In nearly every industry, big-name companies also own small subsidiaries. In the guitar world, the two main subsidiaries are Epiphone (owned by Gibson) and Squier (owned by Fender). These spinoff companies are great in their own right, but what makes these “budget” brands so much different from their more expensive parent company? In many cases, it simply boils down to which country the guitar was made in.
In my spare time, I run a small guitar repair shop, so I’ve had the pleasure of playing thousands of guitars, from top of the line American instruments, to no-name, “found in a dumpster” guitars. I and many others will echo that the brand of a guitar matters much less than how well it plays and sounds.
For those who are just starting out, affordability and playability should be the two determining characteristics. With a brand like Squier by Fender, you can celebrate in the fact that these cost-effective guitars are produced by the biggest guitar maker in the world.
With an acoustic guitar like the Squier SA-150, affordability and reputation come together. Marketed as a beginner guitar, the SA-150 is one of the most affordable acoustic guitars on the market today. Our Fender Squier SA-150 Acoustic Guitar review explores how this entry-level acoustic guitar is crafted so affordably.
Fender Squier SA-150 Beginner Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar
The Squier by Fender SA-150 is a bare bones acoustic guitar intended for first-time players or those who just want a cheap guitar to travel with. Crafted from all laminate woods, this acoustic is a great way to “test the waters” before shelling out more money for a higher tier guitar. I have personally seen dozens of parents pay big money for an acoustic guitar, only for it to get dusty in the closet after their kid loses interest.
The Squier brand has been a major part of Fender since the 1980s. Squier is known for affordable “copies” of more expensive Fender guitars, like the Stratocaster and Telecaster, but they also create their own models. Nearly all Squiers are made overseas, in China, Indonesia, or Korea.
What We Liked
- Easy to play
- Built by a reputable brand
- Simple to care for and travel with
What We Didn’t Like
- No case or gig bag included (unless you buy the bundle version)
- No accessories included (unless you buy the bundle version)
- All laminate construction
In the following sections, we’ll explore how the Squier by Fender SA-150 is constructed and whether it might be the right choice for you or your budding musician.
Laminate Woods – Is that Good?
When most people think of laminate, they think of flooring or countertops. So how does that fit in with a guitar?
Laminate is created by pressing together multiple thin layers of wood to make a solid final product. These woods could be as nice as Koa or as cheap as plywood. With the Squier SA-150, we’re told that it is constructed with a laminate lindenwood top and laminate mahogany back and sides. Mahogany has been used in musical instruments for hundreds of years, and it is known for its mellow, rich tone.
I wasn’t immediately familiar with lindenwood, but after a bit of research, I discovered that it is related to basswood (which is used in a lot of guitars) and it is nearly exclusive to budget Asian-made guitars. This doesn’t mean that lindenwood is a bad choice, only that it is an efficient material to craft an affordable guitar.
Expensive brands like Taylor and Martin often use laminate woods as their back and sides, so don’t write laminate off too quickly.
Maple Neck is the Choice of Pros
The Squier by Fender SA-150 takes a somewhat different approach, using a maple fretboard instead of walnut or laurel, as seen on other guitars in this price range. Maple has been used by Fender since their start, way back in 1946, and remains the top choice of professionals and amateurs alike. Typically, maple is used in its natural color on Fender electric guitars. With the SA-150, the maple fretboard has been stained, giving it a more luxurious appearance.
Dreadnought Body, Big Sound
The dreadnought body style, as used on the Squier SA-150, is known for producing a loud, rich, and powerful tone. It is the most common body style and a perfect “all-around” guitar. Chances are, you’re favorite rock, folk, indie, or country songs have featured a dreadnought guitar at least once. This time-tested guitar will feel right at home for most players and listeners.
The one thing to note is that the dreadnought can seem quite big, especially for a young player.
|Feature||Fender Squier SA-150 Specification|
|Top Material||Laminate Lindenwood|
|Back and Sides||Laminate Mahogany|
|Nut and Saddle||Plastic|
|Accessories||None (only with the bundle package)|
What Customers are Saying?
As to be expected with a guitar in the low-tier price range, the majority of buyers are first time guitarists. In most of the reviews, buyers had only positive things to say about the Squier SA-150, praising its ease of play, simple features, and tone.
One Fender Squier SA-150 Acoustic Guitar review said that an experienced teacher thought this acoustic was perfect as a first guitar.
However, with a guitar in this price range, sacrifices have to be made somewhere, and a few owners noted that the strings that come with the guitar are cheap and need to be replaced. A few buyers experienced a crack bridge (where the strings are held in), resulting in an unplayable guitar.
Finally, some buyers experienced poor quality tuning, reporting that the strings would not stay in tune for very long. This could be a result of old strings though.
Overall, the Squier SA-150 is a highly praised entry-level guitar, but buyers may want to have a set of new strings ready from the start, and to thoroughly inspect their new guitar upon arrival.
For a better look at the Squier SA-150, check out this video:
For the first time guitarists, having the right tools is critical for success. Luckily, Squier by Fender offers several different bundles with several accessories to help new players get started. These bundles include:
- New strings
- Gig bag
- Clip-on Tuner
- Trial membership to Fender Play
The Squier by Fender SA-150 acoustic guitar is also available in different color finishes, including black, sunburst, and natural.
For any serious guitarist, learning how to change strings is a must, so having a second pack is very helpful. If you choose to buy one of the bundles, having a clip-on tuner will surely become your favorite tool. Keeping your guitar in tune is absolutely critical for learning to play.
For budding musicians and parents looking for a no-frills acoustic guitar, the Squier by Fender SA-150 is sure to fit the bill. Easy to play and with great reviews, this acoustic is near the bottom rung in terms of price but backed by the quality standards of Fender.
As with any guitar in this price range, new strings may be necessary to help achieve a better tone, and there are a plethora of brands and types to choose from.