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Stratocaster Buying Guide

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Revolutionizing Rock, Blues, Funk, and Country Since 1954.

The Fender Stratocaster is among the most iconic electric guitars to have ever been produced, and it’s been a major influence on the sounds of modern music. Since it’s introduction in 1954, the  Strat has been featured on countless recordings, and played by rock, punk, jazz, blues, soul, R&B, and country artists the world over. During its six-decade history, the Stratocaster has consistently been one of the most popular (and copied) guitars in production.

Table of Contents

A Brief History of the Stratocaster
Why Choose a Stratocaster?
Basic Stratocaster Features
Squier Stratocasters
Fender Stratocasters
USA Fender Stratocasters
Fender Custom Shop
So, Which Stratocaster is Right for Me?

A Brief History of the Stratocaster

In 1954 California inventor Leo Fender along with his cohorts Freddie Tavares and George Fullerton set out to design a guitar that would build on the success of Fender’s Telecaster and Precision Bass. Seeking to create a guitar with more tonal versatility as well as improved playability and comfort, the trio came up with the Stratocaster. Adapted from the profile of the P-Bass, its double-cutaway, deeply contoured solid body offered easier access to the higher frets and nestled more comfortably against the player’s body. The addition of a middle single-coil pickup gave the Strat greater tonal versatility than its Telecaster stablemate’s two-pickup design.

The original Strat had a 3-way pickup selector switch. Players soon discovered they could engage two pickups simultaneously by using a toothpick to wedge the switch between the “factory” settings and thus create unique tones. As we’ll see, Fender was paying attention, and over the years switching and wiring grew more sophisticated.

The Strat also had a cavity routed into its back, housing a through-body pivoting bridge that  anchored the strings. Strat players began modifying their guitars’ standard fixed bridge by removing two of its five retaining springs and adjusting the anchoring screws allowing the bridge to “float.”  By doing this, they could move the tremolo arm that was attached to the bridge up and down, thus modulating the pitch of the played notes. Jimi Hendrix,  Ike Turner, and Jeff Beck were all notorious for their enthusiastic use of these pitch-bending tremolo effects.

But vigorously yanking on the trem bar caused the guitar to go out of tune. In response, guitarists such as Ron Wood and Eric Clapton modified their bridges to remain fixed while retaining the floating tremolo. Others did away with the tremolo entirely leading to what are now referred to as “hard-tail” Strats. Here too, Fender was watching, and as the Strat evolved, new models incorporated many of the modifications pioneered by these artists and their guitar techs.  

In 1965 Leo Fender sold his company to CBS—a move that many Fender fans associate with a change in the quality of Fender instruments. Nonetheless, the business grew, and in 1977 the company introduced 5-way pickup switching and a reverse-wound, reverse-polarity middle pickup. This provided a hum-canceling effect in positions 2 and 4 on the selector switch, creating the tones popularized by iconic guitarist such as Jimi Hendrix, Dick Dale, Eric Clapton, and David Gilmour. Today, the 5-way switch and reverse-wound middle pickup are standard on most Strats.

In 1982 Fender introduced a version of the Stratocaster produced under its Squier trademark—a division spun off to create value-priced instruments. Originally built in Japan, it became one of the company’s most successful models. Since then, Fender has produced Stratocasters in Korea, Indonesia, and China, aiming to provide instruments that retain the Fender heritage and quality standards while being very affordable.

A group of Fender employees and investors bought the company from CBS in 1985 reinvigorating a business largely lacking in leadership that understood music gear and musicians. Following the buyout, Fender initially built its instruments in overseas factories that had the skills to create instruments meeting the company’s standards.

Later in 1985, Fender’s flagship factory began production in Corona, California. This was followed two years later with the opening of its second North American factory in Ensenada, Mexico. That same year—1987—Fender’s revered Custom Shop was launched and began building some of the finest Stratocasters ever.

Since then Fender has continued to rethink its flagship Stratocaster, introducing dozens of model variations with unique capabilities and cosmetics. Yet the essential shape, playability, and sound of the Strat remains unchanged six decades later.  

In this guide we’ll walk you through the many Stratocaster series and models available today. As you browse Musician’s Friend’s huge collection of Strats, we hope you’ll find this guide a useful companion in sorting out all the details.

Why Choose a Stratocaster?

With all the electric guitars available, why should you choose a Strat? While only you can determine if a particular guitar is a good fit, there are compelling reasons the Stratocaster has proven to be the guitar of choice for so many players. With its 3-pickup array and 5-way selector switch, the Strat offers players a variety of options to achieve the sound they want. From bright and twangy to mellow and moody, the Strat covers many colors  on the tonal palette.

