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Squier 40th Anniversary Telecaster Gold Edition review

The Squier Tele gets all dressed up to celebrate a big year – and shows how far Fender's entry-level brand has come

Squier 40th Anniversary Telecaster Gold Edition
(Image: © Fender)

Guitar World Verdict

There is no more appropriate way for Squier to celebrate 40 trips round the sun than with a classy Telecaster at a friendly price – with a few choice mods, this could be truly a top-tier instrument.

Pros

  • +

    A budget-friendly instrument with collectible kudos.

  • +

    It looks exquisite.

  • +

    Player-friendly setup and feel.

Cons

  • -

    If the gold is too much bling, the Vintage Edition might be more your taste.

  • -

    Pickups lack a little oomph.

Do you know what’s 40 years old in 2022? For perspective, music lovers may be unaware that Iron Maiden’s The Number of the Beast and the Clash’s Combat Rock turn 40 this year. 

Feel old yet? And surprisingly, for musicians like me, I had no idea Squier is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year – because, if you ask me, the entry-level instrument brand is far from over the hill, but rather, coming of age. 

To commemorate the company’s Ruby Anniversary, the budget brand has released two collections of Fender’s most iconic guitar models in Vintage and Gold Editions that genuinely prove that Squier keeps getting better with age. I had the opportunity to wield Squier’s très chic 40th Anniversary Telecaster Gold Edition.

Some will say Squier has often been unfairly maligned yet also widely praised for offering the same upscale Fender guitar models at a fraction of the price with fantastic playability and similar tones.

And honestly, that’s precisely the case here for this Anniversary edition with Midas touch adornments of gold-plated hardware and bridge, gold anodized aluminum pickguard, bound Indian laurel fingerboard with pearloid block inlays, vintage headstock logos and engraved 40th Anniversary neck plate – all of which make this Telecaster a true collectible. And if you don’t dig the glossy black finish, the guitar also comes in a classy Sherwood Green.

Squier 40th Anniversary Telecaster

(Image credit: Fender)

The Squier 40th Anniversary Tele is instantly charming with its black-and-gold motif, making it look a lot like a very blingy companion to my Marshall JCM800. The guitar has a player-friendly setup with low action that, I felt, is spot-on. It’s also refreshingly lightweight and the comfortably slim “C”-shaped neck profile will appeal to all players. So far, so good. 

However, I find the Fender-designed single-coil pickups with Alnico 5 magnets sound merely decent, dishing out serviceable Tele twang for the bridge and airy roundness in the neck, but some players may want to swap them out for pickups with more pep at some point. Also, the vintage-style tuning machines look authentic but are prone to slippage, so you’ll need to keep an eye on tuning. 

Now, none of this takes away from the fact that this is a well-made and memorable guitar that I love playing, but I believe with a few minor upgrades (that most players tend to do), this Anniversary Gold Edition can be poised to become a beast of a Telecaster. 

Specs

  • PRICE: $599 / £499
  • BODY: Nyatoh
  • NECK: Maple, bolt-on, "C" Shape
  • SCALE: 25.5”
  • FINGERBOARD: Indian laurel, 9.5” radius
  • FRETS: 21
  • ELECTRICS: 2x Fender Designed Alnico Single-Coils 
  • CONTROLS: Volume, Tone, three-way blade selector switch 
  • HARDWARE: Three-saddle strings-through-body Tele, vintage-style tuners, gold
  • LEFT-HANDED: No 
  • FINISH: Black [as reviewed], Sherwood Green
  • CONTACT: Fender (opens in new tab)

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Paul Riario has been the tech/gear editor and online video presence for Guitar World for over 25 years. Paul is one of the few gear editors who has actually played and owned nearly all the original gear that most guitarists wax poetically about, and has survived this long by knowing every useless musical tidbit of classic rock, new wave, hair metal, grunge, and alternative genres. When Paul is not riding his road bike at any given moment, he remains a working musician, playing in two bands called SuperTrans Am and Radio Nashville.