Written by Guitar Chalk Editorial
REASONS TO TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT? We only recommend guitars that we've used and tested, which means we highlight less, but have more hands-on experience with everything we put in front of you. These are guitars and brands that we know and trust, so feel free to ask questions about them or our inclusion/review process in the comments section below.
We're highlighting four Fender Stratocasters that have one primary feature in common: They all retail for less than $1000. If that's what you're looking for, this list is perfect for you, as it covers your budget and recommends the best Fender Strats within that price range. We're also considering a more broad list of quality indicators, including pickups, hardware, playability, and more.
Our Top 4 Picks
We've chosen four models of Fender Stratocasters, all with their own unique appeal and quality markers. Keep in mind: They're similar guitars in a similar price range, so the distinctions we can make between them are limited. At the same time, we'll do our best to contextualize each recommendation so you can figure out which one will be most ideal for your situation.
Fender Deluxe Stratocaster HSS
A heavier Stratocaster that can bridge the gap between rhythm and lead, and push some thicker tones and chord progressions.
Pros of the Deluxe HSS Strat
Cons of the Deluxe HSS Strat
Fender Player Stratocaster
The consummate mid-range Stratocaster, particularly built for lead styles, though versatile and applicable to a wide range of musical styles.
Pros of the Player Strat
Cons of the Player Strat
Fender Deluxe Roadhouse Strat
A step above the Player series, the Deluxe Roadhouse Strat is a more aggressive lead electric guitar, ideal for blues, southern rock, and Stevie Ray Vaughan-inspired playing styles.
Pros of the Deluxe Roadhouse Strat
Cons of the Deluxe Roadhouse Strat
Fender 75th Anniversary Strat
The Diamond version of the 75th anniversary Strat has a spec sheet that's similar to the Player Stratocaster, and sits at a similar price point.
Pros of the 75th Anniversary Strat
Cons of the 75th Anniversary Strat
How We Chose
We obviously put our salary cap at $1000, though we didn't select any Fender Stratocasters that were under $700 either. Part of that is because Strats rarely retail under that number, unless you start getting into the used or Squier Strat market.
Other than this price range, we drew on our experience, community consensus, and well-known electric guitar quality indicators to make our selection.
This excluded some well-known Strat models and series.
Pricing Limitations and Exclusions
For example, we didn't consider any Squiers or Fender American Series Stratocasters, since the Squiers are too cheap and the American Strats are too expensive. If you want, you can compare a bunch of Fender Stratocaster models here without regards to pricing.
Other Strat Features
Here are a couple additional features to keep in mind (aside from price), when shopping for a Fender Stratocaster.
Pickups (Fender Noiseless?)
First, check to see what kind of pickups are on your Stratocaster. In this price range, we like to see the Fender Noiseless Strat pickups, pictured below, or some kind of branded Fender pickup from the Custom Shop:
Otherwise you're looking at a kind of stock Alnico 5 single coil pickup, which is much cheaper and not as nice as the Noiseless series. That doesn't mean the guitar is terrible, but we really like to see that "NOISELESS" insignia in our Strat and Tele pickups, whenever possible.
In our list, the Player series and 75th anniversary diamond Strats don't have the Noiseless pickups added.
You can always add them later if you have the energy for a Stratocaster pickup upgrade.
If you've narrowed down your choices to a Stratocaster, get familiar with the series and models within the Fender Strat lineup.
Pricing is tiered through these series, and quality tends to shift dramatically from one to the next. For example, the American Professional Stratocasters are way nicer than the Player Series Strats, but also more expensive.
You've got to pay attention to where you are in those tiers, especially if you're buying a used Strat that may (or may not) be a great deal.
What You Should Get in our Price Range
This leads us to some standards in terms of what we should get for what we're paying, between $700 and $1000. We'd say you should at least have the following three things in exchange for that investment.
If you don't get the Noiseless pickups and get stuck with the stock Alnico 5 stock versions, we might recommend changing those out at some point. But try and hold out for a Strat that has the Fender-brand pickups, whether they're the Noiseless version or something similar.
Mid to Upper Series Models
In our price range you should be expecting to get one of these mid to upper-tier Strat models, either in the Player or Deluxe series. Every once in a while we see a low-end American Strat come down under $1000, but that's usually just in used markets.
Generally speaking, these Stratocasters should be more reliable and trustworthy than cheaper Strats. They should last longer, sound better, and have less noise issues than the cheaper Squier Strats and knockoff versions.
Conclusion and Questions
The best Fender Stratocasters under 1000 dollars can be narrowed down to two series:
- Player Series
- Deluxe/Roadhouse series
We threw in the 75th anniversary model because it's built with similar specs, but you're really just working in the Player and Deluxe series realm.
If you're trying to stay within the $700 to $1000 price range, it's advisable to go with our of those two series and a model therein.
Hopefully our four picks help you get some ideas and narrow down your search.
Do you have questions about our four Stratocaster recommendations? If so, feel free to drop it in the comments section below and we'll do our best to help out.