Hands down, the Fender Stratocaster is the most iconic electric guitar of all time. Ask anyone to draw an electric guitar on a piece of paper and nine times out of ten, they’re going to scribble out some kind of iteration of the strat.
While many people would love to own a Fender Stratocaster, others are open to other brands that have mimicked the guitar’s body, neck and even headstock. In some cases, Stratocaster-style guitars can be more affordable than Fenders. In other cases, though, they might be just as expensive, and packed with even more features.
These copycat guitars have many of the same elements as a Fender Strat:
- Double cutaway body
- Single-coil pickups
- Compound profile neck
- Larger pickguard
Because the Strat is so popular, there are plenty of options on the market for Stratocaster-style guitars by other brands, which can make shopping for your perfect guitar more difficult.
Thankfully, we’ve done the homework for you and came up with the 12 best Stratocaster-style guitars.
The Best Stratocaster Style Alternatives
- Yamaha Pacifica PAC012DLX
- Fender Player Series Stratocaster
- Squier Affinity Stratocaster
- Charvel Pro-Mod So-Cal Style 1
- G&L Tribute Legacy Electric Guitar
- Yamaha Pacifica PAC612VIIFM
- ESP LTD SN-1000
- Schecter Nick Johnston Traditional
- Ibanez Premium AZ224BCG
- Tokai Stratocaster
- Suhr Classic S
- Friedman Vintage-S HSS
Yamaha Pacifica PAC012DLX
The Yamaha Pacifica PAC012DLX certainly Fender Strat style guitar, but it comes with a much cheaper price tag and a slightly sharper double-cutaway body design.
The Pacifica is a great guitar for beginners who want their guitar to look like a Strat but come with a budget price tag.
Here’s what you need to know about the Yamaha Pacifica PAC012DLX:
- Agathis body. It’s not the best wood for a guitar, but for beginners, it’s great. Agathis is really light, which is ideal for a beginner guitar.
- Maple neck. And boy is it smooth! Combined with a rosewood fingerboard, you can quickly move up and down this neck.
- Three versatile pickups. The Pacifica includes two single-coil pickups in the middle and neck positions and a humbucker on the bridge. Mix and match all three and you have quite the versatile-sounding guitar.
While this could be considered a “cheap” guitar, many owners say they’re surprised by how solid it really feels in your hands. It’s a no-brainer purchase if you’re new to guitar and need something affordable to learn the instrument on.
As you might expect from a guitar at this price point, it doesn’t include a case. That’s not a big deal, just make sure to pick up a cheap gig bag for it.
Fender Player Series Stratocaster
Ok, so we decided to sneak in an actual Fender Stratocaster into our list. The Player Stratocaster, while a MIM Strat in Fender’s budget line, is still a great guitar that carries the essence of the iconic Strats of the 1960s and 1970s while boasting a price tag that’s reasonably attainable for most.
The Player Series Stratocaster comes with plenty of options:
- Colors. Strats are known for coming in fun colors and the Player Series is no exception. Go for that classic sunburst paint job, or opt for a nice black, yellow, orange, white, silver, or tide pool blue.
- Fingerboard. Choose between maple – which is a pretty common material for Stratocaster fingerboards – or go with a darker Pau Ferro option.
There aren’t a ton of surprises with this Fender Strat when it comes to its technical specifications:
- That Strat sound. You know what we’re talking about. Clean, plunky notes when you need them, but capable rocker tones when the distortion is cranked. You can thank Fender for going with three single-coil pickups. The modern Player Series Strat allows you to mix and match five combinations of those pickups, giving you plenty of options to find your sound.
- Fast neck. Fender has updated its C-shaped maple neck over the years for comfort and easy playing. They top it off with a smooth satin polyurethane finish, allowing your fingers to crawl up and down the fretboard with ease.
- Chrome hardware. It looks super-premium and the tuners do a great job. That’s all you have to know.
If you’ve always wanted a real Fender Stratocaster, don’t pass up on the opportunity to own one at a reasonable price by springing for the Players Series MIM Strat.
Squier Affinity Stratocaster
If you can’t afford a Fender, go for the Squier Affinity Stratocaster.
Squier guitars are Fender’s more affordable subsidiary that sells Strat-style guitars geared toward beginners and they’ve gotten considerably better over the years. Obviously, their best feature is the price tag – anyone can afford a Squier Strat! But they also look and feel like a genuine Stratocaster because they mimic Fender’s headstock, pickguard, and double-cutaway body design.
In other words, it’s the perfect starter Strat. Here are some specs you should care about:
- Frets. Only 21 frets on this Squier Stratocaster, which puts it on the smaller side of other guitars on this list.
