Squier Classic Vibe ’50s Strat Review: Winning Budget Strat with a Vintage Vibe

Picking a budget electric guitar isn't an easy task, I know. There are thousands of options out there, and the lists of specs get more and more extensive the deeper you dig. So how could you possibly pull the trigger on just one option?

Cue in: the Squier Classic Vibe '50s Strat — a mid-range Stratocaster that retains all the vintage goodies without sacrificing modern perks. Versatile, premium, and affordable, this powerhouse of an axe is everything you'll ever need when it comes to single-coil tones.

I put together an honest review of the Classic Vibe Strat to help you decide whether it's the right choice for you or not. But — spoiler alert — it probably is.

Squier Classic Vibe '50s Strat: Our Take

Squier Classic Vibe '50s Strat

Average Overall Rating: 4.8/5

What I love:

  • Sounds fantastic
  • Built to last
  • Versatile tones
  • Great playability

What could be improved:

  • No case/gig bag included


  • Body Material: Pine
  • Body Finish: Gloss Polyurethane
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Neck Shape: C
  • Fingerboard Material: Maple
  • Number of Frets: 21, Narrow Tall
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Pickups: Fender Designed AlNiCo Single-coil
  • Controls: 1 x master volume, 2 x tone
  • Switching: 5-way blade pickup switch

The Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster 50s earns an easy top spot on any list of the best beginner electric guitars — and for a good reason.

Celebrating the first Strats in Fender history, the Classic Vibe Strat is designed to keep all the vintage specs while also adding some key modern perks. Super playable, affordable, and premium, there's just no beating the Classic Vibe series.

But let's start with the basics. The Classic Vibe Stratocaster starts with a no-nonsense solid pine body. The finish is, of course, the fine gloss polyurethane that we all know and love.

You get a C-shaped maple neck and responsive maple fretboard, with a scale length of 25.5", 21 frets, and a rather narrow nut width. This makes for the perfect axe for a beginner or professional musician alike: lightweight, reliable, and just a delight to play.

The three pickups are Fender-designed Alnico single-coils, and a 5-way blade switch allows you to turn them on and off at will. And, of course, the two tone pots and master volume knob are right there too.

So... how does it actually play?

Well, in my honest opinion, there's no beating the Classic Vibe Stratocaster at this price range. The guitar just feels fantastic, providing a smooth playing experience as well as versatile tone controls.

Stratocasters don't need much to sound great — but there's always room to upgrade if you grow out of this one. And that's exactly what makes it a top choice for beginners too, as a reliable Strat will always be useful even years down the road.

And what about drawbacks?

It's hard to say that a guitar doesn't have any cons — but the Classic Vibe Stratocaster comes pretty close. The main thing to be aware of is that the case or gig bag is not included when you buy one of these.

And, naturally, even a great Strat may just not cut it for you if you're a big fan of Les Paul or other humbucker guitars. This is a bit too personal to consider it a proper drawback — but it's still worth mentioning.

Features of the Squier Classic Vibe '50s Strat

Squier Classic Vibe '50s Strat neck

Navigating the guitar world is no easy task — and even more so if you're a beginner.

And that's exactly why I decided to break down the Classic Vibe '50s Strat into four key aspects so you know exactly what you're getting, and just how good of a deal it is.

Overall sound - 5.0

We all know that there's no beating that timeless Strat sound — and boy does the Classic Vibe Strat deliver.

Three Fender-designed AlNiCo single coil pickups give you all the quintessential Strat tones, from creamy neck pickup to twangy bridge, plus the 5-way switch allows you to dial in everything in between, including the celebrated "quacky" tones of the in-between positions.

Versatile, warm, and yet able to cut through the mix like few other guitars, the '50s Stratocaster is the ideal choice for anyone who loves rock, pop, and other modern genres.

Of course, this might not be the sound for you if you favor heavier genres that might call for the humbucker tone. But it's all up to your personal preference!

Playability - 5.0

In terms of playability, the Squier '50s Stratocaster can only be defined as smooth and expressive.

The maple neck and tremolo bar are an absolute delight to play, and the tinted gloss urethane finish allows for fast, sweeping legatos that just feel right. Naturally, the scale length, nut width, and fretwork are all up to your personal preferences — but I found them very comfortable and easy to adapt to.

