brand perception of Gibson vs Epiphone and Fender vs Squier

beninma

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...........

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.
 

Downsman

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This may or may not be related to the question, but I've often found myself wishing Fender hadn't chosen "Squier" as the name for their budget line, simply because I think it's a terrible name for a company. It just looks like someone spelled Squire wrong. That and it doesn't have any history as an actual guitar maker, though maybe it's an exciting name if you're really into the history of strings.

I wish Fender had done what Gretsch did with their Streamliner and Electromatic lines. There are all kinds of ways of telling the different budget levels apart. Nobody who knows about guitars will see my G5420 and think it's a pro series one, but they'll know it's a Gretsch, because it is a Gretsch. And while it's a great guitar with Gretsch on the headstock, it isn't stopping me wanting a 6120 some day.
 

Si G X

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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

That kind of makes my point, none of those things make them fundamentally a different guitar.

Nut sizes and neck profiles are different across all fender guitars, there have been squiers with really fat (to me anyway) necks, I've owned japanese Fenders with very narrow and thin necks, smaller than that squier probably.

Gibson has different neck profiles and nut sizes too, that's not what makes them different to Epiphone is it?

If one of the main differences between Fender and Squier is 'the switch feels different' then they aren't that different are they? ... well compared to Gibson/Epi anyway, which is the point I was making.
 

beninma

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That kind of makes my point, none of those things make them fundamentally a different guitar.

Nut sizes and neck profiles are different across all fender guitars, there have been squiers with really fat (to me anyway) necks, I've owned japanese Fenders with very narrow and thin necks, smaller than that squier probably.

Gibson has different neck profiles and nut sizes too, that's not what makes them different to Epiphone is it?

If one of the main differences between Fender and Squier is 'the switch feels different' then they aren't that different are they? ... well compared to Gibson/Epi anyway, which is the point I was making.

I mean this is TDPRI.. those things do matter, and more than a lot of other things. They don't make the Squier not qualify as a Strat or Tele but they can make a player really dislike the Squier version and they are things that jump out at you immediately when you pick up a Squier after playing a MIM/MIA guitar a long time.

String spacing at the nut and stuff like that are things players get really attached to/used to. Particularly if you're finger picking/hybrid picking this makes the Squiers the worst choice for some people, and those people will be most likely to prefer the MIA guitars. It's a dumb thing Fender does but they do it. You can even go to Fender's site and they list out the specs and they're different. Neck carves are the same thing.

I don't know if the Epiphones and Gibsons have different string spacing, but string spacing and/or the bridge feeling different are more significant changes IMO than things like Epiphones having different headstock angle.

Cheap switches are an issue on some guitars as they make it more likely the switch doesn't stay put if you're playing the guitar hard. Maybe more of a concern on a Strat but on a Tele cheap switches tend to not want to stay put in the middle position.

The weird thing is there are other brands that have strange things that seem cheap even on expensive guitars once you get used to Fender. PRS pots to me feel dirt cheap even though they're not. They're so smooth and low friction they feel cheap and hard to adjust on the fly while you're playing. If I bought a PRS I'm sure I'd get used to it but it's still something that really, really stands out picking one up.
 

chris m.

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The companies are certainly trying to follow market segmentation and Branding 101 concepts. They want Fender and Gibson USA to be perceived as high quality products worth laying out more $$. They want the "Custom Shop" branding to command even higher $$. They don't want lower cost options that they offer in their other segments to push down the price of their higher segment offerings. They also totally understand that the country of origin not only affects the price, and possibly the quality, but greatly affects customer perception.

All of this is classic market segmentation that allows you to vacuum up every customer so that you can sell them something, hopefully at the highest price you can squeeze out of them. It's the same reason why Toyota invented the Lexus brand.

So you take all this marketing and you combine that with the Internet and you end up with all kinds of customer perceptions and beliefs. At the same time, someone could in theory look at the quality-- craftsmanship and component quality of various guitar models, regardless of brand and price, and possibly come to some reasonably objective conclusions regarding what you get for your money.

