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Table of Contents
The Squier Bullet Stratocaster borrows its shape from its grandfather, the world famous Fender Stratocaster. Instantly recognizable, your guitar will look the part of a more expensive Fender for only $150!
The Bullet Strat comes in multiple colors and finishes so you can find the one you like best. There’s the classic Brown Sunburst, shown above. Two more minimalist finishes are also available: Arctic White and Black, allowing the guitar to become a canvas for stickers or other types of personalization (if that’s your thing!). The finish on the Squier Bullet Stratocaster is of decent quality, though we’ve heard many reports of small finishing mistakes. That’s to be expected, however, since this is a budget guitar. Remember, you’re buying this guitar to learn and play – not as a museum piece!
Feel and Quality
The Bullet Strat’s body is made from basswood, an inexpensive wood known for lightness and neutral tone. While not the most sturdy or resonant wood available, it makes for a solid beginner’s instrument that doesn’t impart any undesirable tones to your sound. You’ll also notice the large pickguard which helps keep your guitar from getting scratched up when you’re rocking out. The scale length (distance between bridge and nut) is 25.5″, which is the same size as the standard Fender Stratocasters. Though this is a budget guitar, it is a full-size instrument with a standard-sized body made for the serious beginner. This is not a mini or 3/4 sized guitar – it’s the real deal!
For better playability, the Squier Bullet Stratocaster was designed with a C-shaped, satin-finished neck. As the most common neck shape found on electric guitars, C-shapes are comfortably countered and easy to hold no matter what size your hand is. The satin-finished neck is smooth, making it easy to slide your hand up down to find the frets you need without issue.
A bolt-on neck, 21 frets, and a rosewood fretboard with dot inlays are pretty common features for a Stratocaster-type guitar. The bolt-on neck helps give it the twang that Strats are famous for. The rosewood fingerboard is pretty much standard on guitars of all budgets, but because this is a budget guitar, it won’t feel as solid or good as the fretboard on a Fender Deluxe, for example. As a beginner, you’ll be able to play just about any piece of music you like on 21 frets. The smoothness of the frets can be an issue on these lower priced guitars. Generally, these guitars should play well out of the box, but that is never a guarantee. A poorly playing instrument can be exchanged or taken to your local guitar shop for a setup. Overall, however, you can’t ask for much more from a beginner’s instrument.
The Humbucker-Single-Single (HSS) pickup configuration lends itself to extreme versatility. Though you’ll find many Strats equipped with a single-coil in the bridge, humbucker-equipped Strats are the definition of flexibility. Also known as ‘Fat Strats’, HSS Strats can give you both clarity and brightness of single-coils, the thickness and warmth of a humbucker, and any sound in-between thanks to the 5-way pickup selector. There isn’t a genre of music a Bullet Strat can’t play.
If you focus more on blues and classic rock, then the Single-Single-Single option (SSS) is right for you. A single-coil in the bridge gives you a slightly thinner, twangy/lively sound as opposed to the warmth and thickness of a humbucker.
No matter which version you choose, the Squier Bullet Strat’s pickups will be ceramic. Though ceramic pickups tend to be high-output, the pickups in the Bullet Strat are pretty tame. They tend to do worse at clean sounds than more expensive Alnico-based pickups. However, because the Bullet Strat’s pickups aren’t super ‘hot’, they sound great doing both clean and distorted sounds. These pickups actually sound fantastic for their price-point and are one of the highlights of the guitar. We’ll take a closer look (and listen!) to the pickups in the Sound section of the review.
The Squier Bullet HSS Stratocaster comes in two versions: a version with a tremolo bridge (‘whammy bar’) and another with a hard-tail bridge (without a tremolo bar, pictured above). The tremolo-equipped version allows for pitch bends and expressiveness at the expense of tuning stability and more moving parts. One of the main problems with the Squier Bullet Stratocaster we’ll touch on in the next section are the tuners, which aren’t of the highest quality.
