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.

What is a Fender Stratocaster?

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.

What's The Difference Between '50s, '60s and '70s Strats?

The Stratocaster's core design was tweaked and tinkered extensively over the first 30 years of its existence. Leo Fender made minor updates to the sound, feel and style each year. Fender sum up these changes with '50s, '60s and '70s Strat models, mixing and matching each decade's greatest features. Perfect examples of this can be seen in the Vintera and American Original ranges, as well as Squier's Classic Vibe line-up.

'50s Strats

The one that started it all. '50s Strats are pure vintage in tone and character. They are made of ash bodies, using maple fretboards and chunky “U” or “V” shape necks. With a fretboard radius of just 7.25-inches, they're quite small but great for bends. The pickups are low-output and produce a classically chimey, glassy tone many guitarists frantically search for to this day. 

'60s Strats

What many players consider the pinnacle of Strat design, '60s models tweaked a few areas to improve the overall play experience of the core design. The neck was thinned out to a “C”, while the fretboard radius was expanded to 9.5 inches. Cosmetic changes included a new pickguard and a replacement rosewood fretboard over the original maple. 

'70s Strats

The seventies were a strange time for Fender under the ownership of CBS. Founder Leo Fender had gone on to create G&L, while the broadcast company increasingly more involved in the design of the guitars. This era saw the Strat equipped with higher output pickups (with the option of a humbucker in the bridge position), a larger headstock and cheaper woods and plastics.

Fender's sub-division brand Squier is where you'll find your super accessible Strats. Squier make genuinely great guitars in their own right, designed in line with the foundational Strat specs - regularly borrowing hardware from the Mexican-made Fender ranges.

The Squier Bullet and Affinity series offer exceptional guitars under £200 and are the perfect starting point for beginners. They 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.

Squier specialise in working player instruments that are fantastic options on a budget. The Classic Vibe series is inspired by their ‘50s and ‘60s Fender ancestors, while the Contemporary series is completely different to anything in the Fender range, boasting the latest in style and specs.

Shop Squier Strats

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.

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Vintera guitars are modelled after the first three decades of the Fender Strat's existence. This means they’re kitted out with swish retro fittings, finishes, hardware and pickups. The necks are thicker, the single coils lower output and the frets tall and thin.

They're the perfect pick for the likes of classic rock, country, folk and pop because of their smooth tone and full range frequency. When it comes to playability, the ball is totally in your court. Pick from a plethora of '50s, '60s, '70s or modified specs. Do you like a chunky '50s style U shape neck or the '60s slimmer evolution? The Vintera is a classy and seriously cool range to explore.

Shop Fender Vintera Strats

New for 2021, the Player Plus comes out of the Ensenada factory in Mexico. This upgrade on the Player series offers the most modern and premium specs from ‘Noiseless’ pickups to push/pull pickup switching systems, 12” radius fretboards with rolled edges, and locking tuners. These upgrades make for a superior sonic and playing experience for players seeking a performance instrument. It offers many of the same features as the American Ultra series at about half the price!

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We’ve reached America! There are few guitars as iconic as an American Strat. The Performer line-up is the most accessible Fender USA-made guitars, 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, giving you more control over your sound from the volume and tone dials.

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The Professional II Stratocaster captures the heart and soul of Fender American-made instruments. These are 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 to its position, be it in the bridge, middle or neck positions. Pickup master Tim Shaw designed the alnico V-Mod II single coils to produce powerful, nuanced tones and sound extra sparkly at all volumes thanks to the treble-bleed circuit.

The deep "C" shape neck is a new standard across most modern Fender Strat and is embedded with tall narrow frets. You get a hint of the retro flavour with the sleek touch of a contemporary guitar.

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If you’re looking for a Nitrocellulose finished Strat that’s built like they were in the ‘50s and ‘60s then the American Original series is for you. This is the most vintage-correct range in Fender’s lineup.

The ‘50s Strat features a period correct Soft “V” shaped Maple Neck and 21 vintage tall frets. The hardware and electronics include Pure Vintage “Fender Deluxe” tuners, and a Pure Vintage 6 screw synchronised Tremolo, and Pure Vintage ’59 Single-Coil Strat Pickups.

The ‘60s Strat has a Thick “C” shaped neck with a Rosewood fingerboard and features Pure Vintage ‘65 Gray-Bottom Single-Coil Strat pickups.

Shop Fender American Original Strats

American Ultra Strats are the best production guitars Fender make. The Californian brand take things to the next level with intuitive improvements on the former American Elite series. The contoured neck heel, rolled fretboard edges and latest noiseless pickups prove again why Fender are at the top of their game.

The beautifully crafted modern 'C' neck is fitted with a compound 9.5 to 14-inch radius fingerboard for greater control during leads and comfortable rhythm fretting. Its pickups have been adjusted for a smoother midrange character and crisper highs. You won't get any extra hum either thanks to the latest in noiseless technology.

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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, based on timeless builds and specs. If you think it, they can probably make it.

Throughout the calendar year, the Fender Custom Shop will release a limited run of models - a number of which you can find here at Andertons. These guitars incorporate the best build techniques, woods, materials, hardware and finishes modelled after specific time periods in Fender history.

If you can’t quite find what you’re looking for have a think about submitting a custom order through us. You tell us what you want with our expert help on hand and we’ll deal with Fender directly to have it created.

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