Jul 23, 2013

Fender Squier Bullet Strat Review

          The Squier Bullet Stratocaster is a beginner's electric guitar modeled on the Fender Strat.  It costs on average about $130 and is a decent first guitar.

More after the break.

          First off, the build quality of this guitar is excellent for the price.  When I first got it there were absolutely no loose or wobbly parts.  The knobs turn smoothly and the pickup selector works well.  There were also no marks or scratches except for on the pickguard, which scratches rather easily.

          The pickguard also came coated with a plastic wrapping that got stuck under the knobs when peeled off.  I don't notice it anymore but it seemed like bad planning in the design to leave the wrapping on.

          For a while I was disappointed with the tremolo arm / whammy bar because it didn't seem to have much of an affect.  In fact, I just wasn't pushing hard enough (not wanting to break my first guitar).  Wow.  Anyway, using a little more force opened up a new level of wham-ness for me :)  Floyd Rose bridges are significantly more effective and have a wider variety of effects, but the synchronized bridge on this isn't bad.  Dive bombs are smaller but still effective and it's a lot of fun to use.  On the negative side, it goes out of tune pretty quick when using it.

          The neck is actually surprisingly good for a beginner guitar.  It is a medium size, thinner than a Gibson, thicker than an Ibanez, and pretty fast.  I very lightly sanded off some of the clear coating, which makes it much smoother and faster, which I highly recommend doing.

          The fretboard has 21 frets and has decent upper fret access.  I'd prefer 24 frets but it's a Strat.  The strings were okay and the action low right out of the box.

          Another pleasant surprise is how well the tuners work.  I don't know the brand or if they are generic but it stays in tune very well.

          Overall build and factory set up was exceptional in my opinion.  Squier did a great job making a solid guitar and setting it up right.

          Now on from the physical appearance to the sound.

          Sound is difficult to measure quality wise due to the sheer variety of variables: what amp, what effects, etc.  Plugging it into my very basic Fender Frontman 10g the sounds it made were pretty much what could be expected of a low price Stratocaster; thin twangy tone.  However, running it through the bigger better Mustang 1 gave it a fuller, more bassy tone.

          Still, single coils can only do so much.  My recommendation is this:  if you are set on getting a Squier Strat, get one with a humbucker in the HSS setup.  I didn't really know a thing about pickups, and got it because it was a shape and brand I knew.  I also didn't know single coils have a very different sound than the music I was looking to play (hard rock and such).  Hence the thin twangy tone.

           One thing that can be said for certain about the sound is that the sustain is terrible.  Holding out a note for more than a few seconds results in the note getting faint and breaking up.  Not good.  This isn't a really major issue but it isn't good either.

          Overall the tone is a basic Stratocaster sound only obviously cheaper and lower quality than either a Mexican Strat (around $500) or an American Strat (around $1000).  This is either good or bad depending on your style.  If you want to play country or jazz, go ahead.  If you want to play rock it's a little iffy but it can manage with a good amp.  For metal you really need a different guitar or a lot of effects pedals.  :)


Comfortable Strat Style
Solid build
Good neck
Great setup
Low price
Decent Tremolo effects


Tremolo Arm tuning issues
Very generic appearance (personal opinion)

          All in all, this Squier Strat is worth the low price.  The build quality is great for the price and the cons aren't major.  The tremolo arm can just be taken off and more tonal variety can be obtained by just getting a HSS Strat instead.  The sustain can't be fixed but isn't a dealbreaker itself.  The verdict?  If I were given the choice all over again I probably would have chosen the Les Paul Special II because of the sustain and heavier Les Paul sound.  Even so, if you would prefer a Stratocaster, the Squier Bullet is still a decent choice.  While even moderately more expensive guitars are much better, for such a cheap guitar, it really is quite nice. 8 of 10 stars

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