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Squier Surfcaster

January 30, 2014
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FENDER’S SQUIER LINE MIGHT seem underrated, but a glance at some of the pros that use Squier guitars would make you wonder why. For instance, Telecaster master Chuck Prophet could certainly afford a standard model, but would never be parted from his Squier version. And Jon Cleary’s guitarist, Derwin “Big D” Perkins, said in a GP interview about his Squier Strat, “I bought that guitar for $79 and it was one of my favorites until I lost it in a storm. Ain’t nothin’ sounds like that Squier.”

The odds are good that a 1980s Los Lobos performance on Saturday Night Live made an impression on the designer of the Fender Squier Surfcaster. From its rosewood/maple neck joining a surf green body to the three lipstick-style pickups mounted on a pearloid pickguard, the Surfcaster is a dead ringer for the instrument David Hidalgo used on the song “Is This All There Is?”

It is unlikely that the body of Hidal- go’s guitar was also made of basswood, but the use of this extremely lightweight wood here will be welcomed by guitarists who toil over four or five sets. And any guitarist would also dig the warm, resonant, acoustic ring the basswood helped produce in our test model, even with the light factory strings.

The Surfcaster came nicely setup, with no fretting out or buzzing despite the low action. Bends worked beautifully all the way up the neck, and while the fret ends had a slight roughness that could be remedied easily enough, that didn’t affect the nice playing feel of this guitar. Whammy- bar fans will need to re-adjust the bridge, however, which comes seated fl at against the top.

Plugging into a Fender Blues Junior, Orange Tiny Terror, and Egnater Rebel 30, the “Duncan Design” moniker on the pick- ups proved to be no mere marketing ploy. These are some of the best sounding lip- stick-style pickups I have heard. The neck pickup put out plenty of tubular bluesy goodness, the middle unit provided the perfect chime for jangle-rock, and though alone it may prove too thin to create smooth, distorted fusion solos, the bridge pickup was ideal for reggae skank, slashing funk rhythms, and more aggressive lead tones. I also liked the silky overdrive sounds that were obtained by combining the middle and bridge pickups with the middle unit’s Tone rolled off. Kudos to Squier for making this position—and position four—hum canceling, a feature sometimes missing on higher priced instruments.

Japan, Korea, Mexico, China, and now Indonesia, have all produced Squier guitars that, while affordable for beginners, can also make roadworthy instruments for professionals. Whether you are a beginner or veteran, amateur or pro, if your bag is blues, reggae, funk, or, well, surf, this Squier is well worth trying out.

 
SPECIFICATIONS  
CONTACT    Fender Musical Instruments, fender.com
SQUIER SURFCASTER
PRICE     $499 retail/street price N/A
NUT WIDTH    1.65"
NECK    Maple, bolt-on 
FRETBOARD    Rosewood, 25 1/2" scale, 9.5” radius
FRETS    21
TUNERS    Vintage-style 
BODY    Basswood
BRIDGE    Vintage-style synchronized tremolo bridge
PICKUPS    Duncan Designed LS-102 single-coil lipstick-style pickups
CONTROLS    Volume, two Tone, 5-way switch
FACTORY STRINGS  Fender 250L, .009-.042 set
WEIGHT    6.7 lbs
BUILT    Indonesia
KUDOS   
Spanky vintage tone. 
Excellent playability. 
CONCERNS    None.
 
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