Squier Affinity Telecaster guitar (with rosewood fretboard) review
I put my money where my mouth is. I bought one.
I've talked, and talked, and talked, again and again, about the Squier Affinity Telecaster. I finally bought one in Metallic Red. More on that in a moment.
Why a Telecaster again?
I actually did own a Telecaster before. A Squier Thinline model in Shoreline Gold. But it had electronics issues so I had to part with it. That, and it sounded too "screechy" for my liking.
This time around I went with the Affinity. No electronics issues with this one at all, and I went with this model for three main reasons. First, it's cheap. Second, it looks proper because of the headstock logo change from 1 color to 2-color (gold w/black outline.) Third, the neck.
In all honesty, there's very little not to like about this guitar, but here are my turn-offs.
"Muddy" neck pickup
The rear pickup is full-on Telecaster goodness, but the front pickup doesn't have as much treble response as I'd like. I might swap out the front pickup later on.
Adjusting the neck pickup height requires removing the pick guard
True to 1960's Fender vintage design spec, the Affinity requires the pick guard to be removed to adjust the front pickup height.
"Top hat" switch tip
There are two types of Telecaster switch tips. Top hat and barrel. I don't like the top hat, but that's what the Affinity comes with.
This is, by the way, another thing that's 1960's vintage-correct. But I still like the barrel tip better.
Loading strings through the top-loader bridge is a bit weird
The Affinity is not a string-through-body but rather a top-loader. That's not a problem and I in fact prefer that, but the way the strings are loaded takes a little getting used to.
A string is installed in the bridge by snaking it through the back, then pushing down so the string tilts up, allowing you to push the string through the bridge saddle. If that doesn't make sense to you, it will once you use a bridge like this.
Is this bad? No. Just weird.
The Affinity uses an alder body and not basswood, and the resulting weight as good as it gets. Not too heavy, not too light. Just right. Easy to pick up and play, but still has enough weight so it feels like a proper Telecaster.
Best knobs on a Squier ever?
Quite possibly. They're the best on a Squier model I've ever used. The knobs are the metal knurled flat-top style with a side screw for tightness, and the knob tension on a turn is about as perfect as it gets. Feels very upscale. Crazy-good knob feel and performance for a sub-$200 guitar.
Proper pickup switch
Again the electronics shine here. The pickup selector blade has good tension to it and smooth action.
Better-than-normal sealed tuners
I won't say these tuners are as good as what's on the American Standard, but they're darned close.
The tuners on the Affinity are all separate and attached via a nut that goes over each tuning post. Also, there is screw tension adjustment on the top of each button. On a Squier model, or any guitar in this price range for that matter, that's really good. They also hold tune very well.
Single string guide
The single string guide (which some call a string tree) is great because there is no guide holding the G string down; that means less string kinking noise for G string bends.
The Metallic Red is not Candy Apple Red, but rather a darker, deeper red with just a very slight hint of metallic. Pictures do not do this color justice.
Lake Placid Blue also looks great, but if the red doesn't suit you, the Brown Sunburst will, believe me.
Proper 3-ply pick guard
The white-black-white guard the Affinity has is exactly the way you'd want it to look. Proper and upscale.
"Unfinished" neck feel
The neck isn't unfinished, but it feels that way, and that's a very good thing. The reason for it is that it's not the typical thickly-coated high-gloss that's on most Squier necks. What this does is make the neck feel very smooth and not sticky whatsoever.
True, the neck has no walnut stripe a.k.a. "skunk stripe" on the rear, but who cares? It feels proper.
How does it sound?
Like a Telecaster should:
The rear pickup on the Affinity is amazing, but like I said, the front pickup doesn't have as much treble response as I'd like.
Then again, this may be a totally different experience for you. You may like the voicing of the front pickup just fine.
Other benefits of this Tele
Something I didn't know until buying one is that this Tele behaves very nicely as far as its tone is concerned.
Some guitars require a lot of tone tweaking before you can get a good recorded sound out of it. Any by tweaking I mean messing around with EQ settings and such. The Affinity Tele hardly requires any tweaking like that at all, other than just a turn of the volume or tone knob on the guitar.
For example, this Tele works wonderfully with just about any kind of effect you can throw at it. Delay, overdrive, reverb, phaser, flanger, reverb, etc., this Tele can make all that sound good easily without spending hours tweaking just to make it sound right.
While a Telecaster can be soloed on, its main strong point is chording. The Affinity Tele can definitely chord all day without a problem. This isn't to say it can't be soloed on, because you certainly can do that, but it's great chording character makes it much more friendly to certain effects like chorus and delay.
Is a Telecaster a better chorder than a Strat? Yes. The position and voicing of the rear pickup is what makes work so well for chords.
And let's face it, most guitar players aren't soloists. Chords are what guitarists play the most, and the Tele delivers in fine style there, no question about that.
Final word, availability
Here's the oddity about Squier Affinity Telecasters: Hard to find in a guitar store. Guitar stores don't stock these for some reason.
I live in Tampa Bay Florida. A lot of guitars go through this area. I have three Guitar Center stores and one Sam Ash store all within driving distance of me. And the only Squier Affinity Telecaster usually in stock is the maple-board "Special." I've never seen a rosewood-board Affinity Tele in a guitar store.
My Affinity is in fact a 2015 build, meaning it was made this year. That in itself is an oddity because it's usually the case that Squier guitars in guitar stores are at least a year old in new condition.
The reason I tell you this is that if you want one, it's probably true you'll have to buy it online (I suggest buying through Amazon) just to get it.
Worth it? I think so. I bought mine sight-unseen (other than just seeing it in a photo,) and was pleased with what I received.
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