Fender Player Stratocaster vs Squier Bullet Stratocaster: The Battle of Affordable Strats

Fender Player Stratocaster vs Squier Bullet Stratocaster

It’s no secret that the Fender Stratocaster is one of the most popular guitar models. Additionally, Fender has also conquered the market with their subsidiary company Squier. One of the most common questions among guitarists is how Fender and Squier Strats compare. Here, we’ll put Fender’s Player Strat against Squier’s Bullet Strat.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this Fender Player Stratocaster vs Squier Bullet Stratocaster comparison:

  • Main Specifications
  • Pickups and Controls
  • Hardware
  • Design and Build Quality
  • Performance and Playability
  • Price & Value For Money
  • Pros & Cons

Ready? Let’s get started…

Main Differences: Fender Player Stratocaster and Squier Bullet Stratocaster

The main differences between Fender Player Stratocaster and Squier Bullet Stratocaster are:

  • Build quality and quality control
  • Pickups and electronics
  • Hardware
  • Materials
  • Price

So when it comes down to Fender Player Stratocaster vs Squier Bullet Stratocaster, which one should you choose? Here’s a quick overview:

  • Go for Fender Player Stratocaster if you feel like getting a Fender but don’t want to go over the $1000 mark. They’re pretty close to American-made Strats and they make great “workhorse” guitars. You’ll also experience that classic bright and “twangy” tone.
  • Go for Squier Bullet Stratocaster if you need a super-cheap alternative to Fender Strat. Bullet Strats are a decent purchase and they can be a great option for beginners or intermediate players. They’re also surprisingly reliable for the price, but the tone and performance are not that close to Fender’s stuff.

1. Main Specifications: Fender Player Stratocaster vs Squier Bullet Stratocaster

Main Specifications: Fender Player Stratocaster

We all know how great Fender’s legacy is. The classic Stratocaster model has changed over the years. However, the basic stuff remains almost the same as it was all introduced back in the 1950s.

The basic Fender Stratocaster model these days is the company’s Player Stratocaster. These are the successors of those classic Mexican-made Strats. They’re made at the same place but are just rebranded.

Most of the stuff is almost the same as with classic Strat models. We have an alder body bolted onto a maple neck. We can also notice the neck’s classic “C” profile and, in most cases, they come with maple fretboards.

However, there are also some of the 1960s-style Fender Player Strats with other fingerboard materials. These are usually pau ferro or rosewood.

The scale length is the same. We have 25.5 inches from the nut to the bridge.

Aside from different pickup configuration options, the biggest difference is the inclusion of the 22nd fret. Pretty much all Fender Player Stratocasters come with this feature.

Main Specifications: Squier Bullet Stratocaster

Squier’s stuff is made after Fender’s original designs. The same thing goes for the Bullet Stratocaster, which has almost all of the same specs. In fact, you’d easily mistake these two guitars at the first glance.

The scale length is the same, 25.5 inches. However, the build materials are different. The body is made out of basswood. The neck is a maple one bolted onto the body, but the fingerboard is almost exclusively out of Indian laurel.

Squier Bullet Strats come in a few different forms, and we’ll get into this below. But there are two traits that we want to point out here. They come with 21 frets and have substantially lighter bodies.

Main Specifications: Bottom Line

As mentioned, the first glance might deceive you. They’re almost the same size and come with some same specs. What’s also interesting is that both of these guitars come with exactly the same scale length, 25.5 inches, and a 9.5-inch fingerboard radius. But on the other hand, we can notice different body materials, as well as a different fret count.

With that said, it’s hard to say which one is “better” here. Technically, they’re just different and are adapted to their price level. But we’ll get to that.

Some would say that having 22 frets is an advantage. However, in our opinion, this is a minor difference and comes down to personal preferences. Therefore, we’d call it even in this category.

Main Specifications: Tie

2. Pickups and Controls: Fender Player Stratocaster vs Squier Bullet Stratocaster

Pickups and Controls: Fender Player Stratocaster

With Fender’s Player Stratocaster model, you’ll find the classic triple single-coil configuration. At least in most cases. This is accompanied by the standard three knobs, two for tone (treble roll-off) and one for master volume.

