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1981 USA Series 1 Fender Bullet Deluxe
|Fretboard||Rosewood or Maple|
|Pickup(s)||One humbucker, two humbuckers, two single coils, or three single coils|
|Red/White, Cream/White, Red/Black|
The Fender Bullet was an electric guitar originally designed by John Page and manufactured and marketed by the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. It was first introduced as a line of "student" guitars to replace the outgoing Mustang and Musicmaster models.
USA Series 1 (1981)
Fender marketed two original models made in the U.S.A.—the Bullet One Deluxe and a Bullet One standard. These two models had a single cutaway body style similar to that of the Fender Telecaster but much closer in size to the Mustang and Duo-Sonic that the Bullet One replaced with a 21 fret rosewood neck and Telecaster-style headstock and Kluson Deluxe tuners. Similarly to preceding student models like the Mustang, Bronco and Musicmaster, cost savings were made by using inexpensive hardware and parts that were quick to assemble and labor saving. The standard model originally retailed at $199.00. The Bullet One Deluxe had a plastic pickguard with a separate, traditional hardtail bridge while the standard model featured a metal pickguard-bridge combo painted white or black, with separate saddles for each string. Both models had 2 single coil pickups with a three-way selector switch. The pickups the same enclosed units used on the Mustang. Series 1 Bullets Ones were available in red (with a white or black pick guard) and ivory.The only fret board available was Rosewood in 1981.
USA Series 2 (1982)
In 1982, Fender introduced a revised version of the Bullet One, including two bass models. This series featured a double cutaway body similar to the Fender Stratocaster without body contouring and therefore almost the same shape as the Mustang and Duo-Sonic that the Bullet One replaced. Headstocks retained the version one (Telecaster) profile.The one piece maple neck was also introduced. Five models were marketed—the Bullet One Standard, Bullet One Deluxe (S-2), S-3, H-1, and H-2—in addition to the two new bass models (a regular scale "B-34" and short scale "B-30"). The standard Bullet One had the previous style metal pickguard-bridge combination with two single coils and three-way switch. The Deluxe (S-2) had a plastic pickguard and separate hardtail bridge with the same pickup configuration. The new S-3 had a separate plastic guard, traditional hardtail bridge, and three single coils with a five-way switch. The H-1 sported the metal pickguard-bridge combination with one humbucker. It also had a coil tapping button. The H-2 had a plastic guard, traditional hardtail bridge, and two humbuckers each with their own coil tapping button. The humbucking pickups were really two single coil pickups with alnico rod magnets side-by-side. All models in 1982 used the Fender "F" logo chrome tuners, made by Schaller in W. Germany and the 1983's used the sealed Fender branded tuners still used today on most Fender guitars to this day. The basses each had plastic guards and traditional bridges. They had the old Mustang bass style pickups. They differed only in scale. The popular second version Bullet One's were available in standard colors of red, ivory, brown sunburst or walnut, as well as in custom colors.
Fender Bullet Telecaster (1983 Transitional Model)
In mid 1983, Fender ceased production of the Bullet One and Bullet One Deluxe models in the USA and began production of the new Squier Bullet One models in Japan. At this time the remaining inventory of USA-made Bullet One necks were mated to Telecaster bodies and distributed to select dealers as the Fender Bullet One Telecaster guitar. Aside from the Fender Bullet One decal on the headstock, this transitional model was nearly identical to the standard production Fender Telecaster. The Fender Bullet One Telecaster was available only in late 1983, with production ending when the remaining stocks of USA-made Bullet One necks were used up. This was the last Bullet One model to feature the Fender name prominently on the headstock, as well as the last Bullet One model to be made in the USA. Serial numbers: All USA made Fender Bullet Ones have the serial numbers on the head stock with most of them having an E0 or E1 serial number prefix although some don't have the E pre-fix at all. Being that they were produced in 1981,1982 and 1983 dating a Fender Bullet One can't be done by serial number alone. The same applies for many USA made Fender guitars made in the early 1980's such as the Fender Lead series.But once again, due to Fender’s modular production methods and often non-sequential serial numbering (usually overlapping two to four years from the early days of Fender to the mid-1980s), dating by serial number is not always precisely definitive.(https://support.fender.com/hc/en-us/articles/212774746-How-can-I-find-out-when-my-American-made-instrument-was-manufactured-)
For 1983 and 1984 the Bullet One has been manufactured in Japan (SQ serial number pre-fix) and in 1985 and 86 in Korea (E serial number pre-fix stamped on the neck plate) and is marketed under the Squier trademark as the Squier Bullet One. Humbucking pickups from the original (early 80s) consisted of the same paired single coil configuration as the American-made models but used steel rods as pole pieces with a ceramic bar magnet. The three single coil pickup pattern like the Fender Stratocaster was also available as well as tremolo and hard tail bridges. These were available in Black and Brown Sunburst.
