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The Stratocaster was designed in the early fifties by Leo Fender
Wondering which Stratocaster alternatives are the best?
Here’s our roundup – includes the likes of PRS, Yamaha, Sadowsky, and more…
The Fender Stratocaster is the most popular electric guitar ever created. To this day, Stratocasters (or copies of them) sell more than any other guitar.
The Stratocaster was designed in the early fifties by Leo Fender and his team. Despite the fact that they came up with a timeless design, new materials and techniques can greatly enhance the features of a Strat.
In this article, we’re going to see which Stratocaster alternatives are the best.
What Are The 7 Best Stratocaster Style Guitar Copies?
The PRS Silver Sky is our top pick. It was designed by Paul Reed Smith with John Mayer’s specifications and offers an ideal price-benefit relation. For those on a tighter budget, the Yamaha PAC112V Pacifica is a good choice. And for the players that need the best there is, the Sadowsky HSH S-Style is our premium choice.
Here are our candidates for the best Strat copies:
The PRS Silver Sky was designed by Paul Reed Smith and built to John Mayer's specifications. This vintage-inspired guitar boasts a familiar shape with an eye-catching contrasting tone in its cutaway scoop.
When the PRS Silver Sky first hit the market, it was considered by some as a controversial instrument. Designed by Paul Reed Smith and built to John Mayer´s specifications, it was labeled as yet another Strat copy after the singer´s public split with Fender.
Fast forward to 2022 and the Silver Sky has become one of the best-selling guitars in recent memory, and for good reason. This vintage-inspired modern strat copy is our pick for this list.
Vintage-inspired guitar based on John Mayer’s early-’60s Stratocasters
Comfortable rosewood fingerboard with 22 custom-sized frets, 25.5″ scale length, and 7.25″ radius
Custom-designed 635JM single-coil pickups for excellent note definition
Classic-styled tremolo with PRS’s unthreaded trem arm and Gen III knife-edge screws
Traditional vintage-style closed-back tuners with modern locking mechanisms
The Paul Reed Smith Silver Sky gives you the best of two worlds: classic sound and feel, with modern appointments that make it sound and play better than most vintage Strats.
It features a vintage-inspired neck with practical contemporary touches and a bolt-on neck that is patterned after John Mayer’s favorite vintage strats. The Silver Sky has 22 custom-sized frets, a 25.5″ scale length, and a comfortable 7.25″ radius.
One of the most appealing and important features of the Silver Sky is its three custom-designed 365JM single-coil pickups. They combine the best elements of early-’60s strats but leave out those piercing ice-pick highs that Strats are known for.
These pickups produce a beautiful tone and harmonics with outstanding note definitions. Additionally, they feature a higher signal-to-noise ratio than vintage models, and their in-between sounds are noise canceling.
As far as the hardware, the Silver Sky features a classic-styled tremolo with modern reliability thanks to PRS’s unthreaded tremolo arm. This system comes with a small set screw to optimize its playing position. Additionally, it features Gen III knife-edge screws to ensure a reliable return to pitch.
Mayer requested that the tremolo rests flush against the guitar’s body in a neutral position, which in turn amplifies the guitar acoustically and improves the signal-to-noise ratio of the Silver Sky’s pickups.
Yamaha has been one of the most respected instrument makers for decades. Their line of Pacifica guitars is further proof of the quality that this brand brings to the table. So much so that even legends like jazz fusion master Mike Stern play Pacifica guitars.
The PAC112V is among the most affordable instruments in the Pacifica line. This guitar is a great choice for students and those that want a strat-type instrument on a budget.
One of the best strat copies at this price point
Lightweight alder-body electric
Smooth, C-shaped maple neck and rosewood fingerboard
A trio of versatile pickups let you dial in a variety of tones from clean highs to punchy midrange to low-end growl
5-position blade, master volume, and master tone with push/pull provide an array of tone-shaping options
The Yamaha PAC112V Pacifica electric guitar is a fantastic choice for beginners and/or those that want to get the most out of a tight budget. It features an alder body with a gloss polyurethane finish that is not only lightweight but also looks great.
