Looking for the best Fender Stratocaster guitar? Fender makes amazing guitars, but it can be hard to find the best one. This guide will help you pick a Fender Stratocaster that will work for your needs. Let’s have a look at our list.
Things to consider when choosing Fender Stratocaster guitar
Before you buy the best Fender Stratocaster guitar to meet your needs, you need to know a few things before you buy it. Here is what you need to know.
The first thing you must consider is the pickups on your guitar. Most fender guitars have an SSS configuration, which is three single-coil pickups. These have a rich and snappy tone, which is perfect for rock, blues, jazz, and country guitar styles. Single coil pickups do have one drawback as they can hum somewhat, and they aren’t the best for harder rock styles. To combat this, you can now get fender Stratocaster guitars with humbucker pickups. This is usually an HSS style. This means you get one humbucker pickup and two single-coil pickups with your guitar. These Strats are much better for hard rock and metal styles as the humbucker are well-suited for those styles. There are a few HHH Strats out there, but they aren’t that common. This would be a Strat with three humbuckers.
Strats have 22 or 21 frets. This is because of the design of the fretboard and the neck. If you want a 24-fret guitar, you’ll have to buy something else. Other guitar manufacturers make 24 frets “Strat-style” guitars.
The Strat has a traditional tremolo, and this means that there is normally not a locking nut. You can get a few Strats with a locking nut, or you can have one installed. There are a few Strats that come with a Floyd Rose style tremolo, but most Strats just don’t have them.
In addition to the pickups, the Strat has two tone controls and one volume knob. The toe controls are for the pickups so you can adjust each pickup to the tone you want. Strats also have a five-way selector switch to help you get the tones you want out of your instrument.
One of the best things about the Strat is that It comes in a whole host of various colors. You have a lot of options to choose from. Sometimes you can get Strats with specific design as a special edition.
The Fender Custom Shop is where you can go to have a Strat designed to your specifications. You don’t have just to buy the products that Fender has in stock. The shop allows you to design your Strat from the ground up. Naturally, this custom work can cost you a lot more than a regular Strat, so it might not be for everyone.
You may want to purchase an “Artist Series” Stratocaster. These are designed to the specifications of the artist that uses the Strat. For example, you can buy an Eric Clapton Stratocaster, which is designed to the specifications of Eric Clapton. These instruments cost a lot more, but you will get a superior instrument.
For your Strat to play well, it often needs to be setup. This is not a hard process, but you may want a license professional to do it the first time. You may not want to do this if you have just purchased an expensive Fender guitar. Here is what you need to know about setup.
Guitar action is the distance between the strings and the fretboard. Low action makes for faster playing for fast lead guitar work. Higher action is better for jazz or blues styles. It also makes the instrument sustain a bit better and makes bending easier. Action is basically a personal preference. You need to experiment a bit with action to determine what you like the best. Many Strats will play fine right out of the box, but some may need some action adjustments to make them playable for what you like. Action is easy to adjust at the bridge of a Strat. All you need is a small Allan key to adjust the action. You raise or lower the individual string poles to get the action you want for each string.
Most guitars sound fine at the first few frets, but if they don’t have the right intonation, they may get out of tune the higher up the fretboard you play. All guitars should be intonated periodically. This is easy to do on your own but takes some practice. A good guitar tech can do this for you the first few times, and then once you know-how, you can do this yourself.
The truss rod on most guitars should be left alone, but some adjustments are sometimes necessary. The neck may warp or bow some, and you’ll need to adjust the truss rod to straighten the neck. When you do this, give the rod a small turn at a time. Don’t play with the truss rod too much. If you don’t know what you’re doing, see a guitar tech to have thus done.
The tremolo on a Strat is fine right out of the box, but it may rest too high or too low for your references. In this case, you may want to add a spring to the back or remove one to get the tremolo the way you want. This depends upon your personal preferences, so don’t remove or add springs if you’re fine with the setup of your Strat the way it is. The springs are easy to access as all you need to do is remove the backplate to get to them. See a tech if you don’t know what you’re doing.
