Squier makes the best-selling guitars for beginners and intermediate guitarists.
And they’re so popular for a reason.
Fender is one of the biggest guitar brands of all time. But their instruments are far from budget-friendly.
Even the cheaper Fender Player series guitars have high price tags on them.
That’s where Squier comes in.
As Fender’s budget subsidiary, they make stripped down versions of famous Fender guitars and sell them for much less.
The Squier Bullet Stratocasters are the best value guitars they make. We’ll take a closer look at the HSS HT version in this review to see if it is right for you.
We’ll also compare it to the Affinity Stratocaster, which is the next level up among Squier models.
Table of Contents
Squier Bullet Stratocaster HSS HT Review: Overview And Features
Squier guitars are hugely popular among beginning and intermediate players, because they give you access to Fender instruments at a budget price. Naturally, that does mean some sacrifices.
The workmanship and components are never going to be as good as a real Fender, but you can’t expect that. For what you get, they are great value.
We prefer the Yamaha Pacific series when it comes to budget Strats, but if you want a budget instrument that is designed to resemble a real Fender as closely as possible, Squier is the best option.
Even many gigging musicians rely on Squier, if they don’t make enough money to afford a Fender. In many cases they can afford one, but they’ve been happy with a Squier all along, so they never make the change.
- Standard Stratocaster body design
- Basswood body
- Maple neck with Indian laurel fretboard
- 21 frets
- C-profile neck
- 25.5-inch scale length
- 9.5-inch fretboard radius
- Hardtail bridge with block saddles
- Humbucker-single-single pickup configuration
- Two tone and one volume control
- 5-way pickup selector switch
Design And Construction
Bullet Strats have a basswood body and a maple neck with an Indian Laurel fretboard. The materials are cheaper than those used to make a Fender, as you would expect. But the guitar features the same exact design traits as a Fender Strat.
It also has 21 frets, which is what you see on most Fenders. The neck is bolted on to the body and it forms a standard scale length of 25.5 inches.
The “HSS” in the name refers to the pickup configuration. This guitar has a humbucker in the bridge position and two single pickups in the middle and neck positions. Classic Fender Strats have three single pickups.
As you might expect, there is also a version available with three single pickups. We prefer the HSS, because it gives you some “rougher” riffing tones in the bridge position.
This means more tone options, making it much more versatile. The guitar also comes with the standard Strat controls for 5-way pickup switching, two tone knobs, and one master volume.
The pickups are Squier’s stock pickups. They are good for this price level, but you’ll probably want to swap them out for better ones, if you want to use your guitar for more serious stuff.
Since the guitar feels great, many choose to replace the stock pickups with higher-end ones. That turns this into an instrument you can use even professionally. For beginners the stock pickups work just fine.
The “HT” in the name stands for hardtail bridge. You might see this as downside, because it lacks the whammy bar that you expect to see on Stratocasters.
Not having a tremolo bridge definitely makes the guitar less versatile. But tremolo bridges are harder to string and the take the instrument out of tune more easily. Hardtail bridges are often a better choice for beginners.
Advantages And Disadvantages
- Great deal for the price.
- 5-way pickup switching for versatile tone-shaping options
- Humbucker in the bridge for heavier tones
- Neck feels great
- Easy to set up
- Great for beginners
- Upgrading pickups makes it great for even professionals
- Pickups could be better
- Hardtail bridge (no whammy bar)
Squier Bullet Stratocaster HSS Vs Squier Affinity Stratocaster
The bullet series is only one of Squier’s hugely popular lines of electric guitars. Another is their Affinity series. These are basically a step up from the Bullets, in terms of pricing and features.
At first glance, the two look almost identical. The design elements are exactly the same. The differences come in the materials and components.
Affinity guitars have alder bodies, instead of basswood. The neck is Maple, same as the bullet, but the fretboard is also maple. That is the same as Fender Strats, and one of the most popular features of the Affinity guitars.
On top of that, the headstock design is copied from those late 1960s and 1970s Stratocaster models. It is noticeably larger than the headstock on standard Strats.
Both the feel and the tone of an Affinity Stratocaster is closer than the Bullets to real Fender guitars.
The standard classic Affinity Strat comes with three single-coil pickups, as well as a Fender-style tremolo bridge with block saddles. There is also a version available with a humbucker in the bridge position, in case you want the added versatility.
These are the same stock pickups by Squier, so you get a similar output to the Bullet series. This means a good tone for the price, but nothing spectacular.
Since both of these instruments are intended for beginners or intermediate players, the pickups work just fine. As always, you can swap them out if you want something better.
Both the Bullet and the Affinity Stratocasters are great values for the price. The necks feel especially great and are a standout feature. You would not expect such great necks in this price range.
Which one of these two series is better depends entirely on you. The Affinity is the better guitar, but it also costs more. In terms of value, they are basically equal.
We would primarily base the decision on the bridge. If you want the tremolo, get the Affinity. If you don’t want or need the whammy bar, go with the Bullet.
Squier Bullet Stratocaster Review: Conclusion And Rating
Squier is the main choice for beginning and intermediate players. The Squier Bullet Stratocaster HSS HT reviewed here is an incredibly popular budget model that we voted as the best cheap electric guitar option on the market.
It uses lower cost components and materials, but retains the Fender Stratocaster look and feel. For the price, what you get is amazing.
The main drawback is the hardtail bridge, but only if you prefer a tremolo. In that case, you can get the variant with the tremolo bridge, but be warned that it is far lower quality than a real Fender one. It does not feel nearly as good and goes out of tune easily.
If you prefer the tremolo, you’d be better off getting the Affinity Strat from Squier, instead of the Bullet.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of a Squier guitar is consistency. You can try one, and any other example will feel and sound exactly the same.
Just don’t expect too much of them. This is a cheap guitar. But it does outperform its price category. By a lot. That’s why we give it a Musicaroo rating of 4.1 out of 5.