|This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2012)|
|Body type||Solid, double cut|
|Neck joint||Bolt-on (set-in neck on certain models)|
|Scale||25.5 in (650 mm) (24.75 in or 629 mm on some models)|
|Body||Alder, ash, poplar (limited edition guitars available in a variety of woods including basswood, mahogany and koa (none of which is plywood) with flamed, spalted or quilted maple tops and black, cream or ivory body and neck binding)|
|Fretboard||Maple, rosewood, pau ferro, ebony (many models usually have 21 vintage frets, white or black dots and 7.25 in (184 mm) radius; higher-end contemporary versions had 22 jumbo frets, abalone dot inlays and 9.5" radius)|
|Bridge||Synchronized tremolo (some models came with a hardtail bridge or a Floyd Rose locking tremolo)|
3 or 2 single-coils, with the latter having a hot humbucker in the bridge position, with the exception of the Acoustasonic Strat and Stratacoustic models, the only acoustic Stratocasters. Most Stratocasters generally came with a pickguard; on certain high-end versions, the pickguard is absent. There are also select models that come with active electronics and HSH, HHH, HH or H pickup configurations.Humbucker-equipped Strats are often referred to as "Fat Strats", in reference to the fact that humbucking pickups usually tend to have more bass in the output signal than single coils, thus making the sound "fatter".
Standard Series : Brown Sunburst, Black, Arctic White, Lake Placid Blue, Candy Apple Red, Midnight Wine, Copper Metallic Sunburst
American Standard Series (as of 2012): Black, 3-Color Sunburst, Olympic White, Jade Green Pearl, Charcoal Frost Metallic, Candy Cola, Mystic Red, Mystic Blue (alder), Sienna Sunburst (ash)
American Special Series (as of 2010): 3-Color Sunburst, 2-Color Sunburst, Black, Candy Apple Red, Olympic White, Surf Green
Black Top Series (as of 2010): Black, Candy Apple Red, Sonic Blue
American Deluxe Series (as of 2014): Amber, Tungsten, Sunset Metallic, 3-Color Sunburst, Tobacco Sunburst, Midnight Wine Transparent, Aged Cherry Sunburst, Olympic White Pearl, Black, Candy Apple Red, 2-Color Sunburst, Burgundy Mist Metallic, Surf Green, Fiesta Red, White Blonde, Silver Sunburst, Mystic Ice Blue, Mystic 3-Color Sunburst, Mystic Black
Highway One Series Midnight Wine, Flat Black, White Blonde, 3-Color Sunburst, Daphne Blue, Honey Blonde
Road Worn Series: 50s - 2-Color Sunburst, Black 60s - 3-Color Sunburst, Olympic WhiteOther colors may be available
The Fender Stratocaster is a model of electric guitar designed in 1954 by Leo Fender, Bill Carson, George Fullerton, and Freddie Tavares. The Fender Musical Instruments Corporation has manufactured the Stratocaster continuously from 1954 to the present. It is a double-cutaway guitar, with an extended top "horn" shape for balance. Along with the Gibson Les Paul, it is one of the most often copied electric guitar shapes. "Stratocaster" and "Strat" are trademark terms belonging to Fender.
- 1 Design developments
- 2 CBS buys Fender and player modifications
- 3 1982/83 Dan Smith Fender Stratocaster
- 4 Squier models (1982–today)
- 5 Fender 1985–1998
- 6 Signature models
- 7 Squier Stratocaster
- 8 In popular culture
- 9 Notable Stratocaster players
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Sources
- 13 External links
The Stratocaster's sleek, contoured body shape (officially referred to by Fender as the "Comfort Contour Body") differed from the flat, slab-like design of the Telecaster. The Strat's double cutaways allowed players easier access to higher positions on the neck. The body's recessed "beer gut" curve on the upper back, and a gradual chamfer at the front, where the player's right arm rests, aided player's comfort. The one-piece maple neck's wider "dogleg"-style headstock contrasted with the very narrow Fender Telecaster's headstock shape. The strings are anchored on a through-body pivot bridge attached with springs to a 'claw' in the tremolo cavity on the back of the guitar.
Originally the Stratocaster was offered in a 2-color sunburst finish on a solid, deeply contoured ash body, a 21-fret one-piece maple neck with black dot inlays and Kluson tuning heads. In 1956 Fender began issuing solid Stratocasters with alder bodies. In 1960 the available custom colors were standardized, many of which were automobile lacquer colors from DuPont available at an additional 5% cost. The unique single-ply, 8-screw hole white pickguard held all electronic components except the recessed jack plate—facilitating easy assembly. Despite many subsequent Stratocaster models (including copies and the Superstrat), vintage Fender models are highly valued by collectors for their investment potential and players who prefer the timbre of older models.
