Price paid: $ 119
Purchased from: online
Sound — 7
This is a 119$ guitar and you have to keep this in mind. Will this compare to a Fender Standard MIM Strat? No. We would be comparing this to all the cheap Strat clones out there, and in that comparison this guitar holds up well. The pickups are better than I expected them to be. I've been told how these pickups seem lifeless, dead, etc., but I felt like for a 99$ strat, these pickups were very passable. For a beginner to a novice, these pickups are acceptable. I played this through several amp simulation programs, I played this through a Line 6 Spider, a small generic battery powered amp and played through a Dunlop Crybaby Wah and an Ibanez Delay pedal. Also, I played this through several simulated effects via USB. This guitar can play most styles/genres without a hiccup. Of course, as you get into playing heavier music - such as Megadeth, etc. - you have to spend more time on the dials to find a good sound. It handles country, blues, classic rock and modern rock without any extra effort required. The pickups are not especially noisy for single coils. There is some noise at the bridge, middle and neck positions, but mainly on the bridge position. This hum can be easily reduced by shielding the pickup cavities in the body. Also, the pickups as I said before are passable for a beginner to novice, but if you are not satisfied with the pickups it is so easy to drop a new set in this guitar. To me, the pickups seemed like they take on the character of the amp they are ran through more than having any innate character of their own which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I look at this guitar like a very solid neck and body, which you can slowly upgrade as necessary as you need more from this axe. Or you can leave it just like it is if you are happy with the sound...it isn't really BAD, it is just a 119$ guitar, though very very good for a 119$ guitar. Also, I wasn't expecting much in the way of sustain on this guitar, but I was surprised that the sustain was slightly better than what I expected.
Overall Impression — 10
I like this guitar. Like I said before, I have just been checking this out for a friend of mine, but now I plan to buy one as a project guitar. I'm curious to see if the consistency issue is still an issue, or if possibly Squier/Fender have taken some steps to insure a more consistent quality product. This isn't a Fender Stratocaster, and you can't really compare it to one (at least not as is out of the box), but for what it is, at the price and quality, I give this a 10 all the way.
Reliability & Durability — 9
As far as reliability and durability, I have some thoughts on this Bullet. I think this is off the shelf a very good beginner's guitar, and I think it is comparable with some guitars up to 300$ or so. What I really like about the Bullet is that it is very upgradeable and it seems like you could theoretically stick with it for quite a while with very little monetary investment. It really feels like it is built tough and it is a comfortable guitar, and besides that, everything else is fluff. You can easily replace anything you aren't happy with, etc. The body is routed so you can put humbuckers in if you want. The after market Strat parts are so abundant and affordable you could customize this Bullet in so many different ways it is amazing, really. If I were to gig with a Bullet, first I would probably replace the bridge saddles, I would replace the nut and string trees with Graphtec, I would probably put some GFS Alnico V pickups in it, and it would be good to go. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of brand name snobbery when it comes to stratocasters. This is a classic design, it is built sturdy and comfortable and is very playable. It is very gig-worthy with just a few upgrades. It would be a great instrument with the right upgrades, but it is still a good beginner instrument as is.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
A friend bought this guitar as their first electric (sight unseen, over the internet) and then left it with me for a while to set up for them and check it out in general. I've probably put in a full 24 - 36 hours of playing this guitar. The action on this Bullet was playable from the box. From my understanding the Bullet is inconsistent in set up and QA in general from the factory/warehouse. This one must have been the Diamond in the rough because the factory set up was NICE and the intonation was spot on. I ended up lowering the saddles just a very very tiny bit and re-adjusting the intonation after playing for several hours and that wasn't really necessary, I just like the action as low as I can get it without buzz. The finish was flawless, the rosewood on this fretboard was beautiful the rosewood was so consistently dark it looks more like an ebony fretboard than rosewood. The Bullet is extremely comfortable to play both sitting down and standing up. The neck has a very slender C profile which was very surprising to me. The neck is comfortable and fast. The tremolo bridge came with 3 springs and it is very stiff, but a lot of this is due to it being new. I am hesitant to take a spring off until it wears in to see if it corrects itself. The tremolo bridge does pull the guitar out of tune if you attempt anything even in the direction of a dive-bomb, etc. The tuning seemed to hold up fairly well when I was just using the whammy bar to put a little shake on the tail of some notes/chords, but anything more than that and it pulled right out of tune. I think it is due to these cheap strings it ships with, the nut and the string trees. The tuning keys seem to be adequate, although the tuning key for the G string seems loose in the mechanism; the string stays in tune so maybe it is in my head. The strings seem to be really cheap, and replacing the strings with some Ernie Ball strings may fix some of the tuning stability issues. Again, unless you use the tremolo bridge the tuning seems to be pretty stable. I forgot to mention this before, but the neck pocket seems tight and is a good fit. A few of the screws holding the pickguard on seemed very slightly at an angle, but this is so very slight I'm not even sure they are crooked.
Features — 6
This Squier Bullet Stratocaster was made in China in 2010. This is a sunburst finish with a SSS pickup configuration. The Bullet is made with a basswood Strat style body and a maple neck with a rosewood Fretboard. The Bullet has all the Standard Stratocaster features - 2 tone knobs, 1 volume and a 5 way pickup selector. The tone knobs control the middle and neck pickup - there is not a tone knob for the bridge pickup. This is a sunburst finish with a white single ply pickguard. The guitar looks nice. This has a Vintage style tremolo bridge. The body is slightly slimmer than your average stratocaster. The single coils are, of course, passive and the make/model of the pickups is not published, as these seem to just be wound specifically for the Bullet. The tuners are non-locking and barely adequate. The accessories included were the tremolo arm for the bridge, and a few Allen wrenches. The trem block on this guitar is tiny. I would have liked to have received a cheap canvas gig bag and a few extra tremolo springs with this guitar, but again, this is a 119$ Stratocaster and the neck and body are solid. Also, while I haven't had any problems with them, the strap buttons look under-sized to me. I would really have to watch the wear on my straps and either put strap locks on or make sure I'm using a newer canvas strap all the time so the holes don't stretch out enough to dump the guitar on the floor.