REVIEW: Fender Classic '60s Stratocaster

Fender Classic 60s StratocasterModel Fender Classic ’60s Stratocaster

Intro The Classic ’60s Strat is Fender’s low-cost, Mexican made answer to the seemingly endless fascination we guitarists have with the Stratocasters of yester-year.

While far from being on a par with its costly American made counterpart––the American Vintage ’62 Stratocaster––the Classic ’60s Strat still manages to fill a particular niche, and does it quite well for its low-ball pricing (somewhere in the $600 to $650 range.)

The guitar definitely exudes a vintage vibe and sound, and while it may not fit the bill for the truly discerning musician, starving artists are likely to appreciate the pure aesthetic value that the Classic ’60s Stratocaster has to offer.

This thing looks and feels like a “real” Strat––no way around that.


  • Alder body
  • Maple “C” shape neck
  • Rosewood fretboard with 7.25“ radius and 21 vintage style frets
  • 3 vintage style single-coil Strat pickups
  • Master volume & two tone controls, and 5-way pickup switching
  • Vintage style synchronized tremolo, Fender/Ping vintage style tuners
  • Chrome hardware, mint green pickguard
  • Aged parts, including knobs, switch tip, and pickup covers, and a deluxe gig bag

The polyester finish comes in 3-Color Sunburst (it’ll cost you an additional $50.00,) Lake Placid Blue, Black, Candy Apple Red, Inca Silver, and Burgundy Mist.

What I Liked The Fender Classic ’60s Stratocaster is ample proof that a guitar doesn’t have to be built in America to be of high quality. While the cheaper hardware may leave a bit to be desired (some would call it ”room to grow,“) there are definitely a few places where this guitar absolutely shines.

Fist off, the ’60s Strat is just dripping with retro style. That old-school yellowed finish on the neck & headstock, not to mention vintage style tuners, a funky mint green pickguard, and of course those ”aged“ plastic parts, make for a great looking guitar all around. Definitely gets two thumbs up for visual appeal.

The ”C“ shaped maple neck is another stand-out, and I found it to be just plain comfortable in my hand, and fast, fast, fast… with one caveat: the glossy polyurethane finish is one of those things you either lover or hate–personally, I think it feels just like a great guitar neck should, but if you absolutely have to have a smooth satin finish, well, this could easily be a deal breaker.

While some folks don’t like the ’60s necks at all, to me they feel sufficiently chunky without getting in the way. This is one of those things you’ll really have to decide for yourself, as every hand is different, and every guitar is different as well––even those of the same model.

Another feature you’re either going to love or hate on the ’60s Strat is the vintage 7.25” radius rosewood fretboard. As a long-time player of much flatter fretboards I can say that while it does take adjusting to, that highly curved fretboard is a big part of what makes a vintage Strat feel so different than a modern one. I like it. You might not.

For those who don’t know, a tight vintage radius like the one on the ’60s Strat means that while chording is incredibly comfortable, action tends to require a bit higher of an adjustment––that is if you don’t want to be fretting-out during bends above the 13th fret or so.

In the end, if you’re obsessed with having super-low action, the reality is that a vintage-style guitar may not be for you–you’ll find that you have to “dig in” a bit to make a classic Strat really sing, but those who are in the know will tell you that it’s well worth the extra effort.

What I Didn’t Like Cheap hardware is where the Classic ’60s Stratocaster falls a bit from grace… in fact, it’s not really that the hardware is bad for a Fender in this price range, it’s just that there is so much better out there.

The two different guitars I played had moderate difficulty staying in tune with heavy tremolo use… now granted, this may be accurate to a period-correct instrument, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

I’m not even sure if this was a problem with the vintage style bridge or those Fender/Ping tuners, but these are the first two things I would upgrade if purchasing this guitar.

Pickup-wise, the ’60s Strat is kind of right in the middle––the pups can seem a bit weak and noisy (that’s vintage 60-cycle hum, folks!) but then again that weakness is fairly true to Strats from the ’60s, so its part of what makes this guitar sound different than a modern instrument.

Once again, you’ll have to make up your own mind about this one… luckily, pickups can be replaced!

Unfortunately, finish can’t… at least not very easily. Perhaps the biggest downside to the Classic ’60s Stratocaster is its polyester finish. You know the score––if you want a finish that will last a lifetime with out ever showing any wear and tear, then you’ll be more than happy with the finish on this guitar. If, however, you prefer an instrument that will age like a fine wine, becoming more tasty & comfy as the years go by, nitrocellulose is the way to go. Unfortunately, it’ll also cost you a premium.

The finish on this thing is downright plasticy, enough said.

Final Word All in all, while the Classic ’60s Stratocaster may not be the answer for everyone, it really is a quality instrument that sounds great and feels good in the hands. The decision to purchase one would really have to come down to exactly which features are required, and how much money one has to spend.

With an excellent neck, and generally good vintage looks, this guitar is certainly a great buy for the beginner or intermediate guitar player, and with a plethora of great after-market hardware available, it would make a great jumping off point for the guitarist who wants to heavily customize their Strat without starting from scratch.

Heck, add a few hundred dollars in top-shelf hardware and you’d have a vintage style Stratocaster that just wouldn’t stop––at a fraction of the cost of an American Vintage Reissue. The finish isn’t exactly a masterpiece, but then you’re not paying out the nose, either.

Highly recommended for those looking to purchase a real Fender Strat while still staying within a very tight budget. If you have more to spend, take a look at the Classic Player ’60s Strat… if not, you could do far worse than one of these beauties.