Best Squier guitars 2023: Stratocasters, Telecasters, Jaguars and more for the budget-conscious player

Three Squier electric guitars lined up against a wooden panel wall
(Image credit: Future)

Whilst it’s true that Squier do produce more budget versions of Fender guitars, it’s fair to say that they’re not just a cheap stopgap. The best Squier guitars are great instruments in their own right and the models that Squier are producing now really are better than ever. 

There’s a great number of guitar players out there that started their musical journey on a Squier; they make for incredible starter instruments. They offer beginners tried and tested designs and sounds without having to spend more cash on a Fender. However, to paint Squier solely as a ‘beginner guitar’ brand is unwise. 

Squier makes some really good guitars – the build quality is high and the pickups that they’re using currently offer some incredible tones that really aren’t too far off their Fender counterparts. They’re reliable too, so if you’re a gigging musician looking for something to take out on the road, then a decent Squier could be a great shout. 

Maybe you don’t want to take your US-built Fender out to sweaty pubs and clubs, or maybe you want a Strat or Tele just for one song – there are loads of reasons why the best Squier guitars are finding their way into the hands of more and more players. 

There’s a good range of guitars on offer, from classic ’50s-style Esquires, through to modern-day humbucker equipped axes capable of a range of tones. We’ve picked our selection of the best Squier guitars available now, along with some expert buying advice below to help you find the one that’s right for you.

Best Squier guitars: Our top picks

The best Squier guitar for us, hails from their Classic Vibe range. The Squier Classic Vibe ’50s Strat gives you a vintage look, with the classic Strat sound that we know and love. The pickups sound great and it’s built to a good standard – what’s not to love?

Speaking of the Classic Vibe range of guitars, another that we'd suggest you try is the Classic Vibe Starcaster (opens in new tab). Some Squier and Fender models are guitars that slipped through the net the first time round, and while the Fender Starcaster wasn't so popular in the late '70s, its reintroduction has proven to be a modern-day success story. Like we said, the Classic Vibe guitars are exceptional – and this one is no different. If you want a super-cool semi-hollow that looks a bit like it's melted – in a good way –  then that's the one for you.

If you’re looking for a superb budget guitar then the Squier Bullet Mustang (opens in new tab) takes some beating. With a shorter scale that makes it perfect for beginners, along with two chunky sounding humbuckers, you’ve got everything from pop to metal covered, at a great price.

Best Squier guitars: Product guide

Best Squier guitars: Squier Bullet Mustang

(Image credit: Squier)
A great starter electric

Specifications

Body: Basswood
Neck: Maple, ‘C’-shape
Scale: 24"
Fingerboard: Laurel
Frets: 22, Medium Jumbo
Pickups: 2x high-output humbuckers
Controls: 2x volume, 2x tone x2
Hardware: Modern hardtail bridge, standard tuners
Left-handed: No
Finish: Imperial Blue, Black, Sonic Grey

Reasons to buy

+
Short scale length is friendly for beginners 
+
Even for a Squier it’s impressive value for money 
+
Comfortable neck  

Reasons to avoid

-
Left-handed players are out of luck here  

 

The Fender Mustang still seems like the dark horse in the Fender stable, and its features suit the Bullet range perfectly here. The 24-inch short scale makes bending significantly easier and combined with the comfortable ‘C’ neck profile, feels like a great option for younger hands. 

There are departures from tradition too. The pair of Squier humbuckers here bring a chunkier tonal spin to this Mustang, a model that’s traditionally been a single-coil pickup guitar. They’re great for recreating the punk rock riffs of famed Mustang fan Kurt Cobain and there’s now even Special Run models available with a competition stripe like he had.   

Read the full Squier Bullet Mustang review 

Best Squier guitars: Squier Classic Vibe ‘50s Stratocaster

(Image credit: Squier)

2. Squier Classic Vibe ‘50s Stratocaster

A classic era captured

Specifications

Body: Pine
Neck: Maple, Slim ‘C’ profile
Scale: 25.5"
Fingerboard: Maple
Frets: 21, Narrow Tall
Pickups: Fender Designed Alnico Single Coils
Controls: Master Volume, Tone 1 (neck pickup), Tone 2 (middle pickup)
Hardware: Chrome
Left-handed: Yes
Finish: 2-Color Sunburst, Black, Fiesta Red, White Blonde

Reasons to buy

+
A beginner guitar that will go the distance for years 
+
A great vintage-inspired choice 
+
Left-handed options 

Reasons to avoid

-
If you want a more contemporary Strat experience, look elsewhere 

There are a number of impressive Stratocaster options in the Squier line, but if you want to go back to the source of why it captured the imagination of guitar heroes like David Gilmour, Hank Marvin, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, this is where it’s at. 

