There are many options today for getting a good Stratocaster. I am a Stratocaster guy. I have always loved these guitars, and not matter what other type of guitars I play, I always come back to the Stratocaster. It is for me the ultimate guitar. Here are my thoughts on the matter of the best Strat for the money you spend.
Mass-produced guitars are usually hit and miss. Fender have made many good Strats over the years, both cheap and expensive ones. The thing is, there is usually a gem among the lot. My best advice for buying a great Strat is to go to a well equipped guitar store and try all of their Strats. Take your time, you may end up with a cheap, great Strat and find yourself shaking your head at some of the expensive, dull Strats...
One real issue here is that Fender raised their prices recently quite a bit. There are many disappointed guitar players out there after that happened, but what can you do? Look for used ones, I guess.
The American Standard Stratocaster is usually a good buy. They cost from around $1,200 and up. They have good parts and good pickups. However, not all of the Am Strats I've played have been great, although you've got pretty good chances of getting a good guitar if you go with one of these.
The Custom Shop Strats are of course awesome. They are perhaps the best Strats Fender offers, but they sure are not inexpensive. Over 3 grand, in many cases. Still, have a look at these if you want the best Fender Strats available.
The new RoadHouse Strats are interesting. They cost $740 - $790 or so, and they are quite nice. They look cool and have Texas Special pickups. Worth a look.
The Highway One Strats are USA made, and although some might not dig the big 70s headstock, fat frets and the available colours, these guitars are a lot of bang for the buck. I almost bought one once. Price is around $890 or so I think.
The Deluxe Player's Stratocaster is another nice Strat. It's about $800 and it has Vintage Noiseless pickups and a really nice 12" radius neck. I think it's one of the better Strats for the money. It is made in Mexico.
The Custom Shop Artist guitars are absolutely amazing, but also amazingly expensive. I've for example tried the Jeff Beck Strat, and it was fantastic. Stayed in tune exceptionally well too. It's about $3,500 I believe. The Eric Johnson Strat is really nice too. However, some of the Custom Shop Strats can cost as much as 12 GRAND! Eek!
The last Strat I want to mention is perhaps the best bang for the buck. The Standard Strat, which goes for about $500 - $550. The reason it cost less is because it is made in Mexico and has less cheaper hardware than the American made ones. However, I think this Strat can be a great one, but you MUST try several of them and try to find that gem among the turds. It is sometimes possible to find a great Standard Strat that plays better than a US made one, but you'll have to be patient and keep looking.
There are other models too offered by Fender, for example, the Classic Players 50's and 60's need mentioning as well - they are really nice for the money and also worth a look.
Final word - my Suhr Classic is obviously not a Fender, but it's a Strat design all the way and honestly, I think it's better than any Fender I've ever played. It costs a lot more than a Fender Standard Strat, so if you are on a budget, definitely consider the Standard Stratocaster from Fender.
The Fender Standard Stratocaster Electric Guitar is the guitar design that changed the world. New features include a tinted neck, parchment pickguard and control knobs, and a '70s-style logo. Includes select alder body, 21-fret maple neck with your choice of a rosewood or maple fretboard, 3 single-coil pickups, vintage-style tremolo, and die-cast tuning keys. Standard Strat guitars now feature a thicker bridge block for increased sustain and a more stable point of contact with the strings. At this low price, why play anything but the real thing?Fender Standard Stratocaster Electric Guitar Brown Sunburst Maple Fingerboard
I think I can say that my 2006 Eric Johnson strat is a guitar that I will keep until my dying day. :-)Comment added on December 20, 2012
Unless you want to throw your hard earned money down the toilet, DO NOT BUY A HIGHWAY 1 STRAT! If you like it, that's fine, but don't expect it to retain any value. A Mexican Strat holds it better than the P.O.S. Hwy 1. I have a 2002. Wholesale it's worth $175. On the rack they're listed for $325. If don't believe me then I have one to sell you.Comment added on October 31, 2012
My best is a Eric Johnson
Great neck good sound
I also like the American deluxe but you have to play lots of guitars to find the right one
I own 5 different Strats right now. I actually found a Squier Standard w/ a cherry sunburst finish that plays well and sounds decent. It is my main practice guitar. Had to swap out the tuners, but everything else is ok. Got it for 219.00 in Spring of 2011. My favorite one to play is my 2008 American Standard VG Strat.Comment added on August 07, 2011
i got a 50's start from mexico its in great shap plays good but me i like the telles i got one of the new telles its american made delux best guitar i ever played and owned i will never sell it best thing i ever got i recamend the telles then the strats depend on what kind off music you playComment added on September 21, 2010
I have owned and played many "strats"
The best I have played and currently play is an ESP vintage plus, these are reissues of the famous Esp 400 series.