Aside from tone, the Strat offers a very smooth, comfortable feel. The contoured body and neck joint make the Stratocaster easy to hold and play, and its deep cutaways give the player ready access to the entire fretboard. With several neck profiles to choose from, there’s a Strat to match just about everybody’s hand and playing style.

 

Famous Stratocaster Players

Countless guitarists have chosen the Fender Stratocaster as their instrument of choice. Whether playing a tasty blues lick or laying down some righteous funk, the Strat has earned its place among the most revered guitars ever. Some famous Stratocaster players include:

  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Eric Clapton
  • Jeff Beck
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • George Harrison
  • John Frusciante
  • Dave Murray
  • Ritchie Blackmore
  • The Edge
  • David Gilmour
  • Buddy Holly
  • Eddie Hazel
  • John Mayer
  • Buddy Guy
  • Robert Cray
  • Eric Johnson
  • Mark Knopfler
  • Bonnie Raitt

This is just a short list—if space were no issue, we could fill your screen several times over with the names of notable Stat players.

Basic Stratocaster Features

The Fender Stratocaster comes in many variations, but the following features are generally found on most Strats produced under the Fender and Squier nameplates:

  • A double cutaway contoured alder or ash body offers excellent resonance, comfort, and playability.
  • 3 single-coil pickups with a 5-way blade switch accesses 5 different pickup configurations: Neck, Neck/Middle, Middle, Middle/Bridge, and Bridge.
  • Master volume and 2 tone knobs control the output signal and the treble frequencies of the Neck and Middle pickups.
  • A bolt-on maple neck provides strength and stability, while being easily removed for repairs or replacement
  • Maple or rosewood fingerboard for tonal definition and durability
  • Nitrocellulose lacquer finish (vintage), Urethane or Polyester finish (modern)
  • Synchronized tremolo bar
  • 25-1/2” scale length
  • 7-1/4” fretboard radius (vintage)  9-1/2” (modern)
  • Classic “C”-shaped or “V”-shaped neck

Squier Stratocasters

Squier is a division of Fender and its Stratocasters are based on Fender models, sharing many of the same design features at super-affordable prices. In the company's own words, Squier is the “value brand alternative to its big brother, Fender.” Squier Strats are largely made in Asia.

Squier Bullet Series

The Bullet series offers a tremolo-equipped Stratocaster for the new player on a tight budget. These guitars deliver the tone and playability of a Stratocaster without breaking the bank.

  • Designed for beginners and students
  • Mini option available (¾ scale, 20 frets)
  • Bullet (21 frets)
  • Laminated hardwood body
  • Maple C-shaped neck
  • Model-specific pickup arrays
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • 9.5" fretboard radius
  • Chrome-covered machine heads
  • Large, ’60s style headstock
  • 1-ply white pickguard
  • Made in Asia

Squier Bullet HH Stratocaster Black

The Squier Bullet HH Stratocaster has a pair of humbuckers with 3-way switching, a trem, and all-black cosmetics for sleek, modern looks and sound.

Squier Affinity Series

A step up in the Squier line, Affinity Stratocasters offer more features than the Bullet including upgraded wood and pickups for a fuller, richer sound.

  • Solid alder body with thinner 40mm depth
  • Maple or rosewood neck
  • 9.5" fingerboard radius
  • 21 medium-jumbo frets
  • Model-specific pickup choices
  • Large, ’60s-style headstock
  • 1-ply pickguard
  • Made in China and Indonesia

Squire Affinity HSS Stratocaster Burgundy Mist

This Squier Affinity HSS Strat in Burgundy Mist has a humbucker in the bridge position to make a sonic impact equal to its knockout looks.

Squier Affinity Stratocaster Packs

These money-saving packs come complete with an amp, guitar tuner, strap, gig bag, cable, and an instructional DVD—everything you need to start playing the guitar! They’re an excellent choice for the cash-strapped beginning guitarist.

Squier Affinity Strat Pack

This Squier Affinity Strat Pack includes everything you need to make your dream a reality. Just add your commitment and start playing!

Squier Standard Series

The Squier Standard Stratocaster delivers the feel and comfort of a Standard Fender at a more accessible price.

  • Solid agathis body; 45mm depth like most Fender models
  • C-shaped neck
  • 9.5" fingerboard radius
  • 22 medium jumbo frets
  • Large, ’60s style headstock
  • 3-ply parchment or 4-ply tortoise shell pickguard
  • Made in China and Indonesia

Squier Standard Stratocaster

Based on its Fender American Series counterpart, the Squier Standard Strat sports a classically old-school antique burst finish and vintage single-coil sound.

