The Squier Vintage Modified is a surf guitar player's wet dream.
The guitar's beautiful appearance makes a mockery of its miniscule price tag. Only an early '60s-style matching headstock could improve on how this guitar looks.
Picking it up, it's immediately obvious just how good Squier guitars are getting. Having played one of the Chinese-made Fender Modern Player Strats, we have to say that the Squier feels almost identical.
You'd have to compare them for yourself to see if having the Fender nametag is worth the extra dough. As it is, only a few squinty screws in its scratchplate betray the Squier's budget origins.
There's not much you can say about a Strat that hasn't already been repeated a million times. We'll have a go, of course. This one has a basswood body in place of the classic alder, poplar or ash that you expect to see on more expensive models.
The bolt-on maple neck fills the palm nicely and it has an old-school gloss finish. 22 medium jumbo frets and a modern 9½-inch fingerboard radius make fretting chords and bending strings easy as pie. The original 'synchronized' vibrato wobbles nicely and returns to pitch more often than not.
The three (Seymour) Duncan Designed lipstick pickups are an obvious rip-off from the Danelectro school of guitar building. They look so good on this guitar that we can't stay mad at it for long.
The love grows when you plug the thing in. While the bridge pickup has a pleasing bite about it, just the thing for tremolo-propelled savagery, we actually prefer the middle pickup's punchy warmth for surf licks.
It works so well with reverb that we just can't bring ourselves to flick the switch to another position. Whack out an open E minor chord and wiggle that vibrato arm and you'll be in retro heaven.
The Surf Strat can raise hell, too - and is also a great blues guitar. The neck pickup is the business for Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan licks.
If you close your eyes you'd never know this was a budget instrument. Its tonal quality is really that great.
Look around and you'll bag one of these fine bunnies for little more than 250 clams. Run. Don't walk.