Swap
Swap
Epiphone 1963 Firebird I
Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster
VS
Playability
77
Sound
69
Build
64
Value
70
Score
70
FIND IT ON:
Reverb logoSweetwater logo
Playability
67
Sound
74
Build
70
Value
65
Score
70
FIND IT ON:
Amazon logoReverb logoSweetwater logoFender logo
Add to Compare
Discuss or ask a question
Add to Compare
Discuss or ask a question
Side to side spec comparison >

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I vs Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster

Reasons to Get
Epiphone 1963 Firebird I over Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster

Release Year
2024 vs 2023
From a more recent year
Frets Height
Taller vs Shorter
Easier to press down strings and bend them
Neck Joint
Neck-Through vs Bolt-On
Stronger neck and easier access to upper frets
Pickups
H vs SSS
Hum-free with more right hand freedom and sustain
Number of Frets
22 vs 21
Allows to reach higher notes
Nut Width
1.693'' (43mm) vs 1.65'' (41.9mm)
Less likely to mute strings by accident and more space for fingerstyle
Paint Finish
Poly vs Nitro
Resistant paint that ages well
Bridge
Fixed vs Tremolo
Good sustain and needs no set-up
Scale Length
24.75'' (628.7mm) vs 25.5'' (647.7mm)
Easier bending, shorter fret separation and warmer natural tone
Fretboard Radius
12'' (304.8mm) vs 9.5'' (241.3mm)
Flatter fretboard makes it easier to play single notes and bend
Value Score
70 vs 65
Better price/quality relationship

Reasons to Get
Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster over Epiphone 1963 Firebird I

Country of Manufacturing
United States vs China
Built with higher quality standards
Switch Positions
5 vs 0
More tone options
Tone Knobs
2 vs 1
More tone control
Pickups
SSS vs H
Beautiful cleans and good tone versatility
Nut Width
1.65'' (41.9mm) vs 1.693'' (43mm)
Favors small hands, easier bar chords and other shapes
Paint Finish
Nitro vs Poly
Thin finish that creates aging marks faster
Bridge
Tremolo vs Fixed
Simple vibratos without too much maintenance
Scale Length
25.5'' (647.7mm) vs 24.75'' (628.7mm)
Lower action and brighter natural tone
Fretboard Radius
9.5'' (241.3mm) vs 12'' (304.8mm)
Easier to play chords without muting strings

Other Key Differences
Epiphone 1963 Firebird I vs Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster

Bridge Pickup
Gibson USA Firebird Mini Humbucker with Alnico 5 Magnets vs Fender Custom Mike McCready 60s Single-Coil Strat
Different Bridge Pickup
Body Wood
Other vs Alder
Different Body Wood
Neck Wood
Mahogany vs Maple
Different Neck Wood
Fretboard Wood
Laurel vs Rosewood
Different Fretboard Wood
Nut Material
Ivory Tusq vs Bone
Different Nut Material

Shared Features
Epiphone 1963 Firebird I vs Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster

Headstock
6
Same Headstock
Strings
6
Same playing style
Body Type
Solid Body
Feedback free
Volume Knobs
1
Same volume control
Pickups Power
Passive
Cleaner sound and no battery needed
Neck Profile Type
C
Comfortable neck that works for most people
Type of Frets
Medium Jumbo vs Medium
You'll feel the fretboard when pressing down the strings

Common Strengths

  • High-Quality Nut
  • Top Pickup Brand
  • Expensive Wood

Common Weaknesses

  • Pickup Alter Switch/Knob
  • Weight Relief
  • Locking Tuners
  • Stays in Tune (Evertune)
  • High-Quality Frets
  • Compound Radius Fretboard
  • Luminescent Sidedots
  • Strap Lock
  • 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • Active/Passive Preamp

Price History Comparison

SET PRICE ALERT
SET PRICE ALERT

These are affiliate links. We may earn a fee if you purchase after clicking. These prices are prone to error. Make sure you're buying the right product after clicking on a link from our site. We are not liable if you buy the wrong product after following these links. As an Amazon Associate site we earn from qualifying purchases.

Which One is Better for Beginners?

The Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster meets 6 out of our 8 criteria items for beginner friendliness, while the Epiphone 1963 Firebird I meets only 4. This takes into account the type of frets, scale length, nut width, bridge type, fretboard radius, and neck profile to determine the easiest combination for new players.

New Player Friendliness

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I
  • Comfortable shape
  • Easy-to-use bridge
  • Tall frets
  • Comfortable neck
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • Narrow nut
  • Short scale
  • Locking tuners

New Player Friendliness

Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster
  • Comfortable shape
  • Easy-to-use bridge
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • Tall frets
  • Narrow nut
  • Comfortable neck
  • Short scale
  • Locking tuners

Nevertheless, when it comes to choosing an instrument, you should pick the one more compatible with your personal style. Still, below we'll try you to give you our results as objectively as it's possible to help you decide.

Sound Quality Comparison

The wood used in an electric guitar or bass is not as important to determine the final tone. However, some people prefer specific wood types, so we'll take a look at those first. Then, we'll take a look at the electronics to determine the versatility and sound quality of each instrument.

Woods Used in the Epiphone 1963 Firebird I

Mahogany wood pattern used for guitar building
Mahogany
Laurel wood pattern used for guitar building
Laurel

Mahogany is a fairly rare wood nowadays. It's used mostly for bodies due to its relatively lightweight. Gibson popularized it with their Les Paul guitars during their golden years, so this wood has a lot of good reputation behind it. The most expensive type comes from South America and it's still used by Gibson even today. Find out more about Mahogany.

There are many types of Laurel, but East Indian is the most common for guitar building. Its color can vary from dark to light brown with black lines. Many people find its tonality similar to Rosewood, which favors the warmer frequencies. Find out more about Laurel.

Woods Used in the Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster

Maple wood pattern used for guitar building
Maple
Rosewood wood pattern used for guitar building
Rosewood
Alder wood pattern used for guitar building
Alder

Maple is one of the most popular necks for good reasons. It is a strong wood that is relatively cheap to make and looks beautiful. The highest quality maple is the hardest that comes from North America. Find out more about Maple.

Rosewood is an almost purple-looking wood that is used mainly for fretboards since it's heavy, rare, and expensive. It's sometimes used on acoustic guitar bodies to create stronger warm tones. Find out more about Rosewood.

Alder is the most popular wood that Fender uses in most of their guitars nowadays. Even though they say it's because of its balanced tone with an emphasis in the upper midrange, it probably is because it isn't too expensive, and it's also pretty lightweight—more than Mahogany. Find out more about Alder.

Winner: Tie.

Pickup Configuration

The Epiphone 1963 Firebird I has an H configuration while the Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster has SSS pickups.

A single H pickup gives you the advantage of having a little longer sustain (all other things being equal) because there will be less magnetic fields from other pickups affecting the strings' vibration. However, they also give you the least versatility because you won't have other pickups at different distances from the bridge to create different tones. A single humbucking pickup is used for noiseless high output, which is used mainly for Hard Rock genres.

On the other hand, SSS is perfect for players who like to play clean. The definition you get between notes and the crispiness is unmatched by most other configurations. You can still use it for distortion, but you won't get the same kind of output and power compared to a humbucker, and the hum they produce also makes them less adequate for high gain.

Pickups Quality

Both come with very good pickups from at least one of the specialized brands in the market. With pickups like these, you probably won't need an upgrade anytime soon.

However, the Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster has a slight sound quality advantage when taking into account other factors like the type of pickups, magnet, position, etc.

Both use Passive pickups. This is what's used for most music genres. They have a regular output and will serve you for both high-gain and clean tones. The alternative (Active pickups) offer a higher output that is mostly used for heavy music.

Winner: Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster.

Versatility Comparison

Some instruments offer you more ways to explore your creativity than others. Below you'll find how both compare when it comes to versatility.

Switch Options

The Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster gives you 5 switch options while the Epiphone 1963 Firebird I gives you 0. This means that the Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster gives you more options to find the right pickup combination for the type of sound you want to achieve

Neither of them come with some kind of coil split or pickup mod option. This makes both lacking in terms of versatility.

The Epiphone 1963 Firebird I doesn't come with pickup switching options.

Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster pickups switch selector and push knobs diagram
Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster's switch options

When evaluating versatility, we also take into consideration bridge and neck joint type, number of frets, switch options, amount of pickups and more.

Winner: Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster.

Final Sound Quality Scores

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I
Pickups 90
Sustain 75
Versatility 39
Tuning Stability 70
Sound 69
Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster
Pickups 100
Sustain 60
Versatility 72
Tuning Stability 65
Sound 74

Build Quality Comparison

When it comes to build quality, we like to take into account everything used to build the instrument. This includes materials, hardware and the quality control expected depending on the country where it was built. Let's see how the Epiphone 1963 Firebird I compares to the Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster.

Country of Origin

The manufacturing country can tell a lot about the build quality of an instrument. The Epiphone 1963 Firebird I is built in China while the Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster is made in United States.

China has a bad reputation when it comes to building quality. However, times have changed and now respectable brands use China's cheap labor to build good instruments for a lower price. Don't discount a guitar only because it was built in China, but also expect more quality from countries like Korea.

The United States is considered one of the best electric guitar manufacturers in the world. A guitar made in this country is supposed to have world-class quality control. Nowadays, guitars made in other countries can beat some of the ones made in the US, but most of the time, this country offers the best you can get. Of course, that comes at a price.

Winner: Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster

Nut Material

If you want your guitar to stay in tune and sound good, you need a well cut nut. Nut quality can be inconsistent even when comparing two copies of the same model. The best way to make sure you're nut will be well done is by getting a nut made by an expert company like TUSQ or Micarta.

The Epiphone 1963 Firebird I has a Ivory Tusq nut. Ivory used to be considered the best material for guitar nuts due to its beauty, durability, and the rich harmonics and sustain you could get from a guitar with it. However, the way to obtain it is simply unethical. Enter TUSQ ivory nuts, which are made synthetically to imitate ivory. Technically, it's better than ivory because it is consistent piece-to-piece, while natural materials can vary a lot, even if they're made from the same.

On the other hand, the Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster comes with a Bone nut. It's a type of nut found in high-quality instruments. They sound similar to Ivory since they give a lot of sustain and a bright sound (at least when striking open strings). The only problem they can run into is that you may get a bone piece that simply doesn't sound as well as others because that's just how natural materials are.

Winner: Tie.

Fret Material

Most fret wire is made of nickel silver. This material eventually wears down after a lot of use and most instruments end up needing a complete fret replacement. However, some expensive models come with stainless steel frets. This is what you should aim for if you can afford it.

Unfortunately, none of them come with stainless steel frets.

Winner: Tie.

Bridge

The perfect bridge for you will depend on your playstyle because they all have advantages and disadvantages. However, some bridges are more expensive—like Floyd Roses and Evertunes—and thus add more value to a guitar.

The Epiphone 1963 Firebird I's brige is a Fixed. It's a simple bridge that is very beginner-friendly since it doesn't require any set-up. You can swap strings easily. It might also give more sustain since it doesn't have complex moving parts that make the strings lose vibration. However, it doesn't have the same versatility as a tremolo bridge.

On the other hand, the Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster's is a Tremolo. Tremolo bridges give you more versatility than fixed bridges. They let you perform the intense vibrato effects that would be impossible with a fixed bridge. However, since the bridge floats and there's less contact with the body, the strings lose sustain slightly faster. They can also be a bit harder to restring and set up correctly than fixed bridges.

Since we need to be objective, the most expensive type of bridge will be the winner of this section. In the end, this doesn't matter if you're not going to use the bridge for its original purpose, so choose the bridge that fits your playing style better.

Winner: Tie.

Tuners

Both come with regular tuners. The Epiphone 1963 Firebird I's are Kluson "Banjo-style" Planetary while the Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster's are Fender Vintage-Style

Winner: Tie.

Neck Joint

Contrary to popular belief, the difference in sustain and tone that some neck joints give to a guitar is simply unperceivable—if they're all well built. However, some of them do have advantages over the others.

The Epiphone 1963 Firebird I has a Neck-Through neck joint. This neck is a lot more resistant and lets builders give the neck joint a more comfortable shape for soloing at the upper frets. The disadvantage is that they're more expensive and that if you damage your neck, you can't simply replace it like with bolt-on necks.