The Classic Vibe line consistently impresses with its build quality that helps to bridge the gaps between beginner, intermediate and platform for modding, and this is no exception. Vintage-style features include narrow-tall frets, Alnico III pickups, gloss neck finish, nickel-plated hardware, vintage tremolo system and ‘50s-inspired headstock markings.

Best Squier guitars: Squier Classic Vibe Starcaster

(Image credit: Squier)

3. Squier Classic Vibe Starcaster

The best Squier semi-hollow

Specifications

Body: Laminate maple
Neck: Maple, ‘C’-shape
Scale: 25.5”
Fingerboard: Maple
Frets: 22, Narrow Tall
Pickups: 2x Fender-Designed Wide Range Humbucker
Controls: Volume, tone, 3-way selector
Hardware: Adjustable bridge with stop tailpiece, vintage-style tuners
Left-handed: No
Finish: Sunburst, Natural, Brown

Reasons to buy

+
Versatility from the Wide Range Humbuckers 
+
Acoustically loud for unplugged practice 
+
The closest alternative to the now discontinued Fender reissue 

Reasons to avoid

-
The finish options are all quite brown 

The Classic Vibe range often gives some Fender models a run for their money and now the Fender Starcaster reissue has been discontinued, this is the closest alternative if you’re buying new. And it’s a very good one indeed for this cult classic semi-hollow design.

Fender’s original Wide Range Humbuckers were designed by the renowned Seth Lover of Gibson PAF fame and offered a great mix of clarity and warmth. These new Fender-designed versions carry the flame with a bright and rounded bridge pickup tone with enough bite to cut through, and a neck position that is warm in all the right ways. The acoustic resonance is also great here for playing without a guitar amp

Read the full Squier Classic Vibe Starcaster review 

Best Squier guitars: Squier Paranormal Baritone Cabronita Telecaster

(Image credit: Squier)

4. Squier Paranormal Baritone Cabronita Telecaster

How low can you go?

Specifications

Body: Poplar
Neck: Maple, ‘C’ profile
Scale: 27"
Fingerboard: Indian laurel, 9.5” radius
Frets: 22, Narrow Tall
Pickups: Fender Designed Alnico Soapbar single-coils
Controls: 1x volume, 1x master tone
Hardware: Chrome 6-saddle strings-through-body bridge, vintage-style chrome tuners
Left-handed: No
Finish: 3-Color Sunburst, Surf Green

Reasons to buy

+
A perfect entry point to baritone guitars
+
Tele playability with the flexibility to tune down
+
Great looks that balance the classic and modern 

Reasons to avoid

-
Some fans of heavy tones may prefer humbuckers 

Many pro guitarists, including Mark Tremonti and Jerry Cantrell, have used baritone guitars for recording – their lower frequency and tuning afforded by their longer scale is great for adding a heavier foundation to rhythm tracks. But baritones can also be a choice for main guitar, or something to pick up for heavier moments, and they are experiencing a real resurgence right now. That’s why this Squier option makes so much sense.

The 2021 Paranormal range includes an excellent lightweight Cabronita Thinline model and this solid body 27”-scale baritone also uses punchy Alnico soapbar P-90-style pickups that embrace an electric guitar’s mid-frequency strengths. The Cabronita look here balances classic T-style with streamlined contemporary looks, especially with the color options of a clean Surf Green alongside the 3-Color Sunburst.

Best Squier guitars: Squier Contemporary Jaguar HH

(Image credit: Squier )

5. Squier Contemporary Jaguar HH

The gold standard

Specifications

Body: Poplar
Neck: Roasted maple, satin urethane back with gloss urethane headstock face, ‘C’-shape profile
Scale: 24"
Fingerboard: Indian laurel, 12” radius
Frets: 22, Jumbo
Pickups: 2x Squier SQR Atomic Humbucking
Controls: Volume, master tone, coil-split switch, series/parallel switch, 3-way pickup selector
Hardware: Chrome 6-saddle adjustable bridge, sealed die-cast with split shafts
Left-handed: No
Finish: Shoreline Gold, Sky Burst Metallic