In some cases, you may want different pickups. This is best done by a guitar tech unless you have some experience with electronics. There are many types of single-coil or humbucking pickups on the market, which may wake your Strat sound better. This is all another personal preference as you don’t have to change them if you don’t want to.
Best Fender Stratocaster Guitars
Fender Player Stratocaster HSS Electric Guitar
Fender Strats usually come with three single-coil pickups. This is a fine setup that has worked for decades, but some people want more pickup power. You get that with the HSS Strat, which also includes a humbucker pickup in the configuration.
This guitar has a flame maple top and an alder body, which gives the guitar a great tone and more sustain. Alder has bene use don Strats since the 1950s as it gives great tone. You get one Player Series humbucking pickup in the bridge section and two Player Series single-coil pickups in the other positions. You have more options in terms of music that you can play with this guitar pickup configuration. The pickups sound great and give you that warm tone that Fender is known for. The neck is a C shaped neck profile, so it’s easy to play. You won’t get a lot of hand fatigue when playing this neck. The fingerboard is a 9.5 radius.
The bridge is a 2-point tremolo and features bent-steel saddles to keep the strings stay stable, so the guitar stays in tune for longer. This 2-point tremolo is updated from previous versions, so you get even better tuning with your new Strat. The strings have less friction when they are against the post. The guitar features 22 frets, which are easy to access thanks to the cutaway on the guitar. The electronics are the typical two-tone, one volume, and five-way pickup selector switch that most Strats ship with.
- Amazing tone
- Enhanced tremolo system
- HSS design for more tonal options
- Many color options
- Lacks the SSS tone that typical Strats have
- Tremolo goes out of tune easier than some guitars
The Fender Player Stratocaster HSS is an excellent option for the regular SSS Strat. The additional humbucker opens up the player to more sounds. The humbucker is ideal for hard rock and metal guitar styles. The guitar is ideal for new players as it’s lower cost than many Fender guitars but has everything that makes the Fender guitar great.
Fender Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster Guitar
One of the best things about Fender is the Artist Series. If you have ever wanted to sound like Jimi Hendrix, the Fender Jimi Hendrix Guitar is the ideal choice for you. Here is what this amazing guitar has to offer.
This guitar has the reverse headstock that Jimi Hendrix used but made for right-handed players. It has a 65 Vintage American pickup in the bridge. You can recreate the tones that Jimi Hendrix was famous for in the 1960s. it has a maple fingerboard and 21 jumbo frets, which make this guitar easy to play. The strings are easy to bend, and chords are easy to play on this great fender guitar. The guitar comes with a lifetime warranty.
The tremolo is a 6-saddle synchronized vintage tremolo bridge that sounds good and stays in tune even if you divebomb on the tremolo system. The reverse angles bridge pickup is added to this guitar to recreate the same pickup that Jimi Hendrix used throughout his career. This gives the guitar a unique tone. The neck on the guitar is made from maple and is easy to play. Extras on the guitar include a neckplate that is engraved with Jimi Hendrix’s name. The fretboard is a standard 9.5 radius, and the headstock also has his signature. You get a gig bag when you order this instrument.
- Reverse mounted American Vintage pickups (Jimi’s preference)
- Reverse headstock
- Jimi’s Signature on the guitar
- Authentic Hendrix tone
- A little harder to play than a regular Strat
- Only a few color options
For anyone that loves Jimi Hendrix, this guitar is for you. It’s designed to Jimi’s s preferences in the 1960s. It sounds great and has amazing sounding pickups. You’ll sound like Jimi in no time with this guitar. This is a solid buy for any Jimi fan as it has the 60s sounds that you want.
Fender American Elite Stratocaster Guitar
If you’re looking for a Strat that is a cut above a regular Fender, you may want to look at the Fender American Elite Stratocaster. This guitar has a great sound and comes with a lot of extras that make it the perfect option for today’s player. Here is what it provides you.
