This has nothing to do with what models you choose or how much they cost.
You could very well build the guitar yourself from scrap metal but what’s important is that you’re comfortable with holding the guitar in your hands, playing it and the sound it creates.
This can easily be adjusted later on, so don’t dismiss a perfectly good guitar just because the setup isn’t how you normally prefer it.
Keep in mind though that there’s a difference between a setup that you don’t like and a bad setup caused by poor assembly and parts. Over the last decade, Squire has regained much of its old reputation of producing high quality instruments for even the tightest budgets.
Swamp ash, or southern ash, is considered as the most musical wood and it’s often preferred by the more demanding players.
Its high density makes it a bright sounding wood with a strong punch and rich sustain.
Basswood was often used for Japanese Fenders in the 80s and 90s.
In fact, the reason why they are cheaper, ha sless to do with quality but rather lower labour costs, cheaper type of laquer and apply methods etc.
Japanese Fenders are considered to be above the Mexicans and perhaps even just as good as the US.