Are you searching for an affordable Telecaster?
Since hitting the shelves in 1950, the Fender-designed Telecaster has become an icon.
Who wouldn’t want a classic Fender Telecaster?
The problem? An enormous price tag.
There’s always a Squier. The Squier Telecaster mimics the shape, feel, and tone of an original. But is it any good?
Let’s find out and dive into the Squier by Fender Affinity Telecaster review.
About Squier by Fender
Squier guitars are all about value. If you're some who wants the iconic look and feel of a Fender, but are on a tight budget, then definitely check out Squier Guitars.
Squier has origins dating back to the late 19th century. As a renowned string manufacturer, Squier supplied strings for Fender throughout the 50s.
In 1965, Fender acquired Squier. It wasn’t until later they would release guitars using the Squier name. As cheap imports filtered through the market, Fender responded. In 1982, Fender began releasing budget guitars under the make Squier.
Squier guitars have their charms. For starters, they look like classic Fender designs. But, by cost-cutting during manufacturing, Squier guitars sell at a fraction of the cost. So for cheap, you’ll have a guitar with a Fender charm but without the American-built price tag.
Squier Affinity Telecaster Highlights:
There’s plenty to love about the Squier Affinity Series Telecaster. From timeless shape to the unmistakable twang,
But before you commit to splashing your hard-earned bucks. Although there’s lots to love, there are features to disapprove of. Here are a few details to consider.
What We Liked
- Iconic design: The back-to-basic Tele design is the ultimate style statement. A guitar worn by guitar greats like Keith Richards and Bruce Springsteen, it’ll look the part. Available in 7 different finishes, you can personalize the color to suit your style.
- Classic tone: The two single-coil Tele pickups do a superb job replicating the tone of the original. For the authentic classic vintage twang, they’ll work. Likewise, you can dial in mellower sounds with these versatile pickups.
- Playability: Fitting the snug against the palm, the C-shape neck profile is a comfy shape. The maple satin finish is smooth to touch. The fingerboard is available in either Indian laurel or maple wood so you can style it to suit.
What We Didn’t Like
- Standard die-cast tuners offer little in the way of tuning stability.
- For advanced use, it’ll need a solid setup. While getting the once over, it’s worth checking over the electronics.
- Chinese build quality can have lax quality control. Also, as the price is below $299, it doesn’t meet the threshold for the Sweetwater 55-point inspection.
Squier Affinity Telecaster Review: Features & Specifications
- Offering the classic Telecaster look at an affordable price.
- Stock Tele single-coil pickups replicate the full but bright authentic Tele tone.
- Resonance and balance of the alder body and the sturdiness of the maple neck.
- The 21 medium-jumbo are a comfortable size. For riffs and chords, they aren’t too small. Nor are they too large overextending the fingers. Alongside the smoothness of the woods, the neck offers increased playability.
Squier Affinity Telecaster Review: Our Insights
So far, you may have decided on whether the Squier by Fender Affinity Telecaster is for you. Let’s break it down and dive a little deeper.
For such a cheap guitar, the materials on the Squier Telecaster are admirable. Look at the tonewoods. Alder body, maple neck, and a choice of Indian laurel or maple fingerboard. It’s a solid foundation upon which to build a guitar.
The body of a Telecaster is a solid chunk of wood. By its nature, this body design alone makes it an enduring guitar. With a gloss polyurethane finish, the body is further protected against bangs.
The standout part of the Squier by Fender Affinity Telecaster is the maple neck. With a satin finish, it feels like outstanding quality wood in the hand.
You’ll have the option to pick the fingerboard material. A pleasant choice that allows you to compliment the maple neck how to choose. You can pick from either a maple or Indian laurel fingerboard.
So which fingerboard should you pick? Truth is, both fingerboard styles offer playability and durability. You’ll make your decision on color alone. The maple option has a much lighter finish. Whereas, the laurel is a rosewood substitute so is darker than maple.
Yes, it’s a cheap version of a Fender. No, it won’t compete with anything American-built. But considering the price point, this is a very well-built guitar.
As most guitars built outside the US, the quality control isn’t as strict. So, it pays to have a good inspection upon arrival.
Hardware and Electronics
The Squier Affinity Telecaster arrives equipped with some hardware worthy of praise. What hardware is good and what parts are best changed? Let’s look.
The 6-saddle top-load bridge allows for attention to detail. A significant feature for the perfectionist who wants control over string intonation. While it’s not solid steel, the chrome fixed bridge is of excellent quality.