Original Stratocasters were shipped with five springs anchoring the bridge flat against the body. Some players removed the backplate covering the bridge to remove two of the springs and adjust the claw screws to allow the bridge to 'float,' with the pull of the strings in one direction countering the pull of the springs in the opposite direction. In this floating position, players could move the bridge-mounted tremolo arm up or down to modulate the pitch of the notes being played. Jeff Beck and Ike Turner used the Strat's floating tremolo extensively in their playing. However, other players, such as Eric Clapton and Ronnie Wood, disliked the floating bridge's propensity to detune guitars and inhibited the bridge's movement with a chunk of wood wedged between the bridge block and the inside cutout of the tremolo cavity and by increasing the tension on the tremolo springs. These procedures lock the bridge in a fixed position. Some Strats have a fixed bridge in place of the tremolo assembly; these are colloquially called "hard-tails." Luthier Galeazzo Frudua has said the floating tremolos can have stable tuning through techniques specific to a floating bridge. The Stratocaster features three single coil pickups, with the output originally selected by a 3-way switch. Guitarists soon discovered that by jamming the switch in between the 1st and 2nd position, both the bridge and middle pickups could be selected, and similarly, the middle and neck pickups could be selected between the 2nd and 3rd position. This trick became widespread and Fender responded with the 5-way pickup selector (a standard feature since 1977), which allowed these tonal combinations and provided better switching stability.
The "quacky" tone of the middle and bridge pickups, popularized by players such as David Gilmour, Rory Gallagher, Mark Knopfler, Bob Dylan, Scott Thurston, Ronnie Wood, Ed King, Eric Clapton and Robert Cray, can be obtained by using the pickup selector in positions 2 and 4. The neck and middle pickups are each wired to a tone control that incorporates a single, shared tone capacitor, whereas the bridge pickup, which is slanted towards the high strings for a more trebly sound, has no tone control for maximum brightness. On many modern Stratocasters, the first tone affects the neck pickup; the second tone affects the middle and bridge pickups; on some Artist Series models (Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy signature guitars), the first tone is a presence circuit that cuts or boosts treble and bass frequencies, affecting all the pickups; the second tone is an active midrange booster that boosts the midrange frequencies up to 25dB (12dB on certain models) to produce a fatter humbucker-like sound.
The volume level on all three pickups is controlled by a single volume knob. The placement of the knobs allows for relatively easy manipulation of the sound with the right hand while playing.
The three pickups were originally identical in their construction. With the rising popularity of using pickups in combination, Fender introduced a new feature in 1977 coinciding with the standard 5-position switch; a reverse-wound, reverse-polarity middle pickup. As the description implies, the magnetic polarity of this pickup is opposite the other two, as is the direction of the wire winding around the bobbin. This provides a hum-canceling effect (removing hum induced by poorly shielded, medium to high output AC devices) in positions 2 and 4 on the selector switch. This principle had been known for many years beforehand, being applied in the form of Gibson's humbucking pickup and Fender's own split-coil pickup used on the Precision Bass.
Today, virtually all Fender instruments with more than one single-coil pickup (most notably the Stratocaster, Telecaster and Jazz Bass) are wired in such a manner as to provide a hum-canceling combination of pickups.
The plastic parts (pickup covers, arm tip, pick guard) on the Stratocaster in the years 1954-1956 were made from an experimental thermo-plastic that is sometimes incorrectly identified as Bakelite. On many early examples, the pickup covers have worn through from the repeated friction of playing.
At one point, Fender switched to producing guitars with the bridge pickup located farthest from the highest-amplitude portion of the vibrating strings, slightly "over-wound", thus increasing the signal output from that pickup. Even more overwound pickups ("hot-wired" designs) became popular, either for all three pickups (a "hot" configuration), or for the bridge position only (so-called "Texas Hot" due to its popularity among Southern Rock guitarists).
The Stratocaster is noted for its bright, clean and 'twangy' sounds. The neck pickup has a mellower, fuller and louder sound compared to the brighter and sharper tone of the bridge pickup. The middle pickup provides a sound somewhere between the two.
Buddy Holly was one of the pioneers of the Stratocaster and used the instrument on virtually all of his songs with the Crickets. During the recording of "Peggy Sue", rhythm guitarist Niki Sullivan was not needed for the song, and instead stood next to Holly, and flipped the selector switch of Holly's guitar from the neck pickup to the bridge pickup for the guitar solo.
From 1959 to 1967, the Stratocaster was made with a rosewood fretboard as standard, 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 Surfaris, the Ventures and the Beach Boys. Fender would paint any guitar from the DuPont car color range for 5% over purchase price.
Dick Dale is a prominent Stratocaster player, who also collaborated with Leo Fender in developing the Fender Showman amplifier. In the early 1960s, the instrument was also championed by Hank Marvin–guitarist for the Shadows, a band that originally backed Cliff Richard and then produced instrumentals of its own. So distinctive was Hank Marvin's sound that many musicians, including the Beatles, initially deliberately avoided the Stratocaster. However, in 1965, George Harrison and John Lennon acquired Stratocasters and used them for Help!, Rubber Soul and later recording sessions; the double unison guitar solo on "Nowhere Man" is played by Harrison and Lennon on their new Stratocasters.
