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Squier Affinity Stratocaster is a "cheap '69"?


This guitar is arguably the cheapest way to get a "Modern '69 Fender Stratocaster".

The Squier Affinity Stratocaster model has been around since the '90s and always had the big headstock. It took a very long time before they finally got it right with the current version.

With the big headstock there are basically three style choices to go with for logo treatment. Mid '60s, late '60s and '70s.

The one Squier used and stuck with for the longest time was the worst of the three, the mid-'60s. If you look up a '66 Fender Stratocaster and look at the headstock, you quickly understand why most Strat fans hate that design. That's the one Squier chose to use.

Squier used a flat black logo and it just looked terrible. The logo then had a minor refresh where it changed to gold with black outline, but still looked stupid.

In the late '60s however (and technically very-early '70s also), Fender had a much better design going on, and in fact is my favorite Fender logo treatment of all time, the '69:


The reason this design works so well is because of the larger logo, much larger STRATOCASTER "swoop", and there are wider, flatter mounts at the base of each tuner instead of skinny rounded edges. The combination of large logo and larger bases for the tuners suit the large chunk of wood nicely.

Squier, after all these years, finally redesigned their logo the right way for the Affinity model and copied the '69:


Obviously, this is not an exact copy of what Fender used, but for the large headstock, it's a genuinely a good looking design and far better than anything the Affinity had before this.

What I mean by "Modern '69 Fender Stratocaster" is that the Affinity has what most players want. There is tone control wired to the bridge side pickup, it does have medium jumbo frets, the back of the neck is satin urethane finished and the front is glossed, the bridge is a modern 2-post, and color choices are good.

There are two things about this guitar players don't like, but I'm totally fine with. First is the slim body, meaning it won't fit a full sized tremolo block replacement. Second is the ceramic magnet pickups. I actually prefer ceramic, but Strat purists like the alnico.

Is there such a thing as a "Modern '69" in a Fender flavor? No, but you can get one that's very close to it, the Fender American Performer Stratocaster. You'll see SSS and HSS versions available from that link.

The reason I don't call the American Performer a Modern '69 is because that guitar takes styling cues from '70s models. On the headstock, you see two string trees and fully rounded oval tuner buttons. The late '60s has a single string tree and tuner buttons with rounded top but with flat sides - which is what the Affinity has now.

Yes, Squier does have the Classic Vibe '70s Stratocaster, but that is a much different guitar compared to the Affinity. The CV '70s headstock treatment is "very '70s", has the fully rounded oval tuner buttons, the entire neck is finished in tinted gloss urethane, the frets are narrow-tall style, the bridge is the older 6-screw style, and the pickups do have alnico magnets in them.

My preference is the Affinity over the Classic Vibe, even though the CV is technically the "better" guitar, specification-wise.

I played an FMT (Flame Maple Top) HSS version of the Affinity, and I liked it:

The Affinity, at least in my hands, just felt better compared to the CV. But I will admit on the HSS that the volume punch when using humbucker-alone is just too loud for me. This doesn't mean the guitar is wired incorrectly, because it's not. Unless there are some fancy electronics inside to compensate for the greater output of a humbucker in an HSS guitar (like on the Fender American Ultra Stratocaster HSS), that humbucker will always be louder as that is the nature of how HSS guitars work...

...but don't let that stop you from trying one out. Most players of HSS guitars get used to the volume punch that happens when humbucker-alone is selected and come to appreciate it.

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