Well, the results are in. 124 people took our Squier Challenge, and while it’s not exactly science, we feel it’s still interesting. Here’s the breakdown.
As you can see , almost nobody got them all right (there were two people, either very discerning, very lucky, or both). A handful of folks got 3 or 4 of them right, but the overwhelming majority correctly identified fewer than half of the guitars. The average number of correct responses was 1.5.
So what does this mean? Does it mean that there’s no difference at all? Probably not. As several people pointed out, we tested these using a consistent, middle of the road setting; it’s possible that differences are more noticeable when you push the guitar to different extremes of tone or volume. Also the guitar is typically part of a guitar-cable-pedal-amp setup, and you may find that certain guitars work better in combination with a particular pedal and amp. Others wrote us to observe that people not only choose a guitar for its sound, but also the way it feels and plays, which you clearly can’t tell from a blind listening study.
However, these results also reveal something important, which is that opinions of an instrument’s quality have a lot to do with people’s expectations. This echoes two recent studies of Stradivarius violins, which found that even the best violinists in the world could not tell them apart from modern instruments based on just sound and feel. People know “Strads” are supposed to sound great, and so when somebody (especially a world-class musician) plays one, they think it sounds great and credit Stradivarius. In the same way people see a great guitarist playing a high-end Fender Stratocaster and think there’s no way that a low-end model can compare. If they know a Squier is considered cheap, they may perceive it as having a cheap sound.
In the end there isn’t a “right answer.” What matters is that you get an instrument that works for you. Let collectors worry about the name on the headstock – if it feels good when you play it, and you like the way it sounds, then it’s a good guitar. As Buddy Guy sings, “I go by feel.”
So now you know the scoop. With that in mind, check out an autographed Squier! And finally, in case you didn’t get to see them, here are the answers to the quiz.
Guitar 1: Mexican made Buddy Guy signature model polka dot strat
Guitar 2: Squier Affinity Series strat
Guitar 3: Buddy Guy’s personal polka dot strat (Fender custom shop) – no bright setting
Guitar 4: 1961 reissue
Guitar 5: Buddy’s polka dot, bright setting
Guitar 6: National acoustic