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Fender Standard Stratocaster | Full Review (2019)

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  • Looks:
  • Build Quality:
  • Sound:
Overall:
4.4/5

Note: The Fender Standard Series has been replaced by the upgraded Fender Player Series. 

While cheap Strat copies are available everywhere, there's nothing better than playing the real thing. The Fender Standard Stratocaster is a great-looking and versatile guitar that's all Fender from top to bottom. Classic styling, modern features, and a low price combine to create an amazing value for all guitarists, regardless of skill level. A bridge humbucker and single-coil middle/neck pickups give you the versatility to play anything from blues to metal. The synchronized tremolo lets you play with more feeling and expression. With a choice of three beautiful, traditional finishes, you can easily find a Strat that fits your style. With its mid-range pricing, the Fender Standard Strat won't break the bank either!

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Features of the Fender Standard Stratocaster

  • "C" profile neck
  • Pau Ferro or Maple fretboard with 21 medium jumbo frets
  • Single-coil middle/neck pickups
  • Standard humbucking bridge pickup
  • Five-way pickup switch
  • Shielded body cavities
  • Vintage-style synchronized tremolo bridge with high-mass block

Looks

With its double cutaways, legendary headstock, and iconic lines, this is unmistakably a Fender Stratocaster. The Standard Stratocaster comes in three classic finishes: Black, Brown Sunburst, and Candy Apple Red. If you decide on the Brown Sunburst finish, you have a choice of a Maple or a Pau Ferro fretboard. What's the difference? Maple is lighter in appearance and somewhat brighter in sound, while Pau Ferro is a bit darker in both appearance and tone. Check out this video comparison between a Pau Ferro fretboard and a Maple fretboard to get a better idea of how they can affect your tone. If you still can't tell the difference, then don't worry! Just pick the one that you think looks better!

Typical of foreign-built guitars, the finishes aren't always of super high quality. The Fender Standard Stratocaster is no exception. You may occasionally come across one with some finishing mistakes or poor wood grain. If you're shipped a guitar with these blemishes, you can always exchange it until you get one that's spotless. Thanks to Fender's quality control,  blemished guitars aren't super common, so this should be a rare occurrence.

Regardless of the finish you choose, each Standard Strat will have similar hardware: a white pickguard, white pickups, and a chrome bridge and jack.

Feel and Quality

The guitars in the Fender Standard series are commonly known as 'Mexican Strats' or 'MIM' Strats - short for 'Made in Mexico'. This is because they're made in Fender's factory in Mexico. While you won't confuse a Standard with a legendary Custom Shop, they are still much higher quality than the Chinese-made Squier series. Better bodies, necks, and hardware are all extremely noticeable upgrades and well-worth the price difference.

Body

The body of the Fender Standard Stratocaster is made of alder. Alder is a lightweight wood that imparts sustain and sharp attack to your tone. It's a fairly balanced wood that accentuates the mid-range, which is great for all styles of music. You'll enjoy the clarity that Standard Strat's alder body gives your solos. It makes every note you play stand out so that your music is precise and articulate.

The scale length (distance between nut and bridge) of this guitar is 25.5" - very common for Strat-type guitars. No matter if you've played more expensive American-made Strats or cheaper Squier Strats, the Standard Stratocaster will still feel very familiar.

Neck

The neck of the Standard Strat is a modern 'C' shape. It's very comfortable to hold no matter what size your hands are. The back of the neck is satin-finished so it's smooth, slick, and easy to play. Compared to a glossy neck, a satin neck makes you much less prone to 'snags' when sliding up and down the neck. This means you'll have no problem accessing any of the 21 medium jumbo frets.

Squier Bullet Strat neck profile

This is a real-deal Fender Strat, so obviously the neck is bolted-on. This gives the guitar the 'twang' that Strats are famous for!

Pickups

There are 3 pickups on the Standard Strat. They're in an HSS configuration - a humbucker in the bridge and two single-coil pickups in the neck. They're definitely a modern sounding set of pickups and they do pretty well when the gain is cranked up. However, they have a tendency to get a little bit trebley and can even border on shrill. You'll need to pay attention and utilize the tone knobs to keep the Strat's tone from getting overly bright.

Bridge

Stratocasters are famous for their vintage-style tremolo bridge. While it won't have the range of a Floyd Rose, it's perfect for adding more emotion to your playing. Unlike the cheaper Squier Strats, the Standard has a full-size, high-mass zinc block which adds sustain, resonance, and better tuning stability to the guitar. The tremolo arm screws into the bridge, and is removable if you don't feel like messing around with it.

Tuners

The tuners on this guitar are pretty good. While these aren't locking tuners, they will keep your guitar tuned up well. As long as you keep the synthetic bone nut and string trees well-lubricated, the Standard Stratocaster won't have any trouble staying in tune.

Knobs and Switches

On the Fender Standard Stratocaster is a 5-way pickup switch that's extremely common on Strat-type guitars. It's very flexible, allowing you to choose just the bridge pickup, just the neck pickup, or a few combinations of the bridge/middle/neck pickups.

Just like on most other Stratocasters, there is a single master volume knob and two tone knobs. The tone knobs allow you to change the brightness of your sound. The tone knobs control only single-coil pickups, meaning that there's no tonal control for the humbucker. If you're curious as to why this is, check out Premier Guitar's article on why the Strat has no bridge pickup tone control.

Strings and Accessories

Out-of-the-box, the Fender Standard comes installed with a set of light 9-42 gauge strings.

Unfortunately, it doesn't come with any accessories or a case. However, if you're looking for a good Fender Stratocaster case, you can buy an official Fender Deluxe case that will fit your guitar perfectly.

Sound

From chimey, twangy cleans to thick, high-gain metal riffs, the Stratocaster can do them all. While it won't sound as full as a Les Paul, you'll still have a ton of versatility to play anything thanks to the tremolo bridge and HSS pickup configuration. Check out this video demo to hear the full range of the Fender Standard Strat:

Public Opinion

On Reddit, the Fender Standard Stratocaster is highly praised. It's been called the 'perfect place to start' when it comes to picking your first guitar. The tonal variety and reliability, the Standard Stratocaster is unmatched in its price range.

On Amazon, the guitar is well-reviewed at almost 4 stars, but there are a few odd reviews that are almost unnecessarily critical of the guitar. A few of these reviews mention the 'hiss' that comes from the Strat. This is actually to be expected and not at all a fault of the guitar. The Standard Stratocaster comes with two single-coil pickups, which are well-known for being noisier than a humbucker pickup. If you want a dead-silence at high-gain, look for a guitar with two humbucking pickups instead of a guitar with single-coils. Check out our other guitar reviews for guitars with dual humbuckers, including the upgraded Fender Player Stratocaster. Other than that, there are minor complaints about finishing issues, but these are solvable with an exchange.

Conclusion

You won't find many guitars that have the versatility, value, and quality of the Fender Standard Stratocaster. It's the go-to guitar for guitarists of all skill levels. If you want a real Fender Strat without breaking the bank, this guitar is the right choice!

Fender Standard Stratocaster: Final Thoughts

  • Looks:
  • Build Quality:
  • Sound:

The Good

  • An affordable, <strong>real</strong> Fender Stratocaster
  • Extremely versatile pickups
  • Great tuning stability and sustain thanks to upgraded tremolo bridge

The Bad

  • Finish might not always be perfect out of the box
  • Pickups can border on shrill

Overall:
4.4/5