Quality levels of all the different Squiers

Discussion in 'Squier Stratocasters' started by MyToyBrain, Mar 19, 2020.

  1. MyToyBrain

    MyToyBrain Squier Talker

    Mar 17, 2020
    Minneapolis, Minnesota
    I am very new to this and have already seen so many different level Squiers. I understand my Affinity is on the lower end but I am curious what the order of best to worst Squiers are in everyone's opinion. Sorry if there is a discussion already on this.
  2. drewcp

    drewcp Squier-holic

    Dec 14, 2018
    Saint Paul, MN
    Are you only considering current/new guitars, or the entire history of the brand?
    Ricky3Fingerd and dbrian66 like this.
  3. pfapin

    pfapin Squier-Meister

    Mar 6, 2018
    the ILL side
    korean squier II
    classic vibe
    pro tone
    japanese squiers

    Someone update the list if I left anything out, but that is my knowledge of what all is out there. My list is very subjective and I put it in order from least desirable to most desirable in my opinion... but just because bullet for instance is at the bottom of the list there are some older made bullets that are very desirable I believe, so you cant go in it with the stigmatism that you have about squiers being worst to best, because most squiers arent really all that bad.
  4. MyToyBrain

    MyToyBrain Squier Talker

    Mar 17, 2020
    Minneapolis, Minnesota
    The history
  5. drewcp

    drewcp Squier-holic

    Dec 14, 2018
    Saint Paul, MN
    I'm not going to weigh in on that, because some of it is subjective, as there are many models, and many different factories that have produced what is considered to be the same model.
  6. drewcp

    drewcp Squier-holic

    Dec 14, 2018
    Saint Paul, MN
    I will say this though, just to give an example of how subjective it can be, with one opinion of my own.

    I have owned several pre 2016 Vintage Modified guitars, and they were generally considered to be a step down from the Classic Vibes, but my 2019 CV Jazzmaster isn't quite as nice as my older VMs.
  7. Eddie

    Eddie Squier-Axpert

    Nov 5, 2016
    New York
    Definitely subjective. Just stick around. You'll be a Squier expert in no time. :)
  8. Lonn

    Lonn Squier-holic

    Dec 19, 2009
    Carmel IN
    Some Stagemasters were Standard Series (the bolt on ones). I'd put the mini at the bottom as it's pretty useless as an actual guitar. The Vintage Modified was left out altogether, IMO it falls just above the Standard series.
  9. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Squier-Nut

    Jan 19, 2018
    GA USA
    It is subjective because there can be great and awful guitars in all of the lines. Also, some models were lackluster out of the box but make great modding platforms, like the SEs. Almost all Squiers can be made into great players though.

    In general, here's my take on a few of the lines over the decades that I've either owned or done work on for other people...

    80's MIJ models - good but a bit overrated due to the aura of Japanese made mojo. The electronics were often cheap in them so pickup replacements are common. Many examples will have had a pickup swap done along with tuners. Some have had so many part swaps done that the only original parts are probably the pickguard screws.

    Mini - Most I've handled have had significant issues. They really seem to have shortchanged QC on them. They can be fixed up relatively easy though.

    SE - Part of a Strat Pack for several years. As I mentioned above, OK out of the box but are a great mod platform due to parts interchangeability with Fender parts.

    Affinity - Early examples from China often had a range of issues. Newer ones are much better. The thinner neck and body profile are great for some players and not-so-great for others.

    Standard - These tend to be underrated but are usually quite good. It's easy (or was easy) to get great deals on them. They do use a different body wood, usually agathis, but this isn't really a big deal.

    Classic Vibe - Really good and probably one of the reasons that Fender upgraded their MIM line to the Player series.

    Vintage Modified - Interesting options, quality on par with the CV models in most cases.

    Contemporary - Modern player friendly features designed to appeal to younger players instead of traditionalist. Quality about the same as CV and VM.

    ProTone - One of the best lines, done at the tail end of Korean based production. Very well done, especially for the time and price point. Pickups and electronics could have been slightly better by today's standards but were very good for the late 90's.

