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My Impressions of the Squier (Warning: Many Pictures)
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ricecake  
 




Joined: 17 May 2007
Posts: 1849
Location: Linthicum Heights, MD

PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 9:14 am    Post subject: My Impressions of the Squier (Warning: Many Pictures) Reply with quote

First, some background on me. I've been playing (real) guitar since I was 13 years old (I turn 30 in February), but I haven't played very much at all the last several years, so I'm a bit rusty and my fingers have lost their toughness.

Here's the story of how I was able to get it:
In a chat with sabowski, I wrote:
so word on the streets was that best buys that have a musical instrument section would be getting demo units. i called the best buy in glen burnie since i knew they had a musical instrument section. i asked if they had the squier for demo. he checked, and asked me if i wanted him to hold it for me. i said, "it's available for purchase?!?" and he said yes, so i told him i would be there after work. i get there and he rings it up, so i say, "i thought it wasn't supposed to come out until march or april" and he said, "well i guess you get it before everyone else." i then asked about the midi adapter, so he got that from a guy in the video game department. while he was ringing me up he remarked, "wouldn't it be funny if this was for display?" and the other guy was like, "no, it came on the truck so it's cool."
When I got there he also said he already tried to ring it up at the register and it worked so he didn't have any problems selling it to me.

After taking the pictures below, I tried it out. First, I went through all of the lessons in the "Learn an Instrument" section in order to get the goals for completing them. I then completed all parts on Expert of the "Learn a Song" lessons for the first 12 songs listed in the Goals menu. I got bored of that and finally wanted to play full songs, so I played through the first tier of on-disc songs on Expert.

I address my gameplay thoughts below in the answer to blingdomepiece's inquiry.

Now to address some questions from the other thread:

Hobo111 wrote:
How much did you buy it for?
I paid MSRP: $280 for the guitar, $40 for the MIDI adapter, and about $20 sales tax.

blingdomepiece wrote:
I don't care about pictures but I'd be very interested in your gameplay impressions, particularly if you have played a Mustang and can compare the two.
So I only have limited experience with the Mustang that consists of about an hour and a half of playing on one at the same Best Buy that I got the guitar from. I will say that the Mustang is definitely easier to play accurately on. I had a couple issues of frets not being detected correctly (I was playing a Cm chord in 3rd position on the A string (x35543), and it kept thinking that I was fretting the 3rd fret of the B string instead of the 4th fret for a little while), and a few times it thought I was fretting the 1st fret of the high e string when I wasn't even touching the fretboard, but otherwise the fret detection has been pretty good.

However, I did find the strum detection to be a little quirky. I had to strum a lot harder than I am used to strumming for it to register in steady strumming parts. For example, it took me a long time to complete the lesson for Yoshimi due to dropped strums. However, I found that I had to recalibrate for the MIDI adapter since it is wired and thus has less lag than my wireless instruments, so that was probably a factor, though even after recalibrating, I did find I needed to strum pretty hard in parts like that (though I also still am not 100% satisfied with the new calibration yet). For single notes or stuff that was spaced out pretty far, my regular strumming strength was sufficient for the most part. I did have some issues getting the high e string to register at times, but that was before recalibrating so I don't know if it was the calibration or the guitar. For reference, when I played on the Mustang and sightread I Wanna Be Sedated, I got 5* and I think 98%. When I played it for the first time on the Squier, I got 4* and 94%.

Another thing: in the FAQ, it says that you need to use the string mute or you will lose points. I found this to be pretty true. If you don't use the mute, when you strum a string and let it ring out (or even sometimes even if you didn't let it ring out), the game would detect the vibrations as multiple strums, thus breaking your combo. However, it was really fun to load up songs in practice mode, disengage the string mute, and plug the guitar into an amp to play along with the chart. Really fun.

gitarzann wrote:
Was it a floor model or a new boxed guitar?
See the pictures below. It came in a new box.

yakityyakblah wrote:
I don't know how much you play guitar, but I'd be really interested in how it plays as an instrument. I don't have very high expectations what with it being a Squier but I'm hoping to be surprised.
I would say that I've definitely played on better guitars before, but I don't think it's that bad for a beginner guitar. The neck was a little thicker than I was used to (see the last pictures below for reference). The action on the strings wasn't too bad. The intonation is a little bit off, so that may need to be adjusted. I did get a little buzzing of the frets around the 11th fret.

