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I am going to purchase my first electric guitar, specifically a Squier Bullet Strat. I have been playing my acoustic for two years. Nothing professional, just learning basic songs, although I want to improve now that I'm going to get the electric one.

Since I don't really know much about electric guitars I thought that I could ask for some advice:

I have four options: The bullet strat with tremolo and HSS, with hardtail and HSS, with tremolo and SSS or with hardtail and SSS.

I've listened to the comparison of the HSS and SSS and it seems that the HSS has more like a punch to it, but I don't know if I'm going to regret it later?

I've heard a reviewer say that the tremolo could cause tuning problems in a squier guitar, I don't know why is that?

After all the videos that I watched I liked the HSS sound better and I firstly thought that I could buy the one with the tremolo as I can take it it off or put it in whenever I want.

What do you think? Is the HSS with the tremolo a good guitar selection?

  • The vib. will affect tone a little, but not as much as the pup configuration does. The vib. will also cause problems with tuning, as so many do. If you feel you might never use it, take it out of the equation. – Tim Dec 12 '18 at 18:06
  • Hi Sirena! In my opinion, since you are referring to Squier Bullet Strat specifically, your question falls into the "recommendations for specific equipment" category, which is off-topic here (check the Tour for more information). I think it would be better if you could break this down into different questions, for example about the difference between HSS and SSS, and another one about tremolo and hardtail. This would probably answer you question too, but in a way that is more useful to other users! – coconochao Dec 12 '18 at 18:10
  • We already have an HSS vs HSH vs SSS question here somewhere, and we may have a trem vs hard tail questions. – Doktor Mayhem Dec 12 '18 at 18:12
  • @coconochao whoops, sorry!!! I'll check the tour out. Thanks! – Sirena S. C. Dec 12 '18 at 19:36
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The Fender Squire guitars are quite good guitars for their price point, and you're still likely to be looking to upgrade in 3 - 5 years. Not related to your question, but I recommend having a gear fund that you put some small amount of money in every month or week so when you start to feel like you've outgrown what you have, you have some money saved up.

Back to your question, I would say don't get too worried about getting the exact right guitar at this point. You're still learning, and as I wrote, you'll want a replacement or additional guitar later on.

If you get one with a tremolo instead of hard tail, you can always open the back with a screwdriver and lock down the tremolo and make it into a hard tail (effectively). You can't make a hard tail into a tremolo as easily. My very first guitar had a cheap tremolo, and using it caused all kinds of tuning problems, but I'm glad I had it. I had fun messing with the tremolo, and I learned all about the tuning problems with a tremolo, and I learned how to lock down a strat tremolo to make it a hard tail.

Regarding the pickups, it's really a matter of taste. If you are learning metal songs or harder rock songs, then having the HSS will help you get closer to the sounds of those songs. On the other hand, if you you're more about blues, pop, funk, and other genres, the SSS might be more true to what you want. I personally feel like an HSS is taking two great things (a humbucking pickup and a strat) and making them both worse by forcing them together. With an SSS, you have a strat. With an HSS, you don't exactly have a strat, and you also won't really get the humbucking sounds that you hear in popular songs that have those sounds. But it's really a matter of taste. I doubt you'll regret it later either way. If you're feeling the HSS, go with it.

One thing to know about the HSS wiring (in my experience) is that the humbucker has higher output, so switching to the H pickup will cause a volume bump up and switching to an S pickup from the H will cause a bump down. If you have everything dialed in precisely, that can be a bit annoying.

  • Wow! Great answer. About the tremolo: if I don't put the tremolo arm would it sound the same as the strat with the hard tail? That's something that it's not clear to me. I personally like the punk sound and often times rock mixed with pop. I also like r&b and soul but not as much as the rock genres. I find the SSS to be a little light. Maybe I'll think about it again. Thanks! – Sirena S. C. Dec 12 '18 at 19:49
  • @SirenaS.C. To lock down a strat trem, you have to remove the trem arm (easy) and then unscrew the plastic cover on the back and tighten the screws on the trem claw inside the guitar until the bridge is pulled down to the body (less easy). Usually a phillips screwdriver is all you need, possibly some elbow grease. You can always go back to having a trem by reversing the procedure. If you don't want to deal with it, a hard tail makes it so you have the most stable tuning. I never use the trem on my strat. – Todd Wilcox Dec 12 '18 at 20:00
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My personal advice is:

  • don't get a cheap guitar, it will affect the way you think you play guitar

  • don't buy a guitar with Floyd rose tremolo as a first guitar. It's cool to do some nice noises but not all that song use it, and it will make string change keep guitar tuning really hard.

  • for the pick up, you have to try your self. What kind of sound are you looking for, the style the music you want to play. You can always buy a guitar with hambucker that can go single coil mode. Some Chapman have this feature but they are expensive.

However for my experience the first 2 point are important, the last come alone in the future when you understand what you really want

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    Note that the Fender Squire tremolo is one of the options the asker is considering, not a Floyd Rose. – Todd Wilcox Dec 12 '18 at 19:01
  • Isn't it better to start out with an instrument that isn't very high quality? That way when you get better at it and you move on to another instrument you can appraise it more (I don't if that's the correct word to use?) because a non professional player will not notice the difference in the sound that much as a professional. – Sirena S. C. Dec 12 '18 at 19:41
  • @SirenaS.C. it has to do with commitment. You play on a cheaper instrument to start and see if you like it. If you do get into it then upgrade. – r lo Dec 13 '18 at 19:51
  • @rlo yes, exactly – Sirena S. C. Dec 13 '18 at 20:17
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Go for the hardtail - a trem can have stability/tuning/action issues that someone unfamiliar with working on/setting up electric guitars wouldn't want to deal with. It's also for flourish; not a necessity.

I also suggest going with the HSS configuration - a bridge single coil can sound too thin or have too much treble, and it also has more noise. You also have the option to install a single coil later if you chose to - on Bullet strats the cavity under the pickguard is completely open/unrestricted to pickup configuration. This largely comes down to your style of music/preference, though a humbucker doesn't restrict you as much as a single coil in the bridge would.

Lastly, I suggest saving up a bit more for a slightly more expensive model. The Standard or even Affinity series would be at least twice the quality, and last I checked you could find these for $150-$250 (USA). I have personally owned a Squier Standard Telecaster and enjoyed it more than my MIJ Fender Mustang and my MIM Fender Stratocaster - standard/classic series can be even better quality than a MIM Fender. I have also worked on/modified a Bullet before and think they're fine quality for the price - but I would go with the hardtail if you chose the Bullet as the trem will only cause issues.

  • I kinda like the surf guitar effect that's why I was considering the tremolo, but I've done some more research and people seem to recommend to buy a high quality if you want the trem. About the HSS or SSS I think I've decided to go with the HSS. For the guitar, going to go with the Bullet one, I want to have the most basic one but thanks for the recommendations though. – Sirena S. C. Dec 12 '18 at 22:26
  • I can say (for me personally) a trem has never been worth the extra effort. I block my trem off in my Stratocaster now, and I buy hardtail when I have the option to. A good Floyd Rose that is set up properly can be no hassel, but 6 and 2 point non-locking trems can be a bit of work to maintain. The hardtail HSS will be much easier to maintain action and tuning stability on, and I definitely recommend this model over others if you're going for a budget/student model. Good luck! Getting my first electric enhanced my interest in playing guitar. – Viking Children Dec 12 '18 at 22:36

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