Reasons to buy

+
Superb value for the features it offers
+
Possibly the most diverse tones of any current Squier 
+
Roasted maple neck and sculpted heel are premium additions 

Reasons to avoid

-
Left-handers are still left waiting for a leftie Squier Jag 

The Contemporary series is widening the appeal of Squier even more and here’s a prime example of just how distinct and attractive its take on classic Fender models can be, with special finishes influenced by the Custom Shop. Frankly, both Shoreline Gold and Sky Burst Metallic options here are stunning. And there’s a lot more good news too…

A roasted maple neck is something we’re used to seeing on premium price electric guitars but here it is in all its caramel-hued glory. Other great touches are split shaft machine heads for faster string changes and sculpted neck heel; inspired by the much more expensive Fender Ultra range for enhanced access to the upper frets. There’s an adjustable bridge and stop tailpiece that replaces the traditional opinion-dividing Jaguar option.

The 12” fingerboard radius here may attract players who don’t feel suited to the usual Fender 9.5” (especially if they’re coming from Gibson guitars) and the Squier SQR Atomic humbuckers for rock with a coil tap switch for single-coil Jag tones – and you can run the pickups in series or parallel for even more tones. They really have thought of everything here… except left-handed players. But this is an incredible showcase for Squier value and classy Fender swagger.

Best Squier guitars: Squier FSR Classic Vibe 60s Custom Esquire

(Image credit: Squier)

6. Squier FSR Classic Vibe 60s Custom Esquire

Double-bound for glory

Specifications

Body: Nato
Neck: Maple, gloss, ‘C’-shape profile
Scale: 25.5"
Fingerboard: Indian laurel, 12” radius
Frets: 21, Narrow Tall
Pickup: Fender Designed Alnico Single-coil
Controls: Volume, tone, 3-way circuit selector
Hardware: 3-saddle vintage-style string-thru body
Left-handed: No
Finish: 3-Color Sunburst, Black, Lake Placid Blue

Reasons to buy

+
Great vintage looks
+
Varied tones at the flick of a selector switch
+
Bone nut 

Reasons to avoid

-
If you want traditional Tele neck pickup tones, this isn’t for you Empty List

If you’re looking for a Telecaster you’ll be spoilt for choice with the variety Squier offers, but we’ve honed in on this because we just can’t resist a double-bound body and the intriguing prospect of the Esquire – a model that dates back to 1950 and shortly before the Broadcaster and then Telecaster. It’s also available as a two-pickup Squier custom Tele too with some retail exclusive finishes, but this Fender Special Run Esquire model won’t be around for too long. It also features some nice vintage-style touches like the parchment pickguard and tinted maple neck.

The Esquire presents a unique proposition for a Squier. Why has a one pickup guitar got a 3-way selector? This is where things get interesting. In the forward position you bypass the Esquire’s tone control while retaining the volume control for what Fender calls a “lighter, strum-friendly tone”. The middle position activates both the tone and volume pots for a warmer tone for a broader lead and rhythm sound. The third position is great for cutting through with leads as it bypasses the tone control for maximum high end. This is a Squier with a lot more tonal potential than first meets the eye.

Best Squier guitars: Squier 40th Anniversary Jazzmaster

(Image credit: Squier)

7. Squier 40th Anniversary Jazzmaster

This old-school Jazzmaster celebrates 40 years of Squier in style

Specifications

Body: Poplar
Neck: Maple, ‘C’-shape
Scale: 25.5”
Fingerboard: Maple
Frets: 21, Narrow Tall
Pickups: 2 x Fender Designed Alnico Single-Coil
Controls: Master volume, master tone, pickup selector (lead circuit), volume, tone (rhythm circuit)
Hardware: Vintage style bridge with floating tremolo, vintage style tuners
Left-handed: No
Finish: Satin Sea Foam Green, Satin Desert Sand

Reasons to buy

+
Great pickups
+
Rhythm circuit adds more tones
+
Different to a Strat/Tele

Reasons to avoid

-
Not much

Celebrating the first instruments adorned with the Squier logo, this limited edition Jazzmaster is dripping with old-school mojo and is great for those seeking some vintage style tones on a budget. 

Jazzmaster pickups are fairly unique; they’ve got the typical single coil chime and brightness, but there’s a little more bite to the bridge pickup, not too unlike a P-90. Then there’s the rhythm circuit which allows for a more mellow and darker neck pickup sound. You’ve actually got a really good range of tonal options. 

