Today’s review is a must-read for anyone who’s doesn’t want to spend too much money on new gear. We’re going to focus on the cheapest Squier Strat out there – a brand new Squier Sonic Stratocaster.
The Sonic Strat offers a surprisingly good value for the money. It’s not only cheap, but it’s also well made and it actually sounds good. Good tone and comfy neck at this price level? That’s quite unexpected.
Don’t get me wrong – this axe still has its own flaws and I will definitely point them out. But if you manage to find a better Strat at this price level, let me know, because I don’t think that it’s possible.
Let’s start with a quick sound sample (played by me, of course). You can watch the full video here.
About Squier Sonic Stratocaster
This is a VERY fresh guitar! Squier announced the Sonic series a few months ago and this is their most affordable selection of axes.
Back in the good old days (so more like few years ago), the so called Bullet series was considered as an entry-level series of guitars by Squier. These guitars were great for beginners, but they were discontinued.
But now that I think about it, the Sonic series may actually be better! I’m being completely honest with you – the Bullet Strat felt like a cheap axe, but the Sonic Strat definitely reminds of a real Fender Stratocaster.
The comfortable neck (and its satin finish) is the biggest win in that model. I would literally pay the same amount of money just to get that neck. It’s very easy on the fingers and it just makes you want to play some Hendrix/Frusciante-style licks.
So whether you’re a grandpa who wants to learn to play guitar or a teenager obsessed with John Mayer – this axe is a good place to start.
If you’re intro Stratocasters, you probably know that the SSS pickup setting is the most common one. There’s also a HSS version available, so that’s pretty cool too.
The pickups sound bright and clear. They work well with pedals and they are perfect for practice and rehearsals. Let’s be honest – it’s won’t sound like a vintage Strat straight from the ’60s, but it will still get the job done.
For those who like modifying guitars, replacing the pickups (along with the tuners) would definitely be a good idea. I’m pretty sure that with better single-coils this Strat could actually sound like a much more expensive Fender.
Similarly as other Strats, the Sonic Stratocaster has two tone controls and one volume knob. That’s a classic setting. Of course, there’s also a pickup switch and you can choose one of five pickup settings.
I really like the position of the neck and middle pickup. It sounds great and it gives you that characteristic Mayer tone. If you like John Mayer, you will probably love that setting too!
The overall build quality of that axe is pretty good. Nothing falls apart as of yet, so that’s a good sign.
The model from the photo was made in China, but I’ve heard that it’s possible to find Indonesian-made Sonic Strats too. I can’t directly compare these guitars, so I can’t objectively say which ones are better.
However, this Chinese-made Strat is actually quite impressive. I always thought that Chinese guitars are crap but this model definitely proves that this statement is not true.
The quality of materials (such as the bridge or tuners) could be better, but in the end it’s a budget guitar. What matters the most is that the quality control was pretty good and the overall finish is just nice.
I prepared a little table full of boring specs just for you. If you’re a guitar nerd, you will probably enjoy reading that. And if you want to read more, you can always check this guitar either on Amazon or Thomann (these links are affiliate).
|Fretboard||Maple / Indian Laurel|
|Pickups||Ceramic single coils|
These specs are pretty normal – there’s nothing unusual. poplaar is not the best type of wood, but it’s a fairly cheap material.
I wish that it had a bone nut. But it would be pretty much impossible – sometimes even two or three more expensive Squier guitars still have plastic nuts. It’s not a huge problem though.
So by looking at these specifications you can easily say that this is a pretty regular Stratocaster. Nothing extraordinary. Is that a good sign? I guess so!
Factory Setup & Maintenance
Squiers used to have one serious problem – factory setup issues. I tested out a lot of different Squiers throughout my ‘career’ as a blogger and YouTuber, and I can admit that it was always really annoying.
Setup Of This Model
I remember that I opened a Squier Jazzmaster a few years ago and it was just absolutely terrible. The high string action made it extremely uncomfortable to play. Plus the constant buzzing! Absolute nightmare.
But I think that Squier learned their lessons from the past and they listened to their customers. People were always complaining about these setups. Now I noticed that their newest guitars are usually much better. They’re pretty much ready to play straight after unboxing.
