only find locking tuners on the most expensive Fender American Ultra/ Ultra Luxe models.

The bridge design is also improved on the Fender and Squier Classic Vibe models compared to the cheapest Squier Affinity and Bullet versions.

Moral of the story, if you’re getting a Squier, go for the CV model if you’re bothered about having decent hardware, and you won’t have to worry that it’s any worse than a Fender because there is little difference between them.

Feel and Playability

This really varies between Squier and Fender models, as they all have different neck profiles. However, some Fender Tele’s do have some notable upgrades to improve playability.

For example, Fender American Ultra/ Ultra Luxe and Fender Player Plus Telecasters have a sculpted neck heel to aid upper fret access. Most Fender guitars (particularly American-made ones) also have rolled fingerboard edges and smoother fretwork.

Prices and Models Available

Fender Telecaster electric guitars cost between $800 and $2600 brand-new, whereas Squier Telecasters cost between $200 and $430 on average.

When it comes to resale value, the most expensive Fender Teles hold the highest percentage of their value. However, since Squier guitars are much cheaper, less money is actually lost when it comes to reselling a Squier Tele as second-hand.

I’ve done some research and compared the cost of new and second-hand Squier and Fender Telecaster and complied the table below. Each second-hand price is based on guitars in “excellent condition” and is averaged from at least 5 individual guitars.

SeriesBrand New PriceSecond-Hand PricePrice DifferencePercentage Difference
Fender American Ultra Luxe$2600$2300$30012%
Fender American Vintage II$2100$1950$1507%
Fender American Ultra$2100$1900$20010%
Fender American Original$2100$1850$25012%
Fender American Pro II$1700$1350$35021%
Fender American Performer$1450$1100$35024%
Fender MIJ Hybrid II$1200$950$25021%
Fender Vintera$1100$900$20018%
Fender Player Plus$1100$900$20018%
Fender Player$800$650$15019%
Squier Classic Vibe$430$380$5012%
Squier Affinity$250$200$5020%
Squier Bullet$200$170$3015%

If you’re looking for a specific comparison of the most expensive Squier and cheapest Fender Telecaster, check out my comparison between the Squier Classic Vibe and Player Series for more information.


Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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