If you ask me, the marketers are getting crazy. They have chopped their brands into so many segments!
 

teletail

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It's just a fact that Squier was rolled out as a budget instrument. That affects perception. They do use cheaper parts, that's a fact too. Whether their Mexican and American brethren are worth the extra cost is opinion.

Epiphone was it's own respected brand before Gibson bought them, so they had a previous reputation. They are nice guitars and I've owned several, but they are not, in my opinion, in the same class as Gibson.
 

Si G X

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I mean this is TDPRI.. those things do matter, and more than a lot of other things. They don't make the Squier not qualify as a Strat or Tele but they can make a player really dislike the Squier version and they are things that jump out at you immediately when you pick up a Squier after playing a MIM/MIA guitar a long time.

String spacing at the nut and stuff like that are things players get really attached to/used to. Particularly if you're finger picking/hybrid picking this makes the Squiers the worst choice for some people, and those people will be most likely to prefer the MIA guitars. It's a dumb thing Fender does but they do it. You can even go to Fender's site and they list out the specs and they're different. Neck carves are the same thing.

I don't know if the Epiphones and Gibsons have different string spacing, but string spacing and/or the bridge feeling different are more significant changes IMO than things like Epiphones having different headstock angle.

Cheap switches are an issue on some guitars as they make it more likely the switch doesn't stay put if you're playing the guitar hard. Maybe more of a concern on a Strat but on a Tele cheap switches tend to not want to stay put in the middle position.

The weird thing is there are other brands that have strange things that seem cheap even on expensive guitars once you get used to Fender. PRS pots to me feel dirt cheap even though they're not. They're so smooth and low friction they feel cheap and hard to adjust on the fly while you're playing. If I bought a PRS I'm sure I'd get used to it but it's still something that really, really stands out picking one up.

Agreed and I'm not saying the differences don't matter, especially to players... I'm just saying that the differences between Gibson and Epi are the reason they have a different brand perception.

Made in USA being the biggest and obvious one, they go on about it all the time. Gibson Made in USA. .. and the Headstock shape, very obvious difference. The finishing, the way they are made... Gibson highlight all that stuff use it to highlight the differences between an 'Authentic' Gibson and an Epiphone. They even make videos about that 'wrapping the binding' nonsense that Gibson do 'the old way' .. they love all that stuff.

Either intentionally or accidentally .... it's just not the same with Fender/Squier (that's my perception anyway) ... it might be because Squier started as 'The Squier series by Fender' or because they don't go on about the differences so much? I don't know?

...I don't know maybe it's just a price thing, there's about £200 difference between a CV tele and a Player tele here and probably about £800 difference between a Gibson junior and an Epiphone junior.

That huge price difference seems like a 'different' product and Gibson seem keen to suggest that it is.

While the Fender price difference seems more like 'the next range up' of the same brand and appear happy for people to see it that way.

I say 'seems' intentionally because this is about perception. It might not be 'right' but it's the perception I have. ... and if it's not the perception they want people to have then maybe they should do something about it. :D
 

INFANT

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I’ve had Epiphones and Gibsons and I found that once it was set up properly and some electronic tweaks, the Epiphones felt and played every bit as good as any Gibson I’ve owned and still cost a crapload less. As for Fenders, I only own MIA and MIM Fenders, no Squiers.
 

chris m.

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Let's look at Fender Telecasters. They have multiple segments within the Squier, MIM, and Fender USA lines. There seems to be some overlap between MIA and MIM, but not so much between Fender and Squier....




Most expensive Tele listed on the Sweetwater website:

upload_2021-11-2_9-38-1.png


Most expensive, non signature artist, non Custom Shop on their website:

upload_2021-11-2_9-39-47.png


Here's where the overlap starts. A Brad Paisley signature Tele is MIM and costs $1,449--

upload_2021-11-2_9-44-18.png


Meanwhile an American made "American Performer" is cheaper at $1,349.99

upload_2021-11-2_9-45-35.png


This American Performer is $1,299--

upload_2021-11-2_9-46-22.png


This Vintera is almost the same price at $1,199, but it is MIM, not MIA--

upload_2021-11-2_9-47-24.png



It looks like the cheapest MIM Tele these days is the "Fender Player", which now clocks in around $799.99. I remember when it was more like $499...

