The Best Value S-Style Guitars – The World’s Most Loved Guitar Design
The Best Value S-Style Guitars looks at the classic Stratocaster-type instrument made famous by Leo Fender. Things have moved on considerably since the original 1950s models. This means that guitar players can get a great Strat for a lot less money than ever before.
The Best Value S-Style Guitars
Leo Fender’s bolt-on neck designs include some of the most iconic guitar shapes in history. His original concept was to design a simple to-manufacture instrument, that musicians would love to use. The Stratocaster was a design that came from all the feedback he received from working musicians.
Unlike his previous Telecaster and Esquire design, this model had a contoured body, three pickups and a new ‘vibrato’ system. Leo called the new bridge a ‘tremolo’, which often causes some confusion.
We know S-Style guitars as being a popular choice for all types of music. In this roundup, I’ll show you some of the current best-value options on the market.
Squier CV 50s Strat
The Squier CV 50s Strat is a solid choice for a lot of guitarists; it has all the classic features that you would expect and comes in at a very reasonable price point. This model is based on a 1950s model and comes with those classic features.
Based around a pine body, that is finished in either White Blonde, Fiesta Red, 2-Colour Sunburst or Black. This model has the typical maple bolt-on neck with a matching fretboard of the 1950s. It has 21 frets fitted to a more modern 9.5″ radius fretboard, whereas the original ’50s would have had a more rounded profile. All the hardware on this particular model is nickel and suits the style nicely.
It comes with a set of three Fender-designed alnico single-coil pickups and has a fairly standard Strat control layout. This consists of a master volume and two tone controls, plus a 5-way blade switch.
These Classic Vibe models are great value for money and the subtle modern updates will suit most players.
MSRP – From EUR 369/GBP 322*
Harley Benton ST-62MN VW Vintage Series
Next up is a similar-style guitar, but for a lot less money. The Harley Benton ST-62MN VW Vintage Series comes in at well under half the cost of the Squier above.
This guitar has a basswood body paired with a Vintage caramelised Canadian maple neck and matching fretboard. It comes in a Vintage White finish and has all things you would expect in an S-style guitar. This model has chrome hardware throughout.
It comes with three Alnico-5 Vintage ST-style single-coil pickups and has a typical control layout. This model offers a lot of value for money and already has some great reviews online from owners.
MSRP – EUR 139/ GBP 119 *
PRS SE Silver Sky
The PRS SE Silver Sky is at the other end of the price scale. Coming in a lot higher than both the Squier and Harley Benton models above. However, it offers a lot of value for the money and takes the classic ’50s design and pushes it further. Designed by Paul Reed Smith in conjunction with John Mayer, this S-style guitar has been winning awards left, right and centre since its release.
It is based on his far more expensive US signature model but is made in the company’s dedicated SE factory instead.
Sky High Specs
This model has a poplar body, bolt-on maple neck, and rosewood fretboard with PRS bird inlays. This model has 22 frets and uses a 25.5” scale length and the 635JM carve with an 8.5” fretboard radius. It comes in Ever Green, Stone Blue, Dragon Fruit and a Moon White finish.
It has three single-coil 635JM “S” pickups and comes with a two-point steel tremolo, a synthetic bone nut, and PRS vintage-style tuners. There are a lot of upgrades to the classic Strat formula here and the upcharge is well worth the extra cash layout.
MSRP – EUR 998/GBP 869 *
Fender Player Series Strat
The Fender Player Series Strat is the company’s affordable model and is made in Mexico. These modern Strats have all the original DNA with a few tweaks to the original recipe. They are also great value for money and hold their own against many higher-priced instruments.
These modern Strats come with an alder body with finishes including 3-colour Sunburst, Black, Tidepool, Polar White, Buttercream, Capri Orange and Silver. They have a modern C-profile maple neck and a 9.5″ fretboard radius Maple or Pau Ferro fretboard with 22 frets.
It has a set of three Player Series single-coil Stratocaster pickups and a two-point trem system with bent steel saddles. Expect all the classic Strat tones with this model.
MSRP – From EUR 719 / GBP 629 *
Finally, these Ibanez GRX40 models are a far more modern take on the S-type guitar. For players that want performance and a humbucker in the bridge position, these are a great option at a low price point. They are available in Black Night, Metallic Light Green, Metallic Light Blue and a Candy Apple finish.
They feature a poplar body with a maple neck and a jatoba fretboard. They have 22 medium frets and a nice contoured neck joint, to make playing nice and smooth. The Infinity R bridge humbucker is paired with two single-coil Infinity RS models, which are all ceramic.
This model also features the Ibanez T106 bridge and all the hardware in chrome. A great well priced modern take on the Strat and also a very affordable guitar as well.
MSRP – From EUR 188/ GBP 164 *
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Good round-up. There are a lot of S style guitars out there. Godin Session is another HSS that is a great value considering the quality you get. Maybe the HSS style should have it’s own “Best Value” thread?
I’ve purchased 6 Harley Benton guitars recently. They’re so inexpensive that I can’t stop! No s-style yet, but they’re all fantastic quality and set up well.
I agree, I am largely a Strat guy, regardless of who’s name is on the headstock. I have three Fender starts and two I built, as well as an Ibanez, a Martin and I recently purchased Harley Benton Style Taylor T 5 z’s. I bought the first a Hybrid Steal and a Nashville Steel. I was so impressed that after I purchased the 1st I figured I had better get another before the govt starts taxing the hell out of them. I like them ever bit as much as a a T5z at a fraction of the cost. In fact wi would say that since purchasing both I play them even more than my others by peeps and bounds.
I have got a G&L Legacy Tribute which I would add to this list. A few minor flaws to the finish (rough frets, for example) but plays and sounds really good.
Great guitars, even better prices. Definitely will be purchasing one or two. Glad I found this page. looking for a while for strat style guitar. Had two. played and sounded amazing. 👍💯
Artist and Jet actually have some of the best value products out there.