The temptation to upgrade the stock pickups is undeniable. Yes, there are higher-grade pickups available. Even so, the stock single-coils do a superb job of enhancing the Tele tone. For recording or live application, these vintage-inspired pickups will hold their own.
The back-to-basics control, volume, and tone dial are functional with metallic dials. Likewise, the 3-way blade pickup switch is of robust stock.
There are a few areas where the Squier Affinity Telecaster comes short. The synthetic bone nut and the stock tuning mechanisms aren’t peak so tuning reliability suffers. While it may seem like a big job, upgrading isn’t too expensive.
Etched in musical history, the Telecaster sound is one of the most recognizable tones going.
Bold and bright, the Tele tone has an unmistakable twang. Characteristics that have seen it as a mainstay in country music. The Telecaster has become the backbone of the Nashville sound but it goes further.
Blending both pickups gives cleanliness and spank. A tone that sounds ideal for funk. The intricate detail of both pickups also suits technical riff playing such as in blues.
The bridge pickup on this Squier delivers attitude. You can push it for an added snarl. So for softer rock, it’ll handle some overdrive. Where it won’t sound the best is with high-level distortion. So for metal players, this will be out of bounds.
It’s a guitar that suits both strumming chords or playing riffs. Not only versatile across playing styles. The nature of this guitar also compliments many musical genres. Country, blues, folk, funk, indie, prog, alternative, and softer rock will all enjoy the tonal character of the Tele.
While some refining wouldn’t go amiss, here’s what you can expect out-of-the-box.
- Neck: A standout feature on this guitar is the neck. It’s comfortable to touch and has a size that most players will enjoy.
- Frets: The frets are an impressive size for riffs and chords. Where it falls short is the fret edges. Some stock comes with sharper edges so may need filing down.
- Action: Out-the-box- the action is great. It’s low enough for learners to get to grips with the basics. Even intermediates will take to it.
- Strings: The Fender 250L strings are good! No objections here.
- Tuners: The tuners on this guitar will keep their tune—to an extent. If you’re hoping to play this for prolonged periods in the studio or live, these might be worth upgrading.
- Nut: The nut is fine as a stopgap. It seems measured well enough for decent playability. But it’s synthetic, so it may be worth addressing it in the future. The more you play, the likelihood this will wear down.
All suggestions are minor and inexpensive. They may not be necessary for your usage. But might be worth considering as you progress.
On the whole, this Squier Telecaster has outstanding playability.
It’s safe to say that the Squier Telecaster offers bang for your buck. You’re getting a guitar that mirrors a classic in feel, shape, and tone.
Even the negatives are positive. See, they’re quick fixes. With some TLC, the Squier Telecaster could be in your collection for some time.
Sure, it won’t outplay a guitar priced near a thousand dollars. But—it isn’t a million miles off.
Squier Affinity Telecaster Review: Buying Experience
When parting with hard-earned cash, it’s difficult to know who to trust. Sweetwater has policies to protect your purchase. From shipping, warranty, and returns you’re protected if your guitar isn’t to your liking.
Sweetwater offers free delivery—one less cost for you to worry about.
If you’re planning on taking your guitar out and about. It’s advisable to get a hard case. If you order one from Sweetwater, they’ll pop your new guitar into the case and ship as one.
If not, the guitar will arrive in a cardboard box. While it’s packed well, to prevent heartbreak, a case protects during shipping. Besides, you’ll need one in the long run.
What else do you need to know? If you’re outside the United States they won’t ship. So for overseas friends, you’ll need a Sweetwater alternative.
You’ll have a 2-year warranty from both Fender and Sweetwater.
The Sweetwater warranty is free. This includes zero charges for parts and labor.
There’s plenty of fine print involved with a warranty. That said, as long as you look after your guitar Sweetwater has you covered.
If you get lost in the moment and launch your guitar into a drum kit. Then, the warranty won’t cover this. It’s also worth noting that if you go crazy on the mods, this could void the warranty.
Sweetwater reserves the right. In general, if the issue is of no fault of your own, they’ll sort it in no time.
While confident that the Squier Telecaster will impress, what if you don’t like it?
You’ll have 30 days to decide. If it isn’t for you, you can send it back with no questions asked. So, if it doesn’t feel right or you think a different model would suit your sound—send it back. That simple. Ensure it’s in the same new condition as you received it. Don’t go gigging and then make the decision.
If you want a refund, Sweetwater will deduct the shipping costs from the purchase amount.
Should You Buy the Squier Affinity Telecaster?