Squier Deluxe Series

Squier’s Deluxe Series Strats are tricked out with modern features that enhance their old-school vibe with advanced playability, sound, and visuals.

  • Basswood body
  • Finish: Polyester
  • Neck: 1-Piece Maple, Modern "C" Shape
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood or Maple, 9.5"
  • Frets: 22, Medium-jumbo
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Nut Width: 1.65"
  • Hardware: Chrome
  • Tuning Keys: Standard die-cast
  • Bridge: Vintage-style, 6-saddle tremolo
  • Pickguard: 3-ply parchment

Squier Deluxe Stratocaster Blue

This Squier Deluxe Strat is loaded with three Duncan Designed SC-101 single coils that add presence and chime to its traditional Strat tone.

Squier Classic Vibe Series

Reminiscent of early Strat designs, the Classic Vibe series serves up affordable versions of the vintage Strats you’ve always dreamed about with some choice modern touches.

  • Alder body
  • Finish: Polyester
  • Neck: 1-Piece Maple, Modern "C" Shape
  • Fingerboard: Maple, 9.5"
  • Frets: 21, Medium-jumbo
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Nut Width: 1.65"
  • Hardware: Chrome
  • Tuning Keys: Vintage-style tuning machines
  • Bridge: Vintage-style, 6-saddle tremolo
  • Pickguard: 1-ply

Squier Classic Vibe '50s Strat Sunburst

Dripping with vintage vibe, the Squier Classic Vibe ‘50s Strat improves on its forerunner with a modern neck profile and searing AlNiCo 3 single-coil pickups.

Squier Vintage Modified Series

Vintage Modified Strats offer the playability and tonal characteristics of classic-era Stratocasters with hot-rodded updates such as hotter pickups and unique finishes. All they’re missing is the steeper chop-shop price tag.

  • Bolt-on neck construction
  • Basswood body
  • 25.5" scale maple neck
  • 9.5" radius fretboard
  • 21 frets
  • Upgraded model-specific pickups

Squier Vintage Modified '70s Stratocaster Black

The Squier Vintage Modified ‘70s Strat delivers extra snarl courtesy of a trio of Duncan Designed TM SC-101 single-coil pickups.

Fender Stratocasters

First introduced in 1954, Fender Stratocasters have proved to be one of the most enduring electric guitars ever, having been in continuous production in one form or another since its initial production. The Stratocasters below are produced in Fender’s Ensenada, Mexico plant.

Artist Series

The moderately priced Artist series includes a collection of Strats built to the specifications of the world-class artists who play them. The pickups, electronics, and cosmetics mirror the choices of the artists whose names they bear.

Fender Artist Series Jimmie Vaughan Tex-Mex Stratocaster Red

Three Tex Mex single-coils with an extra-hot bridge pup plus custom tone-control wiring give the Artist Series Jimmie Vaughan Tex-Mex Strat Vaughan’s nasty trademark tone.

Blacktop Series

Notable for their high-gain humbuckers and other modern features designed to handle the demands of modern rock, Blacktop Strats are built to blast out thick and aggressive guitar sounds.

  • Alder body
  • 25.5” scale modern C-shaped maple neck with 22 medium-jumbo frets
  • Pickup arrays include high-gain humbuckers
  • 5-way pickup selector switching
  • Vintage-style synchronized tremolo

Fender Blacktop HSH Stratocaster Black

Two Blacktop Humbuckers surround a single-coil Tele middle pickup for a ferocious set of tone options via 5-way pickup switching in the Blacktop Strat HSH.

Modern Player Series

Although Fender designs its Modern Player collection as entry-level instruments, you wouldn’t know it by their looks, performance, and playability. Their strictly modern features applied to proven Fender designs will appeal to today’s emerging guitarists looking for an axe that can handle the sounds of modern music. Intuitive new controls and non-traditional pickup configurations give this series its distinctive vibe.

  • Alder body
  • Modern C-shaped maple neck
  • Modern Player Strat pickups
  • Rosewood 9.5” radius fingerboard
  • Satin polyurethane neck finish
  • Nickel/chrome hardware

Fender Modern Player Stratocaster White

With an HSS pickup complement, the Fender Modern Player Strat has the tonal dexterity to play classic pop and country as well heavier modern rock styles.

Fender Classic Series

Fender builds these moderately priced Classic Strats using period-correct specs from the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. Each Strat model in the series has its own unique vibe and quality components that do full justice to this iconic guitar’s status.

