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Encyclopedia > Stratocaster
A Fender Stratocaster with rosewood fingerboard and three-tone 'sunburst' finish.
A Fender Stratocaster with rosewood fingerboard and three-tone 'sunburst' finish.
Strat redirects here. For the drinking game see: Strat (drinking game).

The Stratocaster is a model of electric guitar designed by Leo Fender in the early 1950s, and manufactured continuously to the present. The Stratocaster has been used by many leading guitarists and on many historic recordings: Along with the Gibson Les Paul and the Strat's older cousin, the Fender Telecaster, it is one of the most enduring and common models of electric guitar in the world. File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Early-1960s-style Fender Precision Bass The Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, initially named the Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company, was started by Leo Fender in the 1940s, and is one of the most widely recognised manufacturers of electric guitars, bass guitars and amplifiers. ... Strat is a scored, quarters-like drinking game. ... An electric guitar is a type of guitar with a solid or semi-solid body that utilizes electromagnetic pickups to convert the vibration of the steel-cored strings into electrical current. ... Clarence Leonidas Fender (August 10, 1909 - March 21, 1991) was an American luthier who founded Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company, now known as Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, and later founded G&L Musical Products (G&L Guitars). ... 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard (or replica) The Gibson Les Paul signature model is one of the classic solid-body electric guitar designs. ... 1950s-style Telecaster with natural finish, with metal bridge cover removed. ...


The Stratocaster has been widely copied, such that 'Stratocaster' or 'Strat' can also denote a type of guitar, by various manufacturers, showing the same general features as the original (see strat copy). But properly, and to all legal intent, a Stratocaster is always a Fender; and the guitar's popularity shows no sign of abating. Strat copy refers to a class of electric guitars that closely emulate the design of the Fender Stratocaster, arguably the most popular and widely imitated electric guitar in the world. ... Early-1960s-style Fender Precision Bass The Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, initially named the Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company, was started by Leo Fender in the 1940s, and is one of the most widely recognised manufacturers of electric guitars, bass guitars and amplifiers. ...

Contents


Origins

The Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company (now known as Fender Musical Instruments Corporation) developed the first commercial solid-body 'Spanish' (as opposed to 'Hawaiian,' or lap steel) electric guitar in the Telecaster, a simple design whose earliest models were offered under various names beginning in 1950. Though the Telecaster and its variants were successful, many guitar players of the day insisted on using a Bigsby unit, a fairly primitive spring-loaded vibrato device with which players could bend notes up and down with their pick hand. Instead of adding a Bigsby, Fender decided to produce a new, more expensively-made line of guitar with his own design of vibrato. His decision was also influenced by guitarists Brook Kerr and Lindsay Hartley, who requested a contoured body to temper the harsh edges of the slab-built Telecaster; the new body design was based on that of the 1951 Precision Bass. Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, initially named the Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company, was started by Leo Fender in the 1940s, and is one of the most widely recognised manufacturers of electric guitars, bass guitars and amplifiers in the world. ... A Dobro style resonator guitar Steel guitar, strictly speaking, refers to a method of playing using a metal slide (or steel) on a guitar played horizontally, with the strings uppermost. ... Lap Steel Guitar (also called Hawaiian Guitar or simply lap steel or steel guitar) is a type of guitar, and a method of playing the instrument. ... 1950s-style Telecaster with natural finish, with metal bridge cover removed. ... A Bigsby is a type of vibrato device for electric guitar designed by its namesake Paul A. Bigsby. ... Vibrato is a musical effect where the pitch or frequency of a note or sound is quickly and repeatedly raised and lowered over a small distance for the duration of that note or sound. ... Brook Kerr (born November 21, American television soap opera, Passions. ... Lindsay Hartley Lindsay Hartley (born as Lindsay Nicole Korman on April 17, 1968) is a jazz rock guitarist and an American actress. ... Categories: Music stubs | Electric bass guitars ...


The name, 'Stratocaster,' was intended to evoke images of newly emergent jet-aircraft technology (such as the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress), and to express Fender's modernistic design philosophy. In designing the Stratocaster's body, a significant area of the back of the guitar, and the area where the strumming arm rests, were beveled to accommodate the player's chest and arm. The upper bouts featured two cutaways, for easier access to the higher frets. The new 'Custom Contour Body' and 'Synchronized Tremolo' bridge made the Stratocaster a revolutionary design. The guitar also featured more complex electronics than the Telecaster: a then unheard-of three single coil pickups, each with staggered magnetic poles; a three-way selector switch; one volume knob, and two tone controls. The Boeing Company NYSE: BA is the leading American aircraft and aerospace manufacturer, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, with its largest production facilities in Everett, Washington, near Seattle, Washington. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... A single coil or single-coil is a type of pickup for the electric guitar. ... A pickup device acts as a detector and captures mechanical vibrations (usually from suitably equipped stringed instruments such as the electric guitar, electric bass guitar and violin) and converts them to an electronic signal which can be amplified and recorded. ...


