Looking for your first electric guitar but not sure whether you should choose an un-named, bargain basement guitar or something a little more established? In this Fender Squier Bullet Stratocaster Review we’ll take a look at one of the cheapest Squier Strats you can buy. We’ll take a look the features and discuss how it benefits from being cousins with Fender.
Background of Squier Bullet Strat
Squiers really started to make their mark in the 1980s. Fender had been suffering as a result of rival companies making cheaper copies of their Stratocasters and telecaster. Fender decided it was time to take them on directly.
Fender did a land on the Japanese companies who had been benefiting from lower labor costs and partnered with local companies to establish Fender Japan. Fender began to take back share in the Japanese market, but the Japanese produced guitars also made a splash world-wide. Over the years the production of Squiers has moved to other countries, such as Indonesia.
Features of Squier Bullet Strat
The Squier Bullet strat is squarely aimed at beginner guitarists. A few key features of the Bullet are designed with the beginner in mind. First of all the body of the guitar is made from basswood, which makes it incredibly light. The body is also very thin, which helps to keep the weight down and helps with playability.
The bullet has medium-jumbo frets, which are larger than normal making it easier for beginners to fret notes and chords. The neck of the guitar is designed in a “C” shape. It makes fretting easier because the shape of the neck is sympathetic to the mechanics of your hand.
The finish on the neck is satin, which makes it easier to glide up and down the neck with your fretting hand. You’ll find that a lot of entry level guitars have a gloss finish to the neck. Dependent on the quality of the finish, gloss can sometimes feel a bit sticky.
The fingerboard is made from Laurel wood. Laurel is cheaper than Rosewood or Maple that you’d usually find on a strat, but the tone it produces is quite similar to Rosewood. The reason for it’s use in the Bullet is to keep the Bullet budget friendly. You really won’t notice much difference, especially if you don’t have a guitar with a Rosewood fingerboard to compare it to.
A lot of beginner guitars are designed with cheap machined heads and tuning pegs, which means the guitar easily slips out of tune. The Bullet uses die-cast materials for it’s tuning setup, which does a pretty good job of keeping the guitar in tune.
The Bullet has a Tremolo bridge, which means you can use a whammy bar to bend the pitch. Even in higher end strats using a whammy bar tends to cause the strings to slip out of tune a little. My Mexican strat has a Tremolo bridge and I think I’ve used a whammy bar about twice in 15 years. It depends on the style of music you want to play.
When it comes to pickups there are a few variations available. All of the models have a 3 pickup configuration, with a 5-way selector switch. That means you have five configurations you can select from, each with their own tone.
Move the pickup switch to the down position to use only the bridge pickup. Move it up one notch and you’ll be using a combination of the bridge and middle pickup. The next notch will use the middle pickup only. The next will use a combination of the middle and neck pickup and the next will use the neck pickup only.
It’s worth opting for the model with the humbucker pickup at the bridge. It’s $20 more but will give you more variation to work with. Plus a humbucker is better able to cope if you’re playing heavier styles. The pickups are ok. They’re not going to be top of the range as this is a beginner guitar, so keeping the price down is important.
Although the Squier benefits from Fender’s design expertise, it’s not made in any of the traditional Fender factories in Mexico or the US. It’s made in Indonesia, another reason the guitar is much lower in price than it’s cousins.
One problem with cheaper guitars, and the Squier Strat is no different, is that the fret wire edges can be a little bit sharp. Although it’s not a massive issue, it does make playing more uncomfortable. You’ll notice if you’re holding a caged chord and you slide up or down the neck. The frets haven’t been properly filed at the top and bottom of the neck. Possibly another trade off for a lower price.
The strings that come attached a pretty poor too. I’d certainly recommend replacing them. At least it gives you an opportunity to select a set of strings that you prefer.
However, for a beginner’s guitar it’s pretty good. You benefit from Fender design expertise. It’s looks and feels like a Fender Strat. It’s super light and the slightly larger frets are very beginner friendly. I’d have no problem recommending this to a beginner. Sure you can get cheaper beginner guitars, but overall I think the quality of the Squier Bullet makes for a better learning experience.
You probably wouldn’t be able to use this to gig. For a Fender Strat you can gig with you’d be looking at around $500. But if you want something cheap that you can learn on it’ll serve you for at least a few years. Most guitarists upgrade after a few years. I was playing an electro-acoustic guitar that cost around $200 for 3 years before I upgraded to my Fender strat.
The Squier Bullet has a good deal going for it considering it’s price. Possibly one of the best things about Squier strat is the features they inherit from their cousins, the Fender Strats. Here are some of the best bits:
- Super-Light Beginner Friendly Design
- Decent Tuning Hardware
- Good Value For Money
We need to be careful when considering the cons of the Squier Bullet. It’s a guitar aimed at beginners so inevitably there will be design choices made to keep the price down. Here are a few of the issues:
- Sharp Fret Wire Edges
- Need to Change the Stock Strings
- Will Need to Upgrade to Play Live
The Squier Bullet Strat is a great guitar to learn on. But be under no illusions that you’ll need to upgrade if you want to start playing live. That might be a few years, if at all, but it’s worth considering. That said, not many beginner guitars are suited to playing live, so it’s inevitable that you’ll need to upgrade at some stage.
The Bullet is well designed with the beginner in mind. Super lightweight and featuring medium-jumbo frets, it’s a lovely guitar to learn on. You’ll need to replace the strings when your guitar arrives. It’s an unfortunate reality that the strings that come on beginner guitars are often pretty poor quality. A slightly annoying feature is the sharp fret edges. By no means is that a showstopper, but it’s something to watch.
If you’re looking for something that’s inexpensive, decent quality and designed with the beginner in mind then the Bullet Strat is well worth considering. Found you perfect electric guitar? You’ll need an amp. Check out my post about the best small amps for guitar for more.
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