It had a nice bluesy kind of sound but was noisy as hell on ALL settings. Doesn't matter now though. I replaced all the electronics on the guitar. The pick ups went first, and were replaced with Fender 1954 Custom Shop pickups. The sound changed dramatically. Like night and day. Though it was still under powered and hummed like crazy. Next work I did was replace the 5 way switch and the crap pots with Fender Stratocaster parts. I had to route out some of the wood so the last tone pot could fit. All were mounted on a new white pick guard. I hated the pearloid. New input jack and strings, and she was ready to go. I used to have to turn the volume all the way up on the amp to get the kind of sound I get on 5 now. I almost blew out the 10 watt Squier amp on the first chord. Not even on over drive. I added a copper plate under the pick guard to cut down on the noise. It eliminated most of the hum on standard settings. Over drive is still a problem, but I think it's the amp and not the guitar. It's a whole new axe!! The stock configuration... I'd have to give it a 5. The soldering was god awful. I have a 20watt soldering iron, and I could not remove the solder when I first replaced the pick ups. It had a noisy bright sound, but now it has a rich glassy early Stratocaster sound. I can't wait to buy that Dunlop Wah pedal off my friend next month! Voodoo Child here I come!
I'd say it was able to withstand live, at least for a while. After I had the set up, it held tone for weeks. I was amazed that with all it's early draw backs. It held tune so beautifully. If I had to re-tune, I was done in seconds. That was only because of all of the bending in my playing style. The cheap strap kept coming off the strap buttons. SO I bought a vintage leather strap, and replaced the strap buttons with ones that are about 20% bigger. No risk anymore of straps coming off during a show or hard rehearsal. Durability I'd have to give it a 9 because the neck is solid, the tremolo is amazing, if a bit light, and the tuners are okay, just not a precise as I'd like. Whatever, they are going to be replaced by a set of Kluson tuners anyway. I'm sure the electronics would have held for a long time, but they were just too noisy and not powerful enough.
I've been playing for almost 2 years now. Over all, if this is how they sold the Squiers, I'd gladly spend the $400 to get one. The quality of the axe as it is now with all it's upgrades, has far exceeded the Mexican Strats, but at a lower cost. I've invested over $500 in this, only because I had to buy all the tools to make the upgrades possible. I'm guessing this guitar would run about $400-475 if they were made to this quality. I don;t see why they don't. It would be better than the Mexican Strats and about $200-300 less for an entire starter kit. One can dream though.... Out of the box, it was crap, but still solid with a lot of room to grow, and that's always good. I'd have to give it an over all score of 6. Had it been sold in stores the way it is now, I'd have given it a 10 in all categories with out a second thought.