Squier or Fender Telecaster, which do you choose?

Squier or Fender Telecaster, it is a dilemma but which one do you choose to buy when you are on a tight budget?

Sadly I have to report that I recently celebrated my 40th birthday.  Normally this would not bother me too much as there really is not a hell of a lot I can do to stop the passing of the years.  However, when somebody asked what I was going to do to mark the start of my fifth decade on this planet I thought perhaps this is a milestone worth celebrating in some small way.  I therefore asked friends and relatives to contribute to my newly created “attempt to reclaim my youth” guitar fund.  I have to say my family, once again, managed to surprise me with their generosity and so I have a wad of cash burning a hole in my back pocket.

The question is what guitar to spend my money on?  For sometime now I have wanted a Telecaster, I just think they are a fantastically simple design but beneath that simplicity is an extremely versatile guitar which has stood the test of time.  However, the big question for me is do I go for a top of the range Squier or an entry level Fender?  If you compare prices online, and I generally look at Gear4Music to get an idea of prices, a top of the range Squier will set me back around £346 whereas an entry level Fender would cost £364.

So what is the difference between Squier and Fender and what would I be better off buying?

Fender was founded in 1946 by Clarence Leonidas “Leo” Fender in Fullerton, California.  In the Autumn of 1950 Fender released the Broadcaster the first guitar of its kind to be produced on a substantial scale.  The Broadcaster name was changed to the now famous Telecaster after Gretsch claimed that it violated their trademark for its BroadKaster line of drums.  The Telecaster along with the Stratocaster were the guitars against which all other guitars were measured and cemented the Fender reputation in music history.  However, by the 1970s Fender was struggling to compete against the inexpensive guitars being manufactured in Japan and exported to the US.  In an effort to see off this competition Fender launched the Squier range of guitars in 1982.  The aim was to manufacture a cost effective entry level guitar that was better than the competition and would capture the new player.  It was hoped that once exposed to the Fender guitar they would remain loyal to the Fender brand.  Initially the guitars were made in Japan by the same factories that were making the cheap copies.  Made to the Fender specification and carrying the Fender Squier series logo they were expressly aimed at the beginner and casual player market.  Since then Squier guitars have been made in Korea, Mexico, Indonesia and China with varying degrees of quality.  In fact it could be argued that for a period of time the quality of Squier guitars was very poor with serious cost cutting measures meaning low quality wood being used as well as cheap and poorly manufactured hardware.

Thankfully this policy has changed recently and the quality has greatly improved.  Fender have introduced a number of new models including the SE, Bullet and Affinity at the lower end of the range and the Deluxe and Classic Vibe at the higher end.  So how do they compare against a basic Fender?  For comparison purposes I have looked at the Squier Classic Vibe 50s Telecaster and the Fender Standard Telecaster.  The table below shows a direct comparison of the Squier vs the Fender including the recommended retail price.

Squier vs Fender Telecaster

BridgeVintage Style Strings-Thru-Body Tele® Bridge with 3 Brass Barrel Saddles6-Saddle Strings-Thru-Body Tele Bridge
Neck ShapeModern "C" shapeModern "C" Shape
Frets21 medium jumbo21 medium jumbo
Fretboard radius9.5" (24.1 cm)9.5" (24.1 cm)
Nut Width1.625" (4.13 cm)1.650" (4.20 cm)
Scale Length25.5" (64.8cm)25.5" (64.8cm)
Bridge PickupCustom Vintage Style Single-Coil Tele® PickupStandard Single Coil Tele Bridge Pickup
Neck PickupCustom Vintage Style Single-Coil Tele® Neck PickupStandard Single Coil Tele Neck Pickup
Pickup switching3-Position Blade3-Position Blade
ControlsMaster Volume, Master ToneMaster Volume, Master Tone
recommended retail price£407£539
If you love this guitar -Buy NowBuy Now

For me the interesting thing is that they are very similar in build quality the only difference being the wood used for the body, with pine being a cheaper option than alder.  The guitars both play well and both look great so it really is quite a tough decision.  For me it boils down to whether or not I want to have the Fender logo on my guitar.  My heart says Fender but my head says Squier and with the difference being £132 I think I will go for the Squier.  Do you think this is a good move, let me know.

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