Se7en082 wrote:
I want to know how good it is to play bass songs.
I've always been a guitarist, but I have played around on my friend's bass when we were in a band together. I didn't play any songs on bass yet with the Squier, but if you are used to the size and spacing of the strings and frets on a bass, it might be a little awkward on the Squier, since they are guitar-sized and not bass-sized.


Feel free to ask any more questions about it, and I'll try to answer them to the best of my ability. However, I'm going out of town for a week for Christmas so I won't have access to it during that time, so some responses may be delayed.

And now, as promised (and to make BriGuy happy):
Pictures
Box for guitar and PS3 MIDI adapter


Back of box


Closeup of back of box


Closeup of back of box


Closeup of MIDI adapter box


Back of MIDI adapter box


Contents of box, pretty much as they were packed inside


Contents of little white box: MIDI cable, AA batteries (x3), 2 sizes of Allen wrenches (big one for truss rod adjustment, small one for bridge adjustment), and strap


Included manual


Actual guitar


Closeup of body


Closeup of headstock


View down side of neck


View down neck


Closeup of bridge


View from bridge (essentially looks like in-game note highway interface)


Size comparison with five-button Stratocaster


Size comparison with five-button Stratocaster


Closeup of MIDI adapter. The wheel in the middle is essentially for level/sensitivity adjustment for drums.


Back of MIDI adapter with removable belt clip


Belt clip can be repositioned for mounting to guitar


Almost in position to mount


MIDI adapter mounted to guitar. To mount it, you unscrew the strap peg near the bridge, slip the belt clip part in the gap, then screw the peg back down.


Another mounted view


Back of guitar


Battery compartment


Neck comparison with my old Peavey Predator guitar


Peavey Predator neck thickness. A battery (AAA size) is shown for reference of scale since I couldn't find a ruler. The Predator's neck goes to the 'r' in 'Energizer'.


Fender Squier neck thickness. A battery (AAA size) is shown for reference of scale since I couldn't find a ruler. The Squier's neck goes to the 'e' in 'Energizer'.

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Bront  
 




Joined: 09 Oct 2010
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 10:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice.

Interesting on the Mustang comparison. I'm guessing the transition from Mustang to Squire or real guitar will be harder simply because of the size issue.
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DorkmasterFlek  
 




Joined: 14 Oct 2006
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Location: Toronto, ON

PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow. I cannot believe they sold that to you. Insanely jealous over here, even though I just won a Mustang from a raffle at my work. I want this more than ever now.
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Hobo111  
 




Joined: 27 Dec 2009
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now, when you try it, I want to know, IS IT WORTH IT?
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Doom878  
 




Joined: 11 Mar 2009
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I look forward to your posts
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Jaguar  
 




Joined: 07 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm. *I* live near Burnie...
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ricecake  
 




Joined: 17 May 2007
Posts: 1849
Location: Linthicum Heights, MD

PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bront wrote:
I'm guessing the transition from Mustang to Squire or real guitar will be harder simply because of the size issue.
I don't have a Mustang, but when I played on one at the store, I did notice that the Mustang was definitely smaller than the Squier. Since I was used to regular-guitar size, playing on the Mustang felt a little awkward, but definitely not enough to really mess me up or anything. I would even say that barre chords were a little easier on the Mustang since you don't have to stretch your arm out as far, so I do anticipate a little bit of a readjustment period if you are transitioning from the Mustang to the Squier.

Hobo111 wrote:
Now, when you try it, I want to know, IS IT WORTH IT?
Since I was so excited about it ever since hearing about it, I think it's worth it. However, if all you care about is getting high scores, then I think the Mustang would be a better investment. If you are interested in actually being able to play for real and can't get another better real guitar for a while, then I think this is a good buy. Maybe when they come out in March or April they will have resolved some of the issues I described above. If you have the money, you could get a Mustang for playing the game and learning the songs, and get a better guitar for playing for real, though there is something to be said for the muscle memory you would develop if you were using the Squier in the first place. As I said above, the actual guitar isn't the greatest guitar, but is a good beginner guitar. If you are interested in using the MIDI functionality, this would probably be a good buy too, since apparently MIDI guitars tend to be pretty expensive by themselves. So, I guess you could say it's not a simple answer, and you will have to decide for yourself

Jaguar wrote:
Hmmm. *I* live near Burnie...
If you want to come by and check it out sometime, hit me up after the New Year.
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DorkmasterFlek  
 




Joined: 14 Oct 2006
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Location: Toronto, ON

PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 5:00 pm    Post subject: Re: My Impressions of the Squier (Warning: Many Pictures) Reply with quote

ricecake wrote:
"no, it came on the truck so it's cool."