upload_2021-11-2_9-49-31.png

There's a pretty big gap between the cheapest MIM Tele and the most expensive Squier (in this case an Esquire), so it seems that they are really trying to separate the brand segments by a fair price, unlike the overlap within the MIA and MIM Fender line....

upload_2021-11-2_9-52-57.png
upload_2021-11-2_9-36-51.png
upload_2021-11-2_9-38-1.png
upload_2021-11-2_9-39-47.png
upload_2021-11-2_9-44-18.png
upload_2021-11-2_9-45-35.png
upload_2021-11-2_9-46-22.png
upload_2021-11-2_9-47-24.png
upload_2021-11-2_9-49-31.png
upload_2021-11-2_9-50-56.png
upload_2021-11-2_9-52-57.png
 

fowlermike54

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A recent thread about Gibson that got a huge number of replies got me thinking about something. As a newbie to the world of guitars (about a year and a half) and a couple of guitar forums, it seems like many people think of Squier as an entry level Fender. And this makes sense, they are made by the same parent company. But it also seems like people don't see the same dnynamic between Gibson and Epiphone (or at least if they don't, the tone of conversations about those guitars doesn't show it).

Does anyone else notice this? If so I'm really curious as to why. Is it just because of the brand perception of the parent company?

If I'm the only one that sees it this way then I can just see myself out o_O[/QUOTE
Reminds me of the line in MC5’s “American Ruse” where he laments about “crummy cars, cheap guitars.” Cheap and inexpensive are not necessarily the same. Quality across Squier and Epi have both improved significantly since the Asian factories are automated and under more supervision. Epi has certainly made an effort to improve their newer lines and Squier’s CV series has lots of fans. I remember a guy on YouTube, who I don’t see anymore, who played Squiers exclusively and loved them. I think the answer to the original question is that while Squier and Epi are “lesser” models of their parent, the differences within each brand don’t line up in a linear way. S & E are probably all an amateur really needs unless they just want to have the “real” thing.
 

beninma

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Agreed and I'm not saying the differences don't matter, especially to players... I'm just saying that the differences between Gibson and Epi are the reason they have a different brand perception.

Made in USA being the biggest and obvious one, they go on about it all the time. Gibson Made in USA. .. and the Headstock shape, very obvious difference. The finishing, the way they are made... Gibson highlight all that stuff use it to highlight the differences between an 'Authentic' Gibson and an Epiphone. They even make videos about that 'wrapping the binding' nonsense that Gibson do 'the old way' .. they love all that stuff.

Either intentionally or accidentally .... it's just not the same with Fender/Squier (that's my perception anyway) ... it might be because Squier started as 'The Squier series by Fender' or because they don't go on about the differences so much? I don't know?

...I don't know maybe it's just a price thing, there's about £200 difference between a CV tele and a Player tele here and probably about £800 difference between a Gibson junior and an Epiphone junior.

That huge price difference seems like a 'different' product and Gibson seem keen to suggest that it is.

While the Fender price difference seems more like 'the next range up' of the same brand and appear happy for people to see it that way.

I say 'seems' intentionally because this is about perception. It might not be 'right' but it's the perception I have. ... and if it's not the perception they want people to have then maybe they should do something about it. :D

Well you are on to something. I don't even know what the deal is with Gibson string spacing, nut width, neck carves, etc.. they don't really emphasize that stuff so much maybe?

A lot of the things that Gibson goes on and on about are things that a lot of us don't really think matter but that the well heeled Gibson target customer seems to care about. They're not really selling the Gibsons as having functionally superior features that make you play better, at least I don't seem to pick up on it from their marketing.

I could care about Nitrocellulouse lacquer painfully aged in a lot of the bizarre processes that Gibson seems happy to use to tack $1000, 2000, 5000 onto the prices.

You can't really convince me the expensive more fragile finish on a Gibson is going to make me play better or make my playing experience better.

Binding on the Gibson and none of the Epiphone? If the Epiphone has the unbound neck make mine the Epiphone please.

Fender does some of those same types of finishes but doesn't present them as the end-all/be-all that makes a guitar authentic or whatever.
 

