Stratocaster HSS or SSS?

Looking to branch out to an electric. Things are going well on my beginner level. I’m advancing fast into the 2nd grade of the beginner level. I’ve played in my youth so things are coming back fast.

Anyhow, I’m looking at picking up an electric and looking at the Squire Affinity Stratocaster. Here is a link to the guitar: Squire Affinity Stratocaster I’ve heard good things about this guitar as an entry level electric.

What do you all think - I’ve actually picked one up @ guitar center - it was an older/used one but It feels good and the neck is comfortable.

I’ve heard the Strat is a versatile guitar for different styles. However, If I pull the trigger (hoping for a Black Friday deal although @ $250, it is already approachable.

If I do pull the trigger on this guitar, I’m faced with the choice of SSS or HSS pickups and I have no idea which one to choose. I’ve read that the Humbucker is grittier for more rock style and the single-coil pickups produce more of a clearer, brighter tone.

But with no experience of electric guitar pickups, I still have no idea which pickup to choose.

Would love to hear your thoughts.



I had a Squier Affinity Strat HSS for my first electric. They are pretty decent, strats are popular for a reason. However the humbucker in did not sound as meaty/rocky as I expected. That is what the squier strat humbuckers are like, they sound a bit thin vs a more rock’n’roll one.

Strats have floating bridges because of their whammy bars. That didn’t bother me at first, but as soon I started using alternate tunings, retuning became a PITA. E.g. going to drop D affects all strings on a floating bridge, rather than just one string.

I had that guitar for about a year before I upgraded. I now have a Telecaster HH with Seymour Duncan pickups and am happier. I don’t regret starting with the Squier, because at that stage it’s hard to know what you want.

So in summary - hard to go wrong with a Squier Affinity, they’re good guitars. But don’t expect it to be your forever guitar. SSS vs HSS doesn’t matter all that much at that level (although I’d go HSS personally).


Maya, @jkahn makes a lot of sense.

All I’ll add from, what I’ve heard people say, is that it may be worthwhile to look at the Classic Vibe range if you can get a great Black Friday deal. Perhaps try both if both are within budget.

YOu might also discover a different preference if you try other styles, such as a tele, in the Squier range (assuming you’ve not already done this and are set on a strat style)

1 Like

@DavidP - I have been considering the Classic Vibe as well. Really watching the sales at this point for Black Friday - excited!

1 Like

Best thing you can do now as you wait for those sales, is get down to the shops and try out all the options, Maya. Look forward to a NGD (New Guitar Day) post in due course :grin:

1 Like

It really depends on what music you love qnd want to play. If you want to play something heavier then HSS is a better choice. Sure, you can play with a lot of distortion on a single coil, but then you have to deal with that hum and that’s not what you want as a beginner. And aslo decide whether you need that vibrato system. Squier has Strats with fixed bridges too.

1 Like

This is very timely as I’ve spent the last week trying to make this same decision.

I’ve also been trying to decide between a Squire, Epiphone, or Strat Player Series ($250, $400, $700]. As a beginner it’s unclear if it really matters. Although I do love the blue Player Series HSS with black pickups, but then thinking I’m being silly focusing on looks.

Always, always David :joy:


Looks matter - if you can afford it, buy the guitar you love! Although try to play it first, I’ve found that guitars I loved the look of, I hated the way they felt and it changed my mind.

1 Like

Got to agree, the best playing guitar is no use if you never pick it up. It’s got to ‘speak’ to you. Sure it’s got to play and sound good, but this is a game of the heart as much as the head …it’s got to look right !


One other point to mention. I started off with a Squier Classic Vibe 50s Tele. Loved the look and it played OK (once I had it adjusted by a luthier)… BUT… the weight! Could never fall in love with it because it felt like I was holding a brick. Now upgraded to a lighter tele, and couldn’t be happier with the new guitar.

All good points have been raised. HSS vs SSS is preference and depends on the style of music you play. Not sure you can do metal with SSS but it can do rock decently.
I wouldn’t worry too much about the floating bridge, if you don’t like floating you can set it up as fixed so uou have options.

I’ll add a twist though…
If the sales are good, then perhaps add in some extra $$ and buy a SSS and a HH? :wink:

1 Like

So I get HSS is good for metal, but am I sacrificing anything by going with it over a SSS? Are there types of music I can’t play with a HSS but could with a SSS?

Not sure I can justify the dollars at it adds another $150 to the most expensive guitar on that list making it a $850 guitar. Some of the cheaper ones aren’t ugly and are still fine looking guitars. It’s always a trade off of cost vs value. As a beginner should I really be going for the top or go with something cheaper and upgrade in a year or two when I know more and can utilize the better guitar?

No not really.
I think you can play anything with anything, with some caveats. For example it also matters how high the output of the pickup is. There are humbuckers that have low output and maybe aren’t ideal for the harder metal styles.
My high output humbucker doesn’t clean up too well but I can still do blues if I adjust my amp a little.
My single coils pickups can do from jazz to borderline metal.
But I mostly play metal so I’m fine with what I have.
With middle-of-the-way output humbuckers and a pedal or two perhaps, I think you can do everything.
With a humbucker, there’s the option to split the coils and have it in single coil mode for example.
If you aren’t too sure, perhaps go with the HSS and explore the sounds.

Thomann still have some of the squier 40th Anniversary strats for sale at £259.00
Great value. Basically a classic vibe. I have the jazz master version and couldn’t be happier with it.

1 Like

You don’t need to buy an $850 guitar as a beginner - $250 buys a lot of guitar, as does $500. That said, if you love the look of the $850 guitar while you’re feeling kind of meh on the $250 and $500 guitars… The only downside to buying an $850 guitar is the cost. The downside to buying a guitar you’re feeling meh about is that you’re less likely to want to pick it up and play or practice. The $850 guitar is going to feel better to play, and getting a cheap guitar then upgrading in a year or two will be more expensive overall.

Personally, I’d buy a guitar that I was excited for - that I liked the look of and that I wanted to pick up and play. But if you’re not seeing anything you really like in the $250-500 price range, I would either expand my search to other brands and models or also look at used guitars. My main guitar is a Schecter that was $1100 new but I got for $500 used.


SSS is classic Strat - that’s the sound that many Strat players have made popular. If you get an HSS, you won’t be able to closely match the tone of someone playing on the bridge pickup of an SSS - if that matters to you. You may also notice a large volume difference between the humbucker pickup and the singlecoil pickups, which makes switching to or from the humbucker even more drastic. Unless one of your guitar idols plays an SSS, I wouldn’t worry about it.

Overall, I’d say HSS is more versatile, but also that HSS vs SSS and humbucker vs singlecoil is perhaps not as important as people make it out to be. I started out with a Jackson HSS and used the bridge humbucker exclusively to play rock, punk, and metal, but now I use that guitar to play metal using the neck singlecoil pickup. Your amp, effects, and musical style determine your genre much more than your guitar’s pickups do.


Looks are, imo, the most important part of a beginner guitar (or mountain bike, or whatever hobby you’re trying to get into). Sure, playability and components and tone are important, but manufacturing has gotten to the point where almost every guitar you get is going to have good playability and good tone and good enough components components. But a guitar that looks good? That’s a guitar you’ll actually enjoy playing.

All of my guitars I bought because they look good. Sure, they have the specs and playability and functionality I was looking for, but I also made sure they look good (and, in one case, bought a guitar just because I loved the way it looked). We like to pretend looks aren’t important, but they totally are.


@Timobkg thanks for the advice. That all makes sense.