This quote just flabbergasts me. "It came on the truck"? As opposed to what? The Pony Express? Is that how Best Buy gets their demo units? All the regular merchandise just comes on the trucks, but the demo units come in armoured cars? Par for the course I suppose when dealing with Best Buy. Monumental fuck up for them, but a great win for ScoreHero, and especially ricecake.
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ricecake  
 




Joined: 17 May 2007
Posts: 1849
Location: Linthicum Heights, MD

PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 5:34 pm    Post subject: Re: My Impressions of the Squier (Warning: Many Pictures) Reply with quote

DorkmasterFlek wrote:
This quote just flabbergasts me. "It came on the truck"? As opposed to what? The Pony Express? Is that how Best Buy gets their demo units? All the regular merchandise just comes on the trucks, but the demo units come in armoured cars? Par for the course I suppose when dealing with Best Buy. Monumental fuck up for them, but a great win for ScoreHero, and especially ricecake.

To give him the benefit of the doubt, my assumption was that demo units get shipped via special delivery (like FedEx or UPS or something), whereas maybe he was implying that it was on the Best Buy general merchandise truck.
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AbrtRetryIgnore  
 




Joined: 17 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 6:14 pm    Post subject: Re: My Impressions of the Squier (Warning: Many Pictures) Reply with quote

ricecake wrote:
So I only have limited experience with the Mustang that consists of about an hour and a half of playing on one at the same Best Buy that I got the guitar from. I will say that the Mustang is definitely easier to play accurately on. [...] but otherwise the fret detection has been pretty good.

However, I did find the strum detection to be a little quirky. I had to strum a lot harder than I am used to strumming for it to register in steady strumming parts. For example, it took me a long time to complete the lesson for Yoshimi due to dropped strums. However, I found that I had to recalibrate for the MIDI adapter since it is wired and thus has less lag than my wireless instruments, so that was probably a factor, though even after recalibrating, I did find I needed to strum pretty hard in parts like that (though I also still am not 100% satisfied with the new calibration yet). For single notes or stuff that was spaced out pretty far, my regular strumming strength was sufficient for the most part.

Another thing: in the FAQ, it says that you need to use the string mute or you will lose points. I found this to be pretty true. If you don't use the mute, when you strum a string and let it ring out (or even sometimes even if you didn't let it ring out), the game would detect the vibrations as multiple strums, thus breaking your combo. However, it was really fun to load up songs in practice mode, disengage the string mute, and plug the guitar into an amp to play along with the chart. Really fun.

First of all, grats on scoring that puppy so early!

Secondly, I think you answered your own question about the "need to strum harder than expected for fast strumming parts" later on when you talk about the string mute.

If the Squier registers a strum, say on a series of quickly repeated chords or single notes, the strings will continue to vibrate. With a very short window between a series of chords or notes, the vibration will not "decay" very much, so the controller will have a much harder time detecting a "new" strum (especially of the same frequency/chord) at the proper time unless it is markedly "stronger" than the previous sustain of the last chord/note.

Unless they tuned it down to be incredibly sensitive to string deltas (which would create an ever worse set of problems, I would think), I can't imagine how else they could register a set of fast strums spaced closely together other than forcing there to be a pronounced difference between the last chord, the decay, and the new chord via really strong strums.

I hope you keep updating this thread with your thoughts and impressions. It will allow those of us forced to wait a few more months to live vicariously...
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blingdomepiece  
 




Joined: 03 Aug 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for taking the time to write all this up.

Interesting about the fret detection. I have had that happen once on the Mustang. I was playing some song and it thought I had the high E 6th fret or so pressed down for about two minutes. I don't know if the button got stuck or what. It fixed itself eventually.

Quote:
Unless they tuned it down to be incredibly sensitive to string deltas (which would create an ever worse set of problems, I would think),


They'd probably be reintroducing a "strum limit" or would have to make the engine more forgiving (and people are already annoyed about some of the forgiveness depending whose posts you are reading).

Quote:
However, if all you care about is getting high scores, then I think the Mustang would be a better investment. [...]
However, it was really fun to load up songs in practice mode, disengage the string mute, and plug the guitar into an amp to play along with the chart. Really fun.


Those are big takeaways for me.

To me, the important thing about pro mode is to learn the song so that I can play it. The Mustang seems to have a few of its own idiosyncrasies with strum detection (and over-detection), but if most of the misses are due to the engine and not me, I'm not going to lose a lot of sleep over it.