Long Tom Cash

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Here is my take on why the dynamic is different for Squier vs Epiphone. I bought a new '86 Squier as it was all I could afford at the time. A salesman got down from the wall a MIA and a MIJ strat in the same color and showed me how the strings on the MIA strat did not line up with the pickups as well as it had some other problems while the MIJ strat did not seem to have any problems. The store only carried one model of Squier and it came in black or white. As others have mentioned the electronics were not as good as the MIA (some years later I replaced the pickups and 5 way switch) but they seemed to have been made with a mix of leftover Fender branded hardware and Squier hardware (mine had Fender Schaller tuners). They also had the large tremolo blocks. The 80's Squiers were an affordable alternative to the MIA models. For a period of time I continued to think that way.

Fast forward to the late 90's and early 2000's. Every time I went into my local music store I would take a look at the new Squiers. While they were constructed better than my first guitar, a 70's Sears plywood body strat, and were very affordable, I would have only bought one if I was just starting out and could not afford a better guitar. The MIM strats were priced about the same as what I paid for that '86 Squier and to me seemed nicer. In 2011 I bough my Telecaster after looking at every Tele in the store from their selection of Squiers to MIA deluxe models and everything in between. I settled on a MIM FSR that to me at its price point was the best value with the features I was looking for and if I didn't like the pickups, turners, or bridge, or whatever, I could change it and still be under the cost of a MIA model. The only things I've done to it is change the brass saddles to brass Fender Hot-Rod saddles and replace the tortoiseshell pick-guard with a black one.

Fast forward some more and now there is a whole range of Squiers and while some of the newer models are very nice and I would consider them to be fine guitars in their own right, my first reaction when I see or someone mentions a Squire is no longer the same as it was in the 80's, as a good alternative to a MIA fender, but now as just an entry level or beginners guitar.

When it comes to Epiphone, as many have mentioned, Gibson decided to continue the production of original USA made Epiphone models like the Casino, Sheraton, and Riviera. That in itself definitely affects the dynamics. Two additional things that I think affects the dynamics are that while there are multiple Squier models of Strats and Teles, there seems to be only one or model of Epiphone per Gibson model. The second is that an Epi version costs about as much as a high end Squire or low end MIM model.

In 2007 I could not afford to buy a Gibson ES 335 so I looked at a Korean Epiphone Dot and Korean Sheraton II as substitutes. I don't know if the Dot is a 335 clone but the Sheraton II has its own identity. I ended up buying the better built Sheraton II. Fast forward a few more years and after moving production to China, Epiphone now makes an ES 335 clone but as far as I know they just make the one model. They also started making an ES Lucile model. I've looked at several Epi ES 335's and if I did not already own my Sheraton II I would probably buy one.

Epi seems to make a corresponding model of Les Paul and SG, e.g., deluxe, standard, junior, studio, and others but since Les Pauls and SG's don't seem to come in several dozens of models and configurations like Fender I have not noticed anything like a low priced Epi Les Paul deluxe, a mid priced deluxe, and a high priced deluxe. I have not tried any of Epi Gibson clones other than the ES 335 but for the price they look like they are not just higher end beginner guitars but also an acceptable alternative for those that can't afford the real thing.
 
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ChicknPickn

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Honestly, it depends. The Epiphone Masterbuilts are equal to Gibson’s in my mind - when my buddy worked at the Gibson Custom Shop, he said that a lot of Masterbuilts started out as Gibson’s that didn’t cut the mustard because of cosmetic issues and were then refinished and the headstock was reshaped.

Then there are Epiphones like the Sheraton and Casino that are holdovers from when Epiphone was its own company - there are no Gibson equivalents.

With all that being said, I think that the cheap Squiers that are being produced today are probably built a little better than the cheap Epiphones.

Yeah, Masterbilts have been super values. I'm not sure how Epiphone makes decisions about which designs will be manufactured in the coming year, but right now, the offerings are fewer than they've been in several years. My Masterbilt EF-500RCCE fingerstyle guitar was my choice a couple of years ago after a couple of days playing just about everything Guitar Center had in inventory. Compared it to Taylor, Martin, Gibson, Collings. Had the money to get what I wanted. I started paying more attention to the Epiphone line at that point.
 

