Guitar tech Steve Prior reveals why Mike Rutherford can’t get enough of Fender’s entry-level Squier Bullet Stratocast­er


Mike Rutherford is usually to be found playing a Lace Sensor-equipped Strat like the one pictured above. But recently the prog legend has taken to playing guitars from the other end of Fender’s price range – the humble Squier Bullet Strat – and he does so in front of thousands of Genesis fans. So, how has this entry-level Strat managed to convert a seasoned pro such as Rutherford? After all, he could play virtually any Stratocast­er he wanted.We spoke to his guitar tech, Steve Prior (who is currently out on the road with Queen’s Roger Taylor following the postponeme­nt of ‘The Last Domino? ’tour dates) to find out. “The Squier Bullet Stratocast­er is his favourite at the moment, it really is, ”says Steve,“and I’ve just bought him a couple of others that I’ve found rather cheaply in the clearance section at Guitar Guitar in Newcastle. They were only about 100 quid each! I mean, they’re unbelievab­ly good guitars for the money. “His favourite one is an unusual colour: it’s a limited-edition finish called Sonic Grey,”he continues. “Squier Bullet Strats in this finish were imported into South Africa from Indonesia. Mike bought the guitar in a shop in Cape Town because he forgot to take his black Clapton Strat with him on a visit. He actually bought two – the other Bullet Strat is Arctic White. “Sitting at home in Cape Town plugged into his Blackstar threewatt amp, Mike just fell in love with it playing along to his laptop and relearning all the Genesis songs. That was him for almost all of the first lockdown because he wasn’t allowed out of Cape Town. He was stuck there. But he came back saying how much he loved this guitar.” The Sonic Grey Squier Bullet Stratocast­er features a polyuretha­nefinished poplar body and 648mm (25.5-inch) scale‘C’-profile maple neck with a 241mm (9.5-inch) radius, 21-fret laurel fingerboar­d.Three Standard Single-Coil Strat pickups along with a six-saddle VintageSty­le Synchroniz­ed Tremolo means the guitar stays close to Fender’s original 1954 design. “It’s super lightweigh­t; it feels like balsa wood, ”says Steve. “But I have changed the bridge/saddles and put Gotoh tuners on just to make it more reliable for the tour. Mike loves the sound of the pickups, although on a couple of these guitars I have put Fender Noiseless bridge pickups in, just in case we get any interactio­n with the stage’s enormous 70ft LCD screen.” While Fender’s Squier Bullet Stratocast­ers are cheerfully functional instrument­s, pro players may want to upgrade and mod the guitars to bring them up to spec. Indeed, they serve as ideal testbeds for tinkering. “If you want to put Gotoh tuners on you’ve got to enlarge the peghead holes, ”advises Steve. “I also recut the nut and dressed the frets. I would maybe recommend upgrading the electronic­s to Switchcraf­t and CTS, too. It’s about fine-tuning the guitar, really. “Mike has got so many other wonderful Strats, but he also loves using these Indonesian-made Squier Bullet Stratocast­ers. He can’t put the Sonic Grey one down. It’s the first guitar he wants to play every day. “I asked him if he’d like me to take the Squier decal off the headstock, but he said he wanted it stay. I’d bet Fender are probably over the moon about that!”

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