The upper tone knob adjusts the output of the neck pickup, while the lower one will control middle and bridge pickups depending on the selector switch’s position. It’s pretty much the classic setup.

The pickup selector switch is also what we’re used to seeing. It has five positions that help you select five combinations of its three pickups.

There are other pickup variants with Fender Player Stratocasters. For instance, there’s the humbucker-single-single formation and the very unconventional humbucker-single-humbucker. These come on some of the other and more specific models that also include non-maple fingerboards.

Pickups and Controls: Squier Bullet Stratocaster

With Squier’s Bullet Stratocaster, we have the same basic setup. There are three single-coil pickups, two tone controls, one master volume knob, and a five-way pickup selector toggle switch.

Of course, there’s another Bullet Strat variant that comes with one humbucker in the bridge, along with two single-coil pickups. Either way, we have standard Fender-inspired configurations.

Pickups and Controls: Bottom Line

As you can see, both guitar variants are the same, except for the Fender Player model with the humbucker-single-humbucker configuration. If you know how to use one, you’ll know how to use the other.

However, things are not that simple. Although they seem identical or almost identical, Fender puts better pickups, pots, and other components in there. Here we have a set of Fender’s Player Series Alnico V pickups. They get pretty close to what higher-end Fenders are capable of.

On the other hand, Squier comes with Squier’s stock pickups and other cheaper components. They’re okay, they’ll get you covered. However, their output is not as good. Compared to Fender Player guitars, they’ll have less nuanced dynamics and an overall “dull” output.

Due to the difference in pickup and electronics quality, this one goes to Fender Player Strat. To be frank, Squier Strat is decent, but it doesn’t even get close.

Pickups and Controls Winner: Fender Player Stratocaster

3. Hardware: Fender Player Stratocaster vs Squier Bullet Stratocaster

Hardware: Fender Player Stratocaster

As with most of the other features, the hardware on Fender Player Stratocaster is done according to classic Strat models. There are no special surprises here.

What Leo Fender did way back in the 1950s remains the same and is present on most of the Fender guitars today. However, what makes the Player Strat so interesting is the addition of the 2-point “Synchronized Tremolo.”

By default, this one works as a floating bridge. This means that you can pull it both sides to change the pitch up and down. Overall, this tremolo bridge is a slightly different twist to the classic tremolo bridge. You can still notice the regular saddles.

This is also accompanied by Fender’s Standard sealed cast tuning machines. This is pretty much the usual sight on most Fender guitars today. Additionally, it’s also worth noting that we have chrome hardware on our hands.

Hardware: Squier Bullet Stratocaster

On the other hand, Squier Bullet Strat is a guitar of noticeably lower quality. And, honestly, this shows when you check out the hardware. It’s not bad, especially not for this price. But objectively, you can’t even compare it to any regular Fender Strat model.

Of course, Bullet Strats come with both tremolo and hard-tail bridges. But both are pretty basic and similar with their basic construction. We also have those classic block saddles.

As for the tuning machines, these are the standard die-cast ones. They look like the ones on Fender guitars, but they’re not exactly there when it comes to quality.

Hardware: Bottom Line

It’s no secret that the Squier Bullet Stratocaster comes with much cheaper hardware. It’s not like Squier Bullet Stratocasters are bad, but they’re not even close to Fender’s stuff.

Aside from Fender having chrome hardware, there are clearly some obvious differences. In the longer run, it all lasts much longer and doesn’t get corroded that easily. Of course, let’s not forget the fact that the Fender Player Stratocaster has a quality floating tremolo bridge.

To sum it up, the Player Strat comes as an expected winner here. Sure, the Squier Bullet Strat is fine for its price, but the hardware is simply not as reliable or good-looking as with the Player Strat.

 Winner: Fender Player Stratocaster

4. Design and Build Quality: Fender Player Stratocaster vs Squier Bullet Stratocaster

Design and Build Quality: Fender Player Stratocaster

As mentioned, the Fender Player line is produced in Mexico. Essentially, it’s the continuation of those famous “Made in Mexico” Fenders, presenting a cheaper alternative to American-made models.

Now, one would expect some significant downsides compared to American-made Fender models. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, we’d be confident enough to say that the differences are minor. If you want a guitar that’s going to serve you for a long time, without having to pay a fortune, then Fender Player Strat is the way to go.

