#1
What are some good strat-type guitars I can get for under ~$500US? Are there any other makers besides Fender that are good for that price range, or would I do better to just get a MIM strat?
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#2
A Yamaha Pacifica 612V should be in your price range, though they are hard to spot in the US. It's a HSS strat with alder body, the humbucker is from Seymour Duncan. What else... it's got a two point tremolo and a flame maple veneer (doesn't do much tonally - but looks pretty).

Maybe try out some of the strat shaped Godins in your price range, they seem well built to me.

Otherwise, Mexican Fenders are fine, so are the Korean Lite Ash Fenders. The latter sound better than MIM Fenders, but I've seen some with sharp fret edges. Better try before you buy if you want one of those.
#3
I say just get a MIM Fender, that's probably your best bet for that price range
Rig
Fender 09 Standard Strat>Wilson Ten Spot II Wah>Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion>EHX Big Muff Pi>Boss CE-2 Chorus>Crate V32 Palomino 212
Fender Deluxe Active Jazz Bass>(Same Pedals)>AcousticB20

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#6
Quote by TheQuailman
A Yamaha Pacifica 612V should be in your price range, though they are hard to spot in the US. It's a HSS strat with alder body, the humbucker is from Seymour Duncan. What else... it's got a two point tremolo and a flame maple veneer (doesn't do much tonally - but looks pretty).

I love those! If I could find one in a guitar shop I'd buy it.
#7
I'd go with an MIM Fender.
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#8
highend MIM strats are around 450-550 (i think). also you could get a nice epiphone lespaul if your into that type of guitar. keep in mind, the price will go down for used ones and hell, if you can increase your budget to $600, i think you might be able to find yourself a MIA strat.