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Fender Player Stratocaster Reviews: Still #1 After All These Years?

Fender-Player-Stratocaster-review
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The Fender Player Stratocaster is where you start when you want a “real” Fender. But are they still the top choice these days? Let’s take a look at reviews from all around the web, as well as our own two cents!



Fender Player Stratocaster
5.0

Make no mistake, the Fender Player Stratocaster is a “real” Strat, and these guitars are played on pro-level stages every night, all over the world. The Fender Player Stratocaster is worth the price, and the new models are leaps and bounds better than what we had 20 years ago.

Pros:
  • As Good As US-Made Strats
  • Plays Like A Dream
  • Easy To Maintain, Update
  • Amazing Tone
  • Fast Neck
  • Beautiful Sounding Pickups

Fender Player Stratocaster: Still The Best Value?

Over the years, the “Made In Mexico” Fender guitars have been looked at as the best value for a genuine Fender. Guitarists have always flocked to the MIM Fenders as “workhorse guitars” that are great for the stage and studio.

In fact, many players will tell you that there is not that big of a difference between an American Standard and a Mexican Made Fender.

And we’ll cover why below, including an explanation on how the Fender Player is different from the Fender Standard series, what to expect regarding improvements in quality control and overall features, and why a Player series Fender is probably a better option than a straight-up US-made Fender Strat.

MIM Fender Strat vs American Fender Strat

Fender Player Stratocaster Reviews: Still #1 After All These Years?

The thing about this big myth of “American VS MIM” is that it DOES have some truth behind it. The two factories are right next to each other, and they often share the same parts (Bodies, necks, hardware).

When I say that the Mexican factory is close, I mean by a few miles. So the question has always been “Should I buy a MIM, or a USA?”.

I mean, a Stratocaster is a modular instrument, it was designed to be that way.

It was made to be easy to repair, affordable for musicians, and it became iconic for these reasons. A Stratocaster is a simple guitar, construction-wise.

Over the years I have owned both, and my favorite Fender guitars have almost all been MIM. The Fender Player Stratocaster replaced the “Standard” MIM series only by name.

New “Player Series” Features

The quality that we all know is still there. In fact, there are some upgraded features like the synthetic bone nut that make the Player Series better than the older MIM Standards.

So is it still worth it to buy the Fender Player Stratocaster? I think so, and the rest of the internet seems to agree with me.

The Fender Player Stratocaster didn’t just change its name from “Standard”. There were tons of upgrades with the Player Series.

You got better pickups, a two point trem, better nut, and more color options.

These were usually the first things that people changed about the MIM Standard Series, so it saves you money in the long run!

Fender Player Stratocaster locking tuners

The complete overhaul of the Mexican line was a big move for Fender, but it was a long time coming.

It is not a coincidence either that after the change, Fender had record breaking sales. Now of course this also had a lot to do with lockdowns, but the sales figures actually started before the pandemic.

So Fender was on its way to a record breaking year before lockdowns even began.

I think this is a “perfect storm” scenario for Fender.

Other than lockdowns, more people are learning guitar now. The guitar is a popular instrument, and Fender is a household name.

The few times that I have sprung for a USA Fender, I didn’t feel like it was worth the price.

Yes, a few features are nicer.

Why Mexican Strats Are Cheaper

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But sometimes I feel like you’re just paying for the “USA” stamp on the neck. The Player Series solved most of the QC issues that Fender had with the MIM lineup.

So these days, I almost always recommend a Player Series over the USA counterpart.

Believe me, I professionally toured a $400 MIM Stratocaster for YEARS, and it never let me down.

So is the Fender Player Stratocaster still worth it in 2022? I think it is still a great buy for anyone wanting the entry-level Fender that has tons of features to offer.

The Player Series is still the workhorse guitar that will be great for playing shows, studio work, and even beginners.

But don’t just trust my word. The internet is full of praise for The Player Series Stratocaster.