The neck on this guitar is a bolt-on, maple with a rosewood fingerboard. It features a 13.75-inch radius, typical Strat scale length of 25.5 inches, 22 medium frets, and Urea nut with a width of 1.614”.
The company also did a great job with the pickups on this Pacifica guitar, featuring two Yamaha Alnico V single coils for the middle and neck position, and a custom Yamaha ceramic Alnico V humbucker at the bridge position.
Additionally, you can use the push/pull tone control to split the humbucker and get crisp, clean single-coil tones.
This guitar comes with D´Addario string .009 to .042 and the gig bag or case must be purchased separately.
Sadowsky HSH S-Style (Premium Choice)
Roger Sadowsky has been one of the most respected luthiers for decades now. He and his team produce outstanding guitars and basses at the Sadowsky factory in Long Island City, New York.
Their instruments are the creme-de-la-creme and are the preferred choice of musicians of the highest caliber, including jazz legend Jim Hall and Latin American icon Juan Luis Guerra.
The Sadowsky HSH S-Style guitar is nothing short of a dreamlike Strat and is our premium choice for this article.
Highly versatile strat type guitar
Chambered Swamp Ash body
Highest grade flat sawn maple neck
Satin nitrocellulose lacquer neck finish
Sadowsky preamp with mid boost and gain boost, true bypass
The HSH S-Style is a finely crafted instrument with every detail necessary for delivering optimum tone, playability, and appearance.
It features a chambered swamp ash body and 22 18 % Nickel/Silver frets, on a maple neck with satin nitrocellulose lacquer finish. The playability on this strat-type guitar is simply fantastic.
As far as electronics, the HSH S-Style is quite the powerhouse. It features custom-wound DiMarzio humbuckers on both the neck and bridge position, with a single-coil pickup in the center position.
A 5-way switch provides the usual combinations but also works together with a 2-position mini-toggle that either activates a neck-plus-bridge combination when the 5-way is in either the neck or bridge position or activates all three pickups when the 5-way is in the middle position.
Additionally, a second 3-way mini-toggle lets you choose total bypass, preamp on (which also brings in the Middle control to provide a variable boost at 400 Hz), and gain boost (adjustable via a trimpot on the circuit board).
In other words, you get a plethora of sonic choices and tones, from traditional passive humbucker and single-coil tones, to more powerful “active” sounds that can easily push an amp into overdrive while offering precise control of the midrange frequencies. The very quiet preamp is powered by a 9-volt battery.
Additional features on this Sadowsky include a Gotoh 510 bridge, locking Sperzel tuners, Tusq XL self-lubricating nut.
In short, the HSH S-Style is a guitar for those that seek the very best there is and are willing to pay for it.
Guthrie Govan is an English virtuoso guitarist known for his commanding control of the instrument and impressive technique.
Charvel set out to create a strat-like guitar that was versatile, very comfortable, and great sounding. Just like Guthrie Govan, this Charvel Signature is fantastic for rock, metal, blues, jazz fusion, and more.
Sleekly sculpted San Dimas Style 1 caramelized basswood body with flamed maple top
Bolt-on caramelized flamed maple Speed Neck with graphite reinforcement
This guitar features a typical strat 25.5″ scale length and a custom-contoured heel (with no neck plate) for easy access to the upper register of the fretboard. To further enhance its phenomenal playability, it features a 12″–16″ compound-radius caramelized flamed maple fingerboard with 24 jumbo stainless steel frets.
Its flamed maple neck and fingerboard have undergone a caramelized heat and drying process that makes this instrument consistently reliable even with temperature and humidity changes.