On the other hand, the Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster comes with Bolt-On neck joint. This neck is joined to the body by 4 bolts that you can simply unscrew. This allows you to replace the neck or take it off for travel. It's the most common and cheapest way to build a guitar.

Winner: Epiphone 1963 Firebird I.

Here is the list of features that were considered when choosing the winner in the Features subcategory:

Strengths & Weaknesses
Epiphone 1963 Firebird I
  • Expensive Wood
  • Ivory Tusq Nut
  • Top Brand Pickups
  • Neck-Through Build
  • Cheap Fret Wire (NS)
  • No Locking Tuners
  • Made in China
  • No Push Knob or Extra Switch Option
  • No Weight Relief
  • No Luminescent Inlay
  • No Tremolo
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • No Strap Lock
Strengths & Weaknesses
Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster
  • Made in United States
  • Expensive Wood
  • Bone Nut
  • Top Brand Pickups
  • Tremolo
  • Cheap Fret Wire (NS)
  • No Locking Tuners
  • No Neck-Through Build
  • No Push Knob or Extra Switch Option
  • No Weight Relief
  • No Luminescent Inlay
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • No Strap Lock

Final Build Quality Scores

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I
Quality of materials 66
Features 60
Quality Control 65
Build Quality 64
Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster
Quality of materials 66
Features 55
Quality Control 90
Build Quality 70

Playability Comparison

Let's now compare their playability. Bear in mind that the instrument will feel different depending on your hand size and play style. That's why you should always test before buying. But if you can't or want a second opinion on it, we can still take a look at each of the important measurements of the instrument for you. This way, we can predict how easy a guitar might be to play, or how different it will feel compared to the other.

Remember that, even though the difference might seem small, every inch counts when it comes to feeling of the instrument in your hands. Any variation can completely change how comfortable a guitar feels in your hands.

Nut Width

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I Nut Width
Epiphone 1963 Firebird I Nut Width
Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster Nut Width
Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster Nut Width

The nut width will affect the separation between strings at the nut. In this comparison, the Epiphone 1963 Firebird I has the wider nut with 43mm (1.693'') vs 41.9mm (1.65''). This is a 1.1mm (0.043'') difference

This means that it will be more difficult to do bar chords on the Epiphone 1963 Firebird I, especially closer to the nut. However, it's also easier to play without muting strings accidently. This favors people with big hands.

Scale Length

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I's Scale Length
Epiphone 1963 Firebird I's Scale Length
Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster's Scale Length
Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster's Scale Length

The scale length is one of the things that influences playability the most. This is the distance between the nut and the bridge and will affect everything from low action allowance, difficulty to perform bends, fret separation, and even tone.

The Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster has the longest scale: 25.5". The Epiphone 1963 Firebird I is only 24.75" long. This is a 0.75'' (19.1mm) scale length difference.

This longer scale means that the strings need more tension to get in tune. This is good if you want to avoid fret buzz, which can happen when the strings are too loose and touch the frets while vibrating. This is especially important when playing in lower tunings. This will also let you reduce the gap between fretboard and strings (low action) to make them easier to press down. However, this higher tension will also make it harder to perform bends and vibratos as the strings will feel stiffer.

This also means that the frets have a longer separation between each other, so this will make it harder for people with smaller hands when playing some chord positions.

Another characteristic of a longer scale is that it makes the guitar sound 'snappier' or brighter. This is due to the extra separation between harmonics and overtones produced by the tension. This influences tone more than any other factor (except the pickups).

Lastly, remember that you can also affect the tension of the strings by changing your string gauge. You can use a thicker gauge for more tension and a lighter one for less tension.

Neck Profile

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I Neck Profile
Epiphone 1963 Firebird I's neck profile
Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster Neck Profile
Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster's neck profile

No single neck shape is better than others. However, most people tend to prefer a thinner necks because it doesn't get in their way when playing fast and most hand sizes can adapt to it pretty well. However, some people still prefer thicker necks for a better grip, especially if they have big hands.