Fender Player Stratocaster Specs

  • Series: Player
  • Body Material: Alder
  • Body Finish: Gloss Polyester
  • Neck: Maple, Modern “C”
  • Neck Finish: Satin Urethane Finish on Back, Gloss Urethane Finish on Front
  • Fingerboard: Maple, 9.5” Radius (241 mm)
  • Frets: 22, Medium Jumbo
  • Position Inlays: Black Dots
  • Nut (Material/Width): Synthetic Bone, 1.650” (42 mm)
  • Tuning Machines: Standard Cast/Sealed
  • Scale Length: 25.5” (648 mm)
  • Bridge: Fender Two-Point With Bent Steel Saddles
  • Pickups: Fender Alnico V
  • Controls: Volume, Tone, Tone (Bridge Controlled Tone)
  • Hardware Finish: Nickel/Chrome

Fender Player Stratocaster Reviews

100

Guitar World

90

Music Radar

90

Old Time Music

90

Guitar Player Magazine

95

Guitar Fella

Fender Player Stratocaster Pickups

  1. Classic SSS Configuration: 3x Fender Player Series Alnico V pickups
  2. HSS Configuration: 2x Fender Player Series Alnico V pickups 1x Player Series humbucker pickup

When it comes to pickups, the vast majority – or the most popular models – in Fender’s Player Stratocaster series come with the classic SSS configuration which is made up of Fender Player Series Alnico V pickups and CTS pots for the volume and tone controls.

Fender Player Stratocaster HSS

However, for those that want or need humbucker versions, there are variants that come with Fender’s HSS pickup configuration, so two Fender Player Series Alnico V pickups and a single Player Series humbucker pickup.

Again, for that classic Strat sound, you’ll want to go with the classic SSS configuration. But if you do plan on doing anything close to metal or stoner rock and you want to create heavier, lower tones, one of Fender’s HSS Player Strats will definitely get the job done.

What are HSS and SSS Pickups?

Before we get into the differences between HSS and SSS pickups, let’s first define what they are.

Single-coil pickups are made up of a single coil of wire wrapped around a magnet. They produce a bright, clear tone that is ideal for clean playing styles like blues and country.

Humbucker pickups, on the other hand, use two coils wired together in series to cancel out unwanted noise (like hum) while boosting output levels.

They produce a thicker, warmer tone that is well-suited to heavier genres like rock and metal.

The Fender Player Stratocaster comes with either three single-coil pickups (SSS) or two single-coils and one humbucker (HSS).

Comparing HSS and SSS Pickups on the Fender Player Stratocaster

When it comes to sound characteristics, there are some key differences between HSS and SSS configurations.

The main advantage of an SSS setup is its tonal versatility. With three single-coil pickups, you have access to a wide range of sounds from bright and twangy to warm and mellow.

Fender Player Stratocaster HSS vs SSS

An HSS configuration offers more output levels than an SSS setup thanks to the addition of a humbucker pickup. This makes it ideal for players who want to play heavier genres like hard rock or metal without sacrificing clarity or sustain.

Ultimately, choosing between an HSS or SSS configuration will depend on your personal preference as well as your playing style.

If you’re primarily playing clean tones or lighter genres like blues or jazz, an SSS configuration may be best suited for you.

However, if you prefer heavier genres like hard rock or metal but still want access to cleaner tones when needed, an HSS configuration may be the way to go.

HSS vs SSS Pickups: PROS & CONS

Here’s a breakdown of some pros and cons associated with each type:

Pros of an SSS Configuration

  • Brighter tone
  • More tonal versatility
  • Less expensive

Cons of an SSS Configuration

  • Prone to noise/hum interference
  • Not ideal for high-gain distortion

Pros of an HHS Configuration

  • Higher output levels
  • Better noise reduction thanks to humbucker pickup
  • Ideal for harder genres like heavy rock/metal

Cons of an HHS Configuration

  • Less tonal versatility compared to an SSS setup
  • More expensive due to added humbucker pickup

In conclusion, choosing between an HHS or SSB configuration ultimately depends on your personal preference as well as your playing style.

If you’re looking for tonal versatility with brighter tones then choose an SS pick-up configuration but if you’re looking for higher output levels with better noise reduction then opt-in for HH pick-up configuration.

