98 CY Squire Affinity Stratocaster Review – Cheapy or well-priced bargain?

I don’t know about you, but I love mucking around with low priced guitars that actually play and sound really good. It must be the Scottish in me, that loves the idea of getting a nice sounding Strat for about $100.

So first up let’s have a listen to how the Squire Affinity sounds. In the video below Darren is plugged straight into a Marshall JCM 800.

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Now, let me make this disclaimer up front, in the world of cheap priced guitars, it can be very hit and miss, So what I say in this review could be a very different story to another persons experience with the Affinity Squire who might of hated it. Although the quality control of most Fender guitars does seem to be fairly good.

98 CY Squire Affinity Stratocaster Review

Okay, so the first thing I need to get over when reviewing cheap guitars, or anything cheap for that matter is the snob factor, where a perfectly okay guitar is frowned upon because it is cheap and the brand is associated with entry level gear.

Think Behringer, Samick etc.. which all have quite a lot of good stuff, but admittedly have also put out some lemons. But to be fair, even Fender, or Gibson USA sometimes produce the odd lemon here and there???.

This particular Affinity Squire being reviewed today has a CY serial number which we’re pretty sure was made in 1998, which some believe are a Taiwan made Stratocaster. Most Affinity Squires have been made in China since around 1995, which obviously keeps the price down and definitely makes them one of the cheapest guitars on the market, which most would consider a ‘Beginners‘ guitar.

98 CY Squire Affinity Stratocaster Review

Squier Master M-80 Electric Guitar

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I must admit, I thought this one I am reviewing is a cracker. I would have a guess that it might even be one of the first few production Squires to come out of China, or close to it, and to be honest, my inner snob was really disappointed at how good it was. When AB’d to my other ‘higher end’ Strats, in a blind test it was hard to differentiate by sound or feel. It sounded like a Strat and felt and played like one too.

98 CY Squire Affinity Stratocaster Review

The pickups, although a little micro-phonic, were not wimpy or thin, but like a nice fat rich 70’s Strat pickup that left me scratching my head. By the way, unlike Darren in the video above, where he is playing through a Marshall JCM 800, I am playing this guitar through a Blackstar HT40 club, an amp that is full and rich when played clean, so I admit that this might have helped fill out this guitar a bit too.

98 CY Squire Affinity Stratocaster Review

Squier Stratocaster - humbucker in Bridge

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I thought the bridge pup sounded okay, well as far as Strat bridge pickups go, it was pretty usable. The in-between sounds had the necessary Strat quack, that again were as good as anything I’ve heard, well especially on cleans I might add. I probably would add though, that if there was a very minor downfall tone wise, it would be how the pickups handled high gain, which being a little microphonic, seemed to feedback a little more than I would have liked.

98 CY Squire Affinity Stratocaster Review

The pups picked up a bit more noise than my other guitars and squealed a little bit, so if I was gonna mod this axe, I would probably change the pups, even just for the sake of my inner ‘snob’. A nice set of Seymour Duncans, Fender Custom Shop Fat 50s… or…, and the list goes ever on.

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Okay technical stuff, what’s this baby got?

Well glad you asked! Starting with a solid Alder body, yes this guitar has a very solid Alder body, which I don’t think the newer Affinities have, therefore providing at least a solid timber platform to modify if you chose to do so, which is finished in a lovely polyurethane fiesta red, complete with a single ply creamy/white pickguard.

98 CY Squire Affinity Stratocaster Review

Featuring 22 frets, with the three standard Strat knobs, 1 volume and 2 tone knobs (well 4 knobs in total if you count me playing it!!), a 5 way selector switch, whammy bar, 3 single coil pickups (that I suspect are standard ceramic, slightly overwound to increase output) and a rosewood fingerboard over a maple neck backing. Speaking of necks, it is fairly thin and quite ‘fast’ so quite comfortable to play, with a modern ‘C’ profile and a wider nut, so technically pretty standard. Finished off with generic non locking tuners, which seem to hold their tune (although I wasn’t divebombing!)

98 CY Squire Affinity Stratocaster Review

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The guitar also has the famous Strat string through body tremolo with a small Squire sized tremolo block. Now I must admit I like a bigger tremolo block for sustain and tone, but for this price, I didn’t expect to get one, and really at this price range, it’s not a deciding factor.

98 CY Squire Affinity Stratocaster Review

The frets look to be using the small vintage sized fret wire. The headstock is the small Strat shape with a black Squier logo with “By FENDER” also in black. So aesthetically I could find no faults, and I would definitely use this for a modifying platform.

98 CY Squire Affinity Stratocaster Review

1996 Fender Squier Pro-Tone Stratocaster See Thru Blonde Mary Kaye Gigbag EC!

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Okay, won’t drone on too long and in summary for the second-hand price of $100, I cannot fault it. It feels like a Strat, sounds like one, and my only recommendation is that if you want great rock tone on OD you may want to change the pups, or at least the bridge one to something with balls!

98 CY Squire Affinity Stratocaster Review

I personally didn’t like the single ply scratchplate, but that’s nothing really. So if you want to invest small money for something fun, I would say you have nothing to lose, particularly if you buy one second-hand!

Viva la cheapo!!

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Fender Custom Shop MVP Series 1956 Stratocaster Relic - John Cruz Masterbuilt!

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Fender Stratocaster Squier, Roland G505 Guitar & GR33B Bass w/GR300 Synth Bundle

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Jackson Misha Mansoor Juggernaut "BULB" HT6 Ebony Fingerboard Laguna Burst

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About strataminor

Born in Brisbane I am a bedroom guitar player, although having played in front of churches (tough crowd!!) for quite a few years so some understanding of band dynamics, timing, gear (private use compared to public use) and melodic structure, instrumental breaks (okay leather pants solos....) and of course amps! Besides from my love of guitar and the G.A.S that goes with it (hey email me I am always offloading gear!! lol) I love languages, and can converse in basic Japanese, and study biblical Greek. I live in Logan with my young family (so not heaps of time at the moment) and will be contributing gear reviews based on a lot of gear I have or still currently have.

2 thoughts on “98 CY Squire Affinity Stratocaster Review – Cheapy or well-priced bargain?

  1. Pingback: Anonymous

  2. Hi Strataminor,

    I picked up almost the same guitar for my daughter. Same color Serial number CY98086072. I got it for $40 with a shitty amp included. Anyway it plays great but has a ton of noise. I think I’m going to put in Tone Rider TRS1 pickups and redo all the wiring and replace the tuning machines. 2 Things: This year is the full size 1 3/4 inch body not the 1 1/2 inch that most affinity’s have? Also will a loaded pickguard line up with the holes?

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