Today I thought we’d look at a guitar that’s aimed at beginners. In this Squier Affinity Telecaster review we’ll examine the Affinity, a step up from the Squier bullet telecaster. We’ll take a look at build, features, tone and finally provide a recommendation. Let’s get started.
Overview of Squier Affinity Telecaster
The Affinity is a full scale guitar (25.5″) in the shape of a Telecaster. The body is made from Poplar, which is similar to basswood commonly found on cheaper guitars. Poplar is a little tougher than basswood and produces a warmer and fuller resonance.
The body isn’t made of one solid piece of wood, which isn’t surprising considering the price. The body is finished in gloss polyurethane, which is commonly used on guitars around this price point. The gloss finish looks pretty good.
The neck is made of maple, which is bolted into the body. That’s a very common feature of Fender and Squier guitars, so no problem there. The neck profile is C shaped, which makes it a little flatter and easier to play. Good for a beginner.
There’s a satin urethane finish to the neck, which is a big plus. It would have been easy for them to have gone with gloss because it’s cheaper. The satin type finish makes it much easier to move around the neck.
The fingerboard is made from maple, which brings out the high end very well. It’s great for playing clean styles. There are 21 medium jumbo frets, which should be more than enough for any beginner. The fretwork is good, without any sharp edges. Black dot inlays mark out the key frets.
Continuing up the guitar we find the classically shaped telecaster headstock complete with the Squier logo. The tuning gear isn’t bad using the standard Fender die-cast tuning machines found on lower end guitars. They do a pretty good job of holding their tune.
One thing that’s disappointing, but to be expected, is the nut material. Ostensibly it’s made from plastic. Bone is always the best material to use for the nut, but given the price of this guitar we shouldn’t be surprised the nut is made from plastic.
Back to the other end of the guitar and onto the hardware. There are two standard single coil pickups found in other Squier telecasters. One is located at the bridge and the other at the neck. There’s a three-way pickup selector that enables you to select the bridge pickup, the neck pickup or a combination of both at the middle position.
There’s also master tone and master volume control knobs. The controls are ok, but they do feel a little cheap. For example the pickup selector switch doesn’t feel all that solid. That’ll be down to the need to reduce costs where possible. The hardware is finished in chrome.
The bridge is hard tail fixed with 6 saddle. The saddles are adjustable giving you finer control over intonation. You can also adjust the truss rod if you want to alter the action. It’s probably best to have a luthier or your local guitar shop do this for you, especially if you’re a beginner.
The strings are fed through the bridge at the front of the guitar rather than through a backplate like they are with other telecasters. Again this is a measure aimed at keeping costs as low as possible. I guess it doesn’t make too much difference, it’s just a little strange to me!
The Affinity comes with a set of nickel plated steel .009’s, which aren’t bad. As normal you’ll probably want to swap these out for your favored brand and gauge. The guitar is made in China, which is another nod to cost saving. Despite this the quality is still very good.
One thing I noticed is that the Affinity is very light. It weighs around 7 pounds (3kgs), so good for beginners or those with a bad back.
Let’s talk a little about tone. The bridge pickup faithfully reproduces that characteristic twang associated with the telecaster. It produces punchy and sharp tones. The neck pickup is warm but could do with a little more punch. Having said that the Affinity is capable of producing tones for a variety of styles.
Anything from twangy country to classic rock and funk through to blues. The only thing it won’t handle is higher gain styles. You’d need a guitar with at least one humbucking pickup for that.
I’m surprised I’m saying this, but there’s actually a lot to like about this relatively cheap beginner’s guitar. Perhaps the secret is in the craftmanship. A good action, clean frets and it sounds good. Here are the best bits:
- Light & Comfortable to Play
- Outstanding Value
The Affinity does have it’s issues. These mostly stem from the need to keep costs down to keep the price low. Here are some of things I didn’t like:
- Plastic Nut
- Hardware is a little cheap – pickup selector, knobs
- Jack input is ugly
Probably the biggest question to ask is how does the Affinity Telecaster perform against the Bullet Telecaster? Aside for the aesthetic differences, the key difference is the tone. The pickups on the Affinity are capable of higher output, which in turn leads to a fuller, fatter and more rounded tone. I think it also benefits from production in China versus the Bullet, which is produced in Indonesia.
The Affinity is lightweight, comfortable to play and can produce a variety of tones. It’s not available with a darker wood fingerboard. It would have been nice to have had the choice, but none-the-less it’s still an impressive offering for the price.
The Affinity is a great guitar for beginners. The extra punch you get from the pickups versus the Bullet Telecaster is worth the difference in the price. I feel that the Affinity will serve you for longer before needing to upgrade. If you’re into your higher gain styles, you’d be better off with something with humbucking pickups. Take a look at my post introducing the best beginners electric guitars.
I hope you’ve found this post useful. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. Alternatively you can get in touch using my contact page.
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