Squier Stratocaster Review – 2020 Overview

Vlad
| Last Updated: December 29, 2020

Squier is a guitar company known for being able to deliver decent guitars at a very low price.

But, did Fender make mistakes and provide “too much” quality for certain Squier models? Let’s find out.

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Comfortable C shape neck profile
  • Strap, Gigbag, and instrument cable is include
  • It is ideal for the beginner guitar player
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Squier by Fender Affinity Stratocaster Beginner Pack, Laurel Fingerboard, Brown Sunburst, with Gig Bag, Amp, Strap, Cable, Picks, and Fender Play

PROS

  • Very affordable model
  • All the required accessories included
  • Comes with the standard SSS pickup setup
  • Provides You with the typical Stratocaster playability

CONS

  • Mediocre Tuning machines
  • Hit and miss with the Frontman 15G amp

Squier Affinity Stratocaster Specs 

  • Type of Guitar: Electric Guitar

  • Body Size and Type: Stratocaster body type with 3-ply White pickguard

  • Number of Strings: 6-string model

  • Tonewood: Poplar solid body 

  • Orientation: Available for both Right and Left hand players

  • Neck Profile: 1-piece Satin Maple “C” shape neck with the 1.6-inch nut width

  • Fretboard: Indian Laurel fretboard with 21 Medium frets

  • Scale Length: 25.5 inches

  • Bridge: 6-Saddle Vintage-Style Synchronized Tremolo

  • Color: 2-color Sunburst, Brown Sunburst, Competition Orange, Race Red, Slick Silver, Surf Green, and Black 

  • Pickup Type: Standard Single-coil Strat SSS pickup configuration. Also available in HSS pickup configuration

  • Weight: 6.5 lbs

Squier by Fender Affinity Series Stratocaster Beginner Pack

Pros

Provides You With the Typical Stratocaster Playability

It may not give you exactly the same sound as Fender Strat would, but it will be pretty close, especially if you dare to do a blind test. Anyway, the playability will be pretty much the same. The neck has the same nut width, the profile has the original “C” shape just like found on the Strat and the tremolo bridge will provide you with the same functionality as found on a real Strat.

Comes With the Standard SSS Pickup Setup

The essential about having a Strat lies in SSS pickup configuration and Squier’s nails this down perfectly. It even provides you with the 5-way pickup switch so you can use positions 2 and 4 to stop the pickup buzzing if you’re practicing at home. And, since it’s more than 60 years since this configuration was made, there is an HSS setup as well that may match the modern era a bit better.

Very Affordable Model

Having a fully functional guitar at this price is something that we have taken for granted, but it shouldn’t be. The cut-costs are done smoothly so you won’t feel you’re missing anything important while the price will be really appreciated for all guys who are just starting out with their playing.

All the Required Accessories Included

If you’re a newbie, buying a proper cable, strap, gig bag, picks may have an impact on your morale. Not to mention the neverending dilemma of browsing which guitar amp is right for you. That’s why this beginner pack will come in handy as it will cover all those requirements along with the guitar purchase and it will work just fine for home jamming and practicing.

You’re especially going to appreciate the headphones output on the Fender Frontman 15G as it will allow you to practice in complete silence.

Cons

Hit and Miss With the Frontman 15G Amp

While we appreciate the included amp at this price, we feel that the 8-inch amp isn’t big enough for a proper overdrive or dist guitar sound. Clean guitars will sound nice, but it will lack that low-end if you want to play anything else. If you know you’re going to play a lot of drive sounds, think twice do you really need this amp.

Mediocre Tuning Machines

At this price, something simply had to be a letdown and for the Affinity series, those are tuning machines definitely and they have an impact regarding tuning stability. It’s not something that a newbie will notice but it may start bugging you as you evolve with your playing.

What Recent Buyers Report 

Most buyers were beginners looking for their first guitar and they would gladly recommend it to other people. The build quality is superb for this price range and the quality control seems to be decent so you won’t get a faulty model so easily.

You can tell that quality control is doing their job by simply inspecting the fret polishing work - it appears to be very smooth and round. Both adults and youngsters are happy with this purchase in the majority and say it’s definitely worth the cash this beginners pack to be time-saver.

Those more experienced players say that the sustain is a bit of a let down due to its thin body profile and that you will outgrow the amp provided quickly. They also recommend you to change strings upon arrival and clean your instrument regularly as Gloss finish on the body is known to be a real fingerprint magnet.

And as we saw that many buyers are reporting scratched pickguards issues upon arrival, we have to interfere and explain to you that those scratches are most probably on cellophane protect covers and that you should remove it when you get your instrument. 

What Are the Components of the Squier Affinity Stratocaster? 

The Squier Affinity Stratocaster of made by Poplar tonewood with a Gloss finish and white 3-ply pickguard. On the bridge, there is a 6-Saddle vintage-style tremolo bridge. All hardware is chrome plated.