The anodised scratchplate is reminiscent of the early Jazzmasters, as are the two retro finishes, and the aged chrome hardware gives the guitar a more timeless look. The C neck profile is great for any style of player, it being not too thick or too thin. 

Best Squier guitars: Squier Contemporary Stratocaster HH FR

(Image credit: Squier)

8. Squier Contemporary Stratocaster HH FR

For those about to rock

Specifications

Body: Poplar
Neck: Roasted maple, satin, ‘C’-shape profile
Scale: 25.5"
Fingerboard: Roasted maple, 12” radius
Frets: 22, Jumbo
Pickups: 2x Squier SQR Atomic Humbucking
Controls: 5 position blade selector with coil splitting; Position 1. Bridge Humbucking, 2. Bridge and Neck Single-Coil, 3. Bridge and Neck Humbucking, 4. Neck Single-Coil, 5. Neck Humbucking, Volume, tone
Hardware: Black die-cast tuners with split shafts, Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo
Left-handed: No
Finish: Shell Pink Pearl, Gunmetal Metallic

Reasons to buy

+
The switching and tremolo provides huge versatility
+
The neck and sculpted heel enhance the playing experience
+
Sleek modern looks 

Reasons to avoid

-
There’s no hardtail option with this pickup combination  

Though the hot humbuckers, jumbo frets and Floyd Rose make this a very capable hard rock and metal guitar that’s capable of divebombs and serious rhythm chunk, the Contemporary HH FR Strat also features coil splits for some serious versatility.  A sculpted neck heel and butter smooth roasted maple neck also make a real difference to the playability here. 

The tones are easily accessible via the five-way selector and the black hardware adds to the sleek contemporary feel that proves again that the Strat is a renaissance guitar for all genres of music and styles of player. And to underline it, other new Contemporary additions include the single-coil-loaded Stratocaster Special and Special HT.

Best Squier guitars: Squier Paranormal Toronado

(Image credit: Squier)
Another chance to kick up a storm

Specifications

Body: Poplar
Neck: Indian laurel, gloss, ‘C’-shape profile
Scale: 24.75"
Fingerboard: Indian Laurel, 9.5” radius
Frets: 22, Narrow Tall
Pickups: 2x Squier SQR Atomic Humbucking
Controls: 2x volume, 2x tone, 3-way selector
Hardware: Six-saddle strings-through-body hardtail
Left-handed: No
Finish: 3-Color Sunburst, Lake Placid Blue, Black, Mystic Seafoam

Reasons to buy

+
Shorter scale for a slinkier playing feel
+
A fresh, alternative choice over the usual Fender shapes 
+
Good for heavier styles 

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacking some features compared to other Squier models around this price-point 

Fender isn’t just about its mainstay designs; many other shapes have come, gone and returned in its storied history. The Toronado offset is one such example that emerged in 1998 and although discontinued as a Fender model in 2007, we’re glad to see it back as part of the Squier Paranormal line. Especially as the original was seen in the hands of John Frusciante, My Chemical Romance’s Frank Iero, Lower Than Atlantis’ Mike Duce and influential post-rock outfit Explosions In The Sky.

Its relative obscurity adds to its appeal as an attractive alternative, along with an easier-playing 24.75” scale. The newly-designed high output Squier Atomic humbuckers mean this is capable of confidently entering high-gain territory with definition and the four-control layout means you can dial in specific tones for each of them.

Read the full Squier Paranormal Toronado review

Best Squier guitars: Squier Affinity Series Telecaster

(Image credit: Squier)

10. Squier Affinity Series Telecaster

An accessible classic

Specifications

Body: Poplar
Neck: Indian laurel, gloss, ‘C’-shape profile
Scale: 24.75"
Fingerboard: Indian Laurel, 9.5” radius
Frets: 22, Narrow Tall
Pickups: 2x Squier SQR Atomic Humbucking
Controls: 2x volume, 2x tone, 3-way selector
Hardware: Six-saddle strings-through-body hardtail
Left-handed: Yes (Butterscotch Blonde finish)
Finish: Olympic White, Lake Placid Blue (both with Indian Laurel fingerboards), 3-Color Sunburst, Butterscotch Blonde

Reasons to buy

+
Tele tones at an accessible price 
+
A great option for beginners 
+
Left-handed model available 

Reasons to avoid

-
This spec is better suited for players to start out with than upgrade to 

The Affinity series Telecaster represents the most affordable option for the model and is also a good representation of its strengths; no mods here, folks. This has the bright bridge position twang and full percussive neck tones associated with the Tele.