    Vista - Like the ProTones but featured some unusual models. Some, like the 12 string Venus, have become quite collectible.
  10. dbrian66

    dbrian66 Squier-holic

    Jul 14, 2017
    Maryland, USA
    Of the ones that you see regularly in the local classifieds, I put them in this order.

    Vintage Modified
    Classic Vibe
  11. MyToyBrain

    MyToyBrain Squier Talker

    Mar 17, 2020
    Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Yeah, I realize it is subjective. But this is good information for a beginner to start I think. Thank you!
  12. BT224

    BT224 Squier-Meister

    Feb 7, 2020
    Since most people mod them with new electronics and pups, I would actually group them since other than the occasional dog they can be setup as good guitars. All lines seem to have good bodies and necks, just depends on individual preferences. And knowing there are certain differences for year models I will just generalize. That and I don't know jack s**t.

    Mini is basically a short scale Bullet, along with the Bullet probably has the cheaper components.. More limited on ease of modding due to thinner body.
    Affinity, narrower neck. Deal breaker for some people. Hardware seems to be a bit better than Bullets. More limited on ease of modding due to thinner body.
    SE and Standard. Better hardware, easier to mod due to full thickness and can use Fender hardware.

    I would throw the CV, VM, ProTones, etc in a different category altogether since they cost 2-3 times more.
  13. Oldguitarguy

    Oldguitarguy Squier-Nut

    Mar 2, 2019
    This is a really useful and interesting thread. What are the best, most common ways to identify each model? I know that ID methods can change between years etc, but what is the most common method for each?

    On the order of desirability, adding to the points made by many that the list is subjective, I can give you an example of why. I know Affinities are usually considered lower on the list mostly I guess because of the thinner necks and bodies, and the challenges to mod, but I find the quality excellent or easily correctable. I like the thin body and neck, and have found mods very doable with a little ingenuity and help from this ST group of experts. They are also readily available at ridiculously low prices :D! I just modded one with a loaded pickguard from RockinRGuitars, a shorty import brass trem block from Guitar Fetish, and a TUSQ string guide, and it is currently my favorite guitar. I had to carefully rout the pot and switch recess to deepen it, but it was not a big project. So it depends on what you want to achieve, your budget, and if you find the mods fun. :)
    Hokester, drewcp and dbrian66 like this.
  14. Ricky3Fingerd

    Ricky3Fingerd Squier-Nut

    Nov 26, 2019
    Hmmm. I feel ya. Though I'm certain this NC is better stock than the SEs I have. The neck by a mile and the ceramics too. Not the tuners though so...good list though.
    jefffam, dbrian66 and drewcp like this.
  15. Roccobagadonuts

    Roccobagadonuts Dr. Squier

    Sep 8, 2010
    Theres like a billion little tell signs as they ended up building just tons of different models over the years. So ur looking for all kinds of different things. Serial # and stuff like that is obviously the most helpful but beyond that u can figure them out if u know what ur lookin for. For example, string trees... 1 or 2? Another example, headstock logo color. Black? Gold?

    Now lets take those 2 examples... String trees and headstock logo color... Now ya bring in say a Squier like the Classic Vibe 60's strat built in China that was sunburst with a tortoise pickguard... Well they also built a sunburst strat with tortoise pickguard that they included in the cheapo strat/amp packs they sold... These guitars can look rather similar quite often to people who don't know much about them... So quite often Guitar Center for example would throw up a CV60s strat for sale on their site beliving it was a strat pack version... Asking say 80 bucks for it... And they would do this over and over and over...

    So how do ya make the ID from a small tiny pic that might be fuzzy and blurry and etc? Ya look at headstock... A CV60s strat would be gold headstock logo and a single string tree... A strat pack version would be black headstock logo and a 2 string trees... So if ya say know this information. Ya just got urself a CV strat for 120 bucks or whatever after ship/tax...
    cool gouhl, Oldguitarguy and drewcp like this.
  16. dbrian66

    dbrian66 Squier-holic

    Jul 14, 2017
    Maryland, USA
    You are absolutely correct. The build quality of the Affinities is right on par with the SE’s and NC’s. If you are ok with the thin body and neck, then they are a real bargain!

