Best Strat/Best For The Money

S Bach

Strat-Talk Member
Jan 4, 2019
13
USA
After testing a bunch of Stratocaster at the store and previous online advice. I have narrowed down my list to a somewhat select list of Stratocasters I'm looking at. Unfortunately the store in my area only has a pre-fat 50s Am Std and doesn’t stock the classic players 60s, so I was hoping for the forums help. Really would like to know the Pros and Cons for the models vs each other if anyone has experience.

My main criteria is something I won't really feel is inadequate or want to get rid of for a better version and the best bang for my $. I can afford all of theses guitars but don't want to spend the extra money for a particular model if its not really worth it.


List:

New/Lightly Used Classic Player 60s = ~$650-850

Lightly used Am. Std (Fat 50s model) = ~$800-$1100

2014 60th Anniversary Am. Std (CS 54 PUs & Compound Neck model) = $1000-1250
 
Last edited:

AxemanVR

I appreciate, therefore I am...
Silver Member
Feb 8, 2014
5,907
Minnesota USA
`
If "tone" were your main criteria I'd say the choice would be difficult to assess, since we can't possibly know what kind of tone would make you happy.

Of the three choices you listed above I've only had experience with the "Fat 50s" Am Std (a 2012 Model to be exact).

Unfortunately I just sold it in favor of the new 2018 Fender 50s Road Worn Strat I got back in December, which comes with Tex Mex pickups (and has a sound I have come to adore). I'm not saying the Am Std sucked, but it just didn't have the sound I was going for in a Strat. Sorry, I know that isn't much help for you, since the Am Std may very well provide the sound you want...

Of course you can always swap out pickups until you find the one that suits your needs, but I personally am done with that strategy (which is "hit or miss" at best), and would rather find the "complete package" rather than cobbling something together.

In other words; Whatever model you choose, if it fails to deliver I suggest you get rid of it and look for something that does.

I never thought I'd like a Fender Road Worn Strat as much as I do, but it was ultimately the tone that made me love it, not the looks. I did end up having to tweak its appearance quite a bit to make it “visually” work for me though and now I am thrilled with it as a whole... here's a thread outlining my project (well worth it for me, but possibly too overboard for others to consider):

http://www.strat-talk.com/threads/2018-fender-road-worn-50s-stratocaster-review-relic-tips.499873/


`
 
Last edited:

S Bach

Strat-Talk Member
Jan 4, 2019
13
USA
Seems like everything I read suggest tone is a lot about the player and you get get a lot of different tones no matter the PUs depending on amp and pedal choices too. So I figured just quality and other features of the guitar matter just as much.

In general I definitely will be going for more blues tones and classic rock stuff. Looking forward to learning Mayer, Clapton, SRV songs, but will probably try to learn lot of the iconic strat players’ songs that are in the low to mid gain territory.
 

AxemanVR

I appreciate, therefore I am...
Silver Member
Feb 8, 2014
5,907
Minnesota USA
Seems like everything I read suggest tone is a lot about the player and you get get a lot of different tones no matter the PUs depending on amp and pedal choices too. So I figured just quality and other features of the guitar matter just as much.
`
If you're a beginner then any decent tone will do. In that case I would go for the least expensive choice since it will most likely have a decent level of sound quality.

On the other hand, there are definitely some crappy sounding guitars out there, especially the super cheap "brand-x" models from Asia.

Sure, Eddie Van Halen or Kenny Wayne Shepherd could probably make anything sound good, but let's be real - there's a difference between a guitar that "just does the job" and one that "truly inspires"... and sometimes finding "that" guitar takes patience and a little luck - especially if you don’t want to waste a ton of money!

So...

Good Luck!
 
Last edited:

S Bach

Strat-Talk Member
Jan 4, 2019
13
USA
Only you can know what inspires you and begs you to pick it up. When you do pick it up, you'll know, but you may need to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince...

True, don’t know why I threw that in, really hoping to hear some pros and cons here. I updated my main post to reflect. I think I’m leaning towards the 60s or 2014 Commemorative. Just disappointed I cant compare them in person.
 

Single Malt

Strat-Talker
Jul 22, 2014
220
Parker, CO
Welcome to the forum, S Bach! You're in a great place for learning more about Strats and which one is right for you.

