I’ve found the Classic Vibe by Squier to be an authentic budget Strat that captivates the 70s vibe.
You may wonder if the Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster is a good one for a first Strat or if it offers great value.
In this short Squier Classic Vibe review, we’re going to nitpick at the details of the classic vibe electric guitar and see how it does against the options available on the market at a similar price range. But before we get into that, let’s talk a bit about Squier as a brand.
Are Squier Guitars any good?
Many guitarists think that Squiers are crap. While that used to be the case in the past when the brand only produced cheaper copies of Fender, these days, the production quality has improved tremendously.
Leo Fender actually acquired the Squier brand and used the name to sell low-priced Fenders to players. As such, Squiers are just as good as Fenders.
Some Squier guitars are even more expensive than Fender ones and quality-wise, the brand offers impeccable quality in terms of choice of materials, hardware, sound, and playability.
Squier brand was acquired by Fender, and today, it has its own prestigious line of excellent instruments primarily targeted towards beginners but it does have some premium top-of-the-line guitars.
The Squier Classic Vibe has some distinctive features and a great build quality which, in the right hands – sounds amazing. It’s got distinct features and is a great quality instrument right alongside the Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster.
Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s get into the details of the fantastic guitar!
Review of Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster
Too lazy to read the full review? Here’s a quick summary!
What We Think
The Classic Vibe 70s Strat is a fantastic piece of gear that not only looks and feels awesome but also plays like a charm.
It offers good value for a beginner or an intermediate player and is ideal for practicing and improving your arsenal of musical techniques.
- Bone nut
- Bolt-on maple neck
- Vintage die-cast tuners
- Single coil Fender Alnico pickups
- Gloss finish
If you’re a fan of vintage-looking guitars, you’ll love to get your hands on the Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster.
The finish on the Squier guitar is a beautiful gloss one just like you’d expect to find on most Squier guitars. As far as the aesthetics go, it looks pretty standard as a Strat.
One thing that I really like about the Squire Classic Vibe is that it’s got a bone nut. Manufacturers tend to find a cheaper substitute for bone, so finding a bone nut here is great!
Obsessing over the choice of nut material may seem odd to you, but it does have some effect on the resonance and intonation. Bone nuts impart a more resonant sound and the general consensus is that since they’re dense, they help transmit sound better which leads to them always sounding than plastic nuts.
The body has a polyurethane finish which doesn’t age at all. If you are constantly exposing your guitar to sunlight, the finish may fade after many years but it doesn’t lose its shine under normal use.
I find that lacquer finishes age beautifully and generally look better than gloss poly ones. That said, the Squier Classic Vibe Series does have sweet-looking guitars with a gloss finish.
The CV Squier is made out of solid materials and projects classic vibes right off the back.
The Classic Vibe Series guitar is Indonesian-made, and the low cost of labor and parts there helps keep the prices down. In spite of that, it doesn’t show signs of neglect and has neat fret edges and great playability.
If you’ve looked into the Classic Vibe 50s or 60s series, you may’ve noticed that these guitars pretty much all look the same. The classic vibe strat 50s electric guitar has maple frets with a medium V profile neck while the 60s CV has got rosewood frets.
The 70s CV Squier guitar does have a larger headstock compared to other Classic Vibe Series guitars.
It may not look like something out of Fender Custom Shop, but it sure is a beautiful guitar as far as budget guitars go. The two-tone sunburst on the Classic Vibe Strat gives a refined vintage look.
Does It Hold Tune?
The Classic Vibe electric guitar has vintage-style tuners that are of excellent quality. These are die-cast tuners and look just like the ones found on the original telecaster.
The tuners work great and trust me, there’s really no reason to upgrade them any time soon. It holds the tune quite nicely. You may also want to invest in a budget tuner like the Snark SN5X clip-on tuner so you can keep the instrument ready to rock.
The strings are attached to a 6-saddle tremolo bridge which is standard on Squier guitars. It’s decent quality, so that’s great.
The Squier Classic Vibe has a beautiful maple neck which is a full-scale one with a scale length of 25.5″. Anything more than 25″ is considered full-scale and that’s the metric considered standard on most guitars. Any shorter than that, and it feels like you’re playing on a mini instrument.
The maple neck is a bolt-on type, meaning that it’s not glued to the body, and having a bolt-on neck means that it is less resonant than glued necks. Something to remember is that, while glued necks are sturdier and more resonant, having one on a budget guitar can spike up prices, and that’s not good for players like us who want guitars to be more affordable yet with premium features.
There’s also a bright side to the bolt-on neck – you can easily replace the neck by yourself if you break it or feel like you want an upgrade. Doing that on a traditional set neck is a lot of trouble, and that’s actually one of the reasons why bolt-on necks were invented for the electric guitar.
