Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster Custom II

So the Stratocaster is gone. I don’t miss the guitar really since I didn’t enjoy playing it, but certain parts of its design I do miss. I liked the belly cut and forearm cut. It had a nice neck with a nice rosewood board. And I loved that vintage white colour with the 3 ply pickguard. But because of that one volume knob it’s gone. Well not really just because of that knob. I wasn’t a fan of a few things on that guitar; you can read my “Why I Don’t Like the Stratocaster” post for the reasons if you’re

 

interested in my ramblings.

 

I did some looking around and some researching and narrowed it down a bit. I Tooke one last look on Kijiji and saw a Squier Vintage Modified Tele Custom II for $250 with a hard case. I decided to go look at it and ended up picking it up. It’s black with the big black pickguard and a maple neck and maple fretboard. I’d never had a maple board guitar, so thought it would be something to try.

 

This is a good guitar. Like I said it has the maple neck and board, black probably basswood body with that big-ass pickguard. It is a string through body which some say isn’t technically a hardtail, but I like the bridge on this guitar. Nice and smooth to rest your palm on and muting is really easy. It has the same control layout as an LP, a pretty high quality switch on the upper bout and 2 tone and 2 volume knobs for the pickups. The neck on this guitar is good and straight, some wear on the back, a few dings and stuff. one scratch on the back of the body but otherwise looks great. The tuners seem good. The Strat had vintage tuners, where you put the string in the hole in the middle of the tuner and wrap it, this just has regular tuners. As with all of my guitars I’d like to change them out for locking tuners and it will always be something I will do in the future and never actually get around to.

 

The pickups in this guitar are really good. The reason I wanted the Custom II is it has Duncan Designed P90’s…and I love P90’s. These are quieter and sound clearer than the P90’s in my Epiphone Les Paul Special. The Epi sounds a big grittier but this one breaks up nicely and is way quieter when it comes to hum.

 

On a sidenote, I’ve always wondered what the hell Duncan Designed meant. Does someone from Seymour Duncan call the Squier plant in Indonesia and say “Hey, take a magnet and wrap some wire around it.” There you go, Duncan Designed. Anyway.

 

I had gone out and played a Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster, everyone raves about this guitar. The fit and finish were great on it, the sound was great and price was crazy. Why am I going to pay $600 for a Squier when I can pay $680 for a Fender Modern Player, or $500 or less for a used Fender MIM? One of those things I don’t understand and I have wandered off topic as usual.

 

Bottom line is I really like this guitar. I took off all the strings, contrary to many people’s advice and cleaned it up significantly. It was dusty and dirty and had obviously been played quite a bit. But the frets are in good shape and it looks great now. I thought the switch needed to be replaced, but I took it apart and cleaned it up and it works great. Good metal switch that feels solid. It’s a small thing but many cheaper guitars have a switch that feels like its spring loaded and always wants to return to middle. This switch has 3 distinct positions and is very solid. I might switch out the knobs, but that’s just an aesthetic thing. The ones on there are fine, the plastic kind of thin tall knobs that I think they say are Fender amp knobs. Like I said fine but I might switch ‘em out for chrome knobs. Also the input jack is really good, not cheap like most I’ve encountered. The nut hasn’t come loose, seems like all parts are metal. It just feels solid.

 

Most importantly the guitar sounds great. Even though it’s P90 pickups the bridge has that clear Tele sound. I’ve gone from hating bridge pickups to staying mostly on a tele bridge pickup, which is a very bright sounding pickup. It is an easy player with good action. Even though I’m not a big fan of 25.5” scale length this guitar feels comfortable to play. In my unscientific and questionable experience I think it’s because of the hardtail bridge, you can hold the guitar a little further back so the neck doesn’t feel as far away. I’d still like to pick up a 24” Mustang or Jag though…one day.

 

This guitar is definitely a keeper for the time being. My biggest complaint is the black colour, which of course is not a real issue. And I’ve decided I prefer a rosewood fretboard to maple. People say rosewood vs. maple produce different tone, or that maple is better because the wood is sealed so the upkeep is easier. All I know is I think rosewood looks better and it’s what I’m used to. If I played 2 guitars, 1 maple and 1 rosewood without looking I’m sure I couldn’t tell the difference which is why I’m counting this as an aesthetic preference. Please feel free to tell me why I’m wrong about this.

 

I do want to say here that I have played a lot of Squier’s and a lot of Epiphone’s. It seems to me like Epiphone’s are almost always pretty good to great and that Squier almost always knocks them out of the park. I went through a lot of phases during this process. I had a limited budget and went from saving up for a ‘real’ Fender to buying a new Squier or even a Yamaha I’ve considered to buying a used Squier so I could get a bass as well. Having played the Fenders and Squier’s a lot I just don’t see the quality difference. I know there are differences, but for a hobbyist like me the Squier’s are great playing guitars. And lots of people gig with Squier’s and Epi’s so they don’t have to risk their expensive guitars getting stolen or damaged. Like I mentioned above I think the problem Fender will run into is with the high-end Squier’s. When the cost of a high-end Squier is comparable to a low end Fender I know which way I’d go and there is no rational reason for it…it’s just having that Fender on the headstock.

