Squier vs Fender Guitars: What’s the Difference?


Squier and Fender are manufacturers of a range of different guitars including the iconic Stratocaster and Telecaster. But what’s the difference between a Squier guitar and a Fender one. In this post, I’ll go through everything you need to know about the differences between these two brands. So let’s get started.

The Quick Answer

Squier are owned by Fender. Squier produces entry and affordable guitars that range from around $150 to $500. Fender guitars are more premium, and are made of better materials, and are more throuroughly checked for minor flaws which can affect how the guitar sounds and feels. Fender guitars range anywhere from around $700 and upwards, with custom shop models costing several thousand dollars. 

Since both brands are related, they produce similar guitar models including the iconic Telecaster and Stratocaster. If you want the real deal, then go for a Fender made guitar. But if you don’t want to spend as much, yet still want the true essence of a Tele or Strat, then go for a Squier made guitar. 

Brief History

Fender is one of the most well known electric guitar manafacturers out there. Since it’s creation by Leo Fender in California in the 1940’s, Fender has grown into a truly global brand. 

Squier was founded a long long time ago in America, dating to pre-1900. However, Fender aquired it in 1975. Fender did this as a lot of makes were trying to rip of the classic Strat and Tele models and make budget versions. So by acquiring the brand Squier, they were able to rival these other brands and make their own affordable versions of the classic Fender models. 

This isn’t the only time Fender has done this. Other brands like Jackson and Gretsch are also owned by Fender too. 

Fender vs Squier: The Main Differences

So know you know a bit more about the history of Fender and Squier, let’s jump into the differences between them. 

Feature

Fender vs Squier

Materials

Fender uses higher quality materials including the tone wood, electricals etc.

Region of Manufacture

Fender made guitars are manufactured in the USA or Mexico and Squier guitars are made in Asia.

Craftsmanship

Much more time and effort goes into crafting Fender guitars than Squier ones that are mass produced in factories

Ranges

Both brands have several models in the range, Squier guitars are aimed at entry- intermediate level and Fender on intermediate-professional

Price

Squier guitars range from $150-$500 Fender guitars cost from $700 upwards

Long Term Value

Fender guitars are more collectable so are worth more in the future than Squier guitars

The Materials

Fender, being a more premium brand, of course uses higher quality materials to craft their guitars than Squier does. 

For example, American made Fender Stratocasters usually have alder bodies, however, Squier Strats are usually made out of basswood, particularly the entry-level ones. Alder is a higher quality wood for a guitar because it is naturally more resonant, and picks up higher frequencies, giving it that bright quality. 

Also, Squier uses cheaper pickups than Fender. Both brands tend to use single coil pickups in the vast majority of their guitars, which sound bright and twangy, but do have the tendency to hum if you crank up the gain. Usually you’ll notice this humming crop up more often with Squier guitars than Fender ones though. 

The Craftsmanship

This is a really big factor that makes a big difference when it comes to the final product. Squier guitars are mass produced in factories, and to keep the costs lower, the quality control and craftsmanship just isn’t as good. Fender guitars on the other hand, have had a lot more TLC. This makes a big difference.

Better crafstmanship reduces a lot of problems you see commonly with electric guitars. These can be anything from setup issues, to frets that aren’t glued in as precisely as they could be, and of course, the finish of the guitar. 

Region of Manufacturer

This relates to the point I just made about the craftsmanship of guitars made by each brand. Most Fender guitars are produced in either the USA or Mexico, with the Mexican made guitars being a bit cheaper. American have always had the best reputation when it comes to making guitars. They’re well built, made from high quality materials and have been thoroughly checked. 

Squier on the other hand, produce their guitars in Asia, which is where a lot of more affordable guitars are produced. The quality control and time and effort made spent producing these guitars is less than you would see with American made models. 

The Price and Ranges

Both brands have pretty extensive ranges. Squier guitars cater for the complete beginner, up to more mid-range guitars. Fender guitars are more geared at professionals or intermediate players who take their playing a bit more seriously. Here is a quick rundown of the different prices and models in each brand’s ranges. 

SQUIER 
  • The entry level model. (Approx $150)
  • Affinity: affordable and traditional (Approx $230)
  • Standard: the most true to the American Pro line (Approx $250)
  • Classic Vibe: best emulate iconic Fender guitars (Approx $500)
  • Contemporary: modern twist on  the classic guitars (Approx $450)

Fender 

  • Player: the most affordable option (Approx $700)
  • American Professional: classic USA made model (Approx $1500)
  • American Ultra/ Elite: more premium USA made options (Approx $1900)
  • Custom Shop: top of the range (several thousand dollars)
What’s the difference between each guitar in the range?

You’re probably also wondering what the difference between a $150 Squier strat is and a $450 one. So we’ll go through the differences between them individually.

Firstly, the $150 Squier is geared at the complete beginner. It’s a budget guitar, so it sounds the cheapest. The tone wood isn’t as high quality, and you get a fixed hardtail bridge on the Strat models (instead of a floating tremolo bridge). It’s a great option if you want to start playing guitar, and want something from a reputable brand. In fact, a red entry-level Squier was my first ever guitar and I used it for years and it didn’t hold me back.