they can often be found on ebay in the 600-700 range and will outplay any american made fender currently produced they are more comparable to the custom shop level fenders. Even a new esp vintage plus will give you custom shop quality at an american standard price.
You know, sometimes you can find that certain guitar that just sounds incredible. I have tried a whole bunch of strats in a store, and then suddenly one of them stands out, sounding way better than all the rest, although they were all the same model.Comment added on March 26, 2010
I bought a 2nd hand 1987 Stratocaster Plus for about 1k. The guitar was as good as the custom shop models in the 80s. Fitted with Lace Sensors, the guitar sounds absolutely no hum. It is the best strat i've ever heard in my 30 years of playing.Comment added on March 26, 2010
I am in the market for a Strat and have been reading lots of opinions. Mostly the Highway One gets great reports and gets compared to much more expensive Strats. I recently played a Deluxe alongside a post-2006 upgrade Hwy1 HSS in a store. The Highway One definitely had more body resonance and warmth than the Deluxe, which felt cold and dead as a doornail. The Highway One is HALF the price of the Deluxe. Admittedly, both Strats did not appear properly set up. But I'd get the Highway One over the dead strat corpse any day. Was it the Hyw1's nitro finish? The vintage tremolo? Dunno, maybe both.Comment added on March 23, 2010
My number one is a 98' Squire Standard Mexican Strat. I agree with what Chris said, the wood. I just happen to know mine is alder, and the neck is maple. The neck has never been unbolted from the body. I just changed out everything, from the cheapo tremolo block, to the machine heads, and all points between. I believe it's as good as, if not better than even the custom shop strats, because I used the best components. It's very comfortable to play. Sounds great, and no 60 cycle hum. After all, that's what counts right? Doesn't matter how much you paid for your axe, or other gear for that matter. Only the head stock heros, and boutique boyz care 'bout that. Play on!Comment added on October 24, 2009
if you want to buy a "good" strat then I suppose you mean that every part on it is high quality, then it will surley cost you your shirt, but really, what it's all come down to is the wood in the body and neck, if that is of poor quality, you can never! get a good sounding strat, so if you are on the hunt for a good strat, or a strat that can be made good, look for guitars that ar made in alder or swamp ash with a maple neck, this is the woods fender originally used and it has a special tone to it, then you have a good base, and can switch out things like electronics, cables switches, and pickups in the future, or when you can afford it then you will have a great guitar for a fraction of the prise of a real fender, it really doesnt matter what brand, if only the woods are good it has potentialComment added on September 13, 2009
I think the Mexican fender strato not have the same quality as before, so I started looking Squier Vibe, especially strato or TeleComment added on September 07, 2009
I was lucky enough to find a used Fender Jimmie Vaughan model. It was made in Mexico. I love it, and everyone that I have let play it wants to buy it from me.
You are correct to recommend that you should play them all before you choose one.
im looking for help learning hankjr songs,ive downloaded alot of tabs but cant quit get it.i havent paid for any online lessons yet mainly cause my computer is unreliable,and i dont want to get screwed,some sites have so many ads my cpu freezes,i would pay for dvdsComment added on June 05, 2009
My Mexican Fender strat is fantastic, I actually prefer it to most of the USA models I've tried. I also really like Tokai strat copies, which are great quality and excellent value.Comment added on May 22, 2009