One of the various Black Friday deals I ran across yesterday was a Squier Bullet Mustang for $120.  So I spent a little time with it, before deciding not to buy it.  But I almost did buy it.

Good Deal?

Well, it depends.  I liked the way it looked.  I dug the green color and the maple neck.  In my opinion, the wood alone is probably worth the $120.  Thing is, I already have a short scale Squier guitar (a Jagmaster) that’s a better instrument than this one.  If I didn’t, I might have bought this, as a project.  It could be you’re reading this because you bought one of these, or maybe thought about getting one.  And if you’ve never been to my site before, here’s a quick summary – I don’t sugar coat things, I say exactly what I mean, and I appreciate a good bargain.  With that in mind…

The Good

This is a neat looking guitar.  As I said, I dig the color and the maple neck.  I also like the 24 inch scale – makes it really easy to play.  I like the fact that it comes with humbuckers, because I think this guitar would sound way too thin with single coil pickups.  I think the wood is decent, and the neck is reasonably straight.

The Bad

The setup on the model I tried out was laughably bad.  The action was too high and the intonation was whacked.  The frets weren’t exactly super even, either.  More on that in a minute.  The hardware and pickups are good enough for the bedroom, and that’s about it.  At a minimum, this guitar probably needs a good setup, unless you luck into one that’s already set up correctly.  Which to me is highly unlikely.  The pickups are poopbuckers.  They make a sound and they don’t hum, but for anyone caring about tone, they need to be upgraded with… well, anything.  On the cheap end, I like GFS.  On the medium level, I like Seymour Duncan.

The bridge is crap, the nut is crap, the tuners are crap, and the pickups are crap.  What I mean by crap is they’re not gig-worthy.  They’re good enough for bedroom usage.  They might be good enough for low end home recording.  But they’re holding back a good instrument.  Replace all the hardware, replace the pickups, and you’ve got a pretty decent guitar.  Except…

The Ugly

The model I picked up had the worst fretwork I’ve seen in ten years.  I mean it was awful.  The tops of the frets were literally scratched up and the ends were sharp.  It’s possible that with a good level/crown, the frets might be serviceable.  But the model I picked up was horrible.  My guess would be that Squier cranked these things out as fast as they could and the quality control guys were told to look the other way.

Here’s the thing – if you bought one of these and the tops of the frets are all scratched up, take it back.  You can see if they’ve got one that doesn’t have awful frets.  Or you can do your own fretwork on it.  Or pay someone $120 to do it yourself, but if you’re going to do that, you might was well buy something higher up on the Squier line.

So there you go.  I think the neck and body are worth $120 alone.  I think the fretwork is scary, and the parts are poop.  But if you can do your own fretwork and you have a bunch of spare parts you can stick in this thing, it’d make a really neat short scale guitar.