Heh, no it is a great question and I think your initial impressions were pretty good. Thing with Squier, there is no universal negative or positive. there is also like early Korean vs. Later Korean and the mud in the middle. Also what manufacturing company made the guitar in a given country. SE's are a good example. In my opinion AXL makes the good one, and that is NOT saying the other is like horrible or anything. Another example are my Bullet Specials, both Indonesian. One Samick one Cort. The Cort is in my opinion a better made unit, thicker body, skunk stripe and truss surround, better humbucker. That IS NOT saying Samick doesn't build other good guitars because they make some dammed good ones. I enjoy my modded Samick Bullet Special, also own and have owned other Samick Strats and bass guitars. For me it is all about the bones, but at the vary least the neck. Every country out there is capable of making good quality instruments and often do, they do not always though. Remember these are contract built.