Yet one of the things I like the most about this great guitar is that it is playable right out of the box! Almost no setup is needed.

Build quality - 4.75

When dealing with budget guitars, you might think that build quality and tonewoods are the first aspects that take a serious hit. Luckily, that's not the case with the Classic Vibe series — made out of pine and maple, these things are built to last. The finish, whammy bar, and electronics are right on target too.

One of the only clues that this is a budget Strat is the selection of tonewoods used. Pine is a perfectly decent choice for a beginner guitar — but some might say it lacks the depth and resonance of alder, which is what you would typically find on a premium Fender Strat.

Price - 4.5

Price is obviously the most straightforward factor when buying any instrument, but that doesn't make it any less important!

In the case of the '50s Stratocaster, it's hard to find a better deal at this price point. For just under 500 dollars, you get an awesome guitar that looks as premium as it sounds — and that's not to mention the durability and versatility.

But there are some other guitars that come in at a lower price point with similar specs — although it's hard to find one that can truly stand up to the Classic Vibe Stratocaster.

What to Know Before Buying

Most guitar players know exactly what they want, and how they want it. But what if you're just starting out in the guitar world? There are thousands of options available, and picking just one can seem like an impossible task.

Well, the main thing to keep in mind when it comes to the Squire Classic is that it's the perfect choice for anyone looking for a reliable, versatile, and premium guitar that sounds and plays like a true Strat.

If you're a fan of heavier or more specialized genres that require the classic humbucker sound, then this one might not be for you.

But if you're after that classic rock, Jimi Hendrix/Stevie Ray Vaughan tone, then you just can't go wrong with this one.

Here are three key questions you should ask yourself before buying a Squier Classic Vibe Strat:

  • Am I looking for single-coil tones?
  • Can I afford a mid-range guitar?
  • Am I after a more definitive addition to my arsenal?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then the Classic Vibe Strat will fit right in! And if you're not quite sure yet, then don't worry — when it comes to beginner guitars, you can't go wrong with a Squier.

Alternatives to the Squier Classic Vibe '50s Strat

The Squier Strat 50s is a fantastic guitar, but it isn't the only option in the market!

I decided to include two other guitars so you at least know a few alternatives. Keep in mind, however, that these will vary in sound, as they're not single-coil–only guitars!

Squier Classic Vibe '50s Strat vs Yamaha Pacifica 112V

Yamaha Pacifica 112V

The Yamaha Pacifica 112V has earned quite a reputation for itself thanks to its unbelievable price and versatile sound. Some would even argue that the 112V is even more versatile than the Squier '50s Strat due to its two-single-coil, one-humbucker pickup configuration.

All in all, it's pretty similar to a Squier Stratocaster in terms of tonewood quality, reliability, and playability. But I'd only recommend going for the Pacifica 112V by Yamaha if you don't mind losing that single-coil bridge pickup in favor of heavier tones!

Squier Classic Vibe '50s Strat vs Epiphone Les Paul Studio

Epiphone Les Paul Studio

And, of course, if there's one brand that can truly rival Squier in pretty much all aspects, it's Epiphone. Its classic Les Paul Studio is a fantastic choice for people who want something at a similar price point to the Squier Strat but with all the added pros (and cons) of having humbuckers instead of single-coils.

If you usually play heavier genres or want a more jazz-focused tone, then a Les Paul Studio by Epiphone will give you a much richer experience. But again, it's all up to your personal preferences!

Final Verdict

Close up of the Squier Classic Vibe '50s Strat

All in all, the Squier Classic Vibe '50s Strat is a no-brainer first Strat for anyone who loves the single-coil sound but can't afford to break the bank too much. Affordable, versatile, and reliable, this absolute monster not only sounds great but also feels just right.

But if you aren't such a fan of the timeless Strat tone, then maybe something like the Yamaha Pacifica 112V or the Epiphone Les Paul Studio will suit you better. It's all up to personal preference in the end — but there's no denying that Squier really pulled its weight on this one!

Leave a Reply

The Frank Sinatra ‘Playboy’ Interview That Inspired Kris Kristofferson’s 1970 Hit “Help Me Make It Through the Night”