Neck is made of 1-piece Maple with Satin finish and it has an original Fender “C” shape profile with 21 Medium frets and 25.5 inches scale length on an Indian Laurel fretboard. Fingerboard radius is 9.5 inches. The headstock is equipped with sealed tuning machines and it has an authentic Squire gold decal. 

Pickup configuration consists of triple passive single-coil standard Strat pickups along with 5-position switch, volume, and two-tone control potentiometers placed on the pickguard. There is another Squier Affinity model that comes with a humbucker pickup installed at the bridge, too.

What Kind of Nut is on a Squier Affinity Stratocaster?

Squier Affinity Series comes with the regular Stratocaster nut width of 1.6 inches or 40.6mm. It’s made of synthetic bone material.

What Strings Come on Squier Affinity Stratocaster?

Strings are Nickel plated Steel models made by Fender for their factory stock line and they have string gauges of .009-.042 Gauges.

What Types of Music is the Squier Affinity Stratocaster Best For?

Stratocaster is an excellent lead guitar instrument. Thanks to the tremolo bridge it will allow you to express yourself much better than models with the fixed bridge. That being said, any kind of rock music, hard rock or indie, it will feel like home for this Squier. Even rhythm sound can sound quite decent if you’re not into modern rock music so much.

Apart from playing solo, Strat is also a wonderful guitar for playing clean sounds and that’s why it will work well for funk, pop, disco, reggae, and even blues and jazz music as well.

What Ages and Skill Levels is the Squier Affinity Stratocaster Suitable For?

Squier is Fender’s entry-level sub-brand that has one simple goal - provide an affordable instrument to beginners while preserving all the traits Fender guitars have in common. If your kids can hold this guitar on their own it will suit them well.

That being said, it’s an ideal first-time instrument to purchase. It has a wonderful action and the intonation remains for a long time which makes this instrument ideal to develop your skills further. Pickups are more than decent for starters and that’s why it could be useful for advanced players looking for a backup instrument.

History of Stratocaster

In the guitar world history, there is probably no more significant model than a Fender Stratocaster. Let’s see what’s so special about it:

What Year Did Leo Fender Introduce the Stratocaster?

Stratocaster was invented back in 1954. It was a huge commercial success from the beginning and all the credits for the double cutaway design go to Fender Precision electric bass guitar model. It was an upgrade compared to the Telecaster and the first guitar with three pickups.

Why is it Called a Stratocaster?

After the initial success with the Telecaster and Precision Bass, the Strat got its name from Don Randall, Fender’s sales and marketing lead. He was an aviation fan, and that’s how it got the “Strato” prefix (part of the atmosphere) it’s believed the name was a tribute to aircraft technology.

Why Was Stratocaster so Important?

It was way different than any other guitar on the market back in 1954. It was a bold move to go with a double cutaway body design and especially with the unique three single coil pickup configuration along with a 5-way selector. With three pickups it got more gain and improved the original Telecaster setup. And so many years later, it remained as the template for so many guitars.

Fender vs Squier Guitars

It wouldn’t be fair to compare flagship Fender Stratocasters such as American Professionals with Squier models as the price difference should tell you enough. That’s why we’re going to focus on the differences between Fender Player series budget models and Squier counterparts.

Apart from the logo found on the headstock, you won’t notice so much of a visual difference. Also, the origin country (Mexico and USA for Fender vs China and Indonesia for Squier) should indicate quality control and the hardware parts, but based on craftsmanship it doesn’t have to mean a lot. 

Simply put, Squier models are cheaper because it’s essentially cheaper for Fender to make those models. That’s why you may get more bang for the buck with such a choice eventually. 

Anyway, the differences between those brands are getting smaller everyday and the Squier Classic Vibe series is a true example of how these guitars can match with the Fender Player series. When challenged by the blind test, musicians even tend to pick Squier models over Fender. 

That’s why we would recommend you to ignore the brand name as it’s all about Fender’s marketing decisions where they will draw the line between those two brands.

What Makes the Squier Affinity Stratocaster Stand Out From the Competition?

Fender Stratocaster has been on the market for more than 65 years and despite all the models made meanwhile, it still holds its ground firmly. 

That’s why Squier Affinity Stratocaster is an affordable solution for those musicians who are short on a budget. It shares the same philosophy about having the SSS pickup configuration and tremolo so the playing experience will be about the same. 

And when we say affordable, we actually feel that at this price there is quite a shortlist of the guitars you should consider in general, so, it’s a blessing to have Affinity Series to fill such a gap.

Comparison Overview 

Let’s see what’s the difference between different Squier Stratocaster models:

Squier Affinity Stratocaster vs Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster

Classic Vibe is Squier’s most expensive series at this moment and many players tend to place them on par with Fender’s Made in Mexico (MIM) models. Some would even dare to say they are even closer to US models than the Fender Player series. 

But, if we put personal preference aside, it is completely safe to say that Classic Vibe models fill the price gap between standard Squier and Fender entry-level models.

That being said, the difference is significant and if your budget allows it, it’s worth investing in Classic Vibe. Body seems to generate more sustain, pickups are upgraded to Alnico models and all 3 pickups have a tone control, unlike Affinity models that come with the only dual tone control. 