The Classic Vibe guitar has a slim C-shaped neck with a fingerboard radius of 9.5″. The decent curvature makes fretting and playing bar chords pretty easy. The C-shaped neck is also a great feature to have for beginners as well as intermediates.
The tinted finish on the maple neck adds to the vintage feel. There is a gloss finish on this which doesn’t age as well as lacquered one does, but it sure looks nice.
If there’s one thing I don’t like about the neck on the CV Squier, it’s got to be the gloss finish on the neck. I am all for pretty-looking guitars but I feel that they could’ve done a better job with a satin finish on the neck.
The satin finish doesn’t tend to stick to fingers when playing for long hours, and at least to my hands, it feels smoother. Everybody has different preferences, and you might find it nice too.
As for the fingerboard material, there is Indian Laurelwood on this which takes on a smooth finish and sounds quite good. Some players say that it sounds very similar to rosewood but I don’t feel like it makes much of a difference.
There are 21 medium jumbo frets in total, which is one less than the standard 22 frets. It may have been a design choice but beginners and intermediate players won’t feel any inconvenience at all.
The Squier Classic Vibe also has Pearloid dot inlays on standard frets that serve as fret markers for inexperienced players. If you’re into fancy inlays, you may also like abalone markers – these can be used over the stock fret inlays.
In my experience, once you get to a certain point in your guitar-playing journey, you can easily adapt to changes in neck profile or string gauges, or weird body shapes. It’s fairly easy to sound decent on almost any instrument and thanks to years of muscle memory, you can make any crappy instrument sound nice.
But the problem is, for most beginners and intermediate-level players, flaws in fretworks or non-standard necks can really be demotivating. The Classic Vibe guitar is standard and has an easy-to-fret setup that’s definitely comfortable for even somebody just starting out.
There are standard medium-jumbo frets that are super convenient to play on. Compared to the narrow-tall frets which are good if you’ve got large fingers or are into bending strings, medium jumbo frets are great if you want to work on your technical ability like speed, endurance, and stamina. It’s also good for heavy rock and blues.
It has also got an adjustable truss rod that you can easily adjust if you find that the neck is warped or uncomfortably high off the strings. You just need a truss rod adjustment tool called an Allen key which is very cheap. Just get an Allen key set and you’re good to go do your own neck adjustments. The one I use is called Ibanez MTZ multi-tool – it’s a wrench, screwdriver, ruler, and spanner all in one, and has worked for all guitars I own!
The Squier Classic Vibe has one of the nicest necks I’ve seen on a Strat, so Squier did a great job here. It’s also super easy to clean and maintain – the cleaning kit I would recommend is the Jim Dunlop cleaning kit; it works on both the fingerboard and the body.
The Alder body on the Classic Vibe makes the Squier guitar a lightweight one, and that’s very helpful when strapping the guitar and playing on stage.
Many guitarists think that the choice of wood on guitar parts matters but I personally believe that it doesn’t. Tonewoods affect the sound of an acoustic guitar greatly, but it doesn’t matter at all when it comes to electric guitars.
The alder body is harder than a pine body which is also nice. It would’ve been cheaper to opt for the pine body but it’s a surprise that Squier CV didn’t decide to go for one.
The gloss finish on this looks quite nice, and while I do like the neat look of lacquers, it’s not really something to be expected for the price. The paint job on the Classic Vibe has been done nicely and it feels smooth. It also won’t fade away soon which is nice.
The strings are attached to the back of the body through tiny holes drilled into the body. This type of bridge setup is called the string-through type.
It has a vintage-style tremolo system which is a nod to the original Strat. The 6-saddle tremolo does a great job at keeping the strings in perfect intonation.
There is a standard pickguard on this that nicely complements the classic Strat body shape.
Contrary to an acoustic guitar that gets its luscious sound thanks to the hollow resonant chamber and tonewood, the Classic Vibe electric guitar sounds nice courtesy of fantastic electronics. I’ve seen many guitars with good parts but the soldering and circuitry are a mess, and that can lead to a poor sound.
At the heart of the Classic Vibe Squier are the Fender Alnico V single-coil pickups, and there are 3 of them. The pickup configuration is pretty typical of most Squier Strats and so, feels intuitive.
You surely know how fantastic the 70s classic rock sound was. The Alnico V pick-ups do a great job at helping you replicate similar nuances in your sound.
You can access the incredible tones on this guitar by using the 5 – way switch that toggles between:
- Neck position
- Neck and mid position
- Mid position
- Mid and bridge position, &
- Bridge position.
Many guitarists find that cheap guitars often have crappy tone control knobs. The Squier Classic Vibe has decent knobs- one for the master volume that lets you control the overall volume, and a tone control knob each for the pickups. These are all placed nicely on the classic-looking pickguard.
A master tone control is missing from the Squier Classic Vibe and I think that’s what makes it different from the typical Strat. Having two individual tone knobs, however, you have the freedom to blend in the tones as you desire.
