Squier has been in business for decades now. Their Stratocaster copies are among the most popular beginner guitars ever made. One great thing about this brand is the fact that they’ve kept evolving and upgrading their models, even though they didn’t have to. One of the resulting guitars is the Squier by Fender Affinity Stratocaster HSS. It solves some pretty big issues that previous Affinity versions had to deal with and is definitely among the best guitars under $200.
Body And Neck
Squier by Fender Affinity Stratocaster HSS doesn’t only share the shape with the guitar it was inspired by, it also shares the type of tonewood. You get an alder body that comes in a variety of finishes. The neck is a standard maple design with a 9.5-inch radius, which is close to the original. As usual, this Affinity features a rosewood fretboard and regular dot inlays. Build quality is decent, to say the least, but we have to say that the level of craftsmanship has improved significantly compared to the original Affinity Strat.
In terms of hardware, you get the same old, proven synced tremolo bridge which was based on Fender’s legendary design. How well it works will depend on how insisting you are with using the whammy bar. Not ideal, but completely reasonable considering the price. As for the tuning machines, you get a set of basic die cast tuners which perform pretty much within the same guidelines as the bridge. If you don’t push them too hard, you won’t have issues. Naturally, extreme string bends and whammy dives will push the guitar out of tune, and that is perfectly fine.
Here’s where things get a bit interesting. Instead of going for the standard SSS single coil configuration, Squier decided to spice things up by adding one humbucker to the mix. There are Fender Strat models which feature the same configuration, even though they are pretty rare. The controls available come ion form of the standard individual tone knobs and a master volume knob. Pickup select switch has a bit of a different function this time around, however it’s pretty much the same.
The addition of the humbucker does wonders for signal chains that include some sort of distortion. Cheap single coils are limiting as is, but forcing them to deal with saturated distortion definitely pushes them over the edge. With a chunky humbucker in the mix, you don’t have to worry about that. This is one of the rare Squires which are pretty good for heavier rock or even metal. The tone is decently defined and features a good amount of output.
Overall, Squier by Fender Affinity Stratocaster HSS offers a different take on the Stratocaster series, and gives the metalheads out there a tool they can actually use. This Affinity might even be a better choice for a first guitar than the standard one, seeing how versatile it is. At the end of the day, it’s a great guitar for the money.