The guitar has an S-1 switch in the volume know, which gives this guitar more tonal options. You will get some warm thickness with this switch. The neck is a compound profile that is easy to play. The heel is a re-designed contoured heel for even more comfort for your hands higher up the neck. You get the standard volume, two-tone, and 5-way pickup selector with this guitar to help you further enhance your tone the way you like. The instrument is standard, with 22 frets like most Fender guitars. The tuning pegs are a locking short-post design that helps stabilize the tuning of the guitar. The guitar comes with a molded case and a lifetime limited warranty when you buy.
- Noiseless single-coil pickups
- S-2 switch for more tonal options
- Contoured heel for easy access higher up
- Plenty of colors
- Quite expensive
- Vintage purists may not like it
The Fender Standard Elite Stratocaster is a great guitar. This instrument comes with a lot of extras such as noiseless pickups, which make it an ideal choice. It’s very comfortable to play, and it sounds amazing. It will cost a bit more than some Fender guitars, but this added cost is well worth it.
Fender Player Series Stratocaster HSH Electric Guitar
Fender makes great guitars, but they are not exactly the ideal choice for hard rock as the single coils don’t cut it for that style. Thankfully, the Fender now has the HSH Strat form the Player Series, which gives you two big humbuckers to go along with your single coil. Here is what this guitar provides for you.
The fender plyer Series HSH Strat is a tone machine. The configuration of HSH means you have a guitar that can cover a wide range of style including hard rock and metal with ease. It has the crunchy sound you want for harder styles of rock. The humbuckers and the single-coil are Alnico, which sounds great no matter what you’re playing.
You get a 22 fret maple neck, which is fast for all those soaring lead lines. The neck is C shape, so it fits comfortably in your hand and reduces hand fatigue when you play. Satin polyurethane is used to polish the neck, so it’s very smooth up and down the fretboard. The body is made from alder wood for good sustain. The bridge is a synchronized tremolo 2-point bridge that helps to stabilize the tuning of the guitar. The tuning machine is standard Fender style. You get chrome hardware, two-tone, one volume, and a 5-way selector switch to round out the electronics on this instrument.
- Fast neck
- Great pickups
- Can play more styles of music
- Sounds great
- Lacks authentic Fender single-coil tone
- Not ideal for some guitars styles
If you have always wanted a Fender guitar for hard rock, but don’t like the sound of single coils, the Fender Player Series HSH is ideal. You get all the tone of humbuckers with a Strat body. This guitar can handle all the distortion that you throw at it. The pickups sound great, and the neck is fast and easy to play. This is a clear winner for rock and metal guitar players.
Fender Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster, Pau Ferro Fretboard
One of the most iconic guitar players of all time is Stevie Ray Vaughan. He was as known for playing Stratocaster guitars. Now you can own a replica of his guitar and sound just like him. Here is what you get with the Fender Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster.
The neck of this Strat is an oval 60s shape. The neck is made from maple, so it’s hard and sturdy. The body is made from alder, which is typical for many Stratocaster style guitars. You get a fingerboard made from Pau Ferro, and there are 21 jumbo frets. The pickups re Texas Specials, and there is a reversed or left-handed tremolo system. The pickguard has the SRV logo on it, just like his guitars featured. The guitar is a joy to play, and it sounds amazing.
This guitar has two-tone, one volume, and a 5-way selector switch for the pickups. The pickups are capable of many different sounds and not just the blues that SRV was famous for. You can play rock, country, jazz, and any other styles with this guitar. The guitar has a gloss polyurethane finish, which looks great. You get gold hardware and a vintage tweed case when you buy.
- Authentic SRV style guitar
- Excellent pickups
- Easy to play
- SRV logo on the pickguard
- More expensive than many other Strat guitars
- Reversed tremolo might not be ideal for everyone
The Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster guitar is an excellent Strat that will have you sounding like SRV. It’s easy to play and has excellent single-coil pickups. You’ll pay more for this Strat, but it’s a well-designed guitar that has a lot going for it. This is a recommended buy for any blues fan or anyone that wants a superior Strat to play.