Another fantastic appointment on this Charvel is the electronic part. It features three specially wound Charvel custom MF pickups in a versatile HSH configuration, with 5-way switching and a 2-way mini-toggle switch to engage single-coil simulation in bridge and neck humbucker positions.
Additionally, this fantastic guitar comes with a recessed Charvel locking vibrato bridge/tailpiece, Sperzel locking tuning machines, and ships with a hardshell case. To put it in simple terms, nothing short of an amazing guitar and one of the best Strat copies in the market.
The AZ series carries with it all of the hallmarks of these tried and tested Ibanez qualities: the smooth oval neck profile, the well-balanced asymmetrical body shape, and the neck heel allowing unrivaled playability an upper fret access.
Its AZ oval C-shaped neck features a 25.5 scale length, 12-inch radius, 22 jumbo stainless steel frets, and provides a nice modern feel for the higher frets and comfort throughout.
This guitar features Seymour Duncan Hyperion pickups for a truly balanced sound. They come in an HSS configuration, yield a moderate output, and sport Alnico V magnets, which preserve the clarity of your fundamental tone in high-gain situations.
The AZ2204 also features Ibanez’s Dyna-MIX9 switching system which provides nine different pickup combinations via a mini-toggle and 5-way blade switch. In other words, a truly flexible strat-type guitar.
The AZ2204 features a T1802 bridge with machined titanium saddles and a solid steel tremolo block, ensuring quick response and fantastic articulation. The T1802’s 2-point floating tremolo system achieves an astoundingly smooth tremolo motion in either direction.
In short, a fantastic guitar that you can get for under $2,000, with features, sound, and design that are hard to beat at this price point, making it one of the best Strat clones.
Suhr is regarded as one of the best guitar manufacturers today. They started as a boutique guitar company, but high demand has forced them to grow, but they remain committed to producing superior instruments.
Just like most of their guitars, theClassic-S is highly customizable so you can get it exactly as you want it. One of their most renowned players is jazz fusion maestro Scott Henderson.
Highly customizable strat-type guitar
Alder body with a tinted maple neck
SSCII noise reduction system, for traditional single-coil sound without the 60 cycle hum
The Suhr Classic S is regarded by many connoisseurs as one of the best strat-copies available today. This guitar features a 60’s C Vintage Standard maple neck with your choice of maple or Indian rosewood fingerboard.
For a smooth feel that aids playability and protects the instrument from moisture, the neck is tinted and finished in satin acrylic urethane.
The Classic S features an alder body that provides pristine and full-bodied sound, with nice mids and excellent lows.
The V60LP pickup is wound using a proprietary winding process that replicates the hand-wound pattern of some early-60s single-coil pickups which have a natural roll-off on the top end.
Both configurations include Suhr’s SSCII noise reduction system, offering traditional single coil sound but without the 60 cycle hum.
Finally, this guitar features a Gotoh 510 tremolo bridge with dual steel knife edge pivot points to provide greater functionality and ensure durability. This bridge features a steel block that increases sustain and tuning stability, so you can shred away with no restraints.
Additional features include medium stainless steel, Suhr locking tuners, and comes with a deluxe gig bag. I do wish Surh would have included a hard case to protect the guitar (and your investment) appropriately.
In any case, there is no question that the Classic S is one of the very best strat-type guitars on the market today.
Roasted maple neck is extremely resonant and climate stable
Wide-spectrum Silent Circuit reduces hum while retaining true single-coil sound
Straight-pull oversized headstock
Locking tuners stabilize tuning
Active electronics for hum-free performance
Stainless steel frets will last for years
Compensated nut maintains superior intonation
The Cutlass RS features a contoured alder body and roasted maple neck, 22 stainless steel frets, rosewood fingerboard, sculpted neck joint, 25.5” scale length, and a 10” radius. This spells not only high playability but also durability.
This guitar features three mid-’60s-style single-coil pickups to provide the beautiful chime and bell-like tone that the best strats are known for.