Next up is the Squier affinity series. The most noticeable upgrade is the floating tremolo bridge. You also get some more premium colours and finishes. 

The Squier Standard is the closest thing you’ll get to a Fender Standard, but it’s over $1000 cheaper. You get a flame maple finish, instead of a flat finish with the Affinity and Entry-level series and higher quality materials including the tonewood and pickups. 

The Classic Vibe series is great if you want something really traditional. The pickups tend to pack a pretty big punch, with more midrange than other guitars in the series so you get a fuller tone. The contemporary Strat has a thinner neck and satin finish, making it faster to play on. 

Now we’ll jump up to the Fender models. The upgrades follow the same pattern as with the Squier models. The entry Fender model is usually made in Mexico and is much cheaper than the American Standard. With each jump in the range, you’ll get better pickups and tone wood, and usually better quality control in the manufacturing process. 

Long Term Value

The final difference I’ll talk about, between Squier and Fender, is the long term value. Squier guitars are much more affordable, hence they don’t have that collectability appeal in the same way Fender does. 

Fender guitars, mainly the American made ones, hold their value much better than entry level Squier guitars. So if you’re looking for a long term investment, then you’ll want to go with Fender. Fender Strats produced in the 60’s can go for upwards of $10,000 depending on their condition. 

What Does All This Mean Then?

Okay, so we’ve been through the nitty gritty differences between Squier and Fender guitars, but what does all this actually mean in terms of the bigger picture. 

Well, when I am looking at how good a guitar is, I normally think about three main things: the sound, the feel, and the looks. In my opinion, all three of these things are really important. 

Of course, the sound is vital, if you’re paying for a more expensive guitar, it really does have to sound better. The feel encompasses lots of things, but in terms of value for money, I think about things like the build quality ie. does everything feel solid and well made. I also think the looks of a guitar are super important, even if this point seems a bit shallow. There’s really no point spending good money on a guitar if you don’t think it looks great. 

With Fender made guitars, they sound, look and feel more premium. And this comes down to the subtle differences between them. For example, better pickups and tonewood contributes to a higher quality sound. They’re also more well-made, as more time and effort has gone into manafacturing them, so they feel more premium. 

Finally, the finishes are better, so it looks better. You get added things like maple caps on Fender models. But also, the craftspeople who make Fender guitars spend longer on things like the finish, so there won’t be any flaws. 

Fender vs Squier Stratocasters

So the main differences between Fender and Squier can be seen in the Stratocaster ranges. Squier Strats are much cheaper, ranging from $150 to $500. Fender Strats cost $700 and upwards with the American Standard model costing $1500. So what does this extra money get you. 

  • Better electricals and hardware: this includes the pickups, bridge and tuners, resulting in an overall better sound. But it also includes more minor things like the tone and volume controls, pickup selector and cable jack. Fender guitars have better hardware so you’re less likely to run into annoying problems.
  • Better Tonewood: Fender Strats use high quality tone woods like alder and ash which produces a bright and resonant tone. You also get a flame maple cap on a lot of Fender Strats which looks much more premium. Squier Strats tend to have basswood bodies, a cheaper and less resonant sounding wood. Some higher end Squier models use better quality wood and have maple caps. 
  • Better Crafstmanship: Fender made Strats are built better, which affects the look, sound and feel. You’re less likely to run into annoying issues like loose tone pots, and uneven frets on a Fender Strat compared to a Squier one. 

Fender vs Squier Telecasters

You’ll also notice the same trends with Fender and Squier Telecasters, as you do with the Strat models. With the Fender Telecaster you’ll get, higher quality electricals (like pickups), better hardware that’ll last longer, more premium tone woods, and a more premium price tag. 

More Frequently Asked Questions

So now we’ve been through the main differences between Squier and Fender, here are some other FAQs that you may have. 

Should I get a Fender or Squier guitar?

This is a really tough question to answer. It really depends on your budget and how serious you are about playing the guitar. If you have money to burn, and you want to join and band and start gigging, then you’ll find the Fender guitars better. They sound, look and feel more premium. But if you’ve got a smaller budget, then you should go with a Squier guitar. They’re still really great quality instruments that sound great. 

what’s the difference between an expensive Squier and cheap fender guitar? 

This is where things get less clear cut. The most premium Squier option is the Classic Vibe range which costs around $500. The cheapest Fender model is the Player series which costs around $700. 

So what does $200 get you. 

Well, not all that much in terms of the things that really matter, like the sound. You won’t get a huge jump in terms of the sound quality between an expensive Squier guitar and the cheapest Fender. So what do you get?

Well, if you go for the Fender, you get a guitar made in Mexico usually. These tend to be built a bit better than the Squier guitars which are mass produced in the Far East. 

Another thing you get with the Fender, is brand value. If you want a proper Fender Strat or Tele, then you may want to pay the extra $200 just for it to say Fender on the headstock rather than Squier. No judgement though. You should always get a guitar you like the look of, so if it’s important to you, then go for it!

 

So there you go! That’s how to decide if locking tuners are actually worth it for you! I hope you’ve found this article helpful, thanks for reading. Here are some other posts you might find useful:

Heather

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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