Shredder’s Paradise: The Best Superstrats For Under $1000

The superstrat is one of the most successful guitar designs of all time; some might argue that it’s just as popular as the original! This guide will show you some of my top picks for the best superstrat guitars for under 1,000 dollars.

Sure, you can find some way cheaper, but these high-end ones will last you forever and are ideal for the advanced guitarist looking to settle down with one for a very long time.

What Is A Superstrat?

As you can have probably guessed, or even known already, a superstrat is based on the classic Stratocaster design by Fender, but with a few enhancements.

Conceptualized in the 1980s, these were created to suit the needs of the upcoming guitar heroes of the time and the style of music – blazing fast and flashy heavy metal.

As such, some of the primary features that you’ll typically (but not always!) see in a superstrat-style guitar are:

  • Humbucking pickups
  • Locking Tremolos (i.e., Floyd Rose, Kahler, Edge)
  • Thin neck-profiles
  • Sharper and more-streamlined bodies with deeper cutaways

While the Fender Stratocaster is capable of producing a tone suitable for heavy metal, and it has been featured on many landmark records such as Iron Maiden’s The Number of The Beast and Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force self-titled debut, the superstrat was able to expand on it and take guitar design to the next level.

Because of this, superstrats from various manufacturers have been the instrument of choice for some of the greatest guitarists of all time, and you’ve probably seen them many times online or on the shelves in stores. Now that you know a bit about them, let’s go over some of the best superstrats for under $1000.

Jackson X-Series Soloist SLXM DX

Jackson’s Soloist model definitely played a large hand in the popularity of the superstrat during the 1980s, and it still passes the test of time. The Soloist is often considered the cream of the crop of all Jackson guitars, along with some of the RR models.

Here’s what you can expect from this beast of a guitar:

  • Poplar body
  • 25.5″ scale length maple neck
  • Maple fingerboard with 24 frets
  • 12” to 16” compound radius
  • Neck-through-body construction
  • Duncan Designed HB-103 pickups
  • Floyd Rose Special Tremolo

From the fast neck profile and responsive pickups, Soloists were always designed with the shredder in mind, and the SLXM DX is no exception.

For all Jackson Soloists, the neck-through-body construction is aesthetically pleasing, and it offers more sustain as well. It’s also one of the main things that separate a Soloist from a Dinky. Jackson Dinkies are great superstrats too, but for the best that Jackson has to offer, you’ll probably want to go with a Soloist.

Charvel Pro-Mod San Dimas HT

If you liked the Jackson Soloist, you may or may not know that Charvel used to be closely affiliated with Jackson. In the late 1970s, Wayne Charvel sold the company to Grover Jackson, and both brands, now under the same roof, were prominent throughout the 1980s. In the early 2000s, after being purchased by Fender, Charvel saw a revival.

One of the original lines of guitars created by the Charvel brand is the San Dimas, and since returning along with the So-Cal, it has been one of the best-selling superstrats, which features:

  • Alder body
  • 25.5″ scale length maple neck
  • 22-fret ebony fretboard
  • 12” to 16” compound radius
  • Bolt-on neck
  • Seymour Duncan Distortion pickups
  • Charvel HT-6 Hardtail bridge

Everything about this guitar is fantastic, and like the Jackson SLXM, this San Dimas is meant to shred while also looking cool when doing so!

However, in my opinion, if you’re looking for something that is less pointy and closer to the original Stratocaster design, you’ll probably like this one more. Also, be aware that if you want a Floyd Rose, there are similar options available, but they’ll be closer to the $1000 mark or over it.

Ibanez Jem JR

Ibanez is a Japanese guitar brand that has a long history of making excellent electric guitars, and for the last few decades, superstrats that are made to play fast have been their specialty.

Perhaps one of the most recognizable models they have is the Jem, which is Steve Vai’s signature guitar and closely related to the RG line, which has spawned a bajillion different designs over the years.

While this is a signature guitar model, this is a budget version for under $1,000 that offers a ton of great features that you want in a superstrat, such as:

  • Meranti body
  • 25.5″ scale length Wizard III maple neck
  • 24-fret jatoba fingerboard with Tree of Life inlay
  • Bolt-on construction
  • Ibanez Quantum pickups
  • Ibanez Double-Locking bridge

Does it sound exactly like Vai’s, not exactly, but it comes pretty close, and you can get even closer if you upgrade the pickups to DiMarzio Evolutions, which is also his signature line. Nonetheless, this guitar shreds – I’m sure you’ll love the Wizard III necks that Ibanez are known for.

Kramer Baretta Original

Kramer guitars were at the forefront of the development of the superstrat in the 80s because of Eddie Van Halen’s involvement with the brand. Unfortunately, because the company went under in the early 1990s, it became somewhat of a forgotten treasure.

Gibson eventually took over the Kramer name, and classic models like the Pacer and the Baretta have made a decent comeback. Regarding superstrats, I think the Kramer Baretta is one of the most unique, and it offers you these features:

  • Maple body
  • 25.5″ scale length maple neck
  • Maple fingerboard with 22 frets
  • Bolt-on neck
  • Single Seymour Duncan JB humbucker with a slanted cavity.
  • Floyd Rose 1000 locking tremolo

One thing that I really like about the Kramer Baretta is its minimalist design – for scorching metal riffs and licks, all you really need is a single humbucker and the locking tremolo! This also gives the guitar a very distinct aesthetic, along with its banana/hockey-stick headstock.

