Believe it or not, but I think that I finally found the best cheap Strat out there – it’s the Squier Classic Vibe 60s Stratocaster. I recently added it to my collection and it made a stunning impression on me!
The CV 60s Strat sounds and feels like an actual Fender guitar – the only difference is that it doesn’t have the Fender logo on the headstock. But honestly, in my opinion it offers a crazy value for the money, so it’s a safe option for anyone who’s looking for a Strat available under $500.
So in today’s post, I want to tell you more about the things that make this axe so cool. Of course, I won’t skip the things that I don’t like about it too – in the end, it’s hard to find perfect guitars (especially at this price level).
Let’s start with a quick jam that I recorded. Sounds good, right?
About My Squier CV 60s Stratocaster
This is a pretty new guitar, although I didn’t get it from the music store. I saw that someone from my area was selling it and since the price was pretty low, I didn’t hesitate to reach out to him.
Apparently this guy bought this Squier a few months ago from Thomann, so it’s basically a brand new guitar. He didn’t change anything in that axe, but he mentioned that he visited the luthier who did the professional setup.
Maybe that’s why this guitar feels and sounds so good! But since this isn’t exactly a brand new model, I can’t really tell you anything about the factory setup. As far as I’m aware, setups in CV Strats are generally okay, but not always.
Body & Neck
CV 60s Strat has a Nato body and a maple neck, which means that it’s made of the same materials as the 50s version. The fingerboard is different though – instead of maple they decided to use Indian Laurel.
The feel of that fretboard is awesome! I’m pretty sure that the previous owner moisturized it, because it’s smooth and it has a dark color. But even if you’d have a dry fingerboard, applying some lemon oil to make it better is extremely easy.
As you can see on the photos, I have the Candy Apple Red version which looks sick in real life. If you’re not into that color, you can always choose Lake Placid Blue or 3-Tone Sunburst instead.
Just like all guitars from the Classic Vibe series, the hardware in that model is vintage-style. That means that the parts like the tuners or the tremolo bridge feel quite oldschool.
I think that’s what makes the CV guitars so cool – it’s that vintage spirit. As you’re probably aware, guitars that were actually made in the ’60s are extremely expensive nowadays. Like seriously. We’re talking about thousands of dollars.
So this Squier is a great alternative option for those who want to get at least a glimpse of that aged gear.
And since it’s a classic Stratocaster, there’s nothing unusual here – the white pickguard with three controls and a 5-way pickup switch works exactly like it’s supposed to.
When it comes to pickups, Fender decided to use a set of Alnico Single-Coils in that model. They sound awesome!
Anyone who’s looking for that classic Stratocaster tone will be very happy with their performance. You like blues? That axe will be perfect. A bit of overdrive? Sure. Distortion and fuzz? Absolutely.
Generally, Strats are extremely versatile. They’re probably one of the most versatile guitars out there. So no matter what kind of music you want to play, I’m sure that you’ll be able to achieve that with that model.
Personally, I love using it with a bit of chorus and reverb. And when you add some silicon fuzz (like Fender The Pelt), it sounds really big.
Setup & Build Quality
As I said before, the guy who sold me that guitar did the full setup here, so I won’t be able to tell you how bad the factory setup was after unboxing.
Squiers that are made in Indonesia generally feature a really good build quality, but as always, it’s possible to find a model that has some flaws.
In this case, the quality inspection must’ve been on a high level, because I don’t see any major issues here. But who knows, maybe I was just lucky.
Even if you do end up with getting a Strat that has some problems with the setup, it still shouldn’t discourage you. Just visit your local luthier, sort it out and you’ll get a guitar that will last you for years to come.
Honestly, I’d give this Strat 10 out of 10 for overall playability. This slim C-shaped neck feels just awesome.
Sometimes when you pick a new guitar up, it just feels right in your hands. Especially when you try out a couple of different models – there’s always one that seems best. It’s almost like some magical connection or bond is created between you and that guitar. I’m sure you know what I mean!
Anyway, that’s exactly what happened to me when I first got that Stratocaster. It just immediately felt right. So honestly, it’s probably one the best Squiers that I got in the last couple of years. They make a lot of great axes though – you can check out my article about 6 BEST Squier Guitars.
I took some time and I recorded a few sound demos for you guys. Grab your headphones and make sure to check them out!