If you do choose the tremolo version and are worried about tuning stability, don’t discount the Bullet Strat. Unless you’re hammering away on the whammy bar constantly, this shouldn’t be a big issue. As a beginner, you probably won’t use the tremolo until after you’ve mastered the basics. Both types of bridges have die-cast saddles, which are pretty standard for budget guitars and are easily adjustable if you need to fine-tune the action or intonation. Overall, the bridge of the Squier Bullet Strat is pretty good for a budget guitar. If you have your heart set on one bridge or the other, be sure you’re buying the right one! The hardtail bridge is designated “HT” in the title, so be careful when buying!
The trapezoid-shaped tuners on the Bullet Strat aren’t known for being the best. They feel a bit cheap. We’ve seen reports of Bullet Strats with tuners that are too stiff and hard to turn, as well other reports that they are a bit too loose and have some play when you turn them. Because the tuners are made on a budget, this inconsistency isn’t too surprising. Less-than-perfect tuning machines have been found on budget Stratocasters for many years. However, they will still get the job done. If you want to spend less time tuning, you can always opt for the HT version, but you’ll sacrifice the versatility you get with the tremolo bridge. Unless you go crazy with the tremolo bar every time you pick up your Strat, it should stay in tune just fine.
Knobs and Switches
Again, this is a budget guitar, so some sacrifices had to be made. Compared to previous generations of the Bullet, the tone and volume knobs can feel a bit stiff and have that unmistakable, low-quality plastic feel. Not a huge deal, but worth mentioning. The knobs are of decent quality and don’t make any hisses, cracks, or pops during adjustments. The 5-way switch is pretty standard, with a tactile click that lets you know you’ve found the right setting. The different settings of the switch will be demonstrated in the ‘Sound’ section below.
Strings and Accessories
The Bullet Strat comes installed from the factory with .009 – .42 gauge strings, which are a bit thinner than the more common .10 – .46 gauge strings. The lower gauge strings are easier on your fingers and a bit easier to play, though they have a thinner, brighter sound than higher gauge strings. As you gain experience and try out different types of strings, you’ll find out if you what type suits you best.
Sadly, the Bullet Strat doesn’t come with a case/gig-bag or accessories.
The Squier Bullet Strat is a versatile instrument that covers just about any genre of music well. Compared to a ‘real’ Fender Stratocaster, the Squier Bullet Strat sounds a bit thinner due to the basswood body, ceramic pickups, and lighter-gauge strings. However, unless you had both a Fender and a Squier Bullet in front of you, you’d be hard-pressed to tell. As a beginner, you’ll appreciate not only the cost savings but also how great the Squier sounds for its price point. Check out this demo we’ve selected off of YouTube that really shows the full range of the Squier Bullet HSS Stratocaster. Pay attention to the pickup selection for each part of the demo and you’ll fall in love with the Humbucker-Single-Single configuration!
If you prefer the single-coil bridge option, then check out this other demo of all the sounds you can get out of the Squier SSS Bullet Stratocaster.
Among budget electric guitars, the Squier Bullet series is one of the most talked about and recommended. Reviews on Amazon, Guitar Center, and Sam Ash are generally positive, with praise directed at the amazing value this guitar provides for beginners. The ease of playability is a recurring theme as well, with many reviewers commenting on the smoothness of the neck, great tone, and good factory setup. This guitar should be good to go out of the box.
Posters on Reddit echo these sentiments as well. You may encounter a guitar with sharp frets or a bad factory setup. Sharp frets is an issue that will require you to exchange the guitar. If you know what you’re doing, you can set the guitar up yourself, but it may be worth exchanging if it’s simply too difficult to play, or if you encounter a ton of fret buzz. If you don’t want to gamble, it may be worth paying the $50 or so at a local guitar shop to get a quality setup.
Conclusion and Ratings
The Squier Bullet Stratocaster is one of the best budget guitars you can buy for under $150. Beginners and students can feel confident that they’re getting a guitar that will sound good, feel good, and provide years of enjoyment. For musicians of any genre and skill level, this guitar is a spectacular value.