Five Strats That Don’t Say “Fender”

Five Strats That Don’t Say “Fender”

..But Will Still Scratch Your Itch For That Classic Guitar


The Stratocaster is truly one of the greatest feats of 20th century design and engineering.  Simultaneously simple yet radical, sexy yet utilitarian, the Stratocaster has not only driven nearly every style of popular music out there, it’s left an indelible mark on the musical instrument industry.  Every manufacturer out there seems to have made at least one model that owes some sort of debt to the Strat in it’s design.


Super Strat Guitars


This is a good thing, because even if a gin-you-wine Fender Stratocaster has zero appeal to you, it introduced ideas and concepts to the electric guitar blueprint that make a lot of sense for any player.  In this article, we’re going to look at guitars that claim a clear lineage back to the features and aesthetics of the space-age Strat, but offer more than just a different name on the headstock.


  1. Cort G Series


Cort G Series

Cort G Series

Outside of all the amps, guitars, basses, and other enduring contributions to the music industry made by Leo Fender, the man who brought us the Stratocaster, he was also known to be incredibly thrifty.  For all of his success, he still ate canned spaghetti for lunch because it was less expensive than eating out*.


Today, it is easier than ever to find a quality guitar at the lower end of the pricing spectrum.  And one of those guitars is the Cort G Series.  While certainly evocative of the iconic Stratocaster, the G Series put it’s own spin on things with a variety of pick-up configurations and even pickguard shapes.  Plus, the Cort G Series is proof that Leo-esque thriftiness doesn’t have to mean sacrificing tone or quality.  Many G Series model can be had for well under $500, but deliver quality that you’d expect to pay much more for.


  1. G&L Legacy


G&L LegacyYou’ve read about G&L on before (, so you already know that they’re making some of the best guitars out there today.  While this one doesn’t say technically “Fender”, it definitely has the storied company’s namesake, Leo Fender (the “L” in G&L), written all over it.  The Legacy captures many of the Stratocaster’s now-classic features, but also incorporates some of the changes that Fender felt improved his iconic instrument.  Among them are a Passive Treble and Bass (PTB) tone control that effects all three pickups, instead of just the neck and middle positions.  The Legacy also features the Dual-Fulcrum Vibrato system, another post-Fender Musical Instruments innovation that Leo felt offered players smoother feel and action when working the vibrato bar.


There are several different Legacy models available at various price points, from posh to a pittance, so just about anyone can own a little piece of the Leo Fender design legacy (so that’s  where the name comes from).  Besides, Leo himself touted G&L guitars as “…the best instruments I have ever made.” (


  1. Carvin Bolt Classic


Carvin Bolt Classic

Carvin Bolt Classic

It’s no secret that is a big fan of Carvin guitars.  But that fandom is well-deserved; Carvin has done no less than let readers pull back to the curtain and watch the custom shop build The Tone Dragon from start to finish, as well as deliver high-quality amps [] and versatile instruments [] to the masses.  So forgive us for throwing our shoulders out as we pat Carvin on the back.


Of course, Carvin’s range of expertise means that it can put together a Strat-style bolt-on that is going to stand toe-to-toe with any other maker out there.  Approaching it’s 20-year year anniversary, the Carvin Bolt Classic Series echoes the long tradition of Carvin quality.  Plus, as we know, Carvin is the custom shop for the people.  So if you’re looking for a full-blown custom shop experience [] without living on ramen noodles for the next three years, Carvin is a pretty clear choice.


  1. Music Man Albert Lee SSS


This is one for players who love the Strat’s three pickup set-up, but don’t necessarily want another double-cutaway doppelgänger.  The futuristic angles of the Albert Lee SSS still evoke the Strat’s architecture if you squint a little bit, but the geometric pickguard and 4×2 tuner configuration on the headstock telegraph a look that nicely crosses vintage and modern looks.


Who would’ve thought that a man known as “Mr. Telecaster” would bring us a guitar that looks like a cross between a Stratocaster and a ninja throwing star?  If you want to know more, the man himself discusses his model in this video from 2010 (


  1. Suhr Classic



Suhr Custom Classic

Suhr Custom Classic

John Suhr’s experience as a Master Builder in the Fender Custom Shop has been parlayed into his own venture, operating out of California since 1997.  So when it comes to building a modern classic, it’s not a stretch to say that he knows what he’s doing.  But Suhr’s resume goes back much further; he’s been crafting high-end, custom-made guitars for thirty years, and his works of art have ended up in hands as varied as Mark Knopfler, Guthrie Govan, Scott Henderson, and Pete Thorn.


If you’re a stickler for attention to detail, you’re right in Suhr’s wheelhouse; Suhr is known for achieving an otherworldly level of fit and finish.  And players interested in a Suhr also have a lot of options.  While Suhr guitars are not available in every shop out there, there’s a good number of dealers online that stock a wide variety of Suhr guitars.  Or, you can go the custom route and provide detailed specs to Suhr for your very own dream machine.


Obviously, the five Strat alternatives discussed here are just a drop in a very big bucket.  The Fender Stratocaster has been around for sixty years, and it wasn’t long after it’s birth that other manufacturers were taking their cues from the California cultural icon.  So, cherished readers, which excellent Strat-style guitars did we miss? Tell us in the comments!



Tiny URL for this post:


Filed Under: FeaturedGuitars


About the Author:

RSSComments (5)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.