I would struggle to make a similar list for Fender/Squier. .... what are the key stand out differences that aren't just price, set up, well dressed fret ends or whatever?
Unless it's changed recently (and it appears some of the most expensive Squiers may be changing):
- Squier has a narrower nut
- Squier has a different/thinner neck profile
- Squier has different spacing at the bridge (not as sure on this one)
- Squier routing is different, not compatible with MIM/USA electronics
- Squier electronics different/cheaper, pots feel different, switches feel different
I am not really getting how people are saying they can't tell a MIM and a Squier apart. They feel different enough I'm pretty sure I could tell blindfolded. I'd have to adjust my technique. Some of the Squier changes might be advantageous to younger beginners/people with smaller hands though, so it may be 100% intentional on Fenders part that the dimensions are slightly different.
I played the Paranormal Squier Cabronita Thinline last week and it was pretty awesome though. It needed a setup, but no worse than the last $3000 Gibson I picked up in the store. Pickups sounded great, never played a Tele with P-90s before and I really liked it. If I had bought it I think it would have taken me no more than an hour to nail the setup down, though who knows if the fretwork was actually good enough once the setup was dialed in.
The Paranormal one was different enough from a normal Tele that it hid the Squier/Fender differences I think though. It didn't have the normal Tele bridge or control plate so it was like playing a totally different guitar.
I do kind of get the whole "why get MIM vs Squier" though. MIM has gotten a lot more expensive recently and it's kind of stuck in the middle. Some of the MIM Fenders are so expensive now they don't necessarily justify their price versus saving $400-500 with a Squier or paying $100-200 more for a MIA.