Squier Affinity Stratocaster vs Squier Bullet Stratocaster

Squier Bullet is the cheapest Squier at the moment and it was designed for complete beginners who would like to start as cheap as possible. 

They share pretty much the same design - both have 21 Medium frets and C shape neck profile and are available in both the HSS and SSS pickup configuration with the identical tone control. But, the tonewood is Basswood instead of Alder, and Bullet models don’t have a tremolo bridge. Also, the left-hand model is available only with the Affinity Series.

Squier Affinity vs Ibanez Gio 

While the price won’t make a decision, Ibanez Gio might be a better all-around solution for you then. Especially if you're still learning about your musical preferences.

For those who are into hard rock and metal music, we feel that Ibanez guitars might be a better solution as they come with HH or HSH pickup configuration which will allow you more aggressive sound than Squier SSS and HSS setup. There are even some seven-string models so you can play all kinds of modern metal songs. 

And with the switch upgraded to 5-way, Ibanez models have a single coil pickup position so they can handle clean sounds as well.

The only drawback would be the pickup quality as you will outgrow it at some point and may consider upgrading it.

But, if you’re sure that overdrive and clean sounds are a major part of your playing, we would advise you to pick Squier instead as Strat pickup configuration is unmatched for such sounds.

Conclusion 

Squier Stratocaster is a handy instrument that will provide you with the typical Strat playing experience without hitting hard on your wallet. It will be a perfect solution for all beginners looking for their first purchase and you can develop your solo playing skills thanks to the tremolo bridge installed.

People Also Ask

Now that you are aware of how good Squier guitars can be, let’s break some other myths such as where it stands against Epiphone, or how hard it is to play. We’ll also provide you with a complete price range of Squier Stratocaster models and explain to you how a tremolo bar or truss rod works.

Where are Squier Affinity Stratocaster Guitars Made?

All Squier Affinity Stratocasters are made in Fender facilities in China and Indonesia.

What Does a Tremolo Bar Do?

If you’re into rock music, then using a tremolo bar will come naturally to you. Tremolo bar affects the pitch of the played note and gives you another dimension of expressing your playing style. Instead of bending a string, you can use the tremolo bar instead which will bend all the strings together.

What Does a Truss Rod Do?

Truss rod is a metal bar that goes through the guitar's neck interior. It works oppositely from the strings. While the strings pull the neck forward, the truss rod is designed to bring it back. By tightening or loosening the truss rod you’re actually defining how much neck forward movement you’re going to allow.

Is the Squier Stratocaster Hard to Play?

Playing Squier Stratocaster is very similar to any other Fender Stratocaster. So, if you have played one, you will get to it in no time. The neck has a very similar response, same width and the finish craftsmanship is excellent so you won’t have trouble with the build quality.

Is the Squier Better Than Epiphone?

While both of these brands are actually sub-brands by their owner, at this moment we must say that Epiphone provides a little bit more serious instrument than Fender. It’s somewhat more similar to Fender Players guitars for example. But, just like Fender and Gibson, those two companies have hardcore fans.

How to Care For a Squier Affinity Stratocaster Guitar

Always try to store your instrument into a case when you’re finished with playing as it will prevent the dust from getting beneath the pots. Strings should be cleaned before and after playing them as it will prolong their lives and try to avoid direct contact with any kind of liquid.

Is a Squier Affinity Stratocaster a Good Guitar?

Squier series are quite familiar with being very affordable. They might be ideal choices for many newbies and they will provide you with all the essential features they may require at the beginning. That’s why Squire Stratocaster will be as versatile as the Fender full version is.

Squier by Fender Affinity Series Stratocaster Beginner Pack

How Much is a Squier Stratocaster?

Squier Stratocaster is a cheap instrument. Most models are found around $200 figure. However, the cheapest Stratocaster by Squier is Bullet Strat or Mini Strat around $120 while the most expensive models are Classic Vibe models ranging up to $350 based on the vintage era it is covering.

How to Setup a Squier Stratocaster?

Setting up a guitar is an advanced technique of fine-tuning your instrument and should be performed only by experienced users. If you’re interested in finding more about the whole process, check the Fender page for more details. 

Vlad

I'm a 35-year-old rock-oriented professional musician from Belgrade, Serbia with 20 years of field experience in various areas of the music industry. After graduating from elementary music school I joined my first band Alogia in 2001 which had incredible initial success with the debut album and became one of the greatest Balkan heavy metal acts ever. We have recorded several studio and live albums and played as an opening act for Whitesnake, Apocalyptica, and Paul Di’Anno. Meanwhile, I got a chance to collaborate with Roland Planet shop and get familiar with various music equipment for more than a decade. For the last eight years, I have done live audio mixing for numerous bands and other live and studio events, including some TV audio mixing for national television broadcast as well. Currently, I’m playing keyboards for one of the most authentic Serbian music rock legends - Dr. Nele Karajlić, also known for his work with Zabranjeno Pušenje and No Smoking Orchestra.