Both the Epiphone 1963 Firebird I and the Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster have a C-shaped neck. This is what you'll find in most modern guitars. Most people feel like the thickness of a C neck is simply the less intrusive one for playing fast, while at the same time allowing you to grab the neck easily for resting if you want to.

Fretboard Radius

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I Fingerboard Radius
Epiphone 1963 Firebird I's Fingerboard radius
Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster Fingerboard Radius
Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster's Fingerboard radius

Most guitar fretboards are not flat; they usually have a curve or arc across their width. A curved fretboard will make it easier to perform chords without muting strings, while a flatter one will make it easier to play single notes, which is good for bending and soloing in general. The best fretboards have a compound radius that varies across the fingerboard, but they're not common since they take a lot more work to build.

In this case, the Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster's fingerboard radius is smaller, which means it's more curved than the Epiphone 1963 Firebird I's. This extra arc will make playing chords easier in this model. You won't be as likely to mute the strings, especially if you have big hands. However, playing single notes and bending will be easier on the Epiphone 1963 Firebird I.

Hand Size Comfortability

Everyone has a different hand size, and that's why it's recommended to try a guitar before buying, even if others tell you that it's comfortable to play. However, we can know whether a guitar favors small or large hands just by knowing its exact measurements.

After taking into account the scale length, nut width, neck profile and fretboard radius, we can conclude that both in this comparison favor small hands .

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I:
Big Hands
Small Hands
Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster:
Big Hands
Small Hands

Fret Size

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I Frets Size
Epiphone 1963 Firebird I's Frets Size
Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster Frets Size
Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster's Frets Size

The Epiphone 1963 Firebird I has Medium Jumbo frets, which should be taller than the Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster's Medium frets.

Some people prefer taller frets because they result in more sustain since the strings get pressed cleanly without interference from the fretboard. However, if they're too tall—like Jumbo frets—, you might change the pitch of the strings accidentally if you press too hard because you won't be touching the fretboard with your fingers. This is also why some guitarists with a heavy grip prefer smaller frets. They like to feel the fingerboard to avoid pressing down too hard and getting out of pitch.

Final Playability Scores

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I
Bending & Vibrato Ease 85
Chord Playability 65
Solo Playability 80
Playability 77
Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster
Bending & Vibrato Ease 60
Chord Playability 80
Solo Playability 60
Playability 67

Specs Side-by-Side

Epiphone 1963 Firebird I vs Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster
General Epiphone 1963 Firebird I Fender Mike McCready Stratocaster
Brand: Epiphone Fender
Year: 2024 2023
Configuration: H SSS
Strings: 6 6
Made in: China United States
Series: 1963 Firebird I Stratocaster
Colors: Green, Pink, Silver Sunburst
Left-Handed Version: No No
Body
Type: Solid Body Solid Body
Body Material: 9-ply Mahogany/Walnut Neck-Through Alder
Bridge: Wraparound Lightning Bar 6-Saddle Vintage-Style Synchronized Tremolo with Bent Steel Saddles
Neck
Neck Joint: Neck-Through Bolt-On
Tuners: Kluson "Banjo-style" Planetary Fender Vintage-Style
Fretboard: Indian Laurel Slab Rosewood
Neck Material: Mahogany Maple
Decoration: Mother of Pearl dot Aged White Dot
Scale Size: 24.75" 25.5"
Shape: 1963 Firebird Slim C
Frets: 22 Medium Jumbo Nickel Silver 21 Medium Nickel Silver
Fretboard Radius: 12" 9.5"
Nut: Ivory Tusq Bone
Nut Width: 43mm (1.693'') 41.9mm (1.65'')
Electronics
Bridge Pickup: Gibson USA Firebird Mini Humbucker with Alnico 5 Magnets (Humbucker / Passive) Fender Custom Mike McCready 60s Single-Coil Strat (Single Coil / Passive)
Middle Pickup: Fender Custom Mike McCready 60s Single-Coil Strat (Single Coil / Passive)
Neck Pickup: Fender Custom Mike McCready 60s Single-Coil Strat (Single Coil / Passive)
Switch: 0 Way 5 Way
Knobs: Bell Bell
Pickup Mods: None None
Volume Controls: 1 1
Tone Controls: 1 2