Squier Affinity vs. Classic Vibe Strat: Which Is Better?

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Are you deciding between a Squier Affinity Strat and the Squier Classic Vibe Strat? Both are excellent guitars and provide a lot of value for the money. But each one is suited for different types of players, and one may give you more room to grow as you develop your technique.

The Squier Affinity Strat is best suited for beginner guitar players, while the Squier Classic Vibe Strat has some features that appeal to intermediate players. Either guitar is a great introduction to the Stratocaster, but the Classic Vibe Strat is an excellent overall value and is our top pick.

This blog post will take a closer look at the differences between the Affinity and Classic Vibe Strats. Keep reading to find out which one is right for you.

The Squier Affinity Series

The Squier Affinity Series Strats are among Squier’s entry-level Strats and are a fantastic value. There is another beginner guitar below the Affinity Strat, the Bullet Hardtail Strat.

While the Bullet may appeal to budget-conscious buyers, the Affinity Series Strat will be closer in design to Fender’s iconic model with a tremolo at the bridge. We will focus on the Affinity and Classic Vibe Series for this blog post.

Affinity vs. Classic Vibe Comparison

There are a couple of things that we like better than the Classic Vibe Series in some ways.

The frets are medium jumbo instead of narrow tall, and the tremolo is a two-point system with block saddles instead of the six-point vintage tremolo.

The neck has a lighter, satin finish instead of the gloss finish on the Classic Vibe Series.

The tuning machines are now split-shaft machine heads, making restringing a little easier. And the production of the guitars seems to have moved from China to Indonesia. 

We should note that the pickups on the Affinity Series Strat are ceramic instead of alnico. Some of these differences will be a matter of preference more than anything else.

The Affinity Series Strat is a great buy and would be an excellent introduction to the Stratocaster if you don’t already have one in your guitar arsenal.

Strat bridge comparison: Squier Standard Strat (left), Fender Standard Strat (right)
Strat bridge comparison: Squier Standard Strat (left), Fender Standard Strat (right)

The Squier Classic Vibe Series

The Squier Classic Vibe Series Strat is well-suited for intermediate players. These guitars offer a great sound and come with a few upgrades that make them perfect for players looking for a bit more than what the Affinity Series offers. 

Classic Vibe vs. Affinity Comparison

The pickups are alnico instead of the ceramic pickups found on the Affinity Series. These provide a classic tone, similar to a Fender Standard Strat. The difference between ceramic and alnico pickups is a personal preference, but many will prefer the alnico set in the Classic Vibe Series.

The frets are narrow tall instead of the medium jumbo on the Affinity Strat. The medium jumbo frets might appeal more to modern players, while the narrow tall frets fit in with the vintage feel of the Classic Vibe Series. 

For reference, the Player Series Strat has medium jumbo frets, while the American Professional II Strat has narrow tall frets. Your best bet is to try out both the Affinity and Classic Vibe Series and get a feel for which type of frets works best for you.

The tremolo system is the traditional six-point system, which matches the vintage vibe. Instead of the block saddles on the Affinity, the Classic Vibe series has the traditional saddle design you will find on other Fender Strats.

And the tuning machines are similar but are a vintage style and a little better quality than the Affinity Series Strat. The string tree is a slightly different design from the 50s model.

The Classic Vibe Strat also features a bone nut, an upgrade from the Affinity Strat. And the neck features a gloss finish.

And, of course, the Classic Vibe Series has an authentic vintage look. In our opinion, the fit and finish make it look closer to a Fender Standard Strat or Player Strat.

If you are looking for a solid guitar that looks and sounds amazing and comes with a few upgrades, the Squier Classic Vibe Series is the way to go.

Strat neck comparison: Squier Standard Strat (left), Fender Standard Strat (right)
Strat neck comparison: Squier Standard Strat (left), Fender Standard Strat (right)

Affinity Series Strat and Classic Vibe Strat Spec Comparison

The following table shows the full specs for each model across the key categories. You can see the differences between the two, which might help your decision.