Fender '70s Classic Strat Natural

This ‘70s Classic Series Strat includes all the original features: U-shaped neck, large headstock, “bullet” truss rod, and Schaller vintage machines.

Fender Standard Series

Widely considered an industry standard, the Fender Standard Stratocaster incorporates classic Strat features at a midrange price. It’s an excellent choice for the weekend warrior or committed hobbyist in need of a guitar that’ll keep coming back for more year after year.

  • Alder body
  • Modern C-shaped maple neck
  • Choice of a maple or rosewood fingerboard
  • Satin polyurethane neck finish
  • Chrome hardware
  • White plastic parts
  • Ping standard cast/sealed tuning machines
  • Made in Mexico

Fender Standard Strat Lake Placid Blue

Infused with the same playability and vibe as the first Stratocaster created in Leo Fender’s workshop, the Fender Standard Strat continues its tradition of affordability.

Deluxe Lonestar Strat

It’s got all the Standard Strat specs plus Texas Special pickups in the neck and middle position for extra-bluesy grit. A Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates Plus humbucker in the bridge pours out its own meaty tone making the Deluxe Lonestar Strat a budget-friendly choice for the rocker seeking extra power and versatility.

  • Body: Alder
  • Neck: 1-Piece Tinted Maple, "C" Shape (Satin Urethane Finish)
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood, 9.5" Radius
  • Frets: 21 Medium-Jumbo
  • Scale Length: 25.5" (648 mm)
  • Width at nut: 1.650" (42 mm)
  • Hardware: Chrome
  • Machine Heads: Fender/Ping Standard Cast/Sealed Tuning Machines
  • Bridge: Vintage-Style, Synchronized Tremolo
  • Pickguard: 4-Ply Brown Shell

Fender Deluxe Lonestar Strat Sunburst

The Deluxe Lonestar Strat serves up blues grit and fat ‘bucker tones for a Texas-size helping of tonal versatility.

 

Deluxe Player's Strat

Classic Strat style with a choice of sweet finishes, the Deluxe Players Strat offers a beautiful look and 7 potential pickup  configurations for more tone at your fingertips.

  • Comfortable modern C-shaped maple neck
  • 12" radius
  • 21 medium-jumbo frets
  • 3 Vintage Noiseless single-coil pickups with advanced switching for 7 pickup configurations
  • Traditional Vintage-style synchronized tremolo
  • Gold-plated hardware

Fender Deluxe Player's Strat Sunburst

Vintage Noiseless pups and 7-way switching mean you won’t run out of tone choices with the Deluxe Player’s Strat. The hard part’s choosing a color from all the options!

Fender Classic Player Series

Fender updates classic designs with modern improvements in the Classic Player Series. Based on revered 1950s and ‘60s instruments, a selection of choice mods give these timeless models the sonic juice and playability demanded by the contemporary guitarist.

Fender Classic Player Strat Sonic Blue

The Classic Player 60's Stratocaster was designed by Master Builder Greg Fessler and bristles with cool elements such as its 2-point custom vintage bridge—previously a Custom Shop exclusive.

Fender Road Worn Series

Designed to evoke the mojo of a guitar with countless miles on it, Road Worn Strats are given stunningly realistic distressed treatments with worn finishes, aged parts, and rusted hardware. They’re based on ‘50s and ‘60 models, incorporate modern playability features, and exhibit a little less wear than other other Fender distressed treatments.

  • Body: Alder
  • Finish: Nitrocellulose lacquer
  • Neck: Maple
  • Neck profile: "C" shape
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Fretboard radius: 7-1/4"
  • Scale length: 25-1/2"
  • Nut width: 1.65"
  • Hardware: Chrome
  • Tuners: Fender vintage style
  • Bridge: Vintage Style Synchronized tremolo
  • Pickguard: 3-ply mint green pickguard
  • Pickups: Three Tex-Mex Strat single-coil
  • Pickup switch: 5-way

Fender Road Worn Strat White

Like a cherished pair of jeans, the Road Worn Strat wears its years of service with pride, evoking the look of a road-warrior’s axe with countless gigs under its belt.

Fender Pawn Shop Stratocaster

In creating its Pawnshop family of instruments, Fender began with the concept of designing guitars that never actually existed, but might have. The series’ ‘70s Strat Deluxe embodies that premise with its Tele single-coil in the neck, and a honkin’ Enforcer humbucker in the bridge.