The Butterscotch Blonde is the classic finish for the Springsteen vibe but there’s three alternatives and the package here presents a great option for beginner players starting out, with scope for modding if required. We’re pleased to see a satin finish on the back of the neck here too that presents a smoother playing experience for all levels. And, hurray – there’s a left-handed model! 

The Affinity range also offers an option for those who want something with humbuckers with the Telecaster Deluxe.  

Best Squier guitars: Buying advice

Best Squier guitars: Squier Bullet Mustang close up

(Image credit: Future)

It's a fair question. Why, when there's such a huge wealth of budget-friendly guitars around, should you commit to one particular brand?

Well, simply put, we think Squier is one of (if not the) best brands when it comes to the sheer quality of workmanship. This eye for detail translates directly into the guitars being of a fantastic standard – one which we think is pretty much unbeatable for the money. When the 'Fender' name is at stake, you can be damn well sure that these guitars are going to be top quality, every time. 

Another reason why you should choose a Squier is the sheer amount of choice you've got. The Squier product catalog is vast, and always growing – whether it's with more Fender classics like the Strat or Tele, or something slightly more wacky and unorthodox – so you know there's likely to be something to suit you and your style down to a tee.

Squier spotting 

Why you can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

The current Squier ranges are divided into six main categories. Let’s get to know them… 

Squier Bullet series

Squier’s Bullet range represents some of the best bang-for-buck guitars out there. They are entry level instruments, and as such, the build quality and components aren’t as high quality as they are on some other Squier models. But, they’re cheaper, making them very accessible. Compared to some other guitars of a similar price point, the Squier Bullets are more playable, they sound great and they hold their tuning well.  

Squier Affinity series 

This is Squier’s student range and comprises all the usual Fender models – Strat, Tele etc, as well as some more interesting models for those that want to try something more exciting. They’re a step up in terms of quality from the Bullets, and whilst they make for great beginner guitars, more advanced players will no doubt get along well with them too.

Squier Classic Vibe series 

The Classic Vibe series really does showcase some of the best Squier guitars on offer. They’re replications of some classic era Fender guitars. An original ’60s Fender Strat is going to cost you a lot of money, and whilst the Classic Vibes sit at the higher end of the Squier price range, they still give you a really nice vintage feel, look and sound, for a fraction of the cost. 

Best Squier guitars: Squier stratocaster controls close up

(Image credit: Future)

Squier Contemporary series 

Squier Contemporary guitars usually feature more unusual pickup configurations, as well as some really unique finishes. As the name suggests, they’ve got more modern specs, so expect to see hotter pickups, locking trems and more features that render them useful for contemporary players. Whilst they’re great for any style of music, hard rock and metal players love them.

Squier FSR/Anniversary Models

You’ll also see some more limited edition models, sometimes celebrating an anniversary or FSR models -– this standing for Fender Special Run. The specs on these can vary quite a bit, but if you’ve seen one that you like, don’t hang around too long as they won’t be in production forever.

Squier Paranormal series 

This is Squier’s more experimental range. Here you can find pickup configurations that you would not normally see on a certain body shape – Tele single coils in an offset body, for example. These guitars are built to a really good standard, offer some really unique tones and allow for players to stand out from the crowd. 

Squier pickups

Fender and Squier are known for their single coil pickups. Their most famous models, the Tele and the Strat, are usually single-coil equipped and can be heard on countless classic records over the last 70 years. Tones do vary from model to model, but generally speaking, single coils tend to sound bright, snappy, chimey and can stay cleaner for longer. 

That said, there are some Squier guitars out there fitted with humbuckers. In contrast, these are usually warmer, fuller sounding, mellower and have a hotter output so can break up (distort) quicker. Both kinds of pickups can be heard throughout pretty much every genre of music, so it’s not a case of ‘humbuckers are best for rock’ etc - they’re just to different players’ tastes. 

Read more about how how we test products and services and how we make our recommendations.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Rob Laing

Rob is the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar (opens in new tab), handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar, he worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including as Editor of Total Guitar. He's currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with his own songs and is enjoying playing covers in function bands.

With contributions from