Today’s review will be very special, because I’m gonna talk about one of my favorite guitars of all time – the Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster!
I mean, who doesn’t love a good old Strat? This CV Stratocaster has everything you need from an axe like that – the looks, the sound and the vibez.
I will try to make this post unbiased as possible, but you have to be aware that as a guitar nerd, I’m a really big fan of that model.
Let’s start with a quick sound sample (I used Fender Pugilist Distortion as a bonus).
Classic Vibe Stratocaster
The tone of that Strat is probably its biggest advantage. This axe guarantees a classic, legendary and inimitable Stratocaster sound.
I particularly like to use it either with either distortion or fuzz pedals (Fender The Pelt & The Pugilist are my favorites). This is the kind of tone that you would expect to hear in a crowded American pub with live music back in 1950s!
Apart from heavier tones, the clean tone sounds amazing as well. When you pair it with a bit of reverb (especially spring reverb), it’s gonna sound awesome.
So in general, the versatility of that axe is just awesome. No matter whether you’re into blues, classic rock, indie or worship music – this CV Strat is a safe bet.
I recorded a quick sound demo of clean tone in all pickup positions (starting from the neck pickup and ending with a bridge pickup).
About the guitar
As you can see on the photo, this Strat looks pretty much the same as any other Fender Stratocaster.
Personally, I just love that vintage vibe. I may have a soft spot for sunburst finishes paired with maple necks. It just feels like a real piece of history and that’s the beauty of it!
And what’s important, Squier decided to put some oldschool features into that axe as well. That includes nickel-plated hardware, a vintage-style trem system, vintage tuners and of course, three vintage-sounding single-coils.
If you’re into Red Hot Chili Peppers and John Frusciante like me, you will definitely love the bridge pickup position in that axe. It sounds incredibly bright and it makes you wonder why do people play on Fenders when they could use Squiers instead.
Specs (For Nerds)
If you’re a guitar nerd like me and you want to know all the boring details like the nut width or fretboard radius, here’s a little table just for you.
|Fender-designed Alnico single coils
|Fender 250L NPS .009 – .042
In this case, the build quality was pretty good. The string action was a bit high at the beginning, but it wasn’t a huge problem.
All guitars from the Classic Vibe series are manufactured in Indonesia and in my opinion, it’s a good thing. I have never experienced any major issues with gear from this series and I already tried a few Strats, Telecasters and Jazzmasters.
But.. well, there always has to be a ‘but’. While the overall quality control in Indonesian factories is great, the factory setups of these guitars are usually not that good.
I know, it’s not what you wanted to hear. But to be honest the problems with setups usually occur in guitars from this price range, so it’s totally normal.
Maintenance of Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster
Strats tend to be pretty easy when it comes to the maintenance. As long as you’re not into smashing guitars on stage, you should be fine.
Just don’t forget about the basics: wash your hands before you play, keep your axe inside of a case and clean it regularly. You can also consider putting some oil on the fretboard every six months.
Not many people are aware of that, but moisturizing the fretboard is actually quite important. I’m usually using the lemon oil by Dunlop, so feel free to check it out too. It’s super cheap by the way.
Apart from that, maintaining a Stratocaster is pretty much the same as with any other guitar. Don’t forget about changing the strings from time to time, but don’t be obsessed with it – you don’t need to buy new ones every month.
So to make things even easier for you, I created this summary of major pros and cons of that model.
What I Don’t Like About CV Stratocaster
Let’s be honest – this is not a posh American-made Stratocaster straight from California. It’s a great guitar, but it’s still a relatively cheap model from Indonesia. This means that there’s a few things that you may not like.
The biggest disadvantages of that axe are:
- potential issues with the initial setup
- no included case
- gloss finish on the neck (this is totally subjective, I just prefer satin finishes)
In general, Indonesian Squiers are a lottery when it comes to setups. You may be lucky and you may get a really nice model, but sometimes you’ll experience some buzzing or problems with intonation. It’s not a huge deal, but it requires visiting a luthier.
Don’t get me wrong – it shouldn’t discourage you from getting this axe. This is a minor thing and once you set it up properly, it will probably serve you for years to come.
Who Should Get This Guitar ASAP?
I don’t want to sound like a cringe salesman but if you’re looking for an affordable Strat, you should definitely consider getting this model.
My recommendation is based on my own experience. Also, if you listened to my sound demos, you just have to agree that the tone of that guitar is surprisingly good.
I’m pretty sure that it will work well not only for amateurs but even for more advanced players. You can easily rehearse or play gigs with that gear. That says a lot, right?
If you want to pay two or three times more for a Strat with a Fender logo on it, that’s completely up to you. But I’m pretty sure that during blind tests it would be pretty difficult to spot the differences between the CV and Fender Player Strats.
I’m not telling you to drop everything right now just to get this axe. But if you want to get a versatile, good looking and quite frankly unique guitar – the 50s Stratocaster by Squier is the way to go.
Is It Worth The Money?
You already know that this is not an expensive high-end instrument. And in fact, the price of that axe is actually pretty impressive and low.
I wouldn’t say that this guitar is underpriced though. It’s not exactly a cheap model, but it’s definitely within reach of any passionate guitarist, no matter where you live or what you do for a living.
Things get even better when you directly compare the price of that Strat with the cheapest Fender Stratocaster (Player Series). It seems that this Squier tends to be almost two times less expensive!
So personally, IMO this axe is worth every cent. Even if you’ll have to sort out the initial issues with the setup, it’s still a very playable and well-made guitar.
Who doesn’t love cheap gear? It’s actually awesome that we can get such good guitars at such low prices these days. Older folks probably remember how terrible cheap guitars were even 20 or even 10 years ago!
What About The Other CV Strats?
Today’s post focuses solely on the ’50s version, but you should be aware that there are also ’60s and ’70s versions available too. I had the pleasure to use them briefly and they’re great, but they have a few different features.
If you’re into maple fingerboards like me – stick to the ’50s model. The ’60s one has an indian laurel fretboard, so that difference is pretty obvious.
The ’70s Strat is also available with the HSS pickup setting. That’s a pretty cool thing to have, especially if you want to add some extra punch to your tone. ’70s Stratocasters also have larger headstocks (just like real Strats from this era).
All of these guitars sound similar, so when it comes to tone – it’s all pretty much the same. Same with the maintenance or common issues – in the end, they all come from the same factory.
Which one is the best? Well, that’s a tough one. I think it just depends on your own preferences (mostly visual). They’re all available in different color versions, so it’s all up to you whether you like a classic 2-tone sunbrust Strat with a maple fretboard or an elegant all-black Strat with a humbucker by the bridge.
If your budget is a bit higher and you want to find something even better, check out my review of Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster. Jazzmasters have the same scale length as Strats, so they’re very similar, but they’re even cooler in my opinion.
If you managed to read this whole article, shout out to you my friend! I hope that this review was helpful and you found out more about this great guitar.
Summing up, this is a really good axe that can serve you for a lot of years to come. Perhaps it’s not a Fender, but does it even matter anyway? As long as it sounds and feels good, everything’s on point.
So we already established that this guitar deserves a lot of attention. Choosing between the 50s, 60s and 70s may be a bit trickier… but I’m sure that you’ll get there eventually. I think that the 50s one has the biggest vintage vibe of all of them. Like I said, I’m a complete sucker for maple necks and sunburst finishes!
Whether you decide to get this Strat from Amazon, Sweetwater, Guitar Center, Thomann, Facebook Marketplace or your local guitar store – I’m sure that you’ll be very happy with it in your hands. That’s a fact!
Let’s finish with an another sound demo – this time in a video format.