  • 1970s style and vibe
  • Alder body
  • "U"-shaped maple neck with 22 medium jumbo frets
  • 9.5" radius and "bullet" truss rod
  • Four-ply white pearloid pickguard
  • Telecaster single-coil neck pickup and Enforcer humbucking bridge pickup
  • Three-way blade pickup switching
  • Jazz Bass control knobs (master volume, master tone)
  • '70s-style hard-tail Stratocaster bridge
  • Vintage-style "F" tuners
  • Includes gig bag

Fender Pawn Shop '70s Strat Deluxe

Its one-of-a-kind humbucker/single-coil configuration gives the Pawnshop ‘70s Strat Deluxe domination on the bandstand while seething with ‘70s vibe.

 

USA Fender Stratocasters

Built in Fender's Corona, California factory, USA Stratocasters set the standard for quality, tone and playability. Made with premium tonewoods (usually alder or ash), custom shop pickups, and master craftsmanship, the USA Strats are sure to please demanding players across a variety of styles.

American Special Series

In recognition that musicians were struggling along with most everyone else during the economic downturn of the late 2000s, Fender introduced this remarkably affordable U.S.-made series in 2010.  These axes include special pickups, bridges, circuitry, and finishes, and represent an incredible value where domestically made Strats are concerned.

  • Contoured alder body
  • Glossy urethane finish
  • Modern C-shaped maple neck
  • 22 jumbo frets
  • Model-specific special pickups deliver upgraded tones
  • Vintage-style synchronized tremolo

Fender American Special Strat Green

The American Special Strat’s Texas Special pickups serve up tight bass, midrange chirp, and crystalline highs. Built in the U.S., it’s an outstanding value.

USA Professional Stratocaster

If you're looking for a Strat that can cover a lot of sonic territory and stands out from the crowd, this might be it. Featuring a humbucker pickup in the bridge for extra meaty tone, and a coil tap option for even more versatility, the USA Pro Strat can do it all. It’s built exclusively for us by Fender, so you’ll only find it here.

  • Alder body
  • Dealer exclusive
  • Custom wound pickups
  • HSS Pickup configuration with coil split on Humbucker
  • 9.5" radius fingerboard
  • 22 jumbo frets
  • Smooth-playing satin finished neck

Fender USA Professional Standard Strat

With its HSS pickup array, the Musician’s Friend-exclusive USA Professional Standard Strat serves up just about any tone a pro player could want.

USA Nitro Satin Series Stratocaster

A breathtaking hand-rubbed satin lacquer top coat gives its Honeyburst finish vertigo-inducing depth and beauty. This U.S.-built instrument’s modest price tag is equally astonishing.

  • Hand-rubbed Honeyburst stain with satin lacquer top coat
  • Contoured alder body
  • Maple neck with modern "C" shape and 22 jumbo frets
  • '70s-style headstock and Fender decal
  • American Standard pickups with the no-load tone pots
  • Vintage-Style Synchronized Tremolo
  • Includes gig bag

Fender USA Nitro Satin Strat

Don’t get dismayed if you become lost in the luscious hand-rubbed finish of the USA Nitro Satin Strat; you’ll probably remember its meant to be played after a while!

American Standard Series

The American Standard Stratocaster is the time-honored workhorse of seasoned pros and discerning hobbyists alike. Part of a series that debuted in 2008, it’s limited to four classic Fender instruments: the Strat, Tele, P-Bass and Jazz Bass.

  • Traditional alder body for classic Strat tone
  • Popular C-shaped neck with gloss fingerboard and smooth satin back
  • 3 full-sounding Fender Custom Shop Fat ’50s pickups
  • Delta-tone no-load circuit for more midrange and hotter output
  • Copper-infused cast Strat bridge block
  • Aged plastic parts
  • Fender SKB hardshell case

Fender American Standard Stratocaster Sunburst

This American Standard Stratocaster with Custom Shop Fat ‘50s pickups give the tonal depth that matches this version’s eye-popping Sienna Sunburst finish.

American Deluxe Series

The American Deluxe Strat features all the quality you’d expect from an American-made Fender, plus enhancements that will supercharge your performances. The compound-radius fretboard makes playing a breeze, and S-1 switching offers unique sounds at the push of a button.

  • Select alder body
  • Contoured heel and body
  • Rosewood or maple neck
  • C-shaped neck profile
  • 22 medium-jumbo frets
  • Compound-radius fretboard (9-1/2" at the nut, 12" at the 12th fret, and 14" at the 15th fret)
  • Three N3 Noiseless single-coil pickups
  • S-1 switching system
  • Passing Lane switch instantly routes signals to the bridge position
  • High-mass tremolo block
  • Locking tuning keys
  • Upgraded, molded case

Fender American Deluxe HSS Strat Tungsten

Advanced S1 switching options and N3 Noiseless pickups deliver the versatility you want; the American Deluxe HSS Strat’s compound-radius fretboard will keep you playing for hours.