I'll offer my humble opinion on your decision. I've recently owned a CP 60's Strat and it was my number 1 for 2 years. It is an excellent guitar for the money; absolutely nothing wrong with it. They usually come with CS 69 pickups, which are very 'scooped" sounding. That may work for Mayer sounds but not so much for SRV. In mine, I replaced the pickups with Fender Pure Vintage '59 pickups and was very happy with that decision. Much fuller-sounding midrange without being overwound. Lots of clear, full, late 50's tones to be had.

For me, I never cared for the neck carve on the Am Std. The "Modern C" was just not to my liking. Pickups didn't give me "that sound" either. Many people love them, though.

May I suggest that if you're looking to spend up to $1250, you might want to look at a used American Professional 60's Strat? I sold my CP 60s for one and have never regretted it. It is a pro quality guitar in every sense and the fit and finish is superior to the CP 60. And the CP 60 is an excellent guitar. The AmPro is in a different class altogether. The neck carve is rounder and fuller (NOT a baseball bat, very comfortable) than the CP 60, which seemed better suited for smaller hands or for those who prefer the "thumb over" style of playing. When I first picked mine up from the case, I knew I had something special. The V-Mod pickups were quickly replaced with...you guessed it, PV '59s. Instant SRV. This doesn't mean that I play like him, bu the tones were all there.

I've provided a link on Reverb for some that are within your budget. I hope this has helped and feel free to ask additional questions as they arise.

https://reverb.com/p/fender-american-professional-series-stratocaster#used_listings
 

S Bach

Strat-Talk Member
Jan 4, 2019
13
USA
I guess a couple questions I have after your post is:

1. Can you add the SRV mids via pedals more easily than getting the scooped mid sound and therefore the scooped mids in the ‘69 PUs more versatile? Or is it an entirely different sound even with pedals?

2. Any idea how the CS 54s pick ups fit in the equation?

3. Same thing with the Vmods, how do they compare to these CS pick ups (54/59/69)
 

RadioFM74

Senior Stratmaster
Apr 5, 2016
1,748
Italy and Switzerland
Hi and welcome to the forum!

- I’ve had a “Fat 50s” American Standard and it’s been my #1 strat for the past 3-4 years. I liked it very much, and I think that if you set them right (= low) the Fat 50s are very good pickups. Very good all-rounders: they sounded great clean and dirty, pretty much through any amp I put them through. I eventually let it go because I developed a taste for bigger necks and curvier fretboards, but it was a strat I could otherwise have spent my life with.
- I’ve had a Classic Player 60s. Another very good strat. Mine was in sonic blue, beautiful. I remember the pickups as being lower output and sweeter when played clean, but perhaps less full than the Fat 50s when playing with overdrive. The neck was a bit chunkier, a very nice “C”, and I liked it better than the neck on the American Standard. But the thing I disliked about it, I learned, was the very flat fretboard (12”)… which to some is a very good feature, maybe for you too.
- Can’t comment on the 60th Anniversary.

So to your question:
- Quality-wise there isn’t much difference IME – fit, finish and fretwork were as good on my CP60s as on the American Standard…
- The difference between Fat 50s and Custom 69s is not one of better/worse but, I submit, between very good sounding pickups, one more low-output (“wiry”) the other a bit fatter;
- Neck and fretboard are kind of different, and again it’s a matter of preference.

If you don’t know your tastes yet in matters of pickups, necks, fretboard … it’s alright, we all start from there. But in this case, I’d look for a good deal on a used guitar, so you can move her on without loss as you get a clearer picture of what you like. And I’d say that perhaps, spending a bit less per se would be a good thing in this perspective – and save you some money for the amp, which is more than 50% of your sound!

One option I don’t see in your list are the Classic series and Road Worn. The Road Worn 60s is a fantastic strat IMHO and the one I’d buy today if I was not amply well served with my American Vintage. Just saying this in case you haven’t tried one and just discarded the option because of the 7’25’’ fretboard.

Enjoy the quest!

EDIT: as now duly noted I do NOT possess an American Standard anymore. Sorry for the confusion :oops:
 
Last edited:

Single Malt

Strat-Talker
Jul 22, 2014
220
Parker, CO
1. My experience has been that the '69s have their own thing going and I couldn't get close enough to SRV's tone even with a Maxon 808 OD pedal. the PV '59 nailed it.