Another great thing about the Fender Player line, or Fender guitars in general, is their consistency. You’ll try one out, and the other one will play the same. Additionally, their quality control is at a pretty high level and you’ll rarely ever find a Fender guitar with a factory defect.

Fender Player Strat gives that genuine look and feel of a Fender guitar. You can’t ever go wrong with it and it will serve you for a while.

Design and Build Quality: Squier Bullet Stratocaster

There’s one misconception about Squier’s Bullet Strat guitars. A lot people think they’re absolute rubbish. But the truth is that they’re pretty great, at least within their price range.

At the first glance, the guitar resembles any standard Fender Stratocaster. However, there are some traits that give it away, aside from the obvious “Squier” logo on the headstock.

They all come with a slightly thinner and a noticeably lighter body. Additionally, there are some minor differences near the neck and body joint.

Overall, their design does show that these are cheaper guitar. But they’re still aesthetically pleasing.

Quality and reliability won’t be as good as with Fender Player Strats. But with some minor modifications, they’ll work like a charm.

Design and Build Quality: Bottom Line

Let’s simplify this comparison by putting it up this way. Squier Bullet Strats are actually pretty great guitars considering their price. They even look good and are made well. But to be fair, you can’t expect it to be as pretty, reliable, and well-made at this price. Sure, you’ll even be able to use it for frequent gigging, but you’d have to do some modifications here and there.

As far as Fender Player Stratocasters go, there are gorgeous guitars that are gig-ready out of the box. Sure, some intonation and minor setups should be done, but that’s the standard deal.

Squiers look good but they’re no match for the Fender Player line. Therefore, this category goes to Fender Player Strats.

 Winner: Fender Player Stratocaster

5. Performance and Playability: Fender Player Stratocaster vs Squier Bullet Stratocaster

Performance and Playability: Fender Player Stratocaster

One of Fender Strat’s biggest advantages is that it’s a very versatile guitar. Although it has single-coil pickups, you can still make some pretty heavy tones. The controls and the pickup layout are also very simple, yet they allow for a lot of versatility. On top of that, it retains the classic design and still feels awesome in your hands.

And that’s what you can expect with Fender’s Player Stratocaster. Performance-wise, it’s pretty close to all of the classic American-made Strats. There’s that vintage-ish feel to it, especially with maple fingerboard variants. But at the same time, a modern prog rock virtuoso would put it to good use as well.

And the tone is just amazing. There’s this clarity and brightness, just like you’d expect from Fender. This is also followed by its pickups’ ability to deal with nuances in your dynamics. Just like all Fender Strats, their pickups work amazingly with tube-driven amps and their dynamic response.

The only downside is that the two-way tremolo might sometimes be unreliable. It’s not that often, but strings can sometimes go out of tune. It takes some time to set it up but you can also completely block it.

Performance and Playability: Squier Bullet Stratocaster

Although cheap, Squier’s Bullet Strat is a pretty potent guitar. You can have the same exact versatility like on a regular Fender Stratocaster.

On the other hand, you won’t be able to get the full tone quality. As mentioned, the pickups aren’t exactly pristine. And while there’s definitely some of that classic “twang” in them, they lack some of the dynamic response. This is why they’re not so as good to combine with tube amps as actual Fenders are.

When it comes to the feel, they won’t exactly be like Fender Strats. The neck is good, but it does feel a bit cheaper. And, in addition to that, the whammy bar feels too stiff. In fact, we’d rather go with hard tail versions than those with a tremolo.

It’s far from a bad guitar, especially for this price. But there are some things that you can’t overlook.

Performance and Playability: Bottom Line

When you look at the specs on paper, it would seem as if these two guitar models are almost identical. You have the same scale length, you have the same fretboard radius, and even the neck material is the same.

But it comes as no surprise that these guitars are noticeably different in their feel and performance. Objectively, you’ll have a much better time playing a Fender Player Stratocaster. The neck feels awesome, the body is ergonomic (yet retains the classic old-school design), and the tremolo bar works great, at least in most cases.

The Squier Bullet Strat is fine, it can play well, but gets nowhere near the fender Player Strat. The Bullet can actually be a pretty good guitar if you do some modifications to it. But in its factory setting, it’s just an okay instrument.