Fender Select Series Stratocaster

The Fender Select Strat features one of Fender’s newest innovations—the channel bound neck. The compound-radius fretboard is “inlaid” into a “C”-shape neck with laser precision, giving you unparalleled comfort and playability.

  • Alder with flame maple top
  • Hand-stained finish with Gloss-Lacquer topcoat
  • Thick modern “C” shaped maple neck
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • Bi-Flex™ truss rod system for rock-solid stability
  • Smooth-playing compound radius rosewood fretboard (9.5”-14”)
  • 21 medium-jumbo frets
  • Twin-head humbucking bridge pickup
  • Fender Select Stratocaster single-coil neck and middle pickups
  • 5-way switching
  • 3-ply pickguard
  • 2-point synchronized tremolo bridge with vintage-style bent steel saddles
  • Deluxe staggered cast/sealed locking tuners
  • Nickel-chrome hardware

Fender Select Stratocaster

Playing comfort is the name of the game with the Select Strat’s channel-bound compound-radius neck; a flame maple top adds the visual “wow” factor.

American Vintage Series

Fender took a collection of vintage specimen instruments, and then dissected and documented them to come up with modern recreations in creating the American Vintage family. Fender’s painstaking efforts included rehabbing old machine tools and creating new ones where necessary to make these guitars totally authentic in terms of their build process. Each has been given modern upgrades that enhance the original tone and playability of these iconic axes.

  • Period-correct versions of the originals
  • Lightweight alder body (ash on white blonde) with deep contours
  • Thick soft "V"-shaped maple neck
  • Model-specific special pickups
  • Includes deluxe vintage tweed case

Fender American Vintage Hot Rod '57 Strat

The American Vintage Hot Rod ‘57 Strat is souped up with Samarium Cobalt Noiseless pickups at the neck and mid, and a DiMarzio Tone Zone pickup at the bridge.

 

Fender Custom Shop

Staffed by a crew of Master Builders, Fender’s Custom Shop has produced a trove of world-class instruments since its inception in 1987. Working with and for some of the greatest guitarists of our age, these luthiers craft instruments of unparalleled beauty and playability. Their talents have been put to work in executing guitars for the likes of Clapton, Beck, Townshend, Gilmour, and many more—a veritable Who’s-Who of guitar wizardry.  They’ve undertaken all manner of commissions from modifying existing guitars to creating entirely new instruments from the ground up.

Many Custom Shop creations are one-offs; designs that will never be repeated. Other designs are retired after limited runs, never to be produced again. Every Fender Custom Shop instrument is a tribute to the luthier’s artistry and is an investment-grade purchase.

Visit our Private Reserve Guitar collection to see the current selection of Custom Shop Stratocasters.

Custom Shop Artist

Custom Shop Artist series Stratocasters are based on each artist’s unique specs, executed with master craftsmanship by Fender’s premier luthiers.

Fender Custom Artist Dick Dale Strat

The Custom Artist Dick Dale Strat is a lavishly detailed version of the surf-music king’s  favorite axe he lovingly calls “The Beast.”

Custom Deluxe

Luthiers in the Fender Custom Shop select stunning woods and inlay materials along with the finest electronics and hardware components in hand crafting Custom Deluxe models.

Fender Custom 2011 Deluxe Strat Flame Top

The 2011 Custom Deluxe Strat Flame Top has an awe-inspiring AA maple top veneer and complement of Custom Shop and Seymour pups that add fire to the flame.

Time Machine

In conceiving the Time Machine series from the Custom Shop, Fender set out to create a shrine devoted to its most revered vintage instruments. Using varied degrees of distressing, Custom Shop luthiers artfully craft instruments that appear to have lived long and muscially eventful lives. Each instrument meticulously mirrors the model on which it is based.

Fender Custom Time Machine 1968 Strat Dakota Red

This Time Machine 1968 Stratocaster has received a heavy relic treatment, replicating the look of an instrument that has been subjected to thousands of hours of playing time.

Masterbuilt

Fender’s Masterbuilt Stratocasters are one-of-a kind instruments that represent the pinnacle of Custom Shop design. Custom Shop Master Builders design and hand-make each guitar to be utterly unique and world-class. Builders personally select the materials and craft each guitar to their exacting standards.