2. The CS'54s will be closer than the '69s for SRV, however, if they have Alnico 2 magnets, the bass will be a little softer. It won't be as clear and sharp as the '59s, which have Alnico 5 magnets.

3. I didn't care for the V-Mods at all. They are wound hotter and have a mix of Alnico 2 for the treble and Alnico 5 for the bass, and they sounded non-distinct and mushy to me. They're not vintage at all.
 

S Bach

Strat-Talk Member
Jan 4, 2019
13
USA
1. My experience has been that the '69s have their own thing going and I couldn't get close enough to SRV's tone even with a Maxon 808 OD pedal. the PV '59 nailed it.

2. The CS'54s will be closer than the '69s for SRV, however, if they have Alnico 2 magnets, the bass will be a little softer. It won't be as clear and sharp as the '59s, which have Alnico 5 magnets.

3. I didn't care for the V-Mods at all. They are wound hotter and have a mix of Alnico 2 for the treble and Alnico 5 for the bass, and they sounded non-distinct and mushy to me. They're not vintage at all.

I think the CS 54s in the commemorative strat are Alnico Vs, that’s what the Fender website has for the current CS 54s and I think it’s the same set unless someone has a reason to believe they aren’t.
 

Single Malt

Strat-Talker
Jul 22, 2014
220
Parker, CO
I think the CS 54s in the commemorative strat are Alnico Vs, that’s what the Fender website has for the current CS 54s and I think it’s the same set unless someone has a reason to believe they aren’t.
With that in mind, the CS54's will get you closer to SRV territory.
 

LuckyRaccoon

Strat-Talk Member
Feb 3, 2019
12
Austin, Tx
Out of those three I would do the classic player 60s if you like how the neck feels. If you could get to another store I would suggest playing a MIJ Traditional 60's Strat. You will have flexibility swapping things out etc but I would suggest getting a guitar you think is awesome. For instance, I'm not going to buy a black guitar unless it's a must-buy situation (for someone who would love it most likely) simply because a black guitar doesn't really season my salmon.
 

BuffaloHound

Senior Stratmaster
Sep 25, 2018
1,340
S
As a couple other posters have kinda mentioned, if you don’t know exactly what you want then don’t pay more for options/upgrades that you won’t realize are upgrades. That’s not at all a dig at you, but your list includes neck radi of 9.5”-12”, which seems odd to me.
I say buy a nice used—or new—MIM guitar and play it for 6 month. Then go out and start playing other styles. By that point you’ll have a better frame of reference to compare models. Plus, Fenders hold there value so well you won’t take much of a hit if you decide to upgrade. And then you’ll end up with nicer/more expensive instrument that you truly love. Not just something that works for other peoples’ playing styles and tastes.
 

Wayne

Strat-Talker
May 6, 2011
302
Texas
I played that 60th anni at the store and it is a really sweet guitar. Looks good, sounds amazing, and I like the neck. But you have to see if you like compound radius or a regular 9.5 inch radius. If you have the funds I'd say go for that or the Am Standard. Nothing wrong with the Mexican either. My favorite strat is a MIM and I have four including an American Deluxe.
 

S Bach

Strat-Talk Member
Jan 4, 2019
13
USA
As a couple other posters have kinda mentioned, if you don’t know exactly what you want then don’t pay more for options/upgrades that you won’t realize are upgrades. That’s not at all a dig at you, but your list includes neck radi of 9.5”-12”, which seems odd to me.
I say buy a nice used—or new—MIM guitar and play it for 6 month. Then go out and start playing other styles. By that point you’ll have a better frame of reference to compare models. Plus, Fenders hold there value so well you won’t take much of a hit if you decide to upgrade. And then you’ll end up with nicer/more expensive instrument that you truly love. Not just something that works for other peoples’ playing styles and tastes.


I was told online to stay away from lower than 9 b.c of fretting out
 

BuffaloHound

Senior Stratmaster
Sep 25, 2018
1,340
S
Hendrix, Gilmore, Frusciante and many others played a 7.25” NR and would bend the strings farther than most mortals while playing the “dusty end” of their guitar. If the guitar is proper set up this won’t be an issue.

That said, yes you can bend farther with a flatter neck. But most people will cut their fingers on the string before this becomes a problem.
 


Top