Although Fender initially reintroduced the Squier brand in the late ‘70s to compete with lower-priced overseas competition, today, it's arguable that the entry-level market has never been more hotly contested! So how does Fender’s little sibling stack up against newer brands like Harley Benton, Cort and Jet who are gaining more and more hype in the affordable guitar arena? Well, we’re pleased to tell you, still pretty darn well thanks to an ever-expanding wallet-friendly range!
Squier’s Affinity series is one of those aforementioned ranges which sits right above their entry-level Sonic series. The Affinity series caters to the beginner guitar player looking for something with a bit more character and sophistication. Usually costing anywhere between $200-$350, the Affinity range is a viable option for the beginner wanting to spend a little more than the lowest price possible.
Forever a favorite for guitarists on a budget, the Affinity series was expanded in 2021 to include versatile pickup configurations and eye-catching new finishes on timeless classics. It is thanks to that expansion that guitarists were introduced to this versatile Affinity Stratocaster FMT HSS in Sienna Sunburst.
First things first, this Strat looks fantastic. The Sienna Sunburst finish which was introduced by Fender in the late '70s looks like a premium option and Squier has done a great job at nailing the finish. The flame maple top (FMT) enhances the guitar’s mature aesthetic, and when paired with the maple fingerboard, it amplifies the opulent vibes. If we were to be pedantic, one could argue that the flame is a bit subdued on our model, however, this ultimately comes down to individual taste.
Continuing the ‘70s chic to the glossy headstock, we are greeted with the iconic CBS-style big headstock with an accompanying black border golden Squier logo. Here you’ll find the split shaft tuning pegs which are a staple across Affinity Strats. The tuners are robust and sturdy enough for an affordable guitar and we have yet to encounter any tuning stability issues.
Altogether this guitar’s aesthetics shine well above its reasonable price tag and if you’re a beginner with a penchant for looks, it will be right up your street.
With the aesthetics out of the way, how does this Strat play? Thanks to a satin finish maple neck and a slim ‘C’-shape neck profile, it is incredibly comfortable. This is an ideal profile and finish combination for a beginner, not too thick it’ll cramp your hand and the smooth finish won’t make the neck stick.
Our review model has been set up perfectly and is an absolute breeze to play. Although not quite rolled, the fingerboard edges are super smooth with no sharp fret ends ruining the experience. It doesn't affect the feel but there is a lovely wood grain running through the maple which only encourages playing.
The included tremolo arm which screws in the 2-point bridge also encourages playing and adds a lovely touch of expressiveness any guitarist will enjoy. However, we did notice our trem arm isn’t the snuggest fit when screwed in, with a slight bit of rattle when in use.
Although Squier categorizes the body as ‘lightweight’ the poplar construction doesn’t feel any lighter than our Fender Player Stratocaster, and the scales prove this is the case, as they both weigh in at 7.2 lbs.
Moving onto the guitar’s overall sound which is delivered succinctly by the ceramic pickups. The HSS part of this guitar’s moniker represents the pickup configuration; humbucker, single coil, single coil. The introduction of the humbucker at the bridge deviates from a traditional Strat but it opens up plenty of tone options. The ‘bucker is hot, perfect for some trebly bite and you can get some mean tones when throwing on a little overdrive.
However, it also delivers that characteristic Strat quack, particularly in position 4 when the neck and middle pickups are activated, there’s plenty of spank. There is also a real clarity to this Strat’s pickups and its bell-like chime is authentic and pleasing. Comparing it to the Alnico 5 pickups on our Player Stratocaster, the ceramic p’ups start to sound a little brittle, but this is an unsurprising characteristic difference between a more expensive construction and a slightly more affordable one.
We’ve got to admit, Squier has knocked it out of the park yet again by offering a sleek, attractive well-playing Stratocaster that can cover a whole plethora of different tones. This Affinity Stratocaster is an ideal choice for the beginner guitarist who is looking for an instrument to take them well into the intermediate level of playing. Plus, looking awesome while you learn never hurt anyone!
- Body Material: Poplar
- Body Finish: Gloss Polyurethane
- Neck Material: Maple
- Neck Shape: "C" Shape
- Scale Length: 25.5”
- Fingerboard Radius: 9.5”
- Frets: 21 Medium Jumbo
- Pickups: 2x Ceramic Single-Coil, 1x Ceramic Humbucker
- Bridge: 2-Point Synchronized Tremolo with Block Saddles
- Tuning Pegs: Sealed Die-Cast with Split Shafts
- Contact: Fender