Fender Custom Shop Master Built by Dale Wilson '50s Stratocaster NOS Electric Guitar TV Yellow

Crafted by Master Builder Dale Wilson, this '50s Masterbuilt Strat has received the NOS treatment, giving it the look of a brand-new axe that was put away unplayed then stored for decades.

So, Which Stratocaster is Right for You?

As you can see in this guide, the Strat is available in dozens of variations in features to provide a huge range of options for the enthusiast.

Pick the Stratocaster that suits your budget and your style. Maybe you don’t want to spend a lot, but you want your Strat to have the look and feel of a timeless guitar. Consider the Squier Vintage Modified Series. Perhaps you want to invest in a true piece of art—not just something to play, but a timeless treasure and heirloom. A Masterbuilt or Custom Deluxe Strat will likely meet that aim. Or you might be a working pro who needs  a Strat that you can play every night, year in and year out. The American Standard Stratocaster is probably an excellent choice for you.

We want you to be pleased with your Stratocaster purchase, and offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee and generous return policy so you can order your new Stratocaster with confidence.

After reading this guide, if you’re still not sure which Strat is right for you, we invite you call to one of our friendly and knowledgeable Gear Heads at (800) 449-9128.

Tags: Electric Guitars Fender Stratocaster Squier

Comments  

# ben franklin 2014-10-02 18:01
I've played for over 200 years. once with George Washington on ukulele and Martha on drums but that was nothing till I got to play with Hendrix. Then came along Muddy and me token with David Gilmour. man time sure does fly when your jamming on your guitar!!!!
Reply
# Peter 2014-08-08 00:09
It's amazing to see how many types of guitars are on the market today! It would be great to be able to play like a pro, but like anything else in life, it takes a lot of practice if you want to be good at it. Very good articles here; glad I came across it! This article does give some good advice! www.mymall5061.info
Reply
# Richi 2014-08-07 03:42
good sound strat - youtube.com (professional guitar master)
Reply
# Chris 2014-07-18 16:39
I like some of these, and I know what I'm about to write is sacrilege to Fender aficionados, but I have a 1987 Kramer Baretta that I would not trade for ANY Fender. It has an original Floyd Rose, Schaller tuners, maple body, maple neck, and maple fingerboard, and I replaced the original Seymour Duncan JBII with an EMG-81 active pup. I also dressed the frets myself, and added a Tremol-no tremolo lock. Maybe I'll get a Jazz bass someday, but I'm not about to buy a Strat.
Reply
# Jeff G 2014-08-26 13:46
Those are two very different guitars with two very different sounds. Can't compare them.
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# Hal 2014-04-04 05:09
I like the Players Deluxe model. You can use the pickups in all possible combinations. Anything else is redundant.
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# Hal 2014-04-04 05:07
I like the Deluxe Players model. You can use the pickups in all possible combinations. Anything else is redundant.
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# Michael Rutherford 2014-04-01 05:11
To Lenn- You're right about the G&L, I played one in 1982 and fell in love with it, I bought, and I still have it. It's and Invader with a Kahler System (not Floyd Rose) and has the locking nut, I can dive bomb as hard as I want and it stays right in tune always. I did some work on it, putting EMG's in it and they are great in that guitar. It is a screamer with great tone and sustain. But mainly it plays like a dream and the tremolo is just right on it. But I still love my 70's Midnight Wine Strat, it will always be my favorite. Thank you Fender. Oh yeah, almost forgot, to solve the sound and amp problem and even any tonal problems get a POD HD 500, it makes you sound great through any amp, I promise. You can also make it sound like just about any amp at any volume. They're great!
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# GaryW 2014-04-01 02:14
One says try the G&L, yep, tried it didn't like the feel. Went back to my 80's Strat. Can't beat the feel or the tonality of it. It is a feel that one is familiar to the hands. Everyone has a preference that is all that matters to the player.
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# Lenn 2014-03-29 11:37
After 48 years of playing I have finally settled on the Strat as my go to and one and only. I have5 of them in various configurations but none of them are made by Fender (the company) One is a one off custom and the rest are from G&L, Leo's last word in design. (all BTO's). Insane tone and quality! To those of you playing Fenders I challenge to try a G&L and see the difference, ...you'll never go back.
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# Herold Eby 2014-03-19 01:24
I am a guitar god with 55 years experience. I have a 2001 Standard Strat I'm very happy with it. It has a tone to die for. I am a very demanding player who is very particular about performance. I use Ernie Ball Super Slinky strings They are very long-lasting and have a dynamite tone with awesome sustain. These strings and my strat meet all of my demands. I couldn't be happier. I thank Fender very much for their high quality.
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# Neil Hefti 2014-03-15 08:58
