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Squire Affinity Series Stratocaster

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4 Reviews

Manufacturer: Squire / Type: Electric Guitar

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    4 Reviews
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    • More +
      09.01.2013 10:48
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      Proper axe that will take you far into your journey as a Guitarist

      Squier Affinity Stratocaster HSS

      Overview

      Awhile back I decided to buy my first real 6-string, but not at the five and dime. I did some research. No, that's not quite right. I did A LOT of research. There are a bewildering array of guitars on the market. Even when you group them by company, you will find all sorts of shapes and styles.

      It doesn't stop there. You are soon plunged into a whole new language. One with terms like synchronised tremolo. Strung through alder body. Rosewood fretboards. Low action. Neck radius. Medium jumbo frets. Scale length. Stoptail bridges. Single coils, p90s and humbucking pickups. The dreaded truss rod. It's enough to reduce a grown man to a gibbering wretch.

      Soon I realised that I needed a price range and a range of reviews to balance them against. I also needed a guitar amp, as that's how an electric guitar is meant to be played. (An acoustic guitar by comparison works by amplifying the sound of the strings in a large, hollow body.) I soon settled on a Squier get started pack for a great low price of £210. Much less than what they originally went for.

      History

      So. Who the heck are Squier? They are owned by a parent company you may have heard of. The almighty Fender. Guitars historically are very expensive things. A standard off the rack made in America Stratocaster costs over £1000. Fender custom shop Stratocasters go for over three times that. The most expensive new Stratocaster I've seen locally is a mere snip at £6,499.

      In order to reduce prices and make their products more accessible, Fender opened factories in Mexico and then Japan and later other countries in the far east where they could produce lower priced Fender brand guitars, but also authorised copies which would cost even less but still be playable instruments.

      Fender was not the only major player in the guitar market to figure this out. Gibson did the same with Epiphone. The result is that the consumer wins. From my perspective, there's little point owning a really expensive guitar unless you're good enough to be signing autographs.

      The Squier Affinity series is middle ground in terms of the cost of the Stratocasters that Squier make. It is better than the bullet series, but not as good as the Vintage modified series. Stratocasters have been around since the 1950's, though there have been a number of variants.

      Notable users of top-end Stratocasters include Buddy Holly, Eric Clapton, Mark Knofler, Jeff Beck, Richie Blackamore, the Edge, David Gilmore, George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix and many more. The Stratocaster is perhaps the most famous guitar there is.

      "Charlene"

      My Guitar, my own, my precious has an even, metallic red polyurethane finish that sparkles nicely in bright light and was made in Indonesia. It has a curvy alder body with a rosewood fretboard on a maple neck. This combination helps create resonance and sustain for the pickups to transmit through to the amp. Basically, it sounds great. Even unplugged (without the pickups) you can clearly appreciate the clear tones and decent sustain (how long a note rings for).

      A standard Stratocaster has three single coil pickups. These create what is frequently called a "glassy" sound. The drawback is that this configuration is not good for distortion. That's the really heavy thick sound that you hear in rock and metal. You can still achieve this with single coils backed up with a suitable effects pedal, but that's significantly more money and additional hassle.

      P90 pickups can help achieve darker tones, but humbuckers (essentially double wound single coils) are the weapon of choice if you want to get a little dirty with your sound, while avoiding (or bucking) the hum that goes with it. And yea, the Stratocaster HSS configuration was born. In case you've not figured things out, that's a humbucker and two single coils. It's also called a "Fat Strat" because the sound is "thicker".

      There is a blade switch allowing for 5 positions. This selects the different pickups, or combination of the same. There's a plasticky knob for master volume and one for tone for each single coil. This helps you capture very different sounds using the same instrument and a guitar amplifier. The knobs are the cheapest thing about the guitar, but they can easily be swapped out for something better.