Fender American Original ’50s Stratocaster Guitar
The Fender Stratocaster was introduced in the 1950s. Those first guitars are now vintage and cost a tone of money. Now you can own a 1950s style Strat for not a lot of money with the introduction of the Fender American Original 50s Stratocaster. Here is what this Strat has to offer today’s modern player.
This guitar looks and feels like a 1959, Fender Stratocaster. It has a light alder body, and the neck is a V shape. This neck feels great, and it’s easy to play. It sports vintage tall frets and a synchronized tremolo system. The finish is a nitro lacquer style.
The expanded 9.5 fingerboard is wider than the original Strat, so it’s perfect for today’s lead guitar playing. It has Pure Vintage 59 pickups to recreate the sounds from that era of guitar playing. The pole pieces, bobbins, and the wiring of the pickups are correct to the 50s era. You get a volume knob, two tone knobs, and a 5-way selector switch for your pickups. You also get 50s era Kluson-style vintage tuners that give the guitar, even more, 1950s authenticity.
- Authentic 50s tones
- Looks like original 50s models
- Easy to play neck
- Comes in different colors
- Some might not like the vintage tuners
- Tremolo can go out of tune
For those looking for an authentic recreation of 1950s style Stratocasters, you can’t go wrong with the Fender American Original 50s Strat. It has very nice pickups, and it looks and plays like a 1950s Strat. You’ll get great tone out of this guitar and enjoy it for years to come.
Fender Vintage ’60s Stratocaster
The 1960s saw a refinement in Fender Stratocaster, and many great models were released during that era. The Fender Vintage 60s Stratocaster is a Strat that you’re going to love. Here is what this guitar provided you as a modern guitar player.
This Strat is a reproduction of the 1960s Stratocasters. You get a vintage tremolo system for dive bombs and other guitar tricks. You get Tim Shaw 60s era pickups for authentic 60s tone. These pickups are period-correct, so they look authentic as well a splay like the pickups from this era. The neck has a C shape, so it’s easy to play and feels comfortable up and down the neck. The frets are also vintage style and very smooth, so your hand is going to fly up and down the fretboard on this instrument.
You get a volume know, two tone controls, and a 5-way selector switch to control the pickups. The neck is made from maple wood and the body from alder. The guitar has excellent sustain and brilliant tone. The fingerboard is a Pau Ferro which is warmer than the traditional rosewood. This wood is being used on many new Fender guitars, and it sounds great. The fingerboard radius is also the vintage era correct.
- Vintage tone
- 60s era looks
- Sounds great
- Good pickups
- Not as good as original 60s guitars
- It costs quite a bit
For those that want to recreate the sounds of the 1960s, the Fender Vintage 60s Stratocaster is the one you want to own. It has a vintage look, and the sound you’ll get out of it is amazing. It’s capable of playing all different types of music especially the rock and roll styles form the 1960s. Go back to that era with this killer Stratocaster.
Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster
Many people want to sound like blues and rock guitar great Eric Clapton. Now you can sound just like Slowhand with the Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster. This guitar has a ton of great features that make it a standout Fender product. Here is what this guitar provides for you.
The guitar features three noiseless Vintage single-coil pickups. There is a midrange boost and TBX Fender tone circuitry to make the tones of this guitar stand out even more than a traditional Fender. The body is made from alder had has a polyurethane finish with the traditional Fender pickguard shape. The neck is a soft V shape with a 9.5 radius, and you get a one-piece maple neck. The tremolo is blocked as Eric doesn’t use one, so it’s authentic to his tone and tastes. You get a 5-way selector switch volume knob and two tone controls. The second tone control has the TBX control, so you have even more options to shape your tone from this guitar.
