When the Fender Custom Shop introduced the La Cabronita Especial in 2009, nobody would have thought that this Telecaster and Gretsch mongrel would go on to become the huge hit it is today.
The Cabronita Tele’s success can be seen in the way new, more affordable versions of the model started creeping up – first as Fender models, and now as very affordable Squier guitars. At the moment of writing there are, in fact, two Squier-versions – one with a Bigsby vibrato, and one with a hardtail bridge.
The Squier Vintage Modified Cabronita Telecaster (price in Finland approx. 300 €) is basically a hot-rodded Telecaster.
The body of the Squier Cabronita is made from a plank of several pieces of basswood, while its classic one-piece neck has been crafted from hard rock maple.
There is no separate fretboard, instead the instrument’s 22 medium jumbo frets have been installed straight into the radiussed face of the neck.
A welcome nod to modernity is the truss rod access from the headstock side.
A set of very decent Kluson-copies has been selected for tuning duties on this Squier.
Instead of a classic Telecaster ashtray, the Cabronita employs a hardtail, six-saddle bridge with vintage-type Stratocaster saddles.
The extremely low price tag of the Squier can be seen in a couple of small things, such as the bridge being installed a tiny bit askew on the review instrument.
Central to the Cabronita-concept is the use of Gretsch Filtertron-style pickups. Squier make their own version for this guitar model, and call it the Fideli’Tron.
As befits such a Hot Rod guitar, the Squier Cabronita Tele is equipped with just a single volume control, and a three-way toggle pickup selector.
At prices like these you cannot seriously expect custom shop build quality:
The volume control works very smoothly, but the toggle switch of our review guitar was a bit temperamental, sometimes adding crackling, or even muting the signal, in the middle position. This could be a glitch on this specific guitar, but I’d probably upgrade to a better switch.
Squier’s Vintage Modified Cabronita Telecaster offers a whole lot of musical fun for the money.
In the sub-500 € price bracket, manufacturers generally tend to achieve savings in production costs, by reducing man-hours spent on each instrument’s production. Very often these savings are directed at the final set-up stage. Straight out of the box, many guitars in this price bracket suffer from top nuts left too high and/or dodgy intonation, and it is then up to the local distributor or the individual music shop to give these instruments a proper set-up prior to sale. This is one of the reasons why I think you should prefer an actual guitar dealer to ordering your affordable guitar over the internet, as the dealer will make sure the guitar plays to the best of its abilities, before it is sold.
Helsinki’s DLX Music were kind enough to supply me with the review instrument, and – naturally – they keep all their stock shipshape. No problems here, then! The reviewed Squier Cabronita is a lightweight solidbody guitar, with a very comfortable C-profile neck. Thanks to its larger-than-vintage frets, as well as the modern fingerboard radius of 9.5 inches, the Cabronita is easy to play, and the string-bending feel is rather slinky, even with a set of 010s.
Acoustically, the Squier Cabronita sounds more like a hardtail Strat than a vintage Tele, which is due to this model’s different bridge. There is a good deal of that typical Fender- attack and -cluck, but much less of the famous, nasal twang of the treble strings.
Generally speaking, Filtertron-type pickups tend to fall right in the middle of your typical singlecoil/humbucker-divide. Filtertrons are doublecoil pickups (= humbuckers), but thanks to their special construction, and their smaller size, they sound much brighter than a traditional, PAF-style humbucker. Generally, there’s a lot of clarity and attack on tap in this kind pickup.
Squier’s own Fideli’Tron-pickups sound surprisingly good, belying their affordable pedigree. On clean amp settings you will get a clear attack to each note, plenty of chime, and superb string separation (this clip starts with the neck pickup):
Driven into distortion Squier’s Fideli’Trons satisfy with a healthy dose of bite and snarl:
And here’s the audio track from the Youtube-video:
I simply love the way that this Squier Cabronita Telecaster manages to give you the essence of what this model is all about, at such an affordable price point. You get a great-feeling neck with a very decent fretjob, coupled with – for the money – fantastic tone. This Squier really gives you the original ”bastardised Tele” experience, and is very hard to put down, indeed.
Squier Vintage Modified Cabronita Telecaster
Current street price approx. 300 €
Additional info: Fender
A big thank you goes to DLX Music Helsinki for the loan of the review guitar!
– bridge slightly askew
– temperamental toggle switch