Experimenting with the individual tone from the neck and bridge pickup can help you find the perfect blend of sweet pickup tones for your personal voice on this instrument. You also won’t need to swap them out for new pickups as they do sound quite nice.
I like the fat tone of humbuckers, so I would probably switch the bridge pickup to Seymour Duncan humbucker pickups. That’s optional and you can do without it if you really like the single-coil sound. If you don’t know how to upgrade the pickups, I do have a detailed guide to replacing pickups on electric guitars.
The Squier guitar also has shielding paint where necessary, so you can be assured that it’s free of unwanted noises and interference.
How Does The Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster Sound?
The Classic Vibe electric guitar by Squier has .009 gauge strings which are just moderate thickness. Heavier string gauges impart a better tone but are hard to bend and fret, while light strings offer easy playability but lose some of the tones.
For a beginner or an intermediate-level player, these strings are quite good and you won’t need to upgrade to new ones unless you break them. Personally, I prefer Ernie Ball Slinky strings on my ax, as it sounds nice to my ears and is also quite durable. A set lasts me about six months even with all the crazy vibrato and bends I do.
The stock pick-ups on this sound as good as custom single-coil pickups. As my friend’s dad used to say, nice-sounding pickups are characteristics of great guitars!
I like keeping things simple and most of the time, I’m just plugging in guitars to my Fender Champion 20 which is an inexpensive amp that has served me well.
If you’ve got any experience with Strats, you already know what the single-coil strat pickups sound like. The neck pickup has a good bite to it and is great for folk, country, and indie rock. I would use the bridge and the mid-pickup combinations for playing the lead.
As with most techniques in your arsenal, you just have to experiment with the controls till you find a setting that you feel is great for the style you wish to play.
In my personal experience, I’ve found that an inexpensive looper is all you need to improve your chops. While fancy pedals do sound good when performing, they can really distract you from your daily practice routine, so keep it simple – I find the Boss RC-1 a good one.
There is a fine line between overusing effects to the point that your playing suffers and using it tastefully for expression. I prefer to stick to just a plain reverb pedal paired with an overdrive.
I also like using a fuzz pedal to get rock sounds out of my guitars. It really complements the unique sound of CV Squier.
Thanks to the single-coil pick-ups, it’s got a fair bit of twang that you’ll find good to use in genres like country and delta blues.
The Classic Vibe has an overall crispy sound that you’ll absolutely love. If you’d like to experiment with punchier tones, looking into the Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster is a great idea.
Who Can Get The Most Value Out Of The Squier Classic Vibe?
The Squier Classic Vibe guitar is a good guitar for players at the end of both spectra. For somebody just learning to play the guitar, it offers great value and excellent playability, and for seasoned gigging professionals, it has reliable intonation as well as decent materials, so it can work as a great practice instrument.
Does it work well for gigs? Well, as a medium-priced instrument that has good pick-ups and is easy to play, it’s certainly good for gigs.
I wouldn’t use it for metal or high-gain styles but other than that, it’s very versatile and suitable for players of almost any musical genre.
The Classic Vibe is also quite affordable, so it makes for a great gift instrument. I like the idea of giving somebody an instrument because not only is it thoughtful, but also provides the other person a chance to experience the joys that making music can bring.
You can gift your child the love of music or surprise your partner with the Squier guitar, and they’ll be happy to have it!
- Offers excellent value
- Decent electronics
- Ideal for beginners
- Not for metal
If you’re in the market for a guitar that looks and feels vintage, has nice playability, and has a fantastic range of tones, the Squier Classic Vibe is an excellent choice.
The case is sold separately but for the price, it’s easy to overlook that. Whether you’re picking the Squier for beginners or intermediate players, it’s a great deal for most genres and everything used on it is of incredible value. We recommend pairing the Classic Vibe with some essential accessories, and you’re all set to be a fantastic player!
Which Squier Classic Vibe is the best in terms of value?
The Squier Classic Vibe’s 70s or 60s is great in terms of value and playability. None of the Classic Vibe series are bad, but they do ship out some models that absolutely need quick fret adjustments before being playable, so it’s something you should be mindful of.
Overall, these guitars offer excellent playability and quality materials at a good price.
Are Squier guitars bad compared to Fender ones?
Many guitarists have this misconception that Fender guitars are superior to Squier guitars but truth be told, Squiers just have a different sound. A Squier can be a great Strat, and if you’re getting your first guitar, a Squier is an incredible bargain and does have good quality hardware and electronics, and does sound great.
Some Squiers are even more expensive than Fender ones and may have hotter pickups. The CV Strat, more importantly, is a great guitar and it’s got excellent tones and great playability for the price.
Are Squier Classic Vibe guitars any good?
Squier Classic Vibe guitars are actually better than the Squiers back in the 80s. The modern production line has better finishes, excellent neck profiles, and more importantly, better pick-ups than the past Squiers used to have.