- Neck. Like a Fender, it’s designed to be comfortable. It’s not as smooth as an authentic Stratocaster, though. No surprise here, though. This guitar costs a fraction of the higher-end Stratocasters by Fender.
- Tone. Three single-coil pickups that are controlled by two tone knobs, allowing you to dial in your preferred tone.
Like its Fender counterpart, the Squier Affinity Stratocaster comes in five great colors, including two-tone sunburst, black, competition orange, slick silver, and surf green.
There isn’t a case included with these budget guitars, but luckily gig bags aren’t expensive. And if you’re just keeping it at home to learn the instrument, you really don’t even need a case.
Charvel Pro-Mod So-Cal Style 1
The Charvel Pro-Mod So-Cal Style 1 certainly has Fender Stratocaster vibes, but more so from the 1980s. The double cutaway body is a little sharper at the points. The pickguard is a little larger. And instead of those single-coil pickups, Charvel went with two humbuckers.
This is a very solid guitar that comes at a price geared more toward intermediate to advanced players. Here are some of its specs:
- Tremolo. This bad boy features a Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo that will keep things in tune very nicely – no matter how hard you bend those solos.
- Superstrat pickups. These babies are hot. Paired with two Seymour Duncan humbuckers, you can achieve super clean modern tones, or tackle some heavily distorted rock music. They’re extremely versatile.
- Body. The alder body feels extremely solid and gives this guitar a nice, warm California tone.
In terms of genres, many hard rock and metal players have turned to Charvel. These guitars are great to shred on and the Floyd Rose tremolo is the real deal. Many users have reported how impressed they are with its tonality.
There’s only one color for this Fender Stratocaster alternative, but it’s a good one (white with black pickguard!). Oh, and you’ll want to buy a case for it.
G&L Tribute Legacy Electric Guitar
After Leo Fender sold his company in 1965, he founded G&L with his business partner Geroge Fullerton.
The G&L Tribute Legacy Electric Guitar pays tribute to the Fender Stratocaster, from the headstock to the body shape. And it adds in a few technical and construction variations that makes it an absolute treat to play.
Let’s start with how comfortable this guitar plays:
- Lightweight. Weighing in at about 9lbs, this tribute Strat feels super light, making it a great option for gigging – or for marathon practice sessions.
- Smooth. This guitar is silky smooth all around – especially the “Medium C” neck, which fits your hand like a glove. You can certainly play fast on this guitar, but it’s also great for shaping complicated chords.
One thing I really like about this guitar is the tremolo. Leo Fender actually designed the G&L Dual-Fulcrum Vibrato system. It features forged brass saddles and unlike other S-style systems, lets you flutter notes by pushing up and down.
So, how do these compare to an actual Fender Stratocaster? They include the single-coil pickups that can give you that classic, 1950s Strat tone. And they include that Fender-esque headstock. So, all and all, G&L Strats are pretty close to an actual Fender Strat.
In fact, they might be better. In a print advertisement, Leo Fender was quoted as saying G&L guitars are some of “the best instruments I have ever made.”
That says a lot.
Yamaha Pacifica PAC612VIIFM
In addition to its more affordable Pacifica options, Yamaha has expanded its Pacifica line into slightly higher-end Stratocaster lookalikes, including the Pacifica PAC612VIIFM.
This beautifully constructed guitar includes a pair of single coil pickups and a bridge humbucker. But the first thing you’ll notice is how great it really looks.
The Yamaha Pacifica PAC612VIIFM is made with a lightweight alder body and comes with three different laminated maple top color options, including indigo blue, root beer and translucent black (perfect for metal players!).
The Seymour Duncan humbucker on the bridge separates it from a traditional Strat, which includes three single-coil pickups, but that’s what happens when companies take liberties with iconic guitar designs. The humbucker allows Yamaha to produce a different – and versatile – tone for players of all genres. The guitar includes a 5-position blade and a master tone knob to really let players dial in their sound.
I also really like the C-shaped maple neck on this guitar. It’s slightly thinner than other necks with this shape, making chording and soloing more comfortable. The Grover locking tuners also do a great job at keeping things in tune.
In terms of price, this Yamaha Pacifica is slightly on the higher end for a Fender Stratocaster alternative, but players who own it say they like it much better than the cheaper Fender Stratocasters that are manufactured in Mexico.
ESP LTD SN-1000
A Strat for the hardcore rocker? Checkout the ESP TD SN-1000. It’s a premium guitar that mimics that iconic Strat design and it looks pretty gnarly.
What makes this ESP standout from the rest is its unique sandblasted finish. The combination of that finish with its black and deep purple color makes this an absolutely beautiful guitar.
So, what’s under the hood?
