Product Type: Spector guitars and bass guitars
Newest Review: ... signing autographs. The Squier Affinity series is middle ground in terms of the cost of the Stratocasters that Squier make. It is better ... more
I am a Guitar God!
Squire Affinity Series Stratocaster
Member Name: Danscomp
Squire Affinity Series Stratocaster
Advantages: Fantastic value, great versatility in attainable tones
Disadvantages: If you get into Guitar, you'll always want more!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Summary: Proper axe that will take you far into your journey as a Guitarist