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Squier Affinity Stratocaster Guitar Review
The Affinity series of guitars by Fender/Squier is a value range of guitars, they come in two guitar models (and more bass models), the telecaster and the stratocaster. This review is of the stratocaster model. The guitar retails at roughly £150 ($200), this price range means that unlike the extremely cheap bullet model the affinity has a large amount of competition from other budget manufacturers and large brands such as Epiphone. For this guitar to be a success it cannot be just mediocre it has to stand out.
Body Material: Alder
Neck Material: Maple
Fretboard Material: Maple or Rosewood options available on some models.
Number of Frets: 21
Nut Width: 40.6mm (Most other stratocaster models are 42mm)
Pickguard: 3 ply, (White Black White)
Colour Options: Black, Metallic Blue, Metallic Red, Brown Sunburst, Lake Placid Blue, Shell Pink, Surf Green, Burgundy Mist (Italics are new colours)
This guitar looks very nice, it is the popular stratocaster shape however is significantly nicer than the Squiers' Bullet model. The body of the guitar is thinner than a standard stratocaster, not but much however by enough that the guitar feels noticeably lighter, this isn't too bad on its own, however I think does contribute to an issue I will mention later on about resonance. A new feature for 2013 is the 3 ply pickguard gives the guitar a nice touch over other cheap stratocasters by having the black outline on the pickguard. Also new for 2013 is 4 additional new colours, these are colours that were popular in the 70's and give something different to the normal colours offered on other companies stratocaster copies. The headstock of the guitar is larger than on most stratocasters being the 70's style headstock, personally I like this however its really and objective matter.
The guitar looks very nice and its nice to see that squier have put some thought into making these guitars not look like the generic cheap stratocaster copy that you see lots of companies churning out.
This is another area that astounded me about this guitar compared to the bullet strat was the build quality. The bullet isn't bad however the affinity is really really good, comparable to my gibson LPJ even. The fret edges are beautifully smooth and the tuners are don't have any stiff points and are precise, these are two areas that often are left lacking on cheaper guitars. An issue that has been present in past cheap Squiers where the pickguard was not fitted straight compared to the bridge (Which can mean that either the pickups or bridge isn't correctly aligned) was not an issue on this guitar, they both were perfectly straight. Overall I was gobsmacked on how well this guitar is put together. When I first took the guitar out of the box I was even questioning what would be the point of purchasing a real more expensive fender when the cheaper alternative is so good.
The Squier Affinity Strat plays very nicely. The smaller nut and thus slightly thinner neck means that the guitar fits slightly better in your hand if you have smaller hands like I do, it also allows your hand to wrap around to the thicker strings easier. If you have fatter fingers however you may find the thinner string spacing a bit of an issue.
Unlike my Squier bullet where the tremolo doesn't really work the tremolo and the affinity is brilliant, it is nicely sprung with the perfect amount of resistance (for my preference). Often tremolos cause the guitar to come out of tune quickly, however I haven't found that issue.
The pickups give a very nice single coil sound and sound exactly how you want a stratocaster to sound, with the tone knobs at 10 the pickups sound very hot and sharp however as you dial down the controls then the tone mellows very nicely. The 5 was selector switch operates as normal for a stratocaster with its pickup selections, as expected they give the full range of sounds. The guitar however is lacking in sustain, this is probably due to thinner body and thus less mass to resonate. It isn't an issue when playing normally however sometimes you just feel it just run out of steam a bit as you hold a note.
I'm not sure whether this is the guitar or my other equipment however I have a strange buzzing issue. On my main amp there is little to no buzz however on my old amp it is horrific, at first I thought the amp must have been broken however I tried my Gibson and there was no buzz. It is only when I connect the Squier Affinity do I have the buzz. Very strange and quite irritating. However because I don't have this buzz on my main amp then it seems unlikely that this is a fault with the guitar.
If you are in the market for a guitar around this price then buy this one, you will not be disappointed. If you are looking at the bullet strat then spend the £50 more to buy the affinity. It is worth it. The affinity is just slightly better in every single way. This guitar will last you a long time even with abuse, and unlike the bullet you won't want to replace it.
Compared to other Stratocasters made as unlicensed copies (Squier guitars are owned by fender so are official) there is no competition, the Affinity is the real deal and uses fenders knowledge to its full extent.
Compared to Epiphones guitars I have heard very good things about the Les Paul 100, having humbuckers it will produce a different sound, and its objective on whether you prefer that or not. However I highly doubt that the guitar will be any more of a quality product than the Squier Affinity.