The Stratocaster, an innovation of Leo Fender back in the 1950's, remains Fender's best selling guitar.
Today, many variations and copies exist of the iconic Strat style, sold under the Fender name and other brands.
Here you can compare the many different Strat guitars available today, across various price ranges and side-by-side with other styles. Choose your comparison criteria below and scroll down for the results...
It's useful to see how the higher-end Strats compare to their budget counterparts...
If you're on a budget of $500 or less, see how the lower-end Strats compare...
The classic Strat has three single coil pickups with 5-way switching, a slim, double-cut body, slim neck and a tremolo bridge with attachable arm (often called a "whammy bar").
It's known for its elegant, light-weight simplicity with bright, chiming clean tones and crunchy, biting dirty tones. Players who prefer more high-end presence and bite tend to opt for the Strat over the smoother, darker sounding humbucker guitars such as the Les Paul.
You'll find the Strat being used in all styles of music, reflecting it's incredible versatility and ability to adapt to whatever amp or effects you run it through.
Fender's flagship Strat is their Standard Stratocaster.
Towards the top end you have the American Standard, often called the MIA (made in America) or USA Standard Strat, that will set you back around $1,200 new. There are also Special and Deluxe models that offer speciality pickups, hardware and cosmetic improvements.
But Fender also offer a cheaper, Mexican made, or MIM (made in Mexico) Standard for just shy of $500.
On paper, the MIA Strat uses higher quality materials, hardware and electronics, with more "hands-on" craftsmanship and stricter quality control meaning more consistent output of quality.
However, many experienced players actually prefer the cheaper Mexican Strat and contend that the difference in sound is purely subjective, regardless of build quality. It's fair to say that the output of MIM's is more variable than the MIA's.
Players often use the cheaper MIM's as a reliable base for upgrades and mods.
Squier, a subsidiary of Fender, offer budget Strats (between $100 and $400) with similar specifications to the Fenders, albeit with lower grade materials and cheaper electronics.
Popular Squier models include the Classic Vibe 50's and 60's Strats and their entry level Affinity and Bullet.
The quality of Squier's output has varied, from humble beginnings through the now much sought after Japanese 1980's era to the present day highly acclaimed Classic Vibe series.
While there seems to be an unshakeable stigma attached to having the Squier name on your headstock, overall there have been dramatic improvements over the years, thanks in part to tighter quality control at the factory. The ratings and reviews from veteran players speaks volumes!
Over the years, numerous manufacturers have produced their own branded Strat-style guitars, often called Strat "copies".
Popular examples include the Yamaha Pacifica and ESP ST series. Less known copies include the Xaviere XV-870.
Like with the cheaper Fender and Squier offerings, many players use the money they save on the stock copy for upgrading, meaning they can attain a similar quality to the MIA Strats at a fraction of the cost.
You'll also find variations on the Standard Strat specification, such as humbucker/single coil pickup configuration (e.g. HSS and HSH), custom shop modifications and artist signature models.
The natural evolution of these modifications has led to a whole new style of guitar known informally as a superstrat, pioneered by brands such as Jackson and Ibanez. Because of how much different from the classic Strat style these superstrats have become, we've given them a section in their own right!