In 1984/85 there was a Squier Bullet guitar model manufactured in Japan that featured a body made of solid wood. This particular Squier Bullet model is also distinguished by the fact that it featured a two pickup configuration, (neck and bridge) instead of the usual three pickup, a Stratocaster style neck instead of a Telecaster style neck, one output through the pickguard, 2 knobs, (one volume, one tone)and a hard tail, top-load, six piece bridge. It was offered in two colors, blonde and black.
Squier introduced a new, Chinese-made version of the Bullet in 2007, sporting a built-in tremolo arm, rosewood fingerboard, and one of six body finishes (Pink, Arctic White, Daphne Blue, Fiesta Red, Brown Sunburst, or Black) with a single-ply white pickguard.
By 2015, Fender was using Squier Bullet as a line name for their lowest-priced guitars at the $150 price point. The guitars used inexpensive basswood for their bodies and reduced paint steps to the absolute minimum to keep costs under control. However, they used the same pickups and tuners as their slightly more expensive Affinity series cousins, and generally were acknowledged as good starter instruments. In 2018, Fender had done away with the vibrato bridge on the Bullet line and made its mainline Bullet guitars top-loading hardtail instruments (vibrato bridges could still be found on special production runs for stores such as Guitar Center). The Stratocaster headstocks say "Bullet® Strat®," while the Mustang headstocks simply have an all-black version of the Squier Mustang logo used on the more-expensive Vintage Modified instruments.
As of Summer NAMM 2018, Fender's Squier Bullet line consisted of:
- Squier Mini Strat (SSS, 22.75" short-scale)
- Squier Bullet Stratocaster (SSS, 25.5" scale)
- Squier Bullet Stratocaster (HSS, 25.5" scale)
- Squier Bullet Mustang (HH, 24" short-scale)
The Squier Bullet Special
From around 1999 to 2004, Fender produced a single pickup Squier Bullet Special guitar. It had a fixed, hardtail bridge, a dual-coil (humbucker) bridge pickup, one volume control, and a 21 fret rosewood fingerboard bolt on neck. The body was made out of plywood and it was made in six colors: Black, Ice Blue Metallic, Red Metallic, Cobalt Blue Metallic, Orange, and Satin Silver. The Red and Orange bodies were made with black hardware; all other colors had chrome hardware. All Bullet Specials had a 1 ply black pickguard. Most of the Squier Bullet Specials made in 2002 came with a special 20th Anniversary engraved neck plate. The logo on the headstock reads "Squier Bullet" with no mention of "Special". Some 2002 versions of the black and Frost Red Metallic Squier Bullet Special are known to have the Affinity brand on the headstock as well.
All Squier Bullet Special guitars were made in Indonesia at the Cort factory. The serial numbers start with IC followed by two digits that designate the year the guitar was made. The remaining digits indicate month of production, color, and sequence. IC02xxxxxxx indicates a guitar made in 2002.
Fender also markets guitar strings under the Bullet brand. Introduced in the early 1970s, these strings differ by having cylindrical bullet-shaped ends instead of the "ball ends" common to other manufacturers. Fender states the bullet ends create a tighter fit in the tremolo block on Stratocaster guitars, leading to greater tuning stability when the tremolo is used.  In the early 1990s Fender switched from using zinc-plated steel for the bullet ends to brass, improving sustain. Today nickel is also used. Stainless steel strings with bullet ends are also offered since the late '90s.
- Fjestad, Zachary R. (Editor), The Blue Book of Electric Guitars; (9th Edition), 2005
- Peter Bertges: The Fender Reference; Bomots, Saarbrücken 2007, ISBN 978-3-939316-38-1
- Bullet® Special, Squires Guitars
- Chevne, Steven and Fjestad, Zachary R. (Editor), The Blue Book of Electric Guitars, (5th Edition), 1998
- The Original USA Fender Bullet Appreciation Page
- Bacon, Tony Squier Electrics: 30 Years of Fenders Budget Guitar Brand; Backbeat,1st Edition, January 1, 2012, ISBN 978-1-61713-022-9
- "How to date Japanese, Mexican, USA, Korean, Chinese, Indonesian and Indian Squiers". Fender Discussion Page (forum). June 12, 2007.
- "Fender Bullet Strings".
Fender engineers of the early 1970s were aware that the standard ball-end string design that had prevailed until then presented very specific tuning problems, especially on tremolo-equipped guitars.
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