The Squier Mini Stratocaster is, as its name implies, a smaller version of the full size Squier Stratocaster. But aside from the obvious, what does that actually mean?
How do these two guitars compare and what are the major differences apart from the size. Does being smaller affect how the Mini Strat sounds and plays? Is it easier, does it sound worse, which one is better and which should you get?
I’ll answer all of those and more in this guide and hopefully help you to decide which one, if either, is the best choice for you.
Before we get into the details let’s have a quick look at an overview of the main differences between the Squier Mini Stratocaster and a full size Squier Stratocaster:
The Squier Mini Stratocaster is designed as a smaller-scale guitar and has a 22.75″ scale length. This will be good for very small hands, like children have, but very awkward for adults. The full size Squier Stratocaster has the regular 25.5″ scale length, better for adults. The Mini Strat also only has 20 frets compared to the 21 or 22 frets all the regular Squier Stratocaster models have. The Mini has single volume and tone control knobs whereas a full size Squier Strat has a volume and two tone knobs. You can’t get a tremolo version of the Mini Stratocaster either, only a hardtail. The Squier Strats come with the tremolo as standard although you can get hardtail versions too.
Comparison between all types of Squier Stratocasters:
For more comparisons see my guide to the differences between the Squier Classic Vibe 50’s, 60’s and 70’s models.
I’ll be completely honest – I don’t own and have never owned a Mini Strat. I have played them though. And there’s a good reason for my never owning one – I don’t like them.
I’m going to compare these two guitars as objectively as I can. But I feel like I need to be upfront about my dislike for the Mini Stratocaster.
I understand why it exists and for children I can absolutely see the need for a smaller guitar. For adults though, and by adults I mean teenage and up, I don’t think you should be learning on anything other than a full size guitar.
In the long run it’s going to make things more difficult for you. Switching to a full size will feel odd, you’ll have to adjust how you play and it’ll be awkward. It’s much simpler to begin on a regular sized guitar.
Oh, and in case you think I’m doing this comparison based on no experience whatsoever – I own a regular Affinity Squier Stratocaster! It was my first guitar and I’ve still got it. I’ve played plenty of Squiers since too so I’ve got some good first-hand knowledge of Squiers generally.
So let’s get on with it.
The Mini Strat’s biggest difference to all the other Squier Strats is its neck. It has a much shorter scale length – 22.75″ – which means the neck is shorter. The scale length is the distance between the guitar bridge and the nut.
So the shorter length means the distance between the frets is smaller. This can make it easier for those with smaller hands to stretch for chords.
The nut width is also slightly smaller on the Mini – 1.6″ compared to the full size Squiers 1.65″. The narrower nut width means the strings are closer together which is good for smaller hands and fingers but will be awkward for normal and bigger hands.
Aside from that there aren’t many differences. The Mini neck is made from maple which is the same as all the other Squier Stratocaster models (although the Contemporary Squier Strat has a roasted maple neck).
All the Squiers have bolt on necks and truss rods. Most 3/4 size guitars don’t usually have truss rods so that’s a handy inclusion.
3/4 guitars tend to suffer from high action due to the string tension pulling on the neck, which results in a bowed neck. But with the truss rod you can adjust it and counter the bow. Without it you would have a petty unplayable guitar.
The regular full size Squiers don’t have to worry about problems like that though because they all truss rods as standard.
When I played the Mini I thought the neck was fine. It was noticeably smaller but as someone with smaller hands it didn’t feel too ridiculous or like a toy. (If you want to compare your hand size to mine the measurements can be found here along with a picture)
But then I have never had any problems playing my full sized Squier Strat. The neck on that is bigger but not so much so that it caused me issues.
The body of the Mini Strat is made from poplar. Many of the full sizes are made from popar too so there’s nothing to set them apart there.
They’re both solid body too.
Where they do differ is the width and weight. The Mini Strat’s body is slightly thinner and weighs less than a full size Strat.
If you pick up the two guitars you can definitely feel the difference in weight. The Mini is very much lighter.
Also worth mentioning is that the neck on the Mini meets the body at the 14th fret. This is different to a full size Stratocaster where it meets at the 16th.
I guess this is because of the reduced size and number of frets (but I’m not entirely sure why). But it’s another noticeable difference.
Hardware and Controls
The hardware on the Mini isn’t great. But then it’s a very inexpensive guitar so you can’t expect too much.
The tuners feel quite weak and flimsy. They did an ok job of keeping the guitar in tune but didn’t feel like they’d withstand much.
The Squier full size Strat tuners were better. They’re still not wonderful but they feel sturdier and stronger.