I would think the Squier would be better because you are playing over the actual guitar dimensions and because you have to fret strings instead of push down buttons. I would be concerned about learning a "wrong" way to strum with the mute that gets you more points, the same way I don't want to use an unrealistic drum technique that hits a tough part or play a one-handed keyboard part with two hands; each of these things is defeating the purpose of the instrument. So it sounds like playing it in practice mode with the mute off, so you can hear what you are playing, and not sweating the overhits, is the way to go pedagogically, and playing it with the mute (or having a Mustang) is the way to go when pursuing gold stars on songs.

EDIT: Didn't take you long to destroy me on the leaderboard I see 8^).
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BriGuy  
 




Joined: 04 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2010 5:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That looks awesome. Thanks for all those great pics. Other than a fresh paint job I couldn't think of a thing to do to improve it. Hopefully it will prove itself a sturdy and reliable guitar.

With the guitar background you have, I'm interested to hear how the translation of skill into the game goes. And I'm sure Harmonix does as well. I'm really curious why they chose to release the game and not have the stringed guitars available for launch. Hopefully this means that we all won't have to wait until next spring to get ours.

This whole story of how you got it does sound weird though.
Quote:
i get there and he rings it up, so i say, "i thought it wasn't supposed to come out until march or april" and he said, "well i guess you get it before everyone else." i then asked about the midi adapter, so he got that from a guy in the video game department. while he was ringing me up he remarked, "wouldn't it be funny if this was for display?" and the other guy was like, "no, it came on the truck so it's cool."

Why would you risk mentioning the street date to the guy? I would have kept my mouth shut while I paid for it, creep my way to the door, then sprint to my car and race home.

What are those colored rings at the bottom? It might be either part of the bridge adjustment or strigs I can't tell.


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nillacocajola  
 




Joined: 26 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2010 5:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BriGuy wrote:
What are those colored rings at the bottom? It might be either part of the bridge adjustment or strigs I can't tell.


Those are just for the strings... easier to ID them when stringing the guitar, for some.

Glad to get a good, thorough hands-on from another guitar player's perspective. I'm still interested in this, but I don't know about the investment (considering that I all ready own a Squier Strat, albeit lacking MIDI support)... that said, what are your impressions with the Trainer as an educational tool? Do you think the trainers are thorough enough to teach the basics to those with no prior guitar experience?
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ricecake  
 




Joined: 17 May 2007
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Location: Linthicum Heights, MD

PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2010 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@AbrtRetryIgnore: What you say makes a lot of sense. Thinking about it, I'm not sure they could have done it any other way. I guess I'll just have to get used to it.

@blingdomepiece: I think your conclusions are sound. Sorry about the leaderboards, but be glad I'm not using the Mustang :p

@BriGuy: Disregarding the lack of playing I'd done the past few years, I would say that previous guitar experience is a huge advantage playing the game. Things are charted accurately and logically as far as I can tell, though a few techniques are not gameplay elements, such as bends or palm muting. Also, I think they had wanted the guitars to be available at launch, but I'm guessing there were production or development issues. As for my story, before I bought it I had a discussion with a few colleagues of mine on whether I should feel bad about buying it. In order to satisfy my conscious, I mentioned it to them to give them an opportunity to stop the sale if they didn't think they were allowed to. As for the colored rings on the bridge, nillacocajola got it exactly right.

@nillacocajola: I don't remember too much about the trainers right now since I ran through them pretty quick, but I'll refresh myself on them when I get back in town. I seem to remember them being pretty good. They start off with playing single open notes on different strings, then fretted single notes, progressing to chords (open and barre) and scales (different modes too, such as Dorian, natural minor, and I think a few others). They even have lessons on tremolo picking, pedal notes, and an easy tapping lesson. If you turn on note/chord help, then if you miss a bunch of notes, the highway will pause until you hit the right note or chord (something that I think would have been really useful for pro keys too). For the chords, it gives you recommended fingerings, and the guide on the screen will light up as you fret each note, which I thought was pretty cool.


One issue that I've found is that the screws on the bridge for adjusting the height of the strings seem to be working themselves around when I'm playing, so they start sticking up and jabbing me in the wrist. I haven't had any time to really do any adjustments to the guitar yet, but I'll do those when I get back and see if it improves it.
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mikeyts  
 




Joined: 24 Dec 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2010 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for posting this stuff!

Could you photograph the spec pages of the manuals and/or weigh the guitar both with and without the adapter attached? If possible, coil up the adapter's USB cable and weigh it separately.

Thanks again.
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