Reverb is reporting (opens in new tab) that prices of used Hello Kitty Strats have leapt up in recent years, rising from an average of $275 in 2019 to $700 in 2022.
That’s a pretty astonishing increase – a price growth of 254% in just three years –especially for an instrument that was once dismissed by some as a joke guitar, or at best a beginner’s model.
Fender originally released the Squier Hello Kitty Stratocaster in 2006. Based on the beginner-focused Affinity Strat, it features an agathis body, maple neck and a super-simple electronics setup of just a single humbucker and volume control.
At the time Fender even launched a branded mini site FenderHelloKitty.com (now defunct), complete with tutorials – a precursor of sorts to its now immensely popular Fender Play initiative. It proved to be a lot of fun to play, too, especially when you kicked in some distortion – as our sister site MusicRadar pointed out at the time, “this Kitty loves to scratch.” (opens in new tab)
That said, 18 years down the line and beyond the core novelty value and scarcity of the instrument, it’s difficult to pinpoint the reason for its increasing popularity.
Reverb has a working theory. It points to YouTuber TheDooo (opens in new tab) – a guitarist with six million subscribers who often shares clips of himself baiting strangers on the chat site Omegle. Armed with his innocent Hello Kitty axe, he pretends to be a beginner before he eventually unleashes some Malmsteen-like leads on unsuspecting teens.
Loudwire can perhaps also claim some small credit in this area, having hosted a series between 2016-18, in which they asked the likes of Marty Friedman, Zakk Wylde, Mark Tremonti and John 5 to shred on Hello Kitty acoustics.
Regardless, it seems the Hello Kitty Strat is staking a claim as one of the first meme guitar investments. Reverb says (opens in new tab) that some sellers are now starting to demand price tags of $1,000, so if it’s got its claws in you, don’t hang around.