I've played over forty years, and it took me way too long to discover you will get better tone from a small amp turned up than you will from 100 watts plus on 1. Just my opinion. ( I currently play through a Deluxe and a Class 5 using an A/B splitter).
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# uncleknubs 2014-03-14 02:43
I have 7 Stratocasters, 1970 4 bolt,
1995 Standard Strat, made in the U.S.A., one of a few made here after the Mexico plant burned down in 94. A 2008 Standard Strat, 2005 American Deluxe, my best one, 2009 Deluxe Player's Strat, 2010 Squire Strat, 2013 American Standard. All decent guitars, priced according to craftsmanship. The American Deluxe is a superior model, I'm not thrilled by the newer bent saddle design, I'll always be partial to the American Standard solid stainless steel saddles. I also install locking tuners on those without them, it's just faster to change strings. I own over 40 6 string guitars and the Strats are my favorite, I love my Les Paul's but something about a Strat just feels like an extension of the body, so more easily becomes part of me when I play. Strat and Les Paul will always be top dogs, but the Strat just epitomizes the working musician imo. I have 3 Telecasters and they aren't too shabby either, but Jimi Hendrix chose Strats for a reason right.
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# Marc 2014-03-05 16:28
Been a Hendrix wanna be since age 10. I love the blues especially slow blues I have owned 3 Fender Statocasters. 2 standards and 1 HSS (currently) all made in Mexico. Great quality guitars for the price. I am going to purchase another standard statocaster and a standard telecaster. I was considering a 72 custom telecaster (2 Humbuckers) is this a good guitar for playing the blues which is what I would love to play. Also what kind of amp on a budget relative to my guitar budget
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# Marc 2014-03-05 16:09
Been dreaming of playing since age 5 (wanted to be the next Hendrix or King) Finally stated lessons 5 yrs ago I got interrupted but I am going to give it another try just for me. I love fender guitars (ive owned a total of 3 all made in Mexico) I currently own a fender HSS (fat strat) because they fit my budget and are great quality guitars. I plan to add a few others like a standard strat, a standard tele and a 72 tele custom. I would like to find a good amp for playing the blues on a budget my current amp is only 25 watts. I hope to get good enough to use all of this stuff. I would appreciate any suggestions
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# Gary W. 2014-03-03 12:36
Reply for Drew, I see it has been a bit since you posted. Hope This will help. Depending on music style or playing, most of the standard Strats or tele will fit the bill. Both are affordable and play easy on the hands. For an Amp any of the Fender series amps are good. I like the Frontman series myself, because I stay around the late 50's and 60's era of music. Gives great sound and ease of setup to your liking.
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# Michael Rutherford 2014-03-03 11:08
I've been playing 50 years and I'm still hotter than a firecracker. Should have made it big, but never really cared about that, I just love to play, and when I play, I play my Strat. I've played in hundreds of bands, from Las Vegas show bands to hard rock, early rock, modern rock, country/western , and my Strats have helped me be so versatile as to achieve this sound coupled now with the Line 6 HD500, I've got all I need. Thank you Fender, for making the best guitars in the world as far as I'm concerned, I will never ever play another type of guitar(except for my acoustic work). I've already played all the other top guitars and nothing comes close to the tone and smoothness/or bite of my Strat. When my guitar speaks, it speaks volumes of tone/richness/s moothness or bite/crunchy or clean/or hotter than the hinges on the gates of hell. The absolute best guitar in the world by far, and I can make it do anything I want, because it will. Thank you Fender. Loyal player forever.
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# BOB 2014-02-27 15:28
You will find the right guitar that is fit for you and the price could range from what your budget is. Sometimes you can pay alot for a guitar and you may not be satisfied with it. I think the price range that you said sounds good to me. When i get my squier, that will be in my price range also. I have a limit on my music gear and what feels good for me.
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# BOB 2014-02-27 15:06
I also have been playing for 36 years and been in alot of local bands in this area. I have a older strat that i bought bran new back in the early 90's and still use it when i play in the band that i'm in now. I also have a modified tele and plan on keeping that one. I will not be satisfied until i buy or get a squier guitar and will use that one too. Fender and squier has a sound all of it's own and i should know cause i have heard just about every guitar out there.
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# Drew 2014-01-14 12:40
Been playing 30 years..( still not good) Have a Martin D40 ( love it tough to play) Am looking for the best sounding Strat or Tele for a guy who wants to write songs for electric..Betwe en $500-$700. and what amp?
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