Squier Sonic Stratocaster HT review – Fender's classic beginner electric guitar just got better

Squier's new entry-level Strat brings Leo Fender's most famous creation to the masses and begs the question: is there a better beginner electric guitar on the market?

Squier Sonic Stratocaster HT
(Image: © Future)

Guitar World Verdict

For first-time players or anyone looking to add a Strat to their arsenal without breaking the bank, it really doesn’t get much better than this in this price range.

Pros

  • +

    Holds its own against pricier instruments.

  • +

    All the classic Strat tones are on the menu.

  • +

    Tidy build and finish.

Cons

  • -

    Slightly stiff control pots.

  • -

    You might want to upgrade the pickups over time.

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

The Squier Sonic Stratocaster’s predecessor made quite the name for itself back in 2021 when Mike Rutherford revealed he’d been lugging a Squier Bullet Strat around for Genesis’ farewell tour (indeed, he’s one of of a number of pro guitarists who play cheap guitars). Is the Bullet Strat’s successor arena-worthy? Well, with a bit of a setup, we see no reason why not. 

It’s snappy, vibrant and resonant, and the Torino Red poplar body (used over the standard alder) gives it a lighter, airier vibe that really suits unplugged playing. The maple neck is a comfortable C profile that feels familiarly playable. The guitar also held its own when plugged into a Fender Blues Junior.

The neck pickup was warm and hefty, and excelled with Hendrixian and SRV styles when fed through a Tube Screamer-style drive. Positions three and four gave nice amounts of responsive clean quack à la Cory Wong, and though the bridge pickup was a tad fizzy, it would be harsh to be over-critical of a budget guitar like this when it passes all tests with flying colours.

Of course, the Sonic is realistically an entry-point range, so talk of arenas and world tours may be premature – but, if anything, that just makes this whole discussion easier. For first-time players or anyone looking to add a Strat to their arsenal without breaking the bank, it really doesn’t get much better than this.

Squier Sonic Stratocaster HT

(Image credit: Future)

There is a tremolo-equipped version for those wanting a more traditional Strat experience, but this hardtail iteration seems to be an ideal, no-nonsense, low-maintenance workhorse that emerged from our rigorous playing test unscathed. 

As you’d expect with a $199/£155 guitar, it isn’t perfect – the volume and tone pots were little too stiff for our liking, and the pickups could be better – but it comes very close to being a flawless sub-$/£200 instrument. If Rutherford ever needs to retire the Bullet, we know exactly which Squier he should be reaching for next.

Specs

  • PRICE: $199 / £155
  • BODY: Poplar
  • NECK: Maple
  • NECK PROFILE: “C” shape
  • FINGERBOARD RADIUS: 9.5”
  • FRETS: Narrow Tall
  • PICKUPS: 3 x Ceramic Single-Coil
  • CONTROLS: Master Volume, Tone 1 (Neck/Middle), Tone 2 (Bridge), Five-Way Blade Switch
  • FINISH: Torino Red
  • CONTACT: Fender

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.