After purchasing one of these awesome Bronco bass guitars as a Christmas gift for my daughter, we knew we had to do a Squier Bronco Bass review and make some recommendations. If you couldn’t tell from the title, we really like this bass guitar. Lots of people will get great use out of this bass, and some will fall madly in love with it. To find out if the Fender Affinity Series Bronco bass is right for you, read on.
TLDR: The receiver of this gift is lucky they still got it. We couldn’t keep our hands off of it, but it might not be for everyone. (But it probably is for everyone…mostly.)
(Note: We make a small commission on any of the affiliate links in this article. They don’t cost you anything, but they help us keep this site running, so thanks in advance if you choose to purchase anything through those links!)
Is this possibly the best bass guitar under $200?
The Squier Bronco Bass is a short-scale bass that’s perfect for beginners or as a budget bass for almost anyone. The Squier series is Fender’s line of lower-priced instruments aimed at younger bass players or anyone on a tight budget. It might take some setup to get just right when you first purchase it, but that’s very common with basses no matter what the price point.
We’re often wary of budget bass guitars, but they absolutely have their place in the world of musical instruments. If the quality is high enough and the price allows someone to start learning who might not be able to otherwise, there’s zero down side.
So, what about the Squier Bronco Bass? What makes it worth spending a couple hundred dollars on, and why were we so excited about it right from the start?
Initial impressions of the Squier Affinity Series Bronco Bass
It’s a Fender
The fact that it’s a Fender is a huge plus. Now, clearly, Fender has had issues with varying quality over the years, but even on the lower end, we’re a lot more excited about a Fender than a “no name” brand bass guitar that you might find on eBay or Wish.com. We all (the writers here) have purchased lower-end bass guitars over the years for one reason or another. Maybe we had a project in mind, maybe as a gift, or maybe we were just way too curious. Whatever the reason, we’ve seen the quality levels that come with different brands on the lower end of the scale.
While some of those basses are definitely suitable for some situations, it’s harder to find that rare gem among the mix.
Fender, on the other hand, has always set at least a reasonable bar for themselves to meet in terms of quality. That, of course, builds trust.
This bass is crafted in Indonesia, and in the past, as we just mentioned, Squier has been criticized for some quality control issues. However, times have changed, and now Squire, and many other budget basses, have improved the build quality dramatically. The Bronco bass is a perfect example.
- Slim and comfortable “C”-shaped neck profile
- Single-coil Bronco Bass pickup
- Short 30“ scale length
- Thin and lightweight body
- Satin finish neck
The Bronco Bass big picture
Honestly, the strength of our initial impressions played a huge role in our decision to write this Squier Bronco Bass review. We don’t review every single bass guitar on the market, obviously. But it was clear early on that this one deserved it.
While it might not take your breath away, it’s still a really cool looking bass. Squier has done a great job with the overall design.
The black polyurethane finish on ours was flawless, and the white three-ply pickguard gives it a great classic look. The Bronco is also available in red. The shape is classic Fender, with a vintage style reminding us of the Mustang Bass. We might prefer some contouring in the upper arm area; however, the body is comfortable to play both sitting or standing.
It feels really good in your hands. Playing it is very addictive, very quickly.
The body is made of agathis, which is a lightweight tonewood common in lower-priced instruments. The feather-light weight of the bass is truly dramatic, making for a very comfortable playing experience for even a smaller player.
What the Squire Bronco bass is like to play
The Bronco’s short 30” scale length is fun and easy to play. We imagine guitarists and younger players would find this bass very inviting to pick up, and probably very hard to put back down. It was for us.
The vintage-style maple C-shaped neck felt solid and very comfortable, and the satin finish on the back is a nice touch usually found on more expensive basses. The neck is attached to the body with the standard 4-bolt neck plate, and there were no large gaps in the neck pocket or movement when the neck was pulled on. It feels very solid.
The 19 medium jumbo frets were even with no apparent burrs or sharp edges, and the black inlay dots add to the vintage vibe. The 1.5-inch nut width (the same as a standard Jazz Bass) makes the fretboard fast and easy to navigate.
Considering the weight, the comfort of the neck and body, and the overall feel, we felt that this would be a great bass to learn on, but it’s also a really fun instrument all around for any level of player.
Construction and setup of the Fender Squire Bronco
Playing the full length of the neck, we didn’t notice any fret buzz or choking. However, a little setup was definitely necessary to get the best possible sound and feel. The truss rod is accessed at the headstock, which makes small adjustments very easy. While it’s playable “out of the box,” we’d recommend a quick trip to your local music store for a small tuneup unless you’re comfortable with those small adjustments.
Overall, we were blown away by the quality of the setup once it was dialed in.
The die-cast lightweight closed-back tuning pegs felt solid with no wiggling or slipping. Pretty good quality for such an inexpensive bass. We weren’t all that crazy about the shape though, feeling more vintage-style tuners might suit the bass better.
Electronics and tone of the Bronco Bass
The specially designed single-coil pickup is placed right in the middle (sweet spot) of the body. It has a full, clear tone without that muddy sound often associated with short-scale basses. The tone reminded us of an early 50s Precision Bass or soloed front Jazz pickup, with a vintage growl and sweet but subdued high end. We didn’t hear any humming or buzzing from the single-coil pickup which may be due to shielding. The pole pieces are covered, which can also help reduce noise.
Due to its light weight and thin neck, this is the type of bass you could play for hours without much fatigue. The bass came stock with bright sounding Fender 5250 roundwound strings, but we bet a good set of flatwounds would add some extra vintage thump.
The controls are simple and straightforward, with just a tone and volume, just like a standard P-Bass. The knurled chrome knobs felt sturdy and turned nicely without feeling too loose. The chrome bridge felt solid, and although it only has two string saddles (like the original early 50s P-Bass), it works well enough for adjusting string height.
Overall, we highly recommend this bass to anyone seeking a good quality, low-priced, short-scale bass with a nice vintage tone and feel. For the money, the Squier Bronco Bass is hard to beat.
Squier Bronco Bass Review Pros and cons:
It’s a Fender Bass guitar
Crazy value for the quality you’re getting
Lightweight and super comfortable for long playing or practicing sessions
Vintage styling looks great
Easy to adjust for that perfect setup
Short scale is great fun for anyone and perfect for smaller or beginning players
Might benefit from some nicer tuners
Some players who like a heftier feel from their bass might not love this one
You might not get around to your to-do list while this is sitting in the corner!
Hope this Squier Bronco Bass review was helpful for you! If you have any questions about it, feel free to leave us a comment, and we’ll do our best to help out.
Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API