Squier Sonic Stratocaster from this article had a bit high string action, but that was about it. No problems with tuning stability or intonation. That’s actually pretty impressive! Remember that it’s a guitar from China.
I haven’t been using this Strat for long enough to tell you more about the long-term maintenence, but generally, the same rules apply to all guitars.
Just don’t play with dirty hands. That’s absolutely crucial. Make sure to wash them before your practice sessions and you’ll be good.
Also you have to remember about changing the strings from time to time, but you don’t have to be obsessed with it. I know some people who change strings every two or three weeks and that’s a bit too often in my opinion. But once in a few months should be okay.
It’s also a good idea to keep the guitar inside of a gig bag or a hardshell case. You know, just to be sure that it won’t get damaged. And if you don’t have a case and you know that you won’t be playing for a while, make sure to wipe it down from time to time. It won’t hurt!
Pros & Cons
The biggest pros of the Sonic Strat are:
- VERY affordable price
- great tone
- superb neck
- and the classic aesthetic
Perhaps it’s a budget axe, but it still has the aesthetic and vibe of a real Stratocaster. And that’s actually very inspiring!
When it comes to the cons, these are pretty obvious too:
- pickups could be better
- same with the tuners
- no gig bag included
But on the other hand, what else can you expect from a guitar at this price level? It’s totally understandable that it’s not a high-end instrument.
Also, as you can see on the photo above, the Strat comes with a tremolo arm and a short manual. You will probably throw that thing away, but the trem arm is actually very important, so don’t forget to take it out of the box!
Who Should Get This Strat?
Based on my experience, this axe is mainly created for two groups of people:
- absolute noobs who don’t know anything about guitars
- intermediate and advanced players who are into mods
You guys have it very easy nowadys! Here’s a quick story from my life.
Let’s travel back in time to 2008, because that’s the year when I got my first electric guitar. I don’t even remember what brand was it, but it was from China and it was.. terrible. I must have been extremely motivated, because anyone else would probably throw it away and give up.
I’m sure that many kids who used similar guitars back then actually gave up. If they only had the chance to play on a guitar similar to the Sonic Strat, perhaps their lives would look completely different now.
So the moral of the story is that this Strat will only inspire you to practice more and become a better guitarist. Unlike my first electric guitar from fifteen years ago, this one actually has everything you need to start your journey to becoming a new John Mayer.
The second group is pretty clear too. This cheap Strat can work very well as a foundation for modifications. You could try replacing the pickups, tuners and maybe the bridge. Who knows, you can do whatever you want! That’s the beauty of it.
Is It Worth The Hype?
When Squier announced the Sonic series, all the YouTubers and guitar influencers that I follow kind of lost their minds. The hype was real and I swear that every bigger guitar channel recorded videos about these guitars.
And although the popularity of these axes is currently very high, I’m pretty sure that it’s deserved. This is just a really good piece of gear.
Thankfully, you don’t have to stand in queues and wait during thunderstorms just to get your model. You can just buy it online and it will be delivered to you in a matter of few days. We live in a crazy world.
Summing up – yes, the hype is worth it. I haven’t played on other Sonic guitars (such as Tele or the Strat with just one humbucker), but since they’re all made in the same factory, I’m sure that they offer the same quality. I would be VERY surprised if these guitars would be different.
I gotta be honest with you guys – this is probably one of the coolest cheap guitars that I had throughout my entire life. It’s just amazing that the quality of budget axes is so good these days.
If you’re a dad, this is the kind of gear that you should buy to your son or daughter. If you’re a kid, this is the kind of gear that you should ask your parents to get you. No matter who you are, as long as you’re not a pro guitarist, you will enjoy this Stratocaster.
Honestly, I’m really interested what’s gonna happen in the next few years. Squier constantly improves their quality and it seems that differentiating ‘real’ Fenders with budget Squiers will only become more difficult in the future.
So that’s pretty much it my dudes! Thanks for reading this short review, perhaps you found it useful. And even if you didn’t read the whole article and you just scrolled down to read this sentence, here’s what you need to know: maybe it’s not the best guitar in the world, but it’s definitely one of the best axes at this price range.