Why I Don’t Like the Stratocaster

I’ve been hacking away at the guitar off and on since my teens. Last year I decided the kids were getting old enough that I could dedicate some time to a hobby and decided to get back into guitar, take some lessons and see where things went. Since there is way more information now than there was when I first started buying gear I did some reading and decided to get some new stuff. I still had my first electrics but decided I wanted something new and possibly better than my old gear.

 

The research I was doing made me realize that I am fascinated by guitar gear, and I started watching all kinds of YouTube channels and reading lots of guitar sites. The one thing I knew for certain was I would not buy a strat, it just seemed like the most boring and vanilla choice. To me it felt like being on a car lot with every possibility out there and going directly for the Honda Civic….nothing wrong with it, but why get the most obvious and practical choice?

 

So after researching for who knows how many hours, playing a ton of guitars I settled on…..a strat. To be specific a Squier Vintage Modified 70’s Strat in vintage white. I read about this guitar, I watched YouTube vids about this guitar, I loved how it looked. I started to want to be a part of the tradition of the Strat….good enough for Hendrix and Frusciante so who am I, just some idiot, to argue?

 

Then the worst case scenario happened. I decided to pull the trigger…I am not exaggerating, the very day I was going to buy it I looked it up one last time and it had gone up by nearly $100. Canadian dollars, but still….out of principle I was not paying $100 more than it was the day before. I just wouldn’t do it. So, deciding to start over I went back to the music store, where they never even carry this guitar to start looking. Guess what I found….a Squier Vintage Modified 70’s Strat in vintage white that had not been marked up yet. Oops, sorry music store. It’s an independent store I was at, sales guy brought it up to the counter for me, the owner was there and rang it up and asked the sales guy right in front of me why the price hadn’t been fixed yet. But they honoured it, and I was the happy owner of a new strat. Yes, a Squier but c’mon, I’m no headstock snob. I’m not in a band; I play at home, in my basement when I can grab an hour after the kids go to bed. I’m just an average amateur guitarist…but I like it, and I liked this guitar….for awhile.

 

So what happened to my love of this guitar? Well, I was overlooking some things that took me awhile to realize I didn’t like. This is a vintage spec guitar, so no tone on the bridge pickup. I didn’t often play the bridge in the past…now I have an amp with an aux in, a Vox AV15, so I started playing with backing tracks. With backing tracks you do more stuff, like use the bridge pickup. No tone, and I don’t like the way it sounds…so one strike against this guitar.

 

Second strike against this guitar, the stupid volume knob. I hate the placement of the volume knob, to me it makes no sense. I have kind of small hands, and while this may qualify me to be President of the United States, it makes it difficult to play a strat. I’ve read that many people don’t like this, but I don’t just not like it, I hate it. If I try to palm mute I just can’t do it on this guitar. I know what you’re saying and I agree, it’s my technique, blah blah blah. But I’m fighting with this guitar, other guitars don’t do this and so I am right. Kids, don’t care why other people don’t like stuff, just say I’m an idiot and move on.

 

The third strike, and many of you will think this is even dumber than the volume knob is this. My old guitar was an Epi Les Paul Standard. 24.75” scale. I know, I’m Canadian so I should state the scale length in centimeters, but that’s not how we roll up here. An inch is an inch, a foot is a foot and a mile is a kilometer. Accept it. Anyway, the scale length of the strat is 25.5”…I would never have thought this was an issue, and to be honest when I played my LP the neck actually felt longer and further away. But this was due to some other things I’ll mention in my Les Paul article. Again, I digress. I don’t like the 25.5” scale length. I sound picky, but when I try to chord on the first fret of my strat, especially an A# barre chord, or even a B flat barre chord I really notice it and don’t like it.

 

I know that the first 2 issues stated above can be fixed. I could wire the bridge to the tone control. I could order a new pickguard without the volume knob hole and have a master volume and master tone, the way I think it should be. I could even do this and just leave the hole on the pickguard but I don’t wanna. To be honest I have the itch. I’m not happy with the guitar and want a change. So this guitar is going. And I’m absolutely sure that one day I’ll cave and buy another strat, everyone has a strat. But I read Rich Menga’s site and he says not everyone is meant to play a strat and that people expect too much from a strat and he is absolutely right.

 

So the Strat is up for sale, and I’m debating several new guitars to replace it, which I’ll write about when it happens. Strats are iconic and great guitars. Strats in general, or maybe this model in particular, just don’t agree with me. There are other guitars I want to try and to own. I’ll get tired of them and move on as well. This seems to be the way of people who play electrics.

 

 

Please comment and let me know what you think of strats, where I’m wrong and why I’m an idiot who knows nothing, I can take it. Also if you prefer some model other than strats let me know about that as well. This post is way too long. I’d apologize, but It’s my post and if you read this far you have no reason to complain. I think it’s the single best thing ever written on the Internet, so there. Actually it’s too long, I probably wouldn’t be reading this far down if I were you. I’ll try to keep other posts shorter. Thanks for sticking with it, and really please do let me know what you think below.