Fender Classic Series 50s Stratocaster Electric Guitar Review
A genuine original never goes out of style. If you're an electric guitar player who's been looking for an instrument that blends style and substance, you're likely faced with a plethora of choices for an electric guitar, but very little useful information.
Fender is one of the most reputable names in the guitar world, and their Classic 50's Stratocaster series offers you the chance to have an exceptionally well made guitar with the aesthetics of a classic that has been aged to perfection.
Things to Consider Before Buying an Electric Guitar
If you are in the market for an electric guitar of any sort, there are a few things to consider before making a purchase. Guitars of good quality tend to cost over $500 and the price can escalate quickly beyond that; a smart purchase requires some research.
You should consider what style of music you want to play, and what guitars match that style. You should have a sense of how you play the instrument, and what guitars best suit your play style. You should also test any guitar before you buy it: every block of wood is different, and every guitar is different, as a result.
The Classic Series 50's Stratocaster
The “Classic 50’s Strat” line comes in a few classic color schemes that are not easily available anymore. The 50’s Strat also comes with vintage style single-coil pickups that more accurately replicates its classic tone compared to more modern designs and offerings.
The 50’s Strat has modern wiring and electronics, but the pickups, knobs and 5-tone adjuster switch are all given an aged look. Overall, the 50’s Strat captures the feel of the original models.
Features and Benefits
There’s a good reason the Stratocaster has been in constant production since the 1950’s: it’s a gorgeous instrument.
The styling of the Classic 50’s series is brilliant. Fender went out of their way to produce aging effects which provide the instrument with a vintage look. The color schemes, pickups and electronics are all designed to match the aesthetics and feel of an instrument that has aged naturally.
The results speak for themselves. The Classic Series 50’s Stratocaster is a popular guitar because of its great looks.
Another tenet of the Strat’s popularity over the years is its distinctive tone. The Stratocaster series is known for the exceptional clarity and purity of its tone. Few instruments are as well suited to taking the distortion or gain out of an amp and just playing music naturally.
Anyone interested in playing blues, classic rock, jazz or alternative will find the Strat to be a versatile and dynamic instrument capable of creating a number of engaging tonal voices. No guitar is perfect for all styles, but the Strat is damned good at almost every popular style.
Sound quality and looks are meaningless if you’re unable to play the instrument, but Fender’s Stratocaster is legendary for its play-ability.
The Strat comes with a number of features to help the player get the sounds they need. The maple fret-board has enough give for comfort and medium sized frets that make playing a breeze. The generously tailored soft-v neck provides stability without being clunky or cumbersome. To get all the notes, the deep body cut-out makes getting even the highest frets easy and comfortable.
Value for the Money
Assuming you're not merely looking for a Strat from a different series or a Fender Strat-alike guitar from another maker, here are a few solid guitars that can produce similar tones or playing styles to the Classic 50's Strat.
Gibson SG '61 Re-issue
The Gibson SG series of guitars comes with a historically accurate recreation of the original SG series; it’s insanely expensive, but it exists.
Beyond the historical re-releases, the SG provides a similar feel to the Strat in a number of meaningful ways. The solid body construction gives it a similar weight and feel to the Strat. The lighter body tends to give the guitar a flatter, brighter tone, and any SG model with “neck through” construction will offer excellent sustain and a brighter sound. Common SGs are made with mahogany and rosewood fret-board, which gives them a mellower sound than Strats.
Compared to 50's Classic Strat
- Similar vintage aesthetics and feel
- Heavier mahogony body and rosewood fret-board give it more bass and a mellower tone
- Gibson is generally more expensive than Fender; re-issues are substantially more expensive
Ibanez Talman Prestige w/ Maple Fret-board
A Talman Standard comes with three single-coil pickups, a maple fret-board, neck-through construction and a size and weight similar to a Fender Stratocaster. If that all sounds familiar, it should; the Talman Standard is something of a competitor to the Fender lineup.
Ibanez is usually known more for their heavier and metal oriented offerings, but the Talman Standard is an excellent alternative to the Strat. It’s construction and electronics make it well suited to blues, country and rock based playing. Despite its sound profile, the Talman Standard is still an Ibanez, and its play-ability is very highly rated.
Compared to 50's Classic Strat
- Heavier body mass and rosewood fret-board give it a mellower tone
- Ibanez does not have the brand cache of Fender or Gibson
- Not as common a guitar as Fender or Gibson offerings
Fender Classic Series 50's Telecaster
Of course the Telecaster, Fender’s other major electric guitar series, would feature here. Similar in construction, electronics, tone, tenor and play-ability, the Telecaster is the most touted alternative to the Stratocaster.
Anything you might like about a Stratocaster, aside from the looks, is present on a Telecaster. From the bridge to the truss rod, tuning, toning and selector switches or knobs, the Telecaster offers easy similarities to the Strat. Fender has also issued a 50’s Classic Telecaster series that offers many of the same great features as its Strat brother; aged looks, vintage feel, classic designs, etc.
Compared to 50's Classic Strat
- Higher, twangier tone
- Larger hands may struggle with Tele cut-out
- Telecasters typically require more tinkering for optimal play-ability
If you need looks, tone and play-ability, look no further. The Classic 50's Stratocaster series has more than enough of everything a guitarist might be looking for. It's always important to try a guitar out before you buy it, but just a few minutes of strumming should convince you of this instruments exceptional quality. You may also want to check out other style and brands to help you understand the basic differences in guitars, so you can make a right decision when choosing a guitar.