The volume and tone pots on the Mini are “Mini pots”. They were a bit scratchy and not all that smooth but worked.
Again, the Squier pots were better. Not perfect but they felt stronger.
The jack was noticeably poor on the Mini Strat. It was loose and caused some issues for me. I don’t know if that was just me being unlucky and getting a dodgy one but it was poor.
Having said that it’s the jack that has been the biggest issue with my Squier Strat as well. The full size Strat definitely had a better jack but it’s still developed issues and is something I should have replaced by now.
So maybe it’s simply that Squier use poor quality jacks on all of their guitars? Either way it’s an area you might want to upgrade whichever of the two you get.
I’m not going to spend long on this as both guitars are fine. They’re Squiers so not subject to the same attention to detail as higher end guitars.
That means you may end up with sharp or scratchy frets, some slight blemishes or marks etc.
My Squier Strat was decent out of the box. Probably needed a few tweaks but nothing major.
The Mini Strat I played was acceptable too and didn’t have any glaring problems. The finish was good and it felt like it wasn’t inferior in terms of how it was made.
And for the price – what do you expect? Both guitars should be perfectly playable albeit needing somewhat of a setup.
They look the same! The Mini is simply a smaller version. It looks like a small Stratocaster.
The only actual difference you’ll notice is the Mini has that one fewer tone knob than the full size.
There is some difference between the Squier Mini Strat and the full size Squier models. The Squier Mini Stratocaster and full size Bullet Squier Stratocaster use the same standard single coil pickups.
But both the Affinity and Sonic Squier Stratocaster have ceramic single coils and the Contemporary Squier Start has Squier SQR Alnico Single-Coil pickups.
The Squier Classic Vibe Stratocasters all have Fender Designed Alnico Single-Coil pickups.
What does this mean? Well as you go up the price range the pickups tend to get better. So the Mini Strat and Bullet Strat are the cheapest and their pickups are the weakest. The Classic Vibe Series are the most expensive and their pickups reflect this and are the strongest of the Squier range.
But the Mini Stratocaster and Bullet Stratocaster are the most comparable of the Squier ranges and their pickups are identical.
I was expecting the Mini to sound worse than the full size but actually it was surprisingly close! It had a very bright and snappy ‘Strat tone’.
The ceramic pickups are much louder than I had anticipated as well.
I’ve talked about how I don’t really like the size of the Mini and that you should learn on a full size guitar. But in terms of sound and tone there’s very little to tell them apart.
I guess considering they use the same pickups that’s not a huge shock. But because the body and neck size makes them feel so different I expected that to be reflected in the sound. It’s not though, so that’s definitely a plus for the Mini.
This is a good video demonstrating how the Mini sounds:
Pro’s and Con’s
The pro’s of the Mini Strat:
- Small and thin neck is good for smaller hands.
- Lightweight and thin body is easy to hold and pick up.
- The price is good and much lower than a lot of the Squier Strat models.
- Better for children than a full size guitar.
- Sounds very similar to the full size Squier.
- Small, thin neck is hard to play with regular size hands. Forming chords is tough because the strings are closer together.
- Lack of frets. Only having 20 frets means you won’t be able to play any songs/solos that go above that point.
- The very short scale length can make the strings feel loose and floppy. It also usually leads to the guitar not holding its tune very well.
- While good for a child they may outgrow it quickly.
- I’ve read reviews saying the Mini Strats need a full setup straight away or they’re virtually unplayable. And that setup won’t be cheap, probably close to how much you pay for the guitar itself!
Alternatives to the Squier Mini Stratocaster
After trying out the Squier Mini Stratocaster I believe there are better options. If it was a straight choice between the Mini Strat and regular Squier Strat I would definitely get the full size version.
One caveat to that – is it for a child? If so then the Mini might be fine. However, lots of kids, and I’m talking 5 or 6 year olds, start on full size guitars. So it’s definitely not a requirement for children to learn on 3/4 sized guitars.
If you’re an adult though and your worry is hand size or weight of the guitar I still think there are better options. The Squier Bullet Mustang is an excellent choice because it has a shorter scale length than a regular Stratocaster – 24″ compared to the Strats 25.5″ – and it’s got a lighter, thinner body.
It’s pretty much the same price as a full size Squier Strat as well. It does have humbuckers instead of single coils though, so if you have your heart set on that bright, clean tone of a Stratocaster it might not work.
If you are determined it has to be a 3/4 sized guitar then the Ibanez Mikro could be worth a look. I haven’t played one but have read some good things about them.