I'm looking for a Strat and don't know which one to get. I've heard there's not much much difference between the standards and americans except for the price. What about Fatstrats? do you still get the Strat sound? looking to spend $400-600.
quality control is a bit shoddy on the Standards, some are very good, some are substandard. Try before you buy.

while with Americans you're getting better quality and craftsmanship overall, better pickups, etc....

there also are the Highway 1 models which are kind of inbetween the Standard and American models

fat strats do lose that traditional strat sound but they get a bit more versatility because of that, specifically if you plan on playing some hard rock stuff/metal the humbucker will be of more use to you than the bridge single coil
thanks for the input, i think i'll start looking at the Highway models or a used American