COULD THIS REALLY BE A 'SQUIER'? YOU BET!


As a member of the web-based TDPRI (Telecaster Discussion Page Re-Issue) Forum, I have the benefit of the shared knowledge and experience of literally thousands of Telecaster owners and fans all over the world. Recently, I've been reading threads where owners have said wonderful things about the new guitars coming out of the Squier 'stable'. Now, to me, Squiers have traditionally been the "poor man's Fender" - great starter guitars, reasonable quality, and reasonably priced. With extensive upgrades, they can be really nice guitars (my son has a Squier Affinity Strat, with upgraded pickups and the best set-up I have ever done, and it is a superb guitar - but I thought it was just a "one-off") so I read with some interest about the new Squier Tele Custom II (with P90 pickups). The spec. looked good, the pictures looked good, the price looked tempting, but what are they really like? My recent visit to the London Guitar Show enabled me to find out....

* Click on each picture for larger images *

Heading for the Peter Cook's stand I immediately noticed a Telecaster which stood out from all the rest - one quick glance revealed that it was the very Squier model that I was looking for! I picked it up, checked it all over (yes, even the 'Squier' neckplate!) and asked to try it. Guitar shows are noisy and crowded at best, and as this was the only Tele Custom II on the stand, AND priced at a miserly "Show Special" 145, I quickly decided to hand over the cash before someone else took it. I couldn't wait to get it home that evening, and having now had some time to assess it, I can say that I got an absolute "steal".

The gorgeous blonde finish is flawless (if you look at the rear picture above, you can see the grain of the Agathis body showing through), and the super smooth one-piece maple neck as straight as an arrow. The tuners are solid and dependable, as is the bridge; if I was to nit-pick, I would have to say that (a.) the pickup selector switch is a touch wobbly, and (b.) the tone & volume knobs feel perhaps a little flimsy, but they work just fine. The frets were level and blemish-free, and although I polished them and dressed the edges, it was only 'cos that is how I like 'em - it's a personal thing, and didn't really NEED doing....

The Semour Duncan designed P90 pickups are amazing - sweet but full tones on both the bridge and the neck, and they are wonderfully versatile. No hum, no noise. Smokin' Al gave it the once-over, playing everything from Rock to Blues to Jazz. He's been in the business for over 40 years, and has lost count of the number of great guitars he's owned, but has already asked me to order one of these babies for him. Praise indeed!

Hard to believe that I would ever be raving about anything with "Squier" on the headstock, but this time Fender's "entry level" boys are on to a winner. And at that price? Well, OK - the RRP is a slightly more serious 199, but trawl the internet and you can find one for 175 or less, which is still a real bargain. I'd really like to be critical and subjective about this guitar, but I'm afraid I just can't fault it. Check out the reviews in GUITARIST magazine - even they give it a big "thumbs up", and that's saying something! If you like Teles, you'll LOVE this one.

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