Squier bullet strat review

written by play electric guitar on October 12, 2011 in beginner electric guitars with 6 comments

My Squier bullet strat review

In this review I’ll be using my own bullet strat to demonstrate some of the sounds as well as give you some ideas on how to get the most out of the instrument.

For starters, I am suitably impressed with the quality of the guitar. I don’t usually buy the bottom of the range cheapest guitar I can find, but on a recent trip to Australia I was reluctant to take one of my guitars along and thought it would be easier to just buy the cheapest half decent guitar I could find while I was there.

Of course my thinking soon turned to the idea of finding a good beginners electric guitar that I could recommend to others. It just so happened that not only was the Squier bullet strat the cheapest beginner electric guitar made by Fender, but also the cheapest beginner electric guitar I could find out of all the makes available at the time.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t cheaper options for a beginner, but at the time and the places I went to, this was the case. I’ll list some other alternatives as well at the end for those of you looking for a decent stratocaster copy on a budget that won’t budge.

The Squier bullet strat price:

Truth be told, I was expecting to pay less in Oz or at least the same price I had seen them advertised for online. It turned out to be more expensive there at 199 Australian dollars. The current going price online for a Squier bullet strat is about 119 US dollars.

Fender-Stratocaster-descriptionThe Squier bullet strat features:

The features of the Squier bullet strat are exactly the same as a standard Fender Stratocaster. There’s some compromise in the quality of the Bullet strat over a regular Stratocaster, but this is to be expected.

  • Like any Fender Stratocaster this has a bolt on neck: The advantage of this is that if something happens to either the neck or the body, the whole guitar isn’t wasted. There are Fender Strat replacement parts made by many companies. Another nice thing about that is the ability to upgrade just about any part of the guitar later on to turn it into whatever stratocaster your heart desires.
  • Three single coil pickups: I was pleasantly surprised by the true to form Stratocaster sound these pickups delivered. There are now other options for pickup configurations available in the Squier Bullet range since I bought mine. There’s the Fat Strat with a humbucker pickup in the bridge position as well, which is great for getting a wider range of sounds. Humbucking pickups are better at producing a good rock sound in the bridge position.
  • A maple neck with rosewood fretboard and what I think are medium jumbo frets: I found the neck to be slighly fatter than an old Affinity Strat I once used. It is still a comfortable thickness and doesn’t slow me down noticeably. The fretwork on mine was very well done and with a proper setup I was able to get a fairly low action, which I like.
  • A vintage style tremelo: I personally prefer this to the 2 point fulcrum tremelo, but I’m not a big tremelo user so it’s a minor issue. The thing to keep in mind with this guitar is that exessive use of the tremelo will pull the guitar out of tune. This isn’t a flaw in the tremelo design but rather a shortcoming of the headstock design. This can be remedied later on with a couple of small upgrades, but I’ll get into that later.
  • A 5 way pickup selector switch: This lets you select not only each pickup, which all have a different sound because of their position, but an extra two positions 2 and 4 which still have that classic shimmering stratocaster sound even though it’s their cheapest guitar. Positions 2 and 4 combine the first and second pickup or second and third pickup out of phase with each other. This also helps cancel out external interference from flourescent lights, computer monitors, TV’s and anything else that emits radio frequencies.
  • One volume and two tone controls: This is something I’ll never understand about Stratocaster guitars. The two tone controls on a Stratocaster are for the middle and neck pickups, and like all passive tone controls they can only cut the amount of treble. All fine and well, except that these two positions don’t need it at all. The bridge pickup needs one sometimes. Oh well….. I guess I’ll just have to live with a trebly bridge pickup if I want a Standard Strat sound. If you go for the Fat Strat Bullet there’s at least a humbucker pickup there which is fuller and fatter sounding for rock music.
  • 6 inline tuning keys: Although these are cheaper tuners to what you find on most guitars, being only covered as opposed to sealed die-cast tuners, they work well and keep the guitar in tune. When beginners have a problem with their guitar not staying in tune, more often than not it’s from trying to use the tremelo system too vigorously, tuning down to notes instead of up, having too many windings around the tuning post (3 is more than enough, even 2) or not understanding that new strings have to be stretched in first.
  • Strap buttons: These are big enough and even my old worn out guitar strap stays on.

In this video I demonstrate the clean sounds of my Squier Bullet Strat

Here is the backing track I made for this demo: Squier bullet blues backing in A minor (You can right click and choose save as to download)

For the sake of added musicality the guitar sound has a touch of reverb. It’s a good thing to keep in mind that a guitar can only be as good as the amplifier you play it through. The clean sound is a better way to determine the tonal characteristics of a guitar, and in this case I’ve recorded it straight into the mixing desk.

For those interested in more of a rock guitar sound, the Squier bullet strat with a humbucking pickup in the bridge position would be a more appropriate guitar to get. You can check these out on amazon if you want: Squier by Fender BulletStrat HSS w/Trem, Black

More sounds of the Squier Bullet Strat:

I was going to make another video to demonstrate what this guitar sounds like with overdrive and distortion, and I may still do that, but for now here are some simple audio samples just to give a better idea.

Squier-bullet-overdrive-bridge-pickup

Squier-bullet-overdrive-bridge-and-middle-pickup

Squier-bullet-overdrive-middle-pickup

Squier-bullet-overdrive-middle-and-neck-pickup

Squier-bullet-overdrive-neck-pickup

It’s best to keep in mind that a guitar can only sound as good as the amplifier you play it through, so I can’t guarantee that you’ll get the same sound as me. Most beginner electric guitar packs feature some small practice amp along with other goodies. These small amps usually have a 6 or 8 inch speaker which in most cases allow too much high frequency through which always makes the distortion effect sound too buzzy.

There are of course exceptions to this rule, and true to form, you can expect it from Fender in the Fender Mustang 1 guitar amplifier

The perfect size guitar speaker is a 12 inch. This gives you enough bass end and good midrange frequency response for that typical electric guitar sound. It’s only when you have a well designed and engineered practice amplifier that you can hope to get the most out of your beginner electric guitar.

The Squier Bullet Strat is capable of producing a quality Stratocaster sound when used in conjunction with the right equipment.

What colors and options are available for the Squier Bullet Strat

There are 3 options, or types of Bullet Strat available as well as a few basic color choices. There’s the regular Strat with three single coil pickups, the Fat Strat which has a humbucker pickup in the bridge position and the Double Fat Strat (Although they don’t call it that) which has two humbucking pickups – One in the bridge position and one in the neck position.

The pickup configurations are described by the letters SSS for a typical three single coils, HSS for the Fat Strat and HH for the double humbucker version.

If you’re into rock guitar music but enjoy a little bluesy tone as well, I would go for the HSS Fat Strat option as it seems the most versitile. The double humbucker HH could be nice as well but then you’re missing out on those nice inbetween tones for some tasteful clean rhythm sounds.

Colours: All I can tell you is what colors are available and then advise you to choose a black one, unless of course you’ve got your heart set on a pink one.

The choices for color are, brown sunburst, arctic white, Daphne blue, Black, pink and fiesta red. Okay, I can’t really say which color to choose but from what I’ve heard and if I remember correctly, the arctic white is more of a cream color and the Daphne blue is more of a sea greenish color.

In conclusion: For a beginner on a budget, I think the Squier Bullet Strat is great value and a very workable guitar. As I’ve said before, just about everything on a Stratocaster style guitar is changeable at some stage and this will get you started nicely. Have it set up properly by a professional, or if you want, do a search and find out how to do it yourself seeing as it’s a valuable part of learning electric guitar.

If you’re looking for something cheaper but similar in quality, try an SX or Douglas Here.