|Body And Neck:|
Fender’s budget little brother Squier is one of the key players when it comes to electric guitars under $200 and certainly leads the way, along with brands such as Epiphone and Yamaha. Today we look at a real modern classic, the Affinity Stratocaster HSS – also known as the Fat Strat – which is an excellent beginner guitar, especially if you like your Strats with a little edge. Interested? Read on…
Despite having the accolade of a budget guitar, the Affinity Stratocaster still shows off the timeless good looks of a Strat – the same iconic double-cutaway shape that you’d find on a Strat costing $10,000-plus! Of course, it doesn’t feel like a premium model. That’s not to say it’s bad, but this Strat is still a mass-produced, factory-made model, so is likely to come with a few blemishes here and there, while it will also need a bit of a setup out of the box.
It shows off a solid alder body with a few color options, including Montego Black and Olympic White, both with high-gloss finishes and a single-ply platinum sparkle pickguard. Squier stick to tradition as we move up the guitar, offering a maple neck with a C shape and a rosewood fretboard, fitted with 21 medium jumbo frets and simple dot inlays. Sitting on top of this is the large ‘60s-style headstock with the Squier logo. It’s a good-looking, playable and comfortable model, and for under $200 it’s all you can ask for.
In the introduction we mentioned that this model offers a little extra edge and that comes in the pickups. While the middle and neck positions are stocked with a Standard Strat single-coil pickup, the bridge breaks free from the traditional mold and offers a humbucker, which proves great for rock and metal styles when compared to a single-coil. Controls are simple, with a five-way pickup selector switch along with a master volume control, as well as a tone control for the middle and neck single-coils.
Elsewhere the hardware is relatively basic, as you’d expect on a guitar in this budget price range. Yet it still does the job. There’s a classic six-saddle vintage-style synchronized tremolo bridge with an accompanying whammy bar, while the headstock is fit with a set of sealed chrome tuning machines and chrome buttons.
So, what does it sound like? Sure, it’s not going to blow anyone away with tone as the pickups are all very basic, but it proves a versatile guitar for all kinds of music thanks to the trio of pickups and the five-way switching system. The single-coils are clear and crisp, while the humbucker allows for a beefier tone when played with distortion, which is great for metal and rock.
While the budget market is awash with Strat copies, nobody does it quite like Squier! There’s room for improvement, but for such a wallet-friendly price, it’s pretty great as it is. This Strat accommodates more aggressive tones, while giving guitarists good playability and timeless style. For practice and jamming sessions, we’d happily recommend the Affinity Strat HSS.