Kramer, as a whole, is definitely a brand worth checking out, and it has made history. If you require two humbuckers, the Pacer is also a good alternative. Nonetheless, the Baretta has a ton to offer while keeping it simple!

Fender Player Series Stratocaster with Floyd Rose

Although all of the previous instruments we’ve gone over were derived from the original Stratocaster design, we can’t forget that Fender themselves have also responded to the Superstrat sensation since the mid-80s.

Fender has produced many electric guitars to hop on the bandwagon – a lot of them were created in Japan and are now considered vintage, and would be lovely to own. Fender Contemporary and HM Stratocasters are a couple that comes to mind. While these have been discontinued, this particular modern Fender Player Series Stratocaster model fills that void and offers:

  • A maple or pau ferro fingerboard, depending on the guitar model
  • 12” radius
  • Bolt-on neck
  • Player Series pickups – 2 single coils, one humbucker
  • Floyd Rose-designed tremolo

While the other guitar brands have contributed to the success of the superstrat movement, there’s something about the one that really started it all that makes it special. Without the iconic Fender Stratocaster, none of this would have been possible.

In my opinion, I think that a Fender Stratocaster beefed up with a humbucker and a Floyd looks really awesome. Performance-wise, you’ll also be able to achieve anything you want, from the vintage sounds that a Stratocaster has historically been a part of as well as the thickest heavy metal tones.


For ESP guitars, it was basically a coin flip between the Snapper and the M series, and the M-1 came out on top. Don’t get me wrong, I love ESP Snappers and their more traditional appearance, but the best ones are very expensive; therefore, for under $1000, the LTD M-1 is the winner.

ESP has also created signature designs for dozens of well-known players, and if I were to compare this to one to another, it is most similar to Kirk Hammet’s with the skull-and-bones inlays, at least in appearance. The LTD M-1 is a comfortable guitar that has:

  • Alder body
  • 25.5″ scale length maple neck
  • A Macassar ebony fretboard with 24-frets
  • Neck-thru-body construction
  • Seymour Duncan Distortion bridge pickup
  • Floyd Rose 1000

This guitar does have a lot in common with all of the previous ones, but there is one huge distinction – the pickups. All of the others have passive pickups, while this one went with actives. If you don’t know the difference, my beginner’s guide to guitar pickups can help clear things up for you.

Overall, I’ve always felt that ESP superstrats like these felt like a cross between a Jackson Soloist and an Ibanez RG. If you’re looking for a slightly hot and aggressive guitar without straying too far from the others, this one should be right up your alley.

Schecter Sun Valley Super Shredder

Schecter is a very popular guitar brand, but I’ve always been on the fence on whether or not their Hellraiser or Omen guitars were really superstrats or not. I know they make some true superstrats in the Japanese market (Schecter Japan has some gorgeous instruments) that aren’t available in the West, but I’ve always wondered why they never brought them over here.

However, I recently came across their Sun Valley models, and I’m unsure how long they’ve been around, but I’m pleasantly surprised. These are totally superstrats, but they have some unique features along with ones that you’d expect from these types of guitars. Here’s what Schecter’s Sun Valley series has to offer:

  • Mahogany body
  • 25.5″ scale length maple neck
  • Maple or Ebony fingerboards
  • Bolt-on neck
  • EMG Retro Active Hot 70 bridge pickup
  • Sustainiac neck pickup
  • Floyd Rose Special Hot Rod Locking Tremolo

Before coming across this guitar, I’d never heard of the EMG Retro Active pickups, but I’m actually glad to see another superstrat with some EMG pickups. The vast majority of them use Seymour Duncans, so it’s nice to have a little more diversity. The Sustainiac pickup is something that I’ve only ever seen on Schecter guitars, but they’ve always been impressive, and it does what it’s supposed to do – provide incredible sustain. Because of it, I’d argue that these Sun Valleys have the best sustain out of all the guitars mentioned here.

I’ve seen Floyd Rose Specials on many guitars before, but the Hot Rod version is apparently something that is unique to Schecter guitars. I couldn’t really tell the difference but it seemed to be quite reliable and held its tuning well.

These guitars live up to their expectations, and I’m so glad to have tried one. It’s also worth noting that there are some Super Shredders without the Sustainiac pickup and uses two EMG Retro Actives instead, and they are considerably more affordable and start moving closer to the $600-700 range. I like the Sustainiac, but some people prefer to save a bit. No matter which one you choose, though, you’ll be able to find them under a grand, and both are fantastic.


Other than during the grunge era in the 1990s, the superstrat is a timeless guitar design that will probably be here to stay for a very long time – possibly forever!

I believe they’re irreplaceable and have been one of the most significant innovations in the last few decades.

With these instruments, you’re also not limited to one style of music either. The necks are definitely sleek to facilitate shredding, but they’re still versatile instruments and accommodate crisp, clean tones, heavily distorted riffs, and everything in between. From the 80s enthusiast who reminisces about the good ol’ days to the newer generation of players, there’s something for everyone in these instruments.

In this article, I’ve given you seven of the best superstrat guitars for under 1000 dollars, all from different brands, which gives you plenty of choices. Each of them has a lot of similarities while having aspects that make them special and stand out from one another.

Additionally, if you are new to this breed of guitars and want to figure out if they are right for you, I hope my guide has helped shed some light on these beautiful instruments. I may sound biased, but I’ve been using them for pretty much as long as I’ve been playing. Once I put my hands on one, I’ve never looked back, and I want the superstrat to have that effect on everyone.