Squier has given its Bullet and Classic Vibe series a Fender Special Run makeover, bringing some of the visual pizzazz of Fender's most-loved electric guitar designs to a range of instruments that are priced for beginners.
Fender Special Run (FSR) models offer limited edition finishes and specs, and in the context of Squier, that means a collectible guitar at a very affordable price. Guitars like Squier's new Bullet Competition Mustang – so-called for the racing stripes that bisect its upper bout, giving it the look of a hot-rodded muscle car. Which is cute, given that the short-scale Mustang is one of the most approachable guitars on the market.
This FSR release sees the Bullet Mustang in Daphne Blue with Orange stripe, or Black with Shoreline Gold stripe.
Squier has also released the Bullet HSS Hardtail Stratocaster in Sea Foam Green and 2-Tone Sunburst, and added two 60s Custom Telecasters in Candy Tangerine and Candy Apple Green to the Classic Vibe series. Coming on the back of today's news of three double-bound Classic Vibe Esquires, it is a big day for affordable electric guitars, with each of these new models offering something a little different.
Let's look at the Mustang first. At £149, it's a hugely affordably instrument, and with its shorter 24-inch scale it is perfect for those starting out on the guitar. It has two humbuckers in the neck and bridge positions, a six-saddle hardtail bridge, a C profile maple neck that is bolted on to a lightweight poplar body and topped with an Indian laurel fingerboard.
That distinctive offset body shape – meaning the waist of the guitar is asymmetrical, with the top half of the body sitting a little more forward than the bottom half – has won the Mustang many fans over the years. Kurt Cobain played one. And Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie has got a new signature Fender Mustang which was released in January.
The Bullet HSS Hardtail is even more affordable, with a street price of £129 for the Sea Foam Green model and £139 for the 2-Tone Sunburst.
Once again we have poplar bodies, plus C-profile, bolt-on maple necks, with laurel fingerboards and medium-jumbo frets for a contemporary feel.
However, unlike the Mustang, which as a flatter 12-inch fingerboard, these Strats have a 9.5-inch radius 'board, which was brought in by Fender in the 1980s and has become its most common radius. The HSS pickup configuration offers a few more tonal possibilities.
Where the Mustangs have a three-way pickup selector, plus volume and tone controls, the HSS Strats have five-position blade switches, allowing you to go from high-output rock tones with the bridge humbucker to more traditional Strat tones, with spanky in between tones found when you combine the neck and the middle single-coils.
Both have a fuss-free hardtail bridge and are finished in high-gloss polyurethane. The necks, however, are nice and satin-smooth, so they won't gum up on you as the temperature rises.
Finally, the Classic Vibe series welcomes two Telecasters that are appropriately just a hop, skip and a jump away from the aforementioned double-bound Esquire. These brightly coloured beauties come in Candy Apple Green and Candy Tangerine – which are either inspired by classic Fender or a packet of Jolly Ranchers. Maybe even both.
The Squier FSR Classic Vibe 60s Custom Telecasters both feature nato bodies, with bolt-on C profile maple necks that have been finished in a nicotine-yellow shade of tainted gloss that gives them an aged look that is in keeping with the Classic Vibe series' vintage-inspired remit.
These are a little more luxurious than the Bullet models. The hardware is nickel-plated. You've got Fender-designed single-coil pickups that'll give you all the twang and spank you would expect from a Tele.
There is a traditional three-saddle bridge, a bone nut, vintage-style tuners and a narrow-tall frets that will give this a really old-school feel. Not that old-school, though. Squier has gone with an Indian laurel fingerboard with 9.5" fingerboard radius. Like the Strats above, these have a 25.5" scale length.
These are all available to order at most online retailers, though have yet to show up on the Fender website.
- Read more: The best electric guitars for beginners