As for the tone, things are clearly superior with the Fender Player Strat model. It’s not that Squier is awful, but if we had the chance, we’d always swap the pickups for something better.

 Winner: Fender Player Stratocaster

6. Price & Value For Money: Fender Player Stratocaster vs Squier Bullet Stratocaster

Price & Value For Money: Fender Player Stratocaster

The Player Strat is Fender’s cheapest line, manufactured in Mexico. But even though it’s cheaper than other Fender instruments, the Player Strat is more than worth it. You get a fully potent guitar with only some minor flaws (all guitars have them) and it’s still below the $1000 mark.

In our opinion, Fender Player Strat is a good purchase. If you want a pro guitar at a significantly lower price, then go with any of the Fender Player Strat models. This is a pretty easy pick.

Price & Value For Money: Squier Bullet Stratocaster

Sure, Squier makes guitars that are of noticeably lower quality compared to Fender. But they’re still far from being bad guitars. In fact, they’re past the “decent” category.

And when we put their price into the equation, we’re surprised to see what can be achieved within these limits. Although the cheapest of them all, the Bullet Strat is one mighty fine guitar. Although mostly intended for beginners, it can work as a fairly potent guitar in hands of an experienced player.

Sure, some changes could be welcome, like better pickups. But then again, for this price, you can get the Swuier Bullet Strat, put a new set of pickups, and you’ve got yourself a pretty great guitar, even with the added costs.  

Price & Value For Money: Bottom Line

We obviously have two different Strats in terms of overall quality. But at the same time, we have two strats that have completely different price tags on them.

Price & Value For Money Winner: Tie

7. Pros & Cons: Fender Player Stratocaster vs Squier Bullet Stratocaster

Fender Player Stratocaster Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Amazing deal for the price
  • Great bright tone
  • Really versatile, can be used for mellower tones as well
  • It comes with a floating tremolo bridge
  • Reliable

Cons:

  • Its floating tremolo bridge might be tricky to set up for some

Squier Bullet Stratocaster Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Great deal for the price
  • It’s generally a reliable guitar
  • It’s slightly lighter than usual
  • Great choice for beginners, but can be useful for experienced players too

Cons:

  • The build quality has its flaws
  • The tremolo bridge is too stiff and not as reliable

Conclusion & Takeaway

To summarize our findings in this Fender Player Stratocaster vs Squier Bullet Stratocaster comparison, here are the winners for each category:

  • Main Specifications – Tie
  • Pickups and Controls – Fender Player Stratocaster
  • Hardware – Fender Player Stratocaster
  • Design and Build Quality – Fender Player Stratocaster
  • Performance and Playability – Fender Player Stratocaster
  • Price & Value For Money – Tie

Overall: Fender Player Stratocaster

Although we have two Stratocasters based on the guitar’s classic design, it’s obvious that these guitars belong to completely different tiers. Sure, the Player Strat isn’t exactly a prestigious model, but it’s one pretty awesome guitar well worth the money. It has all the necessary features and more, with highlights being floating tremolo and the 22nd fret.

Squier Bullet Strat, on the other hand, is a budget-friendly guitar. You can’t really expect a pro-level feel or tone. It’s an instrument intended mostly for beginners. But with that said, the guitar can come in handy for experienced players who need a backup variant. In fact, if you change the pickups and do only some minor changes, it will work like a charm.

But at the end of the day, it’s obvious that Fender Player Stratocaster is a superior instrument. Its feel, tone, hardware, and dynamic response put it ahead of Squier Bullet Strat.

Product Links:

Fender Player Stratocaster

Squier Bullet Stratocaster

Products Comparison Table:

Spec / Feature

Fender Player Stratocaster

Squier Bullet Stratocaster

Body material

Alder

Basswood

Neck material

Maple

Maple

Fretboard material

Maple or pau ferro

Indian laurel

Scale length

25.5 inches

25.5 inches

Fretboard radius

9.5 inches

9.5 inches

Neck profile

C

C

Fret count

22

21

Pickup configuration

SSS, HSS, HSH

SSS, HSS

Bridge

2-point Synchronized Tremolo

Standard Fender-style tremolo or hardtail