Agreed with a lot of this. My take: so much of it is in the setup - it is oft overlooked - any guitar is only as good as the setup. The stock tuners, wiring, pickups on my 62 RI strat and Squier tele work fine. The strat sounds like a vintage strat, ditto for the tele - they work great for me live. In a studio setting however one may get a little more persnickety on the details like noisless pups but all the hardware is good.
Originally Posted by PRSWILL
There are too many levels of models and countries of mfgr origin of strats that do make it tough to decide what to buy. I'm professionally happy with my less expensive models. One can be tricked by peers and marketing that you need to spend the extra $$$ to have the USA made stamp. They are excellent but you will have decide if the differences in price justify the expense. For me they don't.
Practice + experience = tone