Is The Fender Player Stratocaster Worth It?

Fender Player Stratocaster Reviews: Still #1 After All These Years?

Even with the recent price hike, I would say that it is still 100% worth the price. The Fender Player Stratocaster has everything you could possibly want in a Strat.

The look and sound is absolutely iconic, and I agree with the reviews that say it plays way beyond the budget price tag.

The Player Series offers upgrades galore over the previous “Standard” series that it replaced. Fender is bigger, and better than ever.

You often hear the same thing about the budget-friendly Squier line, and those are great beginner guitars, for sure.

But make no mistake, the Fender Player Stratocaster is a “real” Strat, and these guitars are played on pro-level stages every night, all over the world.

I have rarely seen a professional studio without at least one good MIM Stratocaster on the guitar rack, and that tells you something.

So it doesn’t really matter if you are a bare-bones beginner, or a seasoned pro. I think the Fender Player Stratocaster is worth the price, and the new models are leaps and bounds better than what we had 20 years ago.

The Player Plus series is an even better deal, and you get a flatter fretboard and locking tuners.

The entire Player Series is a great buy for anyone that wants an authentic Fender, without shelling out $1500 for a USA model.

Make no mistake, this is a pro-level instrument that has sold well for over 60 years for a good reason!

Fender Player Stratocaster
5.0

Make no mistake, the Fender Player Stratocaster is a “real” Strat, and these guitars are played on pro-level stages every night, all over the world. The Fender Player Stratocaster is worth the price, and the new models are leaps and bounds better than what we had 20 years ago.

Pros:
  • As Good As US-Made Strats
  • Plays Like A Dream
  • Easy To Maintain, Update
  • Amazing Tone
  • Fast Neck
  • Beautiful Sounding Pickups

Fender Stratocaster FAQs

How much is a Fender Stratocaster?

The price of a Fender Stratocaster varies widely based on the model, year, and condition. New Fender Stratocasters range from around $700 for entry-level models to over $2,000 for higher-end and signature models. Vintage or special edition Stratocasters can command much higher prices, often reaching into several thousands of dollars.

How much does a Fender Stratocaster weigh?

On average, a Fender Stratocaster weighs between 7.5 to 8.5 pounds (3.4 to 3.8 kilograms). The exact weight can vary slightly depending on the specific model and the materials used in its construction.

How long is a Fender Stratocaster?

A Fender Stratocaster typically has a total length of approximately 38.75 inches (98.4 cm). This measurement can vary slightly depending on the specific model and design variations.

How can I tell if my Fender Stratocaster is real?

To verify the authenticity of a Fender Stratocaster, check for:

  • Serial Number: Located on the headstock or neck plate. Verify it with Fender’s official database.
  • Logo and Branding: Ensure the logo is correctly spelled and aligned.
  • Build Quality: Authentic Stratocasters have high-quality craftsmanship.
  • Hardware: Genuine Fender parts, like tuners and bridges, have distinct characteristics.
  • Sound and Playability: Stratocasters have a distinctive sound and feel that is hard to replicate.

How many frets does a Fender Stratocaster have?

Most Fender Stratocasters come with 21 or 22 frets. However, some modern models offer 24 frets, providing extended range for players.

How many springs should a Fender Stratocaster have?

A Fender Stratocaster typically has three to five springs in the tremolo (whammy bar) system, located in the back cavity of the guitar. The number of springs can be adjusted depending on the desired tension and tuning stability.

Fender Player Stratocaster
Fender Player Stratocaster Reviews: Still #1 After All These Years?

The Fender Player Stratocaster is where you start when you want a “real” Fender. But are they still the top choice these days? Let’s take a look!

Editor's Rating:
5

Pros

  • Excellent Quality
  • Plays As Good As A Made In America Fender
  • SSS and HSS Pickup Configuration Available
  • Amazing Build Quality
  • Plays Like A Dream

Cons

  • Still Fairly Pricey For Beginners
  • Neck Might Not Suit All Players
  • Needs To Tune Down Half A Step For Best Tone

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