- Powerful pickups. This axe is paired with a powerful Seymour Duncan Pegasus/Sentient humbucker combo that hardcord rockers and metal players absolutely love. This setup certainly allows for heavily distorted rhythm playing, but also offers extreme clarity for those squealing solos.
- Premium neck. ESP went all out with the neck on this guitar. It’s a thin U-profile roasted maple neck, which gives it a nice, warm look. Combine that with stainless steel frets for easy playing, and you have yourself a very competent guitar.
- Hardware to stay in tune. The Hipshot bridge and tailpiece and LTD Locking Tuners do an excellent job at keeping everything in tune.
Because of the power and tone this guitar offers, it is great for rockers – especially those seeking a guitar with a unique look to it. Note that each guitar is sandblasted, which isn’t a consistent process. So, each guitar in this model is going to look slightly different.
In terms of price, this Strat lookalike is on the higher side. The quality of construction and great playability, though, back up its price tag.
Schecter Nick Johnston Traditional
Schecter’s Nick Johnston Traditional guitar is a stunning Stratocaster look-alike that also plays like a dream.
As the signature model for the Canadian guitarist, this Fender Strat-inspired guitar features…
- An alder body
- Chrome hardware
- Schecter two-point tremolo
- Schecter + Hipshot locking tuners
- Ebony fretboard
Many owners of this guitar agree it’s extremely versatile and capable of many genres, from country to rock. That’s thanks in part to the alder body, which gives it a nice warm, woody tone that can be adjusted using the pickup selector and tone knobs that control the Schecter single-coil pickups.
There have been some complaints about the pickups not being hot enough, and performing only really well when using clean tones. That’s a pretty common complaint among Schecter guitars. Still, the tone is there, and if you need more volume, you can always crank it up.
Ibanez Premium AZ224BCG
Ibanez has traditionally gone its own way when it comes to designing a guitar. But the Ibanez Premium AZ224BCG certainly takes a page out of Leo Fender’s Stratocaster design book.
This Premium guitar lives up to its name and is one of the more expensive Strat lookalikes on this list. For the price, though, you’re buying a quality guitar packed with high-end finishes, hardware and electronics. Let’s break down some of those specs:
- Pickups. The Seymour Duncan Hyperion pickups are absolutely incredible and likely a driving reason for this guitar’s bigger price tag. The pickups offer phenomenal clarity – especially in higher gain settings. The pickups are positions as single coil, single coil, humbucker. Pair that with a 5-way switch and tone knob, and you’re in business with a very versatile sounding guitar.
- Beautiful top. The first thing you will notice about this guitar is its decorative bocote top. The body is made of American basswood, which offers great warm tones and super clear mid-range tones. When combined with the gold hardware, this guitar really looks like a million bucks.
- Tremolo + locking tuners. While this guitar is very classy looking, it’s actually a perfect axe for rock and metal. That’s thanks in part to the Gotoh locking tuners, Graph Tech TUSQ nut and Gotoh T1502 tremolo. You can bend on this baby all day long and rarely have to worry about your string going out of tune.
Then there are a lot of intangibles about this guitar. Sure, good players can make any guitar sound good. But this guitar has qualities that simply make it a great guitar.
The stainless steel frets, for instance, are silky smooth. The body feels really solid. And the roasted maple neck looks great.
For this price, it’s a little disappointing the Ibanez doesn’t include a hardshell case (gig bag is included). If you’re gigging with this guitar, you’ll want to invest in a hardshell case to protect your investment.
Tokai is a family-owned Japanese guitar maker that’s been around for nearly 75 years. At the time of its founding, it focused on harmonicas and pianos, but eventually expanded into guitars and other stringed instruments, like banjos.
The company made its mark in the 1970s, though, with its impressive lineup of Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul copy guitars that caught the attention of players around the world. So much so that this period of time was known as the lawsuit guitar era due to the lawsuits from Gibson targeting these companies for copying their design.
Anyways, these guitars are tough to come by today. The bodies look and feel like Fender Stratocasters, while the electronics vary from model to model.
Tokai’s cheaper models used in-house pickups, which were pretty underwhelming. That’s why it’s pretty typical to see Tokai models with various pickups when shopping for one on Reverb.
But Tokai’s aren’t necessarily bad. The company’s higher-end Strats compete quite well against authentic Fender Strats. Fenders tend to be louder, but the Tokai is actually a little smoother when going through overdrive, which could be preferential to some players.
If you want to find a lookalike Fender Strat, you just might want to check out a Tokai.
Suhr Guitars started at the iconic Rudy’s Music Stop in New York City as a side hobby, but quickly turned into a fledgling business that attracted some big-time players, including Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler.
