The most pervasive, enduring and imitated of all guitar designs, Fender's iconic Strat might be the most adaptable instrument ever invented.
Here, we look at six more affordable options for S-style guitars from a range of manufacturers, ranging from sub-$/£500 stunners to versatile humbucker-equipped models.
Vintage V6 Reissued
There are numerous Strat-alike flavours offered by Vintage - SSS, HSS, three P90s, hardtail, with flame maple veneer top, maple or rosewood fingerboards, left-handers, ash or alder bodies and a selection of colour choices. There’s considerable value for money too with Wilkinson parts and pickups and a Chinese-build quality that will surprise many. Perfect for the modding community too.
Blade Texas Pro
Gary Levinson’s Blade guitars burst onto the scene back in 1987 with the RH-4, which featured numerous upgrades including the Variable Spectrum Control (VSC) - an active mid-boost or combined treble and bass boost, and finishes that were very evocative of the period. Back then it provided a hugely viable option to Fender. Today, Blade has a lower visibility but with nicely vintage-y features, the Texas Pro, in five colours, that still includes that VSC, remains very valid and pretty unique at this price.
Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster '60s
Fender’s long-running affordable sister brand has long been the place to find Far Eastern versions of Fender’s finest. Prices start at an unbelievably trim £125 for the classic-spec Bullet Strat (also available in HSS) rising to the Classic Vibe 50s and 60s with left-handed options. Colour choice is narrow - Sherwood Metallic Green and Black (50s) or Three-Colour Sunburst (60s) but necks are tinted gloss with a C profile and Alnico V loaded single-coils.
Read our full Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster '60s review
Fender Classic '50s Stratocaster
For years, the Mexican-made Classic Series has been the go-to if you want the classic recipe at a pub-gigging price. Along with the 50s model, available in four colours, the 60s version (£729) sports a pau ferro fingerboard in three colours, while the large headstock, ash-bodied 70s model (£799), in natural ash or Olympic White, is maple only with bullet truss-rod adjustment and three-bolt/ micro-tilt neck joint. All have the controversial 7.25-inch fingerboard radius and small frets.
Yamaha Pacifica 612V MK II
Here’s another bolt-on that has a place in Strat-alike history by introducing an affordable solid-wood body (rather than plywood), in 1990. The current version, the 112V, now costs £276 - the 012 is just £197 - while the range rises to the 612V, which boasts Seymour Duncan HSS pickups, Wilkinson vibrato and Grover locking tuners an alder body, maple neck and 13.75-inch radius rosewood ’board. There are flame maple veneer top versions, left-handers, but no SSS models.
Chapman ML1 Pro Traditional
This brand was conceived by internet whiz Rob Chapman and is going from strength to strength. The ML1 Pro Traditional provides a modern take on Fender’s finest. The ultra-thin satin-finished body has a carved top, for example, rear-lock tuners, two-post brass-block vibrato, Alnico V Venus Witch single coils, stainless steel frets and side-mounted output jack. Its originality and ‘boutique’ spec, at this price, is hugely commendable and highly recommended.
Read our full Chapman ML1 Pro Traditional review