Fender Stratocaster
Buyers Guide

Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, Dave Murray, The Edge, Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Landau, Eric Johnson, Buddy Guy. What do they all have in common? The Fender Stratocaster.

Countless others have made the Strat their instrument and you could too. We’re here to help you pick the best guitar from Fender’s expansive range.

The Best Strat For You

The Fender Strat is by far the most popular guitar ever. It has been in consistent production since 1954, so there is no doubt you have heard and seen a Strat at some point. It is defined by the iconic, ergonomic shape and wide range of tones, from bright and brittle to dark and smooth.

Created by Leo Fender, Bill Carson, George Fullerton and Freddie Tavares, it was touted as the successor to Fender’s other mass-produced solid body guitar; the Telecaster. The shape intended to be a direct upgrade, with the curvy and contoured back and sides allowing it to rest closer to the player’s body.

The other goal of the guitar was to introduce a versatile range of sounds by installing a third pickup. While the bridge and neck single coils were originally quite similar to what you’d find in a Tele, the middle pickup was unseen in electric guitars at the time.

Originators Fender have made hundreds of Strat models using different parts, pickup configurations, woods, and hardware. There really is a Strat for every style and budget. Fender currently make over 250 different Stratocasters. Finding the exact one, even when you know specs and price range can be tricky. Here’s our breakdown of the Fender Strat ranges.

Fender own the brand Squier and this where you’ll find beginner and affordable Strats. Don’t knock them though, because Squier guitars are genuinely great to play, are well made and even feature hardware used on Fender guitars.

The Squier Bullet and Affinity line-ups are great playing and sounding guitars under £200. Squier also make the Classic Vibe series. These are inspired by ‘50s and ‘60s guitars and are built in the same styles their ancestors.

Squier also put together a number of starter packs that include all the essentials you need to get playing such as a cable, picks, strap and an amp.

The Fender Player series is the ultimate workhorse range of guitars. With an unbelievable selection of hardware, pickups and finishes, there’s something here for everyone.

Fender produce the Player series in Mexico and the team are trained with the same tools and processes that the American factory use to build their high-end guitars. This is the standard at which everyone is held for quality, playability and hardware. Expect a Fender Player to outlive the vast majority of guitars.

Like the Squier Classic Vibe series, these Fenders are modelled after guitars made in the first two decades of the Strats existence. It means they’re equipped with some retro fittings used at the time of their first production. The necks are thicker, the pickups lower output and the frets smaller.

A great pick for classic rock, country, folk and pop because of their smooth tone and full range frequency you can rely on. The playability of these comes down to you. Do you like a chunky U shape neck you can firmly wrap your hand round? The Classic might be the pick for you.

Fender’s most innovative and premium range made in Mexico. Deluxe guitars combine cool Fender design and premium specs in a genuinely affordable package. The range has plenty to offer, with unique finishes, S/S/S or H/S/S pickup configurations and a choice of alder or ash bodies.

These guitars are absolutely roadworthy and serve up modern tones suitable for rock, blues and folk styles alike. Fender clearly set out to make versatile instruments equipped with some of their top hardware, including two-point synchronised tremolo bridges.

We’ve reached America! There are few guitars as iconic as an American Strat. The Performer line-up is the most affordable USA made guitars Fender make, yet beautifully demonstrate the class-leading craftsmanship of such an instrument in all its glory.

The most noteworthy feature of the Performer is its electronics – the Yosemite single coil pickups are super expressive and deliver classic tone. The Greasebucket circuitry lets you roll off top-end frequencies without adding bass. No longer are your tone and volume knobs useless.

The Professional Stratocaster encapsulates all the greatness of Fender American-made instruments. It’s a re-imagining of the classic design from the ‘50s, housing new electronics and shaped ever so slightly different to improve the overall playing experience. All the retro tone, none of the clunky playability.

Each pickup is specifically voiced for its position, be it in the bridge, middle or neck positions. Pickup master Tim Shaw designed the alnico V-Mod single coils to produce powerful nuanced tones and sound punchy combined with the treble-bleed circuit.

The neck has a deep C shape embedded with tall narrow frets, so you get a hint of the retro flavour with the smoothness of a modern guitar.

American Elite Strats are the best production guitars Fender make. The Californian brand take things to the next level with intuitive improvements on the former American Deluxe series. A new truss rod adjustment by the neck pickup allows for easier access, while the contoured neck heel and precisely designed floating trem are why they are rightfully named elite instruments.

The beautifully crafted compound radius neck carves out a modern C to D for greater control during leads. Its matching compound fretboard starts at a vintage 9.5” radius and flattens out to 14”. The Shawbucker pickups have been worked on too, to make them noiseless and produce an astonishing array of tones.

The Fender Custom Shop is where dreams are made. It’s not an overstatement - it really is where they make all of their best guitars, from ‘50s reissues to modern one-off builds. If you think it, they can probably make it.

Throughout the year, the Fender Custom Shop will release a limited run of models and you can find a few here at Andertons. These guitars incorporate the best build techniques, woods, materials, hardware and finishes.

If you can’t quite find what you’re looking for you can also submit a custom order through us as well. You tell us what you want with our expert help on hand and we’ll deal with Fender directly to have it built.

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If you'd like to learn more about the guitars featured in this article, please don't hesitate to get in touch - we've got a full-time team of friendly, knowledgeable gear nerds who can answer any query you may have!

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