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Fender Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster Review - Best Value Strat

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Squier Classic Vibe 50s Strat

Squier Classic Vibe 50s Strat

Squier Classic Vibe 50s Strat

Squier Classic Vibe 50s electric guitar

The Buzz About the Squier Classic Vibe 50s Strat

The Fender Stratocaster, introduced in 1954, ranks as one of the most legendary guitars on the planet. With its sexy contoured body, ingenious vibrato unit and uniquely bright, quacky tone, it has come to be identified with a long list of guitar greats from Hendrix to John Frusciante. The recent release of the Squier Classic Vibe 50s has created quite a buzz amongst guitar heads, young and old alike and not without cause. For now, it is possibly the best value electric guitar available.

First Impressions - finish, fit, and playability

Straight out of the box, the CV50s strikes you as a particularly good looking and well crafted guitar. Any nervousness about the fact that it is crafted in China quickly evaporates when you pick this axe up and turn it over in your hands. From the sunburst tobacco finish to the vintage tinted maple neck, it speaks of quality. The fret work is impressive with no need for leveling to eliminate buzz or filing of protruding fret ends. The action is set to medium low in the factory and the guitar is strung with 9's. To play, the CV50's Strat is a joy and the feedback left on various music sites confirms that most players feel the same, comparing it favorably to much pricier guitars. The intonation set in the factory was spot on and the guitar stays in tune well even after wailing on it for hours. While not vintage accurate, Squier's claim to have created a guitar that reflects the era of early Strats is a fair one.

How Does the Classic Vibe 50s Strat Sound?

Fitted with Alnico III's, the tone is lively, warm and bright with plenty of quack when you need it. You might want to re-think it if intending to buy one as a project guitar and replace the pick ups- the stock p'ups deliver a very pleasing tone that can be overdriven with great results as well as offering beautiful, sparkling cleans with plenty of sustain. Unlike the pick ups on the cheaper models by Squier there is no harshness to the tone and they are dead quiet when not playing. For those who play metal or are addicted to the full hammer of humbuckers, perhaps the single coils won't cut it, but the CV50s is doing everything a Strat should in the sound department, and there is a vintage element to the tone.

Features of the Classic Vibe 50s Strat

  • Two piece alder body - particularly well matched with barely identifiable seams
  • 21 medium jumbo frets set in a tinted gloss maple neck with a 9.5" radius, C-profile
  • Fitted with a custom set of AlNiCo III pickups, 5 way selector
  • Quality vintage style chrome tuners, chrome hardware
  • Bridge: vintage style 6 saddle tremelo
  • Master volume and two tone controls

Negatives on the CV Strat

While there is not a great deal to target when looking for flaws there are a few small things to pick on, like the thick white pick guard, which would have looked so much nicer with a vintage parchment tint. If you like heavy gauge strings, 11's and up, you will need to fit better quality tremelo springs on the back to stop the bridge rising up. There have been a few reports of some of the CV50s Strats coming out of the factory with fret issues or unwanted knots in the alder body, but these represent a very small percentage of the feedback out there, most of which is glowing.

Overall It's Two Thumbs Up for the Squier Classic Vibe 50s

Squier has done an amazing job getting such a decent guitar out there in the marketplace for the price. The QC in the Chinese factories is impressive with a fit and finish that one came to expect only from much more expensive guitars. Those with an arsenal of guitars and a point of comparison are boldly stating that the CV50s Strat is superior to their MIM Strats (made in Mexico) and comes pretty darn close to their American Standard Strat. While the second part of that claim may be a stretch made by over-excited new owners, there is no doubt that Squier has released a beautiful guitar that can't be beaten for the price, which is currently around US$350 from Muscian's Friend and Music123. It's also available in Lake Placid Blue and Olympic White.

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Squier Classic Vibe 50s Body

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Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster


Headstock of Classic Vibe 50s


Your favorite guitar?


htodd from United States on October 16, 2011:

Great post..nice

Scott M (author) on March 23, 2011:

Agreed - I've had my classic vibe 50s strat for a year now and as a $350 guitar it stands up very well against my $5000 '74 Custom SG. It stays in tune ridiculously well even with use of the whammy and the pickups are dead silent and warm. Beautiful finish. Crazy value - a sensational guitar to learn on. Those clean bell tones are a nice compliment to the darker, woodier tone of my SG for layered guitar tracks when recording.

don on March 22, 2011:

fender classic vibe is ex all around guitar,the best mim strats are mid 90s hotter pickups same as USA models strats.vibe ex guitar

Scott M (author) on September 30, 2010:

Yeah I would never buy a guitar without playing it - I have a reallly decent one that compared well to much more expensive guitars- beautiful fretwork - great playability - but I've heard of others with rough finish and fert buzz. Cheers

Johnnie Black on September 30, 2010:

You can pick up these CV squiers for a steal on the second hand market! And I reckon they're much better than your average squier. Still, as with any Fender, it always pays to play the guitar before you buy it, their quality control is not always consistent.

Scott M (author) on September 13, 2010:

Thanks Charlie - checked your profile and read your hub - sound like a cool lifestyle. Enjoy the magic of playing what I think is one of the greatest instruments on the planet. I hope to keep playing till I drop dead, like the late great Les Paul. All the best brother! Shimla

Charlie Bee from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. on February 26, 2010:

Hey Shimla; nice job on this hub, brother! Your other hubs about gear are great too! Thanks for your comment about my first hub. I agree; it's nice to cross paths with fellow 'muso's'! Many years ago, I visited your FINE Country, and plan to return for a longer stay some time. Keep up the good work man! CHEERS! Charlie Bee.

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