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The Tale of Two Strats...actually Four

Best Stratocaster style guitar manufacturer

  • Fender

    Votes: 63 72.4%
  • G&L

    Votes: 3 3.4%
  • Ernie Ball Music Man

    Votes: 2 2.3%
  • PRS

    Votes: 3 3.4%
  • Suhr

    Votes: 16 18.4%

  • Total voters
    87

Melange

Member
Messages
188
I cannot but admire Leo Fender's innovative and forward thinking. To me , Leo Fender was to the world of Electric Guitars what Steve Jobs was to computers.

The Stratocaster is , IMO, one of the most iconic and imitated electric guitar. There are several manufactures , Leo itself with Fender and G&L and others from who make its own Stratocaster models. Despite the advantage Fender guitars have by carrying Fender's name on their headstock, other manufactures make superb versions of the strat model -some may consider them of superior sound and quality--

I create this pool to get your thoughts about what I believe are the top 5 and most common Strat manufactures. Considering their best Strat and not accounting for aftermarket mods what is your favorite Stratocaster maker : Fender, G&L, Ernie Ball Music Man, PRS, Suhr ? (added Suhr later thanks to suggestion from @RRfireblade)

Thinks to consider when casting your vote
- Craftsmanship
- Playability
- Finish
- Pickups (sound)
- Tremolo (quality and stability)

Thanks for voting !
 
Last edited:

Kurt L

Member
Messages
4,830
I don’t think there is a definitive answer; lots of people and companies make great Strat-style guitars.

I really like my EBMM Albert Lee.
 

JMMP1

Member
Messages
815
My EBMM cutlass is the reason I like single coils now. I used to be all humbuckers, but the Cutlass showed me I can enjoy single coils.
 

TheClev

As seen on TV
Messages
5,067
It might help to break Fender down further into smaller categories. The average Suhr, compared to the average Fender, is probably going to be a lot higher quality because Fender has Strats all over the price map. A custom shop Fender is going to fare a lot better against the competition.
 

Melange

Member
Messages
188
It might help to break Fender down further into smaller categories. The average Suhr, compared to the average Fender, is probably going to be a lot higher quality because Fender has Strats all over the price map. A custom shop Fender is going to fare a lot better against the competition.
Indeed , that’s what I suggest the comparison based in their best strat model
 

Presc

Member
Messages
1,283
A Strat is pretty well understood and nothing is patented other than the headstock. Nothing is proprietary to Fender, so there are lots of valid alternatives.

In my view, there are two types of Strats from other makers - 1) designs with intentional alterations and changes, or 2) designs that closely copy the original and try to improve materials and craftsmanship. The most important thing is figuring out which of those "takes" on a Strat you want. A vintage purist will never be happy with G&L, and someone looking for modern advancements won't be happy with a reissue.

Of what I've owned:
  • G&L is very much in the "intentional changes" camp. Different bridge, different wiring setup, neck sits differently in the pocket. They sound AND feel different. Quality is very good. Mine was one of the most stable guitars I've ever owned (tuning and steup), the trem works very well, and the finishes look pristine years later. That said, they're on the heavier side, and feel like they're dipped in a thick coat of plastic. Found myself itching for a more traditional feel and tone and sold once I got my Danocaster.
  • K-Line is one of the best options out there if you want an extremely well-made, traditional Fender-style guitar. Quick turnaround on orders, new or relic finishes, the thinnest nitro I've ever seen, great fretwork, and a price that substantially undercuts Fender Custom Shop
  • Danocaster also is a great option for traditional style guitars. The BEST relic finishes out there bar none. Killer neck feel and fretwork. Not readily available and have gotten expensive. I think Dano's relics look the best, but from a playability and tone perspective...K-Line is right there without the wait, hype, or price.
  • Fender covers all the bases! Some super modern designs (Ultra series), some super traditional designs (reissues). I think Fender generally does a great job...but at the Custom Shop price range (or even the top end of the USA line) there are boutiques like K-Line, Dano, and many others that do work that is as good or better with a better value proposition.
 

Tony Done

Member
Messages
5,945
I agree entirely about leo and his innovations, I think of his similarity to Henry Ford. This was a hard call for me. I like the aesthetics of the EBMM Silhouette, but the I also like G&L look, plus their screw pole pickups. In the end I went G&L. Since his philosophy was "industrial", I didn't consider the high-end boutique makers, about whom I know nothing much anyway.
 

rhinocaster

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
23,183
Fender just "gets" the Fender thing better almost anyone else in my experience.

The deal is that other companies that really could build Strats all day long are actually more interested in building a 'better' Strat. That ends up being a guitar that's different than the classic Strat experience or even a modded Strat experience.

Honestly, I've not played a modern Strat that sounds like a vintage Strat. I really don't think there's much of a market for that brash, unforgiving sound. Most vintage Strats would have players saying, "That's the NECK pickup??"

If you want a Strat just buy a Fender, you'll get a Strat. If you think there's something lacking in that classic design, there are a world of choices.....and some of those are even offered by Fender.
 

jackaroo

Member
Messages
4,546
The Fender is clearly the prettiest design of all those listed...maybe it’s just tradition, or being accustomed to it. But it’s very graceful. SUHR is as close as you can get with every possible advancement in tech. Those guitars are amazing. One one drawback...the headstock isn’t as aesthetically pleasing, but it’s not bad.

Vibe, looks and feel to Fender.

Playability, and perfection to Suhr.
 

Benniator

Member
Messages
151
Historically, PRS has always made the best Strats. If you care about tradition and quality you buy the Silver Sky.
 

sunking101

Member
Messages
1,485
I like Suhr being Suhr, not Fender. If I want a tele or strat I'll buy a Fender and not an expensive boutique copy of a Fender.

Historically, PRS has always made the best Strats. If you care about tradition and quality you buy the Silver Sky.
Tradition? The Silver Sky is a relatively new guitar and John Mayer hasn't been around since Clapton either...
 




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