Affinity Series StratClassic Vibe Series Strat
BodyPoplarPine, Nyatoh, Maple, or Poplar
Neck ShapeC ShapeC Shape
Scale Length25.5”25.5”
FretboardIndian Laurel or MapleIndian Laurel or Maple
Fretboard Radius9.5”9.5”
Fret SizeMedium JumboNarrow Tall
Number of Frets2121
ControlsVolume, Tone (x2), 5-way SwitchVolume, Tone (x2), 5-way Switch
Bridge2-point Tremolo, Block SaddlesVintage-Style Tremolo and Saddles
Tuning MachinesSealed, Split-ShaftSealed, Vintage-Style

Affinity vs. Classic Vibe Strat: Tone

So enough about the specs, how do they sound?

When it comes to tone, the main difference between the two guitars is the pickups. The Affinity Strat sports ceramic pickups and the Classic Vibe Strat features alnico pickups.

The ceramic pickups are a little higher output than the mellower alnico pickups. Both sound great. To our ear, the Classic Vibe sounds a bit more balanced and more like a Standard Strat.

Guitar tone is a combination of the raw materials of the guitar, how it’s built, the amplifier, and the player’s touch. You’ll be able to achieve that classic single-coil Strat sound with either guitar. 

Affinity vs. Classic Vibe Strat: Feel

The Affinity and the Classic Vibe Strats use slightly different materials and finishing details. The Affinity Series has a neck with a satin finish, while the Classic Vibe neck has a gloss finish.

You will notice a difference when playing, which comes down to preference. Many players prefer a satin or unfinished neck to reduce drag–especially when performing live.

Less expensive guitars can suffer from fret problems, including fret sprout and uneven fret height. But these issues can be addressed by a luthier. Expect better attention to detail and more consistent fretwork with the Classic Vibe Series.

The Classic Vibe Strat feels closer to a Standard Strat or Player Series. The quality is top-notch. 

Affinity vs. Classic Vibe Strat: Looks

The Affinity Series has expanded the available finishes, giving players a chance to personalize their guitars. The HSS version even has a flame maple top option.

But the Classic Vibe Series has a few more interesting combinations, such as the walnut finish on the 70s HSS or the natural and tortoise shell combination on the 70s Strat.

Combine the finish selection with the vintage hardware, bone nut, aged controls, and tint on the neck, and the Classic Vibe Strat has an authentic Strat look unmatched by the less-expensive models.

For a great comparison, check out this video from Alamo Music Center. It will give you a sense of the sound of the two guitars and some insights from a couple of professionals. 

Squier Affinity Strat vs. Squier Classic Vibe Strat, Alamo Music Center

What About Other Guitar Models?

As we all know, the Strat is not the only guitar model that Squier and Fender make. The Affinity Series includes the Tele, Jazzmaster, and Starcaster models. The Classic Vibe adds the Jaguar and Mustang to that lineup.

The comparison between the two series also holds true for the other models. The Classic Vibe Series upgrades a few components, with some differences between the materials and finishing details.

Affinity or Classic Vibe Strat: Our Top Pick

So, which one is the better deal? That depends! 

Best for Beginners and Younger Players

If you are just starting out or buying a guitar for a younger player, we recommend the Affinity Series Strat. These guitars are more affordable and provide incredible value. 

The Affinity Series Strat will benefit from a professional setup, as with any new guitar. Ask your local music store for a recommendation.

Best for Intermediate Players

The Squier Classic Vibe Series Strat is our top pick for intermediate players. With a classic sound thanks to the alnico pickups, intermediate players will appreciate the higher-quality tuning machines, the bone nut, and the vintage look and feel. 

It’s the next best thing to a Standard or Player Series Strat.

Either guitar is a great introduction to the Strat and you can’t go wrong. If you have the budget, we recommend going with the Classic Vibe Series. Play them side-by-side and see which one sounds and feels the best to you.