      There are 21 frets on the neck. Frets are the little raised metal bits that go across the fretboard of the guitar. They separate the neck into fixed segments representing semitones. If you press your finger down on a string by a fret, then pluck that string it shortens the vibrating length of that string. That's why a plucked open string (no finger on the fretboard) will always sound darker and lower in pitch than the same string fretted.

      Frets on cheaper guitars can be a point of failure if they are not dressed properly. This can result in rough edges, worn strings and guitar buzz. Mine are almost perfect. I've lucked out here as I bought online, but potential buyers should play safe and buy in person from a store with a good reputation.

      Once you factor in 21 frets with six strings, you have a massive arsenal of sounds available. And that's before you even think about chords, simple or otherwise. Learning guitar is not for the impatient. It takes time and practice to build muscle memory.

      Why I'm a Strat man

      Fender use a scale length of 25.5 inches. This is the length from the nut to the bridge. The bridge is where your strings go through the guitar to where they are anchored. This is referred to as "strung-through". Other guitar types use this, or anchor their strings on the top of the guitar in a stop-tail or bigsby bridge.

      The Fender / Squier scale is the closest to Classical guitar, and suits someone of a reasonable height with fairly large hands. Me, in other words. Someone more diminutive might find themselves happier with the Gibson / Epiphone scale of 24.75". Fender also do a Jaguar model (think pocket-sized Kurt Kobain) with a 24" scale.

      The bridge on the Stratocaster is a synchronous one, which means that you can use the little tremolo arm supplied with the guitar to pivot and slightly raise the bridge to alter the sound without sending it wildly out of tune. You've probably seen guitarists doing this. I don't bother, but it's still a nice to have.

      There is a 3-ply pickguard that's there to protect the body of your guitar from the general wear and tear associated with using a plectrum (Pick). Mine is white. The latest affinity fat strats seem to use black instead. In either case, for someone learning guitar a pickguard (or scratchplate) provides a certain piece of mind.

      The guitar weighs about 7 pounds. It's quite a surprise if you've not held a guitar before, but any notions of flimsiness will be immediately put to rest. It is a solid guitar made out of wood with bits of metal. Some guitars are lighter, some are much heavier. I find mine comfortable. The pack came with a strap, but you might want to change it out for something more expensive as it can work loose from the strap button.

      Summary

      You can pickup just the guitar for £160, but with so many great deals about, you'd be better off buying a pack instead. Mine came with a Fender Gdec jnr which is excellent. As this is reviewing the guitar, I won't go further.

      As you can tell, I'm really happy with my purchase. 15 months later and I can play several songs note for note all the way through. I can play riffs (sequences) from a host of others. I can even play partly by feel and experience. I may not be a Guitar god, but there are moments where everything slots in place and I feel like one for the briefest of moments!

      If you are serious enough to put the time in to learn guitar, don't be tempted to go cheaper than this. It is incredible value and will remain my backup guitar for a few years to come.

      If you are wondering what my main guitar will be, it's the one in my member picture. Fender Telecaster. Same scale length. Same neck radius. Similar weight. It's over twice the cost of this one, but having put 15 months in, I'm at the right level to get a little more serious about what has become a very rewarding hobby.

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      • More +
        04.11.2012 00:48

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        The perfect guitar for a beginner instrumentalist.

        Oh, what is there to possibly say about the Affinity Stratocaster that hasn't been said before? Well, the Squire company is a subsidiary of Fender, which means you'll already get good quality. This guitar is an amazing guitar for a beginner. It's got a nice sleek neck, and the body itself is relatively light. It has triple pickups and a 5 setting toggle, allowing you to play a myriad of different styles. From rock to jazz and almost everything a beginner should learn in order to move up to the more intense and fast styles, you can use this guitar to get the job done.

        I played this guitar for 3 years. It was my second guitar, my first being a Wal-mart First Act guitar. The moment I picked it up, it felt completely different from nearly everything else I'd played before. It's weight is very comfortable, and tuning it is a breeze. The added tremolo bar is excellent for learning the basics to psychedelic rock, and the fret board feels great on my fingers.