- Authentic to Eric Clapton’s specifications
- TBX Tone circuitry
- Noiseless pickups
- Looks great
- Blocked tremolo which some may not like
The Eric Clapton Fender Stratocaster may cost a lot, but it sounds amazing. You’ll be playing like Eric Clapton in no time at all. The guitar has very nice pickups and extra tone circuitry, so you’ll have even more control over your tone. This is a recommended buy for anyone that loves Eric Clapton’s style or just wants a guitar that performs well and looks great night after night.
Fender Eric Johnson Thinline Stratocaster
Sometimes you want a Strat that is a cut above and different from the average one. You get that with the Fender Eric Johnson Thinline Stratocaster. This is an exceptional guitar with plenty to offer you.
The first thing you’ll notice on this guitar is the F-hole. This gives the guitar a unique sound as it can perform both acoustic as well as electric sounds. This is quite unique for a Stratocaster guitar. The guitar has an alder body and hollow cavities on the bass and treble sides of the instrument. There is a tone block from the neck to the endpin, which adds to the resonance of this semi-hollow unique Stratocaster. The pickups are Eric Johnson's signature single coils, which give the guitar a brilliant tone. They use Alnico magnets and sound amazing.
The bridge pickup is hotter to ensure a balanced signal and even better tone when you play. The neck is a soft 57 maple style with a V profile. You get good comfort and sustain when you play this neck. The fingerboard has a 12” radius so you can perform very wide bends. The neck is finished with nitrocellulose lacquer, which will help preserve this guitar for a long time. The tremolo is vintage, and you get one volume, two-tone, and a pickup selector switch to round out the hardware.
- Built to Eric Johnson’s specifications
- Sounds Great
- Unique F-hole
- Excellent pickups
- F-hole design might not appeal to everyone
The Eric Johnson Stratocaster is a unique guitar that has a lot to offer. It sounds great, and the F-holes give it a unique sound that other Strats just can’t match. If you’re looking for new sounds, this Strat has you covered as it can produce unique sounds that will inspire you as you play.
Fender Player Series Stratocaster HSS with Floyd Rose
Metal is not really associated with the Fender Stratocaster, but you can play metal with the Fender Player Series HSS Floyd Rose Strat. This guitar has what you need to shred with your Strat. Here is what this unique guitar provides for you.
This guitar ahs a fast 22-fret maple neck so it can handle many styles, including most metal guitar. It has Floyd Ros locking tremolo for heavy dive bombs and whammy tricks. Other Fender guitars just can’t do this as they lack the locking tremolo. It has a humbucker pickup for hard rock styles yet has two single coils for blues, country, and other styles, too. The HSS pickup configuration makes the guitar very versatile. The body is made from alder, and it has a gloss polyester finish. The maple neck is easy to playa and fast, so you’ll shred up and down this guitar with ease. The neck is a C shape, so it’s comfortable in your hands. Then locking nut is an R3, which helps to stabilize the tuning of the Floyd Rose, so your guitar stays in tune for longer. You get chrome hardware, machine heads, two tone controls, one volume, and a pickup selector switch to round out your hardware.
- Unique Floyd Rose design
- Humbucker pickup and two single coils
- Fast 22 fret neck
- Looks great
- Some might not like Floyd Rose, and it’s picky to setup
- Strat purists may not enjoy this type of model
This guitar has a unique sound and design thanks to the Floyd Rose and great pickup configurations It gives hard rock and metal players a Strat that works for them. You’ll be able to get tons of other tones out of this guitar toot hanks to the two single coils. This is a recommended guitar for today’s players.
This guide will help you pick out the best Fender Stratocaster guitar. You have a ton of options and styles to choose from. You can even have a custom one made via the Fender Custom Shop if you prefer.
Michael Molenda, the transformative Editor in Chief of Guitar Player magazine from 1997 to 2018, revolutionized its content and expanded its influence. With over 2,500 published works, including in-depth interviews and technical analyses, he’s a giant in guitar journalism. Post-Guitar Player, he launched CONTENT BY MOLENDA and co-founded music websites, bringing his unmatched expertise to the forefront of music marketing. At Fretterverse, Molenda continues to shape the guitar world with insightful commentary and trendsetting journalism.