I know that this is not the forum to discuss other Fender models, but the post above is consistent with my "thinking". It's OK to offer a beginners guitar, but don't imply that it as good as any other Strat. In my humble opinion (no slight to any opposing beliefs) the bottom end for me would be a new Standard MIM Strat in cherry sunburst. I think they are about $600 and are absolutely beautiful. I played one a short time ago, and that is a fine instrument! Not perfect, but very nice.