        If you want a relatively inexpensive way to learn guitar, this is definitely the guitar you should be thinking about to start out with.

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        11.07.2012 19:36

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        great beginners instrument

        My first ever guitar was a Squire Stratocaster copy just like this. I owned it for over ten years & it still played as well as when I first got it. Eventually I upgraded to better guitars but for a beginner or casual player this is a great place to start.

        I paid £165 back in the day & I'd expect to pay from there up to just over £200 today. A very good price for a well made & reliable guitar.

        It's an electric guitar so you'll need a small amplifier to hear it back properly & do it justice, these can be acquired for very little or you can spend more on larger & better quality equipment if you wish or as your skill level improves.

        On the body of the guitar are 3 knobs - one for volume, & the other 2 for tone, and a treble/rhythm switch. There is also a tremelo bar that can be removed if you don't wish to use it to begin with.

        This is a pretty standard beginners electric guitar, well built & will last. Recommended to young or new players everywhere.

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        05.06.2012 20:44
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        A lovely sounding guitar which really looks the part

        Squire Affinity Series Stratocaster

        Following the disaster with the LP style electric guitar I had purchased for my son at Christmas, he really needed another one to continue with his playing, but money doesn't grow on trees and I was finding it difficult to get the money together to buy yet another guitar. If it wasn't for the fact he was doing so well with his playing, I would have made him wait. But as it happens we came to an agreement where he would pay for the guitar in instalments, he really wanted this new guitar and to be fair I wanted him to have it too, so I went ahead and bought him this Squire Affinity Series Stratocaster.

        This guitar did not come with any extras at all, I thought this was a good sign as the whole price of the guitar was purely for the guitar itself and not for little extras they throw in for the price, which in my opinion devalues the guitar itself. We found this particular guitar on the Nevada website it cost £155.00 reduced from £204 I think it was. My son had decided to stay clear of the LP style and instead opted for a Fender style. Which means I have to buy a case for it to fit into as the one he has is the wrong shape.

        The Squire Affinity Series Stratocaster my son chose really does look the part, although I personally still favour the LP style guitar, this one does look really nice. The one he chose has a black high gloss finish, with a glossy white scratch board, the maple neck and fret board look quite stunning complete with a really smooth finish as it reaches the headstock at the top which is also maple wood. I must say that having all six shiny silver tuning pegs on the same side looks really good and rather neat. Situated on the body of the guitar are three knobs, one for volume and two for different tones, these can be adjusted as and when he requires, to achieve the sound he wants. At the side of these knobs is the switch for treble and rhythm, with the port for the amp cable on the opposite side of the knobs. The guitar did come with a tremolo bar attached but he has since removed it as he prefers to play without it.

        In comparison to the LP style guitar he has, this Squire Affinity Series Stratocaster is a lot lighter, to look at them both side by side the Squire Affinity Series Stratocaster looks a lot bigger. We have fitted a strap onto the guitar, making sure it is securely in place, we don't want any further accidents with guitars. He plays the guitar beautifully and he is a real pleasure to listen to. The quality of sound from this guitar is very good, even though he plays with only a little 10watt amp it sounds really good. He tells me it is so much lighter to hold and really nice to play.

        I am hoping this guitar will last a lot longer than the other one did. He has had this new one for a few months now and as ever he looks after his things, especially this guitar, he guard's it with his life. To date it doesn't have a mark on it. It is obvious to me that the quality and build of this one are so much better than his previous guitar. There are no signs of any peeling or bubbling of the paint work. Not once has he needed to change a string. The six steel strings that came on the guitar still remain intact. When rubbed with a clean dry cloth, this guitar shines beautifully and the maple neck and fret board really do set it off. I think my son made a good choice this time, but only time will tell. I really hope I'm not here come September reviewing yet another guitar. I'm not only running out of money, but space to put all these guitars, my son's bedroom looks like a music shop right now.

        A lovely guitar, hopefully built to last.

        Thank you for reading my review which may also appear on other sites.

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