What kind of Stratocaster should I buy?

Fender StratocasterIf you are thinking of purchasing your first Fender Statocaster, here are a few helpful tips

We have good news and bad news:

The good news is: There are so many models to choose from.

The bad news is: There are so many models to choose from   :  –  )

Seriously, if you purchased a brand new strat from Fender, you really have so many different models to choose from. You may or may not have just about enough to purchase a brand new Fender Strat (depending on prices in your local store). So, with so many choices, what is the right Strat for you? Ironically, only you can answer that question.

The reason I say that is because more and more, the guitar you choose to purchase really depends on the style of music you play. Since I don’t know what kind of music you are into I have to assume that you have chosen a Stat because you are into music that is not too aggressive (i.e. very heavy Metal, for example:

  • Rock and Roll
  • Blues
  • Funk
  • R&B / Soul
  • Punk
  • Pop

If you are into any of those styles (or anything similar), then a Strat would be a find choice for you. If you are into Very Heavy Metal or similar styles, You might want to consider a totally different guitar, and re-ask your question so that my answer can be more focused.

With that said, I think the main difference between the many Strats offered today by Fender are the pickups. Sure, there are other differences, but the main thing that will really change how the guitar sounds is the choice of pickups. The more “Vintage” Strats out there have three single-coil pickups. These pickups are pretty low output, and are not good for extremely aggressive music. They are better for Rock and Roll, Blues, Funk, Pop and maybe Punk.

If you are into a little more aggressive style of playing, consider the models that have a humbucker in the bridge position. A humbucker will give you a much hotter sound when you play lead, but because there are two single coil pickups in the middle and bridge positions, you have the option of nice clean sounds as well.

Some of the models have the new “S-1™ switching system”. This gives you even more tonal variations than the standard 5-way switch. Cool Stuff.

(Details for the “S-1™ switching system”): http://www.fender.com/products/s1/

Also, you mentioned the bridge. The bridge mostly comes into play if you use the whammy bar alot. In general, if you do not have a locking tremolo like a Floyd Rose or a Khaler, your guitar will definitely go out of tune when you use the whammy bar more than a little. If you are are really into serious whammy bar / dive bombs, then again, you’re barking up the wrong tree with a Fender Strat and should consider a more modern / high-performance guitar like an Ibanez JEM, etc..

Below are some links to the various models that Fender currently offers, and an eBay search link. In conclusion, I would say to really ask yourself mainly what music you want to play. Once you have made your mind up about that, take a good look at the detail for the pages listed below and be sure to ask yourself: What tonal options does this model offer? That is the main thing that will affect how useful the guitar is to you over the course of time. Playability is of course a factor, but that comes into play more when you actually hold the guitar in your hands and try it out.