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Cheap Stratocasters & Strat Copy Guitars

The Strat is an iconic and incredibly versatile electric guitar. If you're looking for a cheap Stratocaster, it's worth considering the Squier and non-Fender backed offerings featured on this page.

As the forum debates surrounding Fender vs Brand X rage on, the general consensus seems to be that, sure, if you've got the cash, get the "real deal". Knock yourself out.

But for those of us with less than $400 (or even $300) to spend, you will be pleasantly surprised at the quality the budget end of the Strat copy spectrum has to offer. Plus, there are variations on the traditional Strat spec for those who want a more modern sound.

Compare the Best Cheap Strats

First, a side by side run-down of the 4 picks. Click the table to enlarge...

cheap stratocaster comparison table

Squier Classic Vibe 60s Stratocaster

Squier Classic Vibe 60s Stratocaster Overall Rating

9 / 10


Harmony Central | Ultimate Guitar | Amazon
Musicians Friend | Zzounds

Best Deal

  Est. $370

Key Features

Impeccable fretwork & finish "out of the box". High quality Alnico V pickups. Vintage style tuners. Tremolo system.

Classic Vibe 60s Strat - 3 Color Sunburst  Classic Vibe 60s Strat - Candy Apply Red

What users say

Without doubt the best Stratocaster in the Squier range in production today. Consistently well setup from the factory, with many owners reporting the same impeccable fretwork and finish as with the Classic Vibe Telecaster equivalent.

The Alnico V pickups have enough chime to illustrate your clean rhythms resonantly and intricately, if a little on the quiet side. Very well balanced, warm and rich yet with enough high end crispness to give your solos the bite they need. The neck pickup offers some wonderfully chiming bell tones - far more usable in this position than other cheap strats.

Only a few have flirted with the notion of changing the bridge pickup (preferably to something with higher output), but this is more a minor tweak of personal preference than the replacement of a cheap part. The "out of phase" positions are where the CV (and in my opinion any Strat worth its salt) shines and instantly deliver that famously smooth Strat tone.

Again you have the experienced pickers admitting that a lowly Squier out performs the Mexican and even US Fender standards.

At a mere $350 (£280), the CV is only a "cheap Stratocaster" by price tag, and has proved a very exciting purchase for Strat lovers.

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Squier Deluxe Stratocaster

Squier Deluxe Stratocaster Overall Rating

9 / 10


Harmony Central | Ultimate Guitar | Amazon
Musicians Friend

Best Deal

  Est. $275

Key Features

Classic strat spec. Satin finished maple neck. 3 Duncan Designed pickups. Tremolo system.

Deluxe Stratocaster - Pearl White  Deluxe Stratocaster - Daphne Blue

What users say

Considered the top player in the Squier range before the Classic Vibe came along. Comparisons have inevitably been made between the Deluxe and the Made-in-Mexico Fender Strats.

The general consensus is it's not worth the extra $200 for the MIM. There is also the feeling that Squier's newer models from Indonesian and Chinese factories follow firmly in the footsteps of their highly acclaimed Japanese production era.

The basswood body (compared to the more expensive Classic Vibe's alder body) makes the Deluxe especially lightweight. It's a softer wood than alder, so it will dent and ding more easily, but it helps to deliver a slightly warmer tone than your typical Strat brightness and brashness, naturally rounding off any unpleasant ice picky treble. It's a less layered sound, with an emphasis on warm, fat mids rather than low end beef or high end glass.

Aside from the subtle tonal nuances, the Deluxe captures the full essence of the Strat sound, in all its out-of-phase "quacking" glory, as confirmed by long term strat owners and collectors who were intrigued at Squier's higher end offerings.

Most users have expressed the desire to keep the stock pickups which, along with the other built-to-last parts, make this a solid "no upgrades" candidate, which is unusual for a guitar of this price.

Note you can also get the Deluxe with a flamed maple finish, but most places just stock the two current neutral finishes.

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Yamaha Pacifica 112V

Yamaha Pacifica 112V Overall Rating

8.5 / 10


Harmony Central | Ultimate Guitar | Music Radar
Amazon UK

Best Deal

  Est. $300

Key Features

SSH pickup configuration. Push/pull coil tap. Ultra playable, slim neck. Rock solid construction. Tremolo system.

Yamaha Pacifica - Silver  Yamaha Pacifica - Black  Yamaha Pacifica - Blue  Yamaha Pacifica - Natural  Yamaha Pacifica - Red

What users say

The Pacifica series has been around since the mid 90s and has slowly gained its reputation as the budget modified Strat copy. The 112V is the newest model, a marked improvement on the now cheaper 112J which still receives tremendous praise.

The bridge humbucker provides you with a beefier output than the classic SSS configuration for high gain and distorted tones while you can still switch back to the middle-neck single coils for those classically sweet strat cleans. The 5-way switch is retained to let you experiment with the 112's rich variety of tones. New on the V model is the coil-tap, giving you even more tonal variation. Simply pop up the tone knob to give that humbucker a more traditional single coil vibe.

Many players buy this guitar for its neck alone. Slimmer than your standard Strat's. Quick, comfortable and ultra playable. Low actions are easily attainable, given that the factory standards have been met. People are constantly praising just how good it feels, before they even mention sound. It's no surprise, then, that shredders are drawn to the Pacifica in the same way they are to Ibanez for their super fast necks.

Also impressive is the build and material quality, which truly reveals itself when you play the 112 acoustically. A very reliable gigger and a more modern, well rounded alternative to the cheap Stratocaster models offered by Squier, or even the Fender Standards.

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Xaviere XV-870

Xaviere XV-870 Overall Rating

7.5 / 10


Harmony Central | Ultimate Guitar | The Fret

Best Deal

Available at GuitarFetish.com. Est. $189

Key Features

Huge selection of finishes. Maple or Rosewood fretboard. Weighty, solid ash body available.

XV-870 - Cream  XV-870 - Sunburst  XV-870 - Black  XV-870 - Surf Green  XV-870 - Natural

What users say

Guitar Fetish give you a huge choice of finishes and woods within the $150 to $200 price range. Very high quality and consistent output for the price, whether you go for their solid ash model (which I would recommend for the few dollar extra) or a lighter poplar/alder model. Each guitar has that custom shop feel and it does make you think about how much brand name reputation dictates price markup...

You'd be forgiven for assuming the XV-870 is primarily a modding/project guitar, but experienced users have been surprised at the quality of the construction and pickups, with very little hum from the latter. The only modest expectations that have been met are with the tone pots, offering little in the way of gradual, sweeping control and delivering more of an on/off setting.

However, what you do get is a classic strat tone out of the box, with more emphasis on the high end and the stock GFS pickups generally wired hotter than your typical vintage vibe strat. The result is powerful lead bite and choppy funk tones, but perhaps don't expect too much bass-mid response.

Certainly one of the best beginner strats available new today and a modder's dream.

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