When most people think of the “best cheap Strat”, the name “Squier” usually comes up. And it’s frankly hard to argue against Squier as being the best cheap stratocaster guitar you can buy. But the Monoprice Indio gives it a good shot. If you professionally setup both guitars, I think the Indio runs a good race – but good setups aren’t cheap! I charge $70 for a guitar setup.
Right out of the box, playing without a setup, the Squier is usually going to win, though it too would benefit greatly from a setup. But a Fender Squier Affinity series costs $239 as I’m writing this. The Indio is about $100 when they’re not out of stock. If you add $70 for a setup, it’s still $60 cheaper than the Squier and in my opinion gives Squier a run for its money!
But I wanted to build a guitar that could beat the Squier AND not need further setup, without costing a penny more. I think I’ve done it. I call it the “Squier Slayer”!
Yes the neck, body, etc are from Asia – as are Squiers and many other guitar brands and models. But that doesn’t say anything about quality. Manufacturers in Asia will make products to your specifications – whether those specs call for cheap components or quality.
I wanted a good neck, decent tuner keys and well-machined screws for saddles and intonation, etc. I wasn’t too concerned about the finish quality, but I did want a lightweight, comfortable body. Well, the manufacturer listened! The bodies look like they’d had an acne problem before painting! But they’re lightweight, comfortable and the neck pockets fit the necks like a glove!
Tuner keys feel solid. No slippage. No slop. Setting string height feels like I’m working on an American Fender Stratocaster! The screws fit tightly. No worries about them vibrating loose and changing string height over time like I see on most cheap Stratocasters.
I always check frets for level, from E to e up and down the fretboard and on cheap Strats I often have to dress a fret or two. I’ve yet to come across a Squier Slayer neck that I’ve needed to dress a fret on. I do file the ends a bit smoother, though they’re pretty good as shipped to me.
So once all those basics are taken care of, I get to work on my mods. My intention isn’t really to compete with Squier but to compete with the Fender Stratocasters!
If you’re in the Tampa / St Pete area, make an appointment to come try one of these cheap Stratocasters out. Find more info and pics on my “Cheap Stratocaster” website! (I’m still working on that website, so wear a hardhat – it’s a construction area!)