Pickup Comparison (Clean)
For the record – this audio compares the clean tone in all five positions. So first you can hear the neck pickup, then neck+middle, middle, middle+bridge and bridge pickup at the end.
Clean + Reverb
If you want to check out my full video review (with more tones) of that Strat, check out the video below.
If you’re a nerd like me and you want to know absolutely everything about the guitar before your purchase, here’s a little table with all the specs.
|Neck Shape||Slim C|
|Fret Size||Narrow Tall|
|Pickups||Fender® Designed Alnico Single-Coil|
|Bridge||6-Saddle Vintage-Style Synchronized Tremolo|
I had this guitar for a few weeks now and I can think of only two disadvantages so far.
- Squier CV 60s Strat usually comes without a gig bag or hardshell case
- The factory setups in cheap Squiers are usually a lottery
The first one is not a massive problem – most of the time guitars at this price level don’t include cases. But even if you think that you won’t need it, getting at least a decent soft case is really important.
Poor factory setup may also be an issue (especially for beginners), but to be honest, it’s not that common. If that would occur in your Strat, you can either return it to the seller or you can visit the luthier to sort it out. Anyway, it’s not the end of the world.
Apart from that, I can’t think of any other major cons. I mean, this axe feels and sounds like a Fender Strat and it’s actually quite cheap. What’s there not to like?
Who Should Get It?
Many guitarists think that Squiers are only for beginners, but I disagree with that statement. I’m sure that this model can be used not only by amateurs but even for more advanced players who already play in bands or record songs in studios.
So whether you’re a:
- complete amateur who’s looking for their first electric guitar
- a bit more experienced player who only plays guitar on the weekends for fun
- or an intermediate musician who plays live gigs
I guarantee that you’ll be very happy if you decide to add that Strat to your own collection. And like I said, it doesn’t really matter what kind of music you’re into.
Any genre works well for Stratocasters – well, maybe everything apart from metal. But to be honest, it’s still possible to play metal on a Strat – you just need a few high quality pedals to achieve that tone.
50s vs 60s CV Strat
If you’re thinking about getting this model, you probably know that there are a few different Squier CV Strats: 50s, 60s and 70s.
At the moment apart from the 60s version, I also own the Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster, so I can tell you a bit more about the differences between these guitars. I will most likely get a 70s Strat in the next few weeks to directly compare all of these axes.
Let’s be honest – both 50s and 60s Strats are equally awesome. They feel a bit different though because one of them has a maple fingerboard and the other one has an Indian Laurel fretboard.
If I had to choose between these guitars, I’d choose the 60s model. It’s a totally subjective opinion though, it just feels better for me.
But when it comes to the overall build quality, playability and tone – these Stratocasters are on the same level which is very high.
The market of cheap and mid-level guitars is HUGE! That means that there are a lot of different guitars that may deserve your attention too.
I’d say that Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster is generally one of the best Strats available under $500, but if you’re looking for something cheaper, make sure to check out the Squier Sonic Stratocaster.
At the moment, it’s probably the cheapest Strat made by this brand. It doesn’t have the same vintage feel as CV models, but it’s still a very good guitar. The overall value for the money is just amazing.
Guitarists have it very easy these days. Honestly, it’s not that tough to find a decent and playable instrument for less than $200. Back in my days (I mean 15-20 years ago), cheap guitars were REALLY bad. So if you’re a beginner and you’re just starting out – dude, what a great time to start that journey.
If you don’t necessarily want a Strat, you can also check out:
- Harley Benton SC-550 (an absolutely amazing LP-style axe)
- Squier Classic Vibe Jaguar (10/10 offset model)
- Squier Affinity Telecaster (not ideal, but very affordable and it feels great too)
I’m very happy that I decided to get this Squier Classic Vibe 60s Stratocaster. It just proves that Squiers can actually compete with Fenders.
When you play on a guitar like that, you just start wondering why do people pay thousands of dollars for Fenders. I mean I get it, it’s a legendary brand.
But let’s say that you’re a guitar noob who just wants to practice guitar at home. You don’t need fancy, expensive and iconic gear. You just need an electric guitar that looks, sounds and feels good. These three things will inspire you to practice more and become a better player.
And you know what? This CV Strat has all of that. And that’s why I highly encourage you to get it for yourself! If you do end up with buying it, leave a comment under this article and share your thoughts with my readers. Who knows, maybe you’ll inspire someone to get it too.