The guitar maker didn’t shy away from the Stratocaster (and also Telecaster and Jazzmaster body styles from Fender.) The electric guitar lineup looks like this:
- Classic (Stratocaster)
- Classic T (Telecaster)
- Classic JM (Jazz master)
- Standard (A Stratocaster, with some liberties taken)
- Modern (24-fret Superstrat)
- Modern T (24 fret Telecaster)
- Aura (Gibson Les Paul)
When it comes to Strat look-alikes, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find anything that sounds as good as a Suhr Classic. These are premium guitars that are highly respected due to their construction quality and delightful electronics. In other words, these guitars are – pretty much – perfectly built. You won’t be disappointed.
Not everyone is into the brand’s headstock, which is significantly different from Fender headstocks, but it’s a way of differentiating the brand.
Friedman Vintage-S HSS
The most expensive guitar on our list is the Friedman Vintage-S HSS. It’s an absolutely beautiful looking guitar and even includes some relic features to show that’s its road worn.
The Friedman comes in four different colors – all of which feature the nice custom shop appointments.
The company’s founder, Dave Friedman, has built guitars for the biggest names, including Eddie Van Halen and Steve Stevens. Those are big-time players, so as you can imagine, these guitars are built for playability. Let’s explore some of the specs:
- Neck. It’s made of maple and features the vintage C-shape design. Unless you have really tiny hands, this neck will feel comfortable in your hands.
- Pickups. These in-house pickups offer a ton of clarity and volume. Friedman went with two single coils and a humbucker to offer a more versatile tone.
Players like this guitar because they know the moment they take it out of the case, it’s ready to roll.
Yes, it’s expensive, but you’re getting what you pay for. Incredible sustain. Meaty neck. And a perfect build quality. You won’t be disappointed.
How to Choose The Best Strat Copy – Buyer’s Guide
As you shop from a Strat copy guitar, you’ll want to take a handful of topics into consideration first:
Materials & Build Quality
Build quality is super important, but only when your budget allows you to spend some serious money on a guitar.
If you only have $200 to spend, I wouldn’t expect the best overall build quality from a guitar in that price range. If you’re going to spend $750-$1,200, that guitar better be built really well. That can only really be done by testing out guitars and determining if they feel solid to you. This is especially important if you’re a gigging musician.
In terms of the materials, look for really solid woods, like alder, basswood and mahogany. Swamp ash is nice too and offers some unique tones.
The cheaper guitars are using agathis, which is really light, but not that tough.
In terms of pickups, Fender Stratocasters are known for having three single-coil pickups that offer that springy, clean tone.
When shopping for a Strat replica, though, you’re going to see strat pickup combinations across the board. The most common is two single-coil pickups on the neck and in the middle, and then a fat humbucker near the bridge. This setup will certainly give you a different tone and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The more expensive Strat copies use in-house pickups, like Schecter and Suhr. The cheaper models typically go with the cheapest pickup options they can find.
Playability equates to comfort and the first thing we look to for comfort is the neck. Most Fender Strat copycats use a modern version of the C-shaped neck, which has to be the most comfortable neck profile of all time.
Beyond the profile, you have to take into consideration fret materials (stainless steel anyone?) and fretboard material. Ebony and rosewood are great for playability.
Next, you need to look at the nut, bridge, tremolo system and tuners. Will the hardware on your Strat copy keep your guitar in tune? Many manufacturers turn to third parties who have developed great hardware over the years that’s proven to offer great tonality.
We recommend finding a guitar with locking tuners to keep things in tune.
Number of Frets
Your standard Fender Stratocaster features 21 frets, which, by today’s standards, is pretty small. You’ll see more Strat imitations expand past that 21 number, with some going as far as 24 frets.
When shopping for a Strat, you’ll need to ask yourself how important those extra frets really are. Sure, it’s fun to do some screaming solos two octaves above your open strings, but how often will you really be doing that?
If you’re a casual player, a guitar with 21 frets is adequate.
It always comes down to price, doesn’t it? Luckily, you have plenty of options for Stratocaster copies, from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars. For the most part, you can find a decent Strat-like guitar for $500-$700.
Keeping a budget when shopping is important. If you have $500 to spend, then stick to that budget. If you want something a bit more premium, look for a used guitar.
And remember, a more expensive guitar doesn’t make you a better player. Practice does.
One of the most common questions about purchasing a Strat-style guitar is, “Should I just stick with a Fender?”
Many people would assume yes, but that’s certainly not the case. Relatively unknown brands, like Friedman and Suhr have crafted some excellent guitars that some of the best players in the world use and respect.
If money is an issue, also don’t feel bad paying more for an authentic Fender Stratocaster.
The Fender Stratocaster is perhaps one of the most distinguishable guitar styles out there. So, you definitely can’t go wrong in picking up a Fender Strat, or something that closely resembles that iconic guitar.