It was in 1982 that Fender launched the Squier brand name. They had bought the company originally in 1965 when it produced guitars and other instrument strings. But, Fender preferring to market their own brand name of guitar string let the company slide and eventually it failed.
When Fender decided to introduce a budget range of guitars the Squier name was chosen for these lower priced guitars that bore the Fender style.
Before 1982 Fender was already making cheaper guitars but on a limited basis but the comfortable exclusive world of the Fender guitar was about to change.
Before the CBS buy-out in the mid-60s, Fender was recognized as being the big player. Even today, Fenders in all the ranges that belong to the pre-1964 period are treasured and sought after guitars.
But the next twenty or so years saw fluctuations in the quality of the instrument and Fenders position in the marketplace.
It came to a head when what originally started in the late 70s, exploded in the 80s with various ‘copies’ of the Strat and the Telecaster coming from Japan. There seemed endless versions with the vast majority being terrible things and mostly unplayable.
They weren’t particularly good guitars, but they looked identical and were a fraction of the cost. And for some, that was reason enough to buy. Especially those that either did not have access to a ‘real’ Fender or who simply could not afford one.
Fender had to do something, and Squier arrived very soon after, based initially in Japan, as their answer to a cheaper version of their ‘real’ thing.
The brand name Squier though has established itself from those early days as being a guitar worth considering in its own right. At times it has been manufactured in a variety of Asian centers but is now established and producing quality guitars.
We are going to look at one of the guitars from these premium ranges, the Squier Affinity Telecaster.
The Classic Shape
The Telecaster is possibly the most recognizable guitar body shape in the world. Some might disagree, but it is a total icon and says ‘rock n roll’ rather loudly in your face.
A simple design, single cutaway, nothing has changed with this guitar since its introduction in the 50s. Why would you need to change it?
The Affinity range from Squier is a second run up the ladder of Fender Squier guitars. It is a level up from the basic version but below the ‘Vintage’ versions.
The Squier Affinity Telecaster is a good guitar and with a price tag that screams come and get me. More about pricing later.
The body is made from Alder and the neck from maple, with a maple fretboard giving it a classic vintage Telecaster feel and look.
In fact, everything about this guitar is designed to look and feel right with its 25.5-inch neck and 21 frets. The bolt-on neck is a delicious satin, not glossy, ‘C’ shape that fits so naturally into the hand.
It bears that so familiar black pickguard, black dots on the fingerboard and the traditional headstock.
You put it down and look at it. The Butterscotch body with the grain of the wood showing through and maple neck add to the feel of this great guitar.
Yep, it’s a Telecaster.
One of the great things about the original Telecaster was that it was so easy to play and control. This guitar being built in the same way, is exactly the same.
A single volume and a single tone control working the two pickup system with its three-way pickup selector control.
There is a fixed bridge with six saddles that can be adjusted as required. The strings do not pass through the body of the guitar as is the norm with a Telecaster but are loaded on top through the bridge. No bad thing some might say.
A reasonable set of chrome tuners are fitted to ensure that it will maintain its tuning.
All things considered, the fittings may not be the most glamorous around, but they do their job and do it well.
When you sit down with it on your lap and get ready to play it just feels right.
When Leo Fender designed the Telecaster, it was very much a no-frills instrument, and this feels like that. It is balanced nicely, not too heavy and the comfortable neck affords an easy playing style.
Simple to operate and conveniently positioned controls to allow you to feel relaxed with it.
With some guitars, you almost have to fight them to get a decent sound. With this, it feels like it might play itself.
How Does It Sound?
It can be well made and look very pretty, but it’s the sound that we all are interested in.
Two single coil pickups, one at the neck and one at the bridge are standard fittings and rightly so. That is the Telecaster sound. That is what we want.
We were very pleasantly surprised when we turned on the bridge pick up by itself. Clean and warm it re-creates the near Country style of some of the early users of the guitar.
Driven a bit harder on the bridge setup and there evolved a great blues sound. This was surprising because we didn’t think that setting would produce that ‘edge.’
Onto the middle setting of bridge and neck pickups together, volume up and there was the real sound we were hoping to find. Hard to describe really, maybe Doobie Brothers ‘Captain and Me’ sound might give you the idea. It really was driving quite hard and sounded very nice.
The neck pickup gives you some nice mellow jazzy sounds which if nothing else are such a contrast to the other settings and yes, going back to the bridge pick up you can create that twangy rhythm the Telecaster is famous for.
So, it sounds good?
No, not good, but, very good. To be fair we did notice a slight hum from the pickups when the volume was full on, but it was only very slight.
This guitar does not sound like a 62-64 Telecaster. That sound can never be replicated. Not even Fender themselves have been able to do that, but it is a decent sound that has all the attributes you would expect.
As long as you remember this is a premium version of a more expensive model you will not be disappointed. Cheap does not mean that it is inferior, but some sacrifices have been made along the way to keep costs down.
The important elements are all there, especially with its sound, which is impressive, given its price.
Fender Telecaster ‘purists’ will probably argue that the fittings are not as good and the wood in the construction not as pure as on the Fender’s. But, they certainly could not criticize the sound too much or the way it plays.
Joseph is a session musician, writer, and filmmaker from south Florida. He has recorded a number of albums and made numerous short films, as well as contributing music to shorts and commercials.
He doesn't get as much time to practice and play as he used to, but still manages (just about!) to fulfill all his session requests. According to Joseph, it just gets harder as you get older; you rely on what you learned decades ago and can play without thinking. Thankfully that's what is what most producers still want from him.
He is a devout gear hear and has been collecting musical instruments all his life. As his wife, Jill, keeps on saying, "You're very good at buying nice instruments, but terrible at selling them!".