Best Strat-style guitars under $/£2,000 2023: top-quality S-style electrics you need to play

We take a look at picks for S-style fans, from authentic Fender-branded gear to innovative alternatives. 

Working to a lower budget? Take a look at the best Strat-style guitars under $/£1,000.

G&L CLF Research Skyhawk


The Skyhawk plays with the Strat’s outline a lot. The body wood is okoume, while it features the Dual Fulcrum vibrato which was very much a part of the improvements Leo Fender made to the original G&L guitars.

The Skyhawk’s pickups look conventional, although they feature the distinctive polepieces where a height-adjustable screw sits within a threaded insert, plus the versatile Expander function.

This is the sort of guitar that the more you play, the more you discover. It covers a lot of tonal ground, and to some extent, blurs the lines between single coils and humbuckers. Put simply, an extremely likeable guitar.

Read our full G&L CLF Research Skyhawk review

Vola Oz


A new name for us too, Vola offers both Japanese- and USA-made models, though it’ll be the former that are available shortly in the UK. The Oz veers on the modern-rock side of the classic recipe with its stylised shape, and more-pointed-than-Suhr headstock, in either HSS or HH pickup configurations, a 22-fret 12-inch radius fingerboard, Gotoh 510 two-post vibrato and Gotoh tuners with height-adjustable posts and an altogether modern-vintage vibe in Daphne Blue or Vintage Ivory gloss.

Read our full Vola Oz 22 MF review

John Page Classic Ashburn Special

$1,559/£1,629 (inc gigbag)

These Japanese-made guitars, designed by ex- Fender veteran John Page, show how the Strat can be thoughtfully reimagined. This Special version of the standard Ashburn offers tinted maple neck and ash body. It’s a proper bolt-on too with a 12-inch radius ’board, Gotoh 510 vibrato and rear-lock Gotoh tuners. Throw in the Page-designed JP-1 single coils and you have quite a piece.

Read our full John Page Classic Ashburn Special review

Fender American Original '60s Strat

$1,949/£1,639 (inc case)

The 2018 reboot of the previous American Vintage series, the American Originals give us a 50s and 60s Strat (both available left-handed) in a choice of three nitro colours per model. They’re obviously the most vintage-specific USA-production models with the more contemporary 9.5-inch fingerboards. If you like your USA Strats more vintage-spec but can’t afford £3k in the Custom Shop, these are the obvious choice.

Read our full Fender American Original 60s Strat review

Fender American Elite Strat

$1,949/£1,799 (inc case)

The American Elite series offers an innovationladen approach with features such as fourthgeneration noiseless single coils, expansive S-1 switching, 9.5-14-inch compound radius fingerboard, truss-rod adjustment wheel, locking short-post tuners, two-post vibrato and even ‘softtouch’ control knobs. You have a choice of seven colours with both maple or rosewood fingerboards plus there’s the HSS Shawbucker-equipped Elite Strat at £1,769. 

Read our full Fender American Elite Strat review

Ibanez AZ2204F Prestige


Okay, so this one pushes the budget a fair bit, but the AZ could be a game-changer, judging from the AZ2204 we’ve just got our hands on. Bringing £2k-plus specs to a wider audience, highlights include the roasted-maple neck and 12-inch fingerboard, stainless-steel frets, oil-impregnated bone nut, All Access neck joint, Ibanez-design/Gotoh-made vibrato, and Seymour Duncan Hyperion HSS pickups with passive dyna-MIX 9 switching, offering four additional sounds. It might be the best Ibanez guitar we’ve ever played.

Read our full Ibanez AZ2204F Prestige review

G&L Legacy


We really liked this guitar when we reviewed it. It's the more classic Strat-alike made in Fullerton, USA, by G&L and remains a valid option, not least when USA guitars seem to be escalating in cost by the month. Combining a distinct headstock design with an equally distinct two-post vibrato, the sounds from the CLF-100 Alnico V pickups are unmistakable. Unique features include the treble and bass tone controls while the 9.5-inch radius fingerboard and Jescar frets offer a smattering of modernism.

Read our full G&L Legacy review


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