985plowboy

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Honestly, it depends. The Epiphone Masterbuilts are equal to Gibson’s in my mind - when my buddy worked at the Gibson Custom Shop, he said that a lot of Masterbuilts started out as Gibson’s that didn’t cut the mustard because of cosmetic issues and were then refinished and the headstock was reshaped.

I’d be curious to know what specific model guitars this would be possible on.
It seems a bit far fetched to me.
 

Whitebeard

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I have not read all the posts responding to yours so mine may be redundant. Epiphone was formerly a stand alone brand that competed with Gibson. They made a full line of guitars that were comparable to Gibson's in quality. One of the famous rock and roll players was John Lennon who played an Epiphone Casino. Jazz guitarist Joe Pass played an Epiphone Emperor. Gibson acquired Epiphone in 1957 and continued maker high quality models but eventually turned it into a sort of entry level Gibson with the exception of a few select models that have remained favorites of many guitarists. The Casino (USA Collection) is $2,999.00, the Frontier (USA Collection) is $3,999.00 and the Texan (USA Collection) is $2,799.00. I don't know when they stopped making the high end archtop jazz models. Here's a 1956 when Epiphone was still Gibson's competitor. Epiphone Deluxe Electric Cutaway 1956 Natural | Southside Guitars | Reverb
 

mrBun

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A recent thread about Gibson that got a huge number of replies got me thinking about something. As a newbie to the world of guitars (about a year and a half) and a couple of guitar forums, it seems like many people think of Squier as an entry level Fender. And this makes sense, they are made by the same parent company. But it also seems like people don't see the same dnynamic between Gibson and Epiphone (or at least if they don't, the tone of conversations about those guitars doesn't show it).

Does anyone else notice this? If so I'm really curious as to why. Is it just because of the brand perception of the parent company?

If I'm the only one that sees it this way then I can just see myself out o_O

I can't speak for Squiers, but I own a bunch of Fender guitars from vintage to custom shop to your garden variety AmStads. But I'm old and when I started collecting, the criteria was that it needed to be a sound/instrument I had admired growing up, so no duplicates... with the exception of a few strats ( a 68 I've had since my teens, a custom shop with noiseless pups and a Roland ready strat with aftermarket custom shop pups)

I own a fender reso that was made in China and had to throw a bunch of money at it to get it to a decent level. The difference seem to be in the quality of the hardware. Additionally, The wiring was attached to the body using sticky tape.

Gibsons, I own a few and they all have a slightly different character.. apart from some orange peel near the heel on my LP standard, the build quality is superb.

I bought an Epiphone Casino specifically because it was one of the iconic guitars of my youth. Hardware on my Korean model is not great...tuners are of poor quality and I fitted it with Lollar pups to give it some grease.
I bought my grandson a Sheraton that kinda mimicked my white falcon... again the hardware wasn't great and the top E string kept slipping off the bridge, so my luthier pleked it and got it working as advertised.

My limited experience seems to be about cheaper hardware. But a common stick can be made into a decent instrument with a fistful of money and the right luthier.
 

howardlo

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Biggest thing is a Gibson will hold resale value better if that’s important to you.

That argument always falls apart when you put it in dollars instead of percentages. If you buy an Epi LP new for $500 and have to sell it for 50% of that you are out $250. If you buy a new Gibson LP and then sell it do you think anyone is going to pay you enough for it that you are only going to be out $250?
 

hnryclay

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That argument always falls apart when you put it in dollars instead of percentages. If you buy an Epi LP new for $500 and have to sell it for 50% of that you are out $250. If you buy a new Gibson LP and then sell it do you think anyone is going to pay you enough for it that you are only going to be out $250?
I dont sell guitars but, I dont think you would lose more than a quarter of the value in dollars worth IF you hold it for a while. Honestly I buy used guitars 90 percent of the time, as it allows me to get more for my dollar. You would definately lose more than 250 dollars though as modern Gibsons are not viewed as vintage even after they are 20 years old by the collectors market. I say this as an owner of vintage and modern Gibsons.
 




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