Fender Bullet, Bullet Deluxe Bass
The Bullet's lineage can be easily traced. The body is a thinner, scaled down version of a Tele, and in fact looks not unlike the Telecaster copies that used to be made under the name Jedson.
But the difference here is that it's all authentic — neck, pickups, body, saddles all come from the American factory, often from the same production lines that turn out Strats and fellow Fenders — and it's cheap, aimed at attracting young players.
The major money-saving trick on this model is the bridge. There isn't one. The all metal, white painted and probably plastic filmed scratch plate bends up through 90 degrees where the bridge would normally fall. This half inch high lip acts as the stopbar/tailpiece and it has holes to take the strings and the screws for the saddles.
The Bullet is not sophisticated. It carries two single coil pickups under black plastic covers, a three-way position slider and one volume/one tone controls. And the sound is equally straightforward — because it doesn't have to be anything else.
The tone is unmistakably Fender, sidling close to a Tele with its chunky, grating middle and spitting presence. It has amazing aggression for a budget guitar, challenging you to hit hard and force out harmonics. There's not a wasted moment as all the settings — neck, middle and tail — are useful as chugging rhythms or sparkling leadlines.
It's crunchy and distinct, but also live. Two notes are all you need for a strong, singing chord and the Bullet is democratically fair to all its strings. Each one sounds evenly in a chord wherever played across the neck and for a guitar with this small a body, dead spots are rare.
Mind you the smallness robs the guitar of sustain and the pickups are not over generous in volume.
It feels responsive with the right amount of resistance to make you dig into your playing. The maple neck has a Tele headstock and a neck profile that starts with a slight V at the back near the nut, gradually easing into a rounder silhouette as it approaches the body joint at the 16th of the 21 frets.
It hangs better than it sits on your knee, as I found myself cramped over it in order to strum away. The Bullet is light and not particularly stylish. This one was at the bottom of the range and there are now flashier versions with complete bridges and a neater appearance closer to a Strat.
For the time being, much of the initial impact of the Bullet idea has been lost in the fracas around the Squier series of cheap Fenders made to their spec in Japan. In comparison, the Bullets now look like weedy imitations, but that doesn't mean they sound it. £155
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Review by Paul Colbert
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