The one-piece maple neck was discontinued in 1959. From 1959 until summer 1964 the fingerboard was a piece of rosewood milled flat on the underside and glued to the maple. This has become known as a "slab fingerboard". The slab fingerboard was approx 4.8 mm at its thickest point in the center of the neck under strings 3 and 4. From mid-1964 the rosewood and maple were pre radiused and the fingerboard became known as curved, round laminate or "veneer", having an even thickness across the neck unlike the previous slab type. This design change was made because Fender encountered problems with some of the necks twisting with the slab design and this new method of construction reduced this problem significantly. Maple fingerboards were available as a special order only. The following year the pickguard design changed to a 3-ply (4-ply on some colors) "multi-layer" with 11 screw holes. After purchasing Fender in 1965, CBS began to offer both a maple neck with a separate glued-on laminated maple fretboard in 1967 (known as a "maple cap" neck) and the rosewood fretboard over maple neck remaining the other neck option. Three years later, the CBS-owned Fender companies re-introduced the 1-piece maple neck after a 10-year absence. The primary reason for the switch to rosewood in 1959 was that Gibson guitars had rosewood fingerboards and customers wanted this. Also, the maple fingerboards discolored very quickly because the old nitro cellulose lacquer was not very durable and wore through on the fretboard very quickly.
After the introduction of the Fender Stratocaster Ultra series in 1989, ebony was officially selected as a fretboard material on some models (although several Elite Series Stratocasters manufactured in 1983/84 such as the Gold and Walnut were available with a stained ebony fretboard). In December 1965 the Stratocaster was given a broader headstock with altered decals to match the size of the Jazzmaster and the Jaguar.
CBS buys Fender and player modifications
Many artists discovered that the 3-way pickup selector could be lodged in between settings (often using objects such as matchsticks or toothpicks to wedge it in position) for further tonal variety, resulting in a unique sound when two pickups are combined. Jimi Hendrix would also move the switch across the settings while sustaining a note, creating a characteristic 'wobbly' sound, similar to that created by the wah-wah pedal. This effect can be heard in the Woodstock recording of Star Spangled Banner. Hendrix can also be heard utilizing the switch flipping between pickups on many different live versions of the song Red House as well as the song Once I Had A Woman from the Jimi Hendrix: Blues compilation album. Since 1977, the Stratocaster has been fitted with a 5-way switch to make such switching more stable. This switch is the same electrically as the original 3-way, but with extra detents for the in-between settings. Other subtle changes were also made to the guitars over the years, but the basic shape and features of the Strat have remained unchanged. In the 1970s and 1980s, some guitarists began modifying their Stratocasters with humbucking pickups, especially in the bridge position, to create what became known as a "Fat Strat". This was intended to provide a thicker tone preferred in the heavier styles of hard rock and heavy metal. The popularity of this modification grew and eventually Fender began manufacturing models with a bridge humbucker option (HSS), denoted and separated from the original triple single coil by the title of "Fat Strat", as a reference to the humbucker's distinct sound, as well as models with dual humbuckers (HH), better known as "Double Fat Strats". Fender also started making Stratocaster pickguards specially designed for guitar bodies routed for HSH (humbucker-single-humbucker) and HHH (humbucker-humbucker-humbucker) pickup configurations.
Since 1998, many high-end US-made Fender Stratocasters such as the American Deluxe, American, Hot Rodded American, American Special and American Standard series came with an HSH pickup rout instead of a "swimming pool" (or "bath tub") cavity to increase the total amount of wood that actually can resonate, producing a more complex tone. The HSH rout allows players to modify their pickups to the most often seen after-market configurations without re-routing or cutting into their guitar's body, while maintaining more wood than a "swimming pool" rout.
Players perceived a loss of the initial high quality of Fender guitars after the company was taken over by CBS in 1965. As a result, the late-1960s Stratocasters with the large "CBS" headstock and (from the mid-1970s) the 3-bolt necked models (instead of the conventional 4 bolts) with the "Bullet" truss-rod and the MicroTilt adjustment system fell out of fashion. However, many blues-influenced artists of the late 1960s soon adopted the Stratocaster as their main instrument, reviving the guitar's popularity. Also, so-called 'pre-CBS' Stratocasters are, accordingly, quite sought-after and expensive due to the perceived difference in quality even compared with contemporary post-CBS models. In recent times, some Stratocasters manufactured from 1954 to 1958 have sold for more than US$175,000.
After a peak in the 1970s, driven by the use of several high profile players, another lull occurred in the early 1980s. During that time, CBS-Fender cut costs by deleting features from the standard Stratocaster line, despite a blues revival that featured Strat players such as Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray and Buddy Guy in their choice of the Stratocaster as a primary blues-rock guitar. Yngwie Malmsteen is known for playing a Stratocaster in the Neo-Classical genre.
1982/83 Dan Smith Fender Stratocaster
In 1981 Fender-CBS hired William Schultz, John McLaren, and Dan Smith away from the U.S. division of Yamaha. Schultz became the president of Fender-CBS, McLaren the managing director while Smith was appointed the director of marketing for Fender electric guitars. In a drive to rejuvenate the quality control and Fender's market position, Dan Smith oversaw an upgrading of the basic production model Stratocaster and by late 1981 the new production model was