Patents were applied for all these new designs, and production line Stratocasters reached the market in early 1954 for $249.50. The basic production model had a two-tone nitrocellulose 'sunburst' finish, chrome hardware, and Bakelite plastic parts. Other manufacturers began imitating these innovations immediately. An early-model Stratocaster, along with his black-rimmed glasses, was a key component of Buddy Holly's signature look, and he was among the first players to popularize the Stratocaster in rock music. Bakelite is a brand named material based on the thermosetting phenol formaldehyde resin polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride, developed in 1907-1909 by Dr. Leo Baekeland. ... Charles Hardin Holley (September 7, 1936–February 3, 1959), better known as Buddy Holly, was an American singer, songwriter, and a pioneer of Rock and Roll. ...


Sound and playability

Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock with a 1969 Stratocaster, a right-handed model played left-handed, with the strings in the standard order relative to the guitarist.
Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock with a 1969 Stratocaster, a right-handed model played left-handed, with the strings in the standard order relative to the guitarist.

Much of the popularity of the Stratocaster can be attributed to its versatility. The neck, middle, and bridge (in the original manual, labelled "rhythm", "normal tone", and "lead", respectively) pickups provide a wide range of tones; the Stratocaster has been used for a variety of purposes, from the classic "Fender twang" to the slicing solos of Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton to the fat, crunching tones in Ritchie Blackmore's "Smoke on the Water". This file has been listed on Wikipedia:Possibly unfree images, because it is missing information on its source or copyright status. ... This file has been listed on Wikipedia:Possibly unfree images, because it is missing information on its source or copyright status. ... Jimi Hendrix James Marshall Jimi Hendrix Hendrix (27 November, 1942 – 18 September , 1970) was an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. ... Jimi Hendrix James Marshall Jimi Hendrix Hendrix (27 November, 1942 – 18 September , 1970) was an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. ... Eric Clapton at the Tsunami Relief concert in Cardiffs Millennium Stadium, January 22nd 2005 Eric Patrick Clapton CBE (born March 30, 1945) is a British guitarist and composer. ... Richard Hugh Blackmore, (born April 14, 1945) is a noted British guitarist. ... Smoke on the Water is a famous and influential rock song by Deep Purple. ...


The bone-simple Telecaster also remained in production, and both the Stratocaster and the Telecaster flourished into diverse families of guitars, with many variants. Each continues to enjoy its own following among guitarists.


Design and popularity changes

In 1959-1965, the Stratocaster was refitted with a thick rosewood fretboard, as well as color choices other than sunburst, including a variety of colorful car-like paint jobs that appealed to the nascent surfer and hot-rod culture, pioneered by such bands as the Ventures and the Beach Boys. After 1965, one could be purchased with either a maple or a rosewood fretboard. Other, often subtle changes were made to the guitars over the years, as though in the spirit of tinkering for which Leo Fender was famous, but the basic shape and features of the Strat remained unchanged. The Ventures are a surf / instrumental rock band formed in 1958, by Don Wilson and Bob Bogle, two construction workers, who learned of a mutual interest in playing guitar, and started jamming together. ... The Beach Boys 1976 album 15 big ones The Beach Boys are a pop music group formed in Hawthorne, California in 1961, whose popularity has lasted into the twenty-first century. ...


Players first perceived a loss of the initial high quality of Fender guitars after the CBS takeover in the early 1960s. So-called 'pre-CBS' Stratocasters are, accordingly, extremely sought-after and expensive. In recent times, original 1954 to 1958 Stratocasters have sold for as much as $20,000. Many now reside in Japan, cached away as collectible pieces of Americana.

David Gilmour playing a Fender Stratocaster.
Enlarge
David Gilmour playing a Fender Stratocaster.

The Stratocaster fell out of fashion in the mid-sixties, to the point where the Fender company (Leo Fender had sold it to CBS for $13 million in January 1965) reduced its price and considered removing it from their production line. However, Jimi Hendrix and many other blues-influenced artists of the late '60s soon adopted the Stratocaster as their main instrument, reviving the guitar's popularity. Image File history File links David Gilmour; found at http://www. ... Image File history File links David Gilmour; found at http://www. ... David Gilmour, as photographed for the Pink Floyd album Meddle. ... Early-1960s-style Fender Precision Bass The Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, initially named the Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company, was started by Leo Fender in the 1940s, and is one of the most widely recognised manufacturers of electric guitars, bass guitars and amplifiers. ... CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) is a major television network and radio broadcaster in the United States. ... Jimi Hendrix James Marshall Jimi Hendrix Hendrix (27 November, 1942 – 18 September , 1970) was an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. ...


After a peak in the 1970s, driven by players such as David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, another lull occurred in the early '80s, during which the Fender company cut costs by deleting features from the standard Stratocaster line, despite a blues revival that featured Strat players such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray, and Buddy Guy. However, once the company became independent of CBS, the trend abated with a rise in mainstream popularity for vintage (and vintage-style) instruments. This article provides extensive lists of events and significant personalities of the 1970s. ... David Gilmour, as photographed for the Pink Floyd album Meddle. ... Pink Floyd circa 1971. ... Stevie Ray Vaughan (October 3, 1954 in Dallas, Texas – August 27, 1990) was an American blues guitar legend, known as one of the most influential electric blues musicians in history. ... Robert Cray (born August 9, 1953 in Columbus, Georgia) is a blues musician, guitarist and singer. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ...