Now for the big question. Should you take the plunge and buy the Squier Affinity Telecaster?
Here are some scenarios that this guitar is the one for you:
- You’re on a low budget. At this price, you’ll even struggle to get a secondhand guitar. So if you want a new guitar on a shoestring budget. It’s ideal.
- You’re a fan of Fender style guitars. If you’ve always wanted a Fender, this is the closest thing without spending big bucks.
- You’re recording. Whether it be for YouTube videos or adding some guitar to a track you’ve laid down. This guitar is a cheap studio accessory.
These are a few examples of where this guitar will work wonders. The beauty is, in a few years, you could always look to mod this guitar as you progress.
Squier Affinity Telecaster Alternatives
Not convinced by the Squier Affinity Telecaster? Then let’s take a peek at some other options.
Squier Affinity Telecaster Vs Fender Player Telecaster
So you may think—there’s a lot I like about the Squier Affinity Telecaster. But, isn’t there something with a bit more class? A little more quality.
If a top-of-the-range Telecaster costing approx $2,000 is still out of budget. There’s a compromise in the way of the Fender Player Telecaster.
Consider the Player series a middle ground between a Squier and an American-built Fender. A Mexican-built Player is a step up from a Squier. They offer heightened craftsmanship and build quality. But they are more affordable than American-built Fenders.
A quick look at the spec list shows it has a lot in common with a Squier, but here are a few upgrades on the Player Telecaster.
- The Player Telecaster is home to Player Series Alnico 5 Tele Single-Coil pickups. The Player series pickups are of excellent stock. You can expect a more refined tone from the upgraded pickups.
- The Player version of a Tele has the same alder body. But the gloss finish is different. Gloss urethane finish offers a less synthetic look with added protection.
- You’ve got the option of a pau ferro fretboard. This is a silkier experience than laurel on the Squier.
On the whole, the Fender Player is the ideal compromise. All the tone and charm of a Tele without the American-built price tag. For just over double the price of a Squier, the Fender Player is a big boost in quality.
Squier Affinity Telecaster Vs Squier Affinity Stratocaster
For a similar price, you could opt for the Squier Affinity Stratocaster. This isn’t a scenario where one is better than the other. Both options have a similar build quality.
There are also many similarities in dimensions. The scale length and neck radius are identical on both guitars. So what are the key differences?
- The Strat design came after the Telecaster. While the Tele body is a bold block of wood. The Strat features contoured curves. Some find this to be sleeker and more comfortable.
- The country twang is native to Telecasters. But the Strat does a clean tone like no other. The ‘Strat’ pop and snap is hard to replicate on any other guitar.
- While the Tele has 2 pickups, the Strat has 3. This means that the Strat has more switches and tone combinations. This doesn’t make the Strat more versatile. In fact, the Tele is responsive to dial changes. The Strat has many different colorations of the ‘Strat’ sound.
Whether you opt for a Strat is down to preference. Let tone be your guide on this one.
Squier Affinity Telecaster Vs Epiphone Les Paul 100
Now, this is a fascinating shootout.
The Squier Affinity Telecaster and Epiphone Les Paul 100 both have a similar price. Both are so cheap, you’ll have to expect imperfections.
Beyond price, they are different in so many ways. The body-style suit will appeal to very different people.
A practical factor to help you decide is that the Les Paul has humbucker pickups. This means they’ll handle higher gain.
Are you more Slash or Keith Richards? Do you like high octane rock-n-roll or prefer sweet-sounding country songs? If you sway to the latter then stick with Tele.
Otherwise, the Les Paul is your affordable rock and roll machine. If this is you, a word of wisdom. The Les Paul is heavier than most so prepare yourself with a good strap.
The Bottom Line
With a budget of around $200, it’s tricky to find a guitar that’ll perform.
At this price, a guitar will not be perfect. But no guitar is. So it’s about making the most of what you’ve got. Remember, a thousand buck guitar doesn’t make your skillset any better.
So, should you go for the Squier Affinity Series Telecaster?
For starters, you’re getting a brand new, untouched guitar for dirt cheap. And one that mirrors a classic with vintage styling and sound.
It’s affordable enough for beginners and it has a foundation upon which you can upgrade. For a handy casual guitar for off-the-cuff playing and laying down some licks on a demo recording, it’ll meet your demands.
Beyond its shortcomings, there’s a lot to like about this guitar. The truth is it’d be difficult to find a better one in this price range.
So, I hope you now know whether Squier Tele is right for you. Good luck and happy playing.