    I think most people would agree with you. To me the two guitars are about the same. I don’t like the pickups or bridge on either one. The tuners on the SE are just fine, and the extra mm width of the NC neck doesn’t really do anything for me. For those two reasons and the fact that the SE’s are easier to find, I put the SE’s higher on my list.
  17. DJGranite

    DJGranite Squier-holic

    Feb 7, 2012
    This is just my opinion and I'm just some guy on the internet.
    First, I've been through a lot of Squiers, not as many as some forum members, but quite a few across the Squier lineup. I haven't had them all though! I do have a few that made it into my keeper pile, not easy to do nowadays.
    This is my personal arbitrary list.

    MIJ- these came with different levels of accessories but the craftsmanship was generally top notch, the pickup range from MIA Fender Alnico pickups to MIJ Alnico to MIJ Ceramic. Pots, switches and tuners likewise. Bridges went through some minor changes, but a thicker, high mass block seems to be a constant IME.
    So not all MiJ are created equal.
    JV Serial
    SQ Serial
    A Serial
    E Serial
    there are different models in the different Serial numbers such as SQ CST(70s style Strat) SQ Bullet, there was an SQ Tele....
    There were a lot of different contemporary models without pickguards, with locking nuts and tremelos, many pickup configurations and colors.
    Sorry to go on so...

    I've only played 1.
    it was a very nice guitar.
    Beautiful transparent finish with gold hardware.
    Really great neck, hardware was good as well.
    Very nice playing guitar.

    Series 24
    Much like the Vista line, an odd lineup for Squier this one without any "family" connection. Fender bought both DeArmond pickups and Guild guitar in the 90s.
    They then "Squiered" up the Guild line releasing them as MIK DeArmond guitars using the Guild body styles. They did it for a few years then discontinued the line.
    Then a year or so later we get Squier Series 24.
    Same guitars, some pickup and inlay changes.
    Made for 2 years then discontinued .
    again, different levels across the line with the better ones having set-necks and nicer inlays etc.

    Classic Vibes
    Nicely made guitar that needs nothing.

    Vintage Modified
    On par with the CVs but …. modified :)
    Some cool options and guitars in this line. Most earlier ones had Duncan Designed pickups.

    I don't have any personal experience with these but they seem to be positioned about here in the lineup so I'll bow to conventional wisdom here.

    Late 90s MIM
    Every one of these I've played has played excellently. Really great necks and bodies on the ones I've had in my hands. Hardware is the let down here.

    Another MIJ Line this time from the 90s.
    Some cool odd guitars, well made.
    Venus and Venus 12, Supersonic, Jagmaster, Musicmaster….
    24", 24 3/4", 25 1/2", 30" different scales and not a Strat or Tele to be found. Lot of humbuckers.

    This is the top of the pile to me and far from comprehensive as there are so many models and changes over the almost 40 years they have been making them.

    Still a lot of nice guitars I haven't mentioned, NCs, KVs, VNs, MIK E Serials, Squier IIs and many more. All have their fans.
    I tried to stick ones I've owned or at least spent some time with.
    like I said just my opinion.

    The ones I still have.
    SQ CST-2
    A Serial
    98MIM Tele
    VM Tele Custom
    Series 24 S-73 (s-100) (SGish)
    VM Jaguar bass
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2020
  18. Eddie

    Eddie Squier-Axpert

    Nov 5, 2016
    New York
    Honestly, if it weren't for the NC's, I don't think I'd own any Squiers.

    If it weren't for RRG's and NC's, I'd probably have 1 guitar at the moment. :)
    VealCutlet, cool gouhl, 3135x and 6 others like this.
  19. No one's mentioned the Deluxe series?
    Cheers, Barrie.
  20. Fret Cheese

    Fret Cheese Squier-Meister

    Sep 10, 2016
    Just to throw in my 2 cents worth on the commonly available budget level squiers!
    i'd say that imo the build quality on the modern affinitys is better than on the old SE's I've had (rough fret ends, crappy nut). So out of the box the affinity is a nicer guitar.
    But of course the SE has the chunky neck and full size body so they are great for modding. Bullets are a bit more hit and miss but can also be good players straight out of the box. Seems to depend on where/when they were made...
    drewcp and dbrian66 like this.
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