Current models

Fender now offers an extensive line of vintage Stratocaster reissues and more modern variants (with the same basic shape and features)—built in California, Mexico, Japan, and Korea—as well as maintaining a Custom Shop that builds guitars to order. Those who wish period-accurate replicas can obtain Strats and other Fender instruments with original-style cloth-coated wiring, pickup and electronics designs, wood routing patterns, and even artificial aging and rusting of components using the Custom Shop "relic" process.


Fender also offers both Custom Shop and regular production Artist Series guitars, featuring replicas of the Stratocasters played by famous guitarists such as Adrian Belew[1], Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton (see Eric Clapton Stratocaster), Mary Kaye, Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Buddy Guy, Mark Knopfler, Robert Cray, Eric Johnson, Dick Dale, Jeff Beck, the late Stevie Ray Vaughan and many others. Other notable Strat players include Buddy Holly, George Harrison (in the later years of the Beatles), David Gilmour (who owns Strat #0001), John Mayer, Robin Trower, Ritchie Blackmore, John Frusciante, Craig Nicholls, Brian May, Kurt Cobain, and Jimi Hendrix. Very few electric guitarists, amateur or professional, have not played a Stratocaster at some point in their careers. Bonnie Raitt on the cover of her album Silver Lining Bonnie Raitt, (born November 8, 1949) is an American singer, songwriter, and guitar virtuoso who was born in Burbank, California, the daughter of Broadway musical star John Raitt. ... Eric Clapton at the Tsunami Relief concert in Cardiffs Millennium Stadium, January 22nd 2005 Eric Patrick Clapton CBE (born March 30, 1945) is a British guitarist and composer. ... The Eric Clapton Stratocaster was the first signature model guitar ever released by Fender, in 1988. ... Yngwie J. Malmsteen Yngwie J. Malmsteen (born Lars Yngve Johann Lannerbäck, June 30, 1963) is a guitarist from Sweden who achieved widespread acclaim in the 1980s due to his technical proficiency and fusion of classical music elements with heavy rock guitar. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Mark Knopfler with Dire Straits performing Live Mark Knopfler OBE (born August 12, 1949 in Glasgow, Scotland) is a British guitarist, singer, and songwriter. ... Robert Cray (born August 9, 1953 in Columbus, Georgia) is a blues musician, guitarist and singer. ... Eric Johnson (born August 17, 1954 in Austin, Texas) is a Grammy Award winning guitarist and songwriter. ... Dick Dale (born Richard Mansour on May 4, 1937) was a pioneer of surf rock and one of the most influential guitarists of the early 1960s. ... Jeff Beck The electric guitarist Jeff Beck (born June 24, 1944) is a British rock musician who played in a number of influential bands in the 1960s. ... Stevie Ray Vaughan (October 3, 1954 in Dallas, Texas – August 27, 1990) was an American blues guitar legend, known as one of the most influential electric blues musicians in history. ... Charles Hardin Holley (September 7, 1936–February 3, 1959), better known as Buddy Holly, was an American singer, songwriter, and a pioneer of Rock and Roll. ... George Harrison, MBE (February 24, 1943 – November 29, 2001) was a popular British guitarist, singer, songwriter, record producer, and film producer, best known as a member of The Beatles. ... The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 as part of their first tour of the United States, promoting their first hit single there, I Want To Hold Your Hand. ... David Gilmour, as photographed for the Pink Floyd album Meddle. ... John Mayer with David Ryan Harris playing at the Macworld 2005 in San Francisco. ... Robin Trower Robin Trower (born March 9, 1945 in Catford, England) is a legendary British rock guitarist who achieved success with Procol Harum during the 1960s, and then again as the leader of his own power trio. ... Richard Hugh Blackmore, (born April 14, 1945) is a noted British guitarist. ... John Frusciante (born March 5, 1970 in Queens, New York) is a guitarist performing with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. ... Craig Nicholls is the lead singer/songwriter/guitarist of the rock group the Vines. ... Brian May with The Red Special Brian Harold May CBE (born 19 July 1947 in Hampton, London) became famous in the 1970s and 1980s as the virtuoso guitarist of the rock group Queen and composed many of their hits, including We Will Rock You, Hammer to Fall, Tie Your Mother... Kurt Cobain Kurt Donald Cobain (February 20, 1967 – ca. ... Jimi Hendrix James Marshall Jimi Hendrix Hendrix (27 November, 1942 – 18 September , 1970) was an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. ...


See the article on the Fender company for further details on the Stratocaster's various designations and countries of manufacture. Early-1960s-style Fender Precision Bass The Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, initially named the Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company, was started by Leo Fender in the 1940s, and is one of the most widely recognised manufacturers of electric guitars, bass guitars and amplifiers. ...


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