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Squier Affinity Telecaster – Better Than Fender? [REVIEW]

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.*

If you’re dreaming of getting a new Tele and you can’t exactly afford getting a Fender, there’s a really good solution – the Squier Affinity Telecaster. I recently added that guitar to my collection and to be honest, it’s a pretty solid axe.

The Affinity Tele checks all the boxes – it’s WAY more affordable than Fender, it still has the legendary twang and it’s quite comfortable to use. Definitely not perfect, but for such a low price, a lot of guitarists will love it.

I’ll do my best to make this review as unbiased as possible. I’ve seen some mixed opinions about that model online so it’s time to take a close look and finally establish what’s the truth. Who knows, maybe you’ll consider getting it too.

Let’s start with a quick sound sample. All photos and demos below are mine, so you can be sure that this one was tested by an actual person.

squier affinity telecaster olympic white body

About Squier Affinity Telecaster

The Affinity Tele is a mid-level electric guitar. It’s not as cheap as Squier Sonic or Squier Bullet, but at the same time it’s way cheaper than the Classic Vibe or 40th Anniversary Telecaster.

It’s pretty much a cheaper copy of the famous Fender Tele. But while Fenders are made either in Mexico, Japan or United States, this one is made in China. So obviously, the overall quality (and the quality of components) is a bit different.

I think that the relatively low price is one of the biggest factors that make it so popular. There’s a few different color versions available (including Lake Placid Blue and 3-Tone Sunburst), but as you can see on the photos, I chose the Olympic Whitee finish.

My Affinity Telecaster

I bought this Tele a couple of months ago. I was thinking about getting a Tele for a long time, but all the Fenders seemed too expensive for me. And since I’m not a fan of gloss necks on CV Squiers, it was pretty easy to decide that it’s time to get the Affinity model.

squier affinity telecaster olympic white body closeup

My first impression after unboxing was simple – just ‘wow, it’s a real Tele!’. If you want to see my unboxing video (as well as the in-depth review), you can watch it on my YouTube Channel.

Body & Neck

The guitar features a lightweight poplar body and a comfortable C-shaped maple neck with laurel fretboard. Poplar wood is generally lighter than alder or pine, so in comparison with the Fenders, this model should be easier for your back.

squier affinity telecaster olympic white hardware closeup

I also have to admit that I absolutely love that neck. The necks in Affinity Squiers have very nice satin finishes which in my opinion are far better than gloss finishes in more expensive CV Squiers. This is a HUGE advantage.

laurel fretboard

To be honest, I could see myself paying the same amount of money just for that neck. It also has a great fingerboard made of laurel which is quite easy on the fingers. It could use some oil though – the one in my guitar was a bit too dry.

Hardware

As you can see on the photos, the Affinity Tele features chrome hardware. There’s also a 6-saddle string-through bridge which improves the overall tuning stability. The tuners could be better though – they seem to be pretty basic.

6-saddle bridge closeup

To be honest, I think that this hardware is okay for this price level. I definitely think that replacing the tuners would be a good idea, but it’s not necessary. This is more like a suggestion for a bit more advanced players who are into modifications.

Pickups

Just like a regular Fender Telecaster, Squier Affinity Telecaster has a set of two single-coil pickups. They sound great! Not as good as the ones used in Fenders but they do the job.

pickguard and pickup closeup

What I like the most about these single-coils is the fact that they have that classic Tele twang. It’s hard to describe that tone, but trust me – despite of the low price, it really does sound like a Telecaster.

And of course, there’s also a classic 3-way pickup switch and two controls – one for volume and one for tone. Nothing extraordinary – everything’s as expected. The switch feels a bit cheap but it’s not a big deal.

Sound Quality

Some may say that these pickups sound a bit too muddy, but I don’t agree with that to be honest. It’s just the twang!

So whether you’re into clean tones or overdrive, I think that this model will serve you well. Are you into blues and rock? Gotcha. Indie and alternative rock? Sure. Grunge and punk? Why not.

It may not be the best choice for metal, but it’s definitely capable of delivering a powerful distortion.

Generally, I don’t think it really matters what kind of music you want to play. Telecasters are extremely versatile in the end!

Build Quality

I’d give this guitar at least 8 or even 9 for overall build quality. Although it’s a Chinese-made model, I don’t see any huge issues in here. Yeah, the components like tuners or switches feel a bit cheap, but who cares? It’s a budget guitar in the end.

telecaster headstock closeup photo

The factory setup could be a little bit better (the string action was a bit too high for me), but I didn’t notice any buzzing or problems with intonation. That’s a really good sign. The fretwork was also pretty good and I didn’t notice any sharp frets.

So shoutout to guys at Squiers Chinese factories – your quality control is on point. And that’s quite surprising actually!

Sound Samples

I took it all one step further and I recorded a few sound demos for you to check out. It’s all basic, but it should give you an idea of what you can expect from that axe. I also included a pickup comparison, so you should be able spot to all small differences between them.

Sample 1 – Clean

This is a pickup comparison – at first you hear the neck single-coil, then both of them and the last one is just the bridge pickup

Sample 2 – Overdrive

Similarly as before, this demo highlights all positions – neck, neck+bridge and bridge.

Sample 3 – Chorus & Reverb

Sample 4 – Fuzz

And that’s pretty much it! I know it’s basic, but you know the drill. You can also check out my full video review below in case you’re interested.

Specifications

Here’s a list of detailed specs for all guitar nerds like me who want to know absolutely everything about the guitar before the purchase.

BodyPoplar
NeckMaple
Neck shapeC
FretboardLaurel
Fretboard radius241 mm (9.49″)
Nut width42 mm (1.65″)
Nut materialSynthetic bone
Frets21
HardwareChrome
TunersDie-cast with split shafts
PickupsCeramic single-coils
Bridge6-saddle string-through

Maintenance

Just like any other electric guitar, this Tele also needs a bit of maintenance. Don’t worry though – it’s nothing complicated.

Changing the factory strings may be a good idea (I highly recommend high-quality Elixirs), but it’s not necessary. So you don’t have to do it straight away, but at some point you’ll definitely have to do it. Don’t be extreme though – you don’t need to replace strings every month.

My fretboard was pretty dry so it needed a little bit of oil. I usually use a lemon oil by Dunlop – it’s cheap and it’s easy to use. It’s likely that your fretboard will be dry too, but I can’t guarantee that. This stuff is cheap though, so it can all be easily fixed.

Apart from that, maintenance is pretty basic. Make sure to wash your hands before playing and generally keep it clean.

And if you’ll start experiencing any other issues with your axe, you can always visit your local luthier to figure out what’s wrong. Every guitar is different, but I’m pretty sure that you won’t experience that many problems with that Tele. Telecasters are generally easy to maintain (definitely easier than Jaguars or Jazzmasters with thier sinking bridges).

Disadvantages

To be honest, it’s not that easy to find any major cons of that guitar. I mean, think about it. It costs four or even five times less than Fender Telecaster. Even if something’s not perfect, how can you really complain?

But if I had to choose the main disadvantages, I’d include:

  • a lack of case – you’ll have to get it separately
  • basic tuners – they could use a replacement
  • the pickup switch feels cheap too

And that’s pretty much it! No problems with the factory setup, so I can’t complain about that. The price is low so honestly I’d say that you get exactly what you pay for. Or you get even more. It’s definitely not an overpriced model.

What is this guitar good for?

Like I mentioned before, Telecasters are generally considered as very versatile guitars. You can use them in blues, rock, indie, punk, grunge or even country. That says a lot about Teles!

I also think that it would be a fantastic fit for those who are looking for their first electric guitar. I’d love to go back in time and start my musical journey with this exact model. You guys have it too easy these days.

But it’s not only for beginners – I’m sure that more advanced guitarists will love it too. I’ve had a lot of guitars in the past and trust me, the satin finish on this neck feels awesome. I’d probably choose it over any CV Tele with a gloss finish on it.

So considering the fact that this axe feels great, I also think that this Tele would also be great as a foundation for modifications. Put some better tuners and pickups in here and you’ll get a killer guitar comparable with Mexican (or even American-made) Fenders.

Will I keep it?

Yeah, I think that it will stay with me for a while! I don’t see why I should get rid of it, at least for now.

You know, I’m not a huge Telecaster fan. Or at least I used to be quite reserved when it comes to Teles. But I think that it’s changing now. This is just a very fun guitar to play! I actually took it to rehearsals with my band a couple of times (instead of my usual Jazzmaster) and it was a great experience.

Some people love Telecasters and some have them. I wouldn’t call it the best electric guitar in the world, but at that price range? Man, that’s a VERY solid piece of wood with strings.

Squier vs Fender Telecaster

When you compare prices of Squiers and Fenders, you’ll easily notice which guitars are supposed to be better. But are Fenders actually better than Squiers?

The truth is that Squiers are very popular for a reason. Their quality is just very good! Maybe most of them aren’t as good as Fenders, but they are great especially for those who are at the beginning of their journeys as guitarists.

While Squiers are made in China and Indonesia, Fenders come from Mexico, Japan and United States. The materials used in Fenders (such as wood, hardware and electronics) are on a bit higher level, but it doesn’t mean that Squiers are bad either.

For sure, upgrading a Squier axe can easily turn it into a high-level guitar. In a direct comparison, Fenders will win most of the times. But it all depends on who you are. If you’re an amateur, you probably won’t even notice the difference. And is that difference worth paying 4 or 5 times more? Probably not.

Cheaper Alternatives

If you’re really into getting a Telecaster but you can’t afford getting a Fender or even Squier, perhaps choosing a budget Harley Benton would be a good idea.

I recently tested two of these Bentons (TE-20 and TE-62) and to be honest both of them were fantastic. TE-62 is on a similar level as Squier Affinity Telecaster and some people may actually consider it as better. TE-20 on the other hand is way cheaper, but it’s slightly worse.

Harley Benton TE-20

This is actually one of the cheapest electric guitars made by Harley Benton. I was VERY impressed by its quality straight after unboxing. It’s ridiculous that you can find such a nice axe for under $100.

harley benton te-20

It’s not flawless though – there is a lot of things that could be improved. But come on, how can you even complain about a guitar from that price level? It literally costs a similar amount of money as a family dinner. So maybe it’s time to stay-in and get a Telecaster instead?

Harley Benton TE-62

TE-62 is a crazy axe, it’s probably one of my favorite Bentons of all time. It was a love from the first sight – that red color with binding is just beautiful.

harley benton te-62 front photo

The manufacturer equipped that model with a set of very cool Roswell single-coils which sound awesome. They may even sound better than these used in the Affinity Tele.

Overall

Summing up, Squier Affinity Telecaster is a superb inexpensive Tele. It’s not ideal, but it definitely offers a good value for the money.

I’m so glad that I added it to my collection! Who knows, maybe I’ll turn into a die-hard Telecaster fan at some point too. I’m really into offset guitars right now, but who knows!

Thanks for checking out this review, hopefully it was helpful and you learned something new. If you end up with getting this axe, please leave a comment under this post – it will mean a lot to me! I’m sure that other readers will also benefit from reading your thoughts about that model.

And if you’re looking for more gear recommendations, have a look at my gear reviews category – all of my gear is included in there. I’m regularly testing new guitars and writing new posts so feel free to come back from time to time!