The best Strat-style guitars under $/£1,000


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

From $399/£319

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

The magazine for serious players
Subscribe and save today!