Squier Classic Vibe or Fender Standard

Customer's Question:

Hey guys, need your help.

My budget lets me decide between one of these two guitars - a Squier Classic Vibe or Mexican Standard.

Which would you choose and why?

It's a question we get a lot and there are reasons for and against both guitars.

Now, first of all; there's no wrong answer. These guitars are so similar in price and such good value for money that you'll be getting a high quality instrument that looks, sounds and plays brilliantly, whichever way you go.

However, each instrument comes with it's own feature sets that may just tip the balance one way or the other.

Rocking the Classics

The Classic Vibe Stratocaster (RRP $1099 - our price $824.75 at the time of writing), whilst not a true vintage reissue; certainly captures much of the essence of Fender's history. The pickups are Alnico magnets; they have that vintage Fender tone, and come in different finishes representative of the model's era.

There is a 1950's Strat; that predominantly comes in the famous two-tone burst, harking back to the famous '57 reissue; but omitting the divisive 'V' neck profile and that you usually either love or hate. On these guitars, it's a modern C profile with a 9.5" radius all the way.

There have been a number of classic 50's finishes applied to these models over the years, and some are still available in limited numbers in Australia; Sherwood Green, Olympic White, Fiesta Red, Aztec Gold and White Blonde. These are now discontinued but limited stock of select colours still exist.

The 1960's Stratocaster is predominantly finished in the eras three-tone sunburst with a tortoiseshell pickguard. It differs only in it's rosewood fretboard. It can be found lurking in Candy Apple Red, Lake Placid Blue and Burgandy Mist Metallic as well, but these colors have also been discontinued and are also harder to find.

Both models are also manufactured for left-handed guitarists, so nobody misses out.

If telecasters are more your thing, there are key 50's and 60's models that are available- a classic '52 inspired telecaster; the Classic Vibe 50's Telecaster (RRP $1099 - our price $824.25) finished in either white blonde or butterscotch blonde, and the 60's being the double bound Classic Vibe 60's Telecaster Custom (RRP $1199 - our price $899.25), modeled after the 1962 Tele Custom and being consistently one of our best selling guitars. Finished in a period-correct three-tone burst, it's the only double bound telecaster custom currently available from Fender at any price point.

These instruments provide you with the vintage Fender aesthetic and tone for less money. If your style is rooted in the classic, vintage electric guitar stylings, you'll feel and sound very at home on one of these instruments.

Setting the Standard

The Standard series has been around forever, originating in Japan in the 1980's before moving to Mexico in the early 1990's, these guitars have been a consistent seller ever since.

The Standard series are offered in the most options and colours of any series in the Fender catalogue. The Fender Standard Stratocaster (RRP $1499 - our price $1124.25) is available in a variety of finishes, from a basic black finish to an eye-catching flamed maple top with a Gibson-style cherry burst finish, the option of maple or rosewood fretboard, or the option of a HSS or HHconfiguration in select colours. Even a locking tremolo if you're feeling so inclined.

 

The Standard series aims to straddle the divide between the vintage themed instruments and the workhorse for the modern player. With slightly hotter ceramic pickups, satin necks for faster playing and the options of different pickup configurations; regardless of your style, there is a standard that will do the job.

The Standard Telecaster is available in less options, with five core finish choices and a maple fretboard on each, and also a HH configuration if the heavier stuff is more to your liking.

The Elephant in the Room

There is still a feeling that 'Squier' means inferior, and historically, in different eras, that has been, paradoxically, both totally wrong and incontrovertible fact.

The 2015 Squier is not an inferior guitar to any guitar within it's price range. In fact, there are many players on guitar websites, in guitar shops and in bands who'll stake the claim that the Classic Vibe outguns the Standard for $400 less. Equally, there are those that claim that by putting a Fender decal on the Classic Vibe series, they'd quadruple it's sales as the Squier logo puts off more people than the the guitar ever would.

It's worth noting the Classic Vibe series are made in China, in the same factory that the now sadly defunct Modern Player series came from. The standard series are made in Ensenada, Mexico, a mere 160 miles or so from the Fullerton, California factory where it all began in the late 1940's. That makes no bearing on the quality of the instrument, really. Any instrument bearing Fender's logo has to be of sufficient quality to do so.

Answer the damn question already...

Ummm, it's not that easy. The reasons for picking either depends on your style and needs. From a personal perspective, I love the Classic Vibe for it's pickups, and it does exactly what I want a Strat to do.

But the allure of the Fender logo is hard to avoid. The chances of finding the guitar in a finish that gets you right in the heart is also much more likely with a Standard now the Classic Vibe is available in a much more limited colour selection. That said, $400 in the pocket also goes a long way for essentially one word most people can't even see on stage.

The gulf between the lower and midrange guitars has never been smaller, and I've owned older standard stratocasters that the Classic Vibe absolutely murders. In terms of guitar and playing, it remains my pick. In terms of aesthetic, then the standard will win any time.

But the answer remains purely subjective. Try both with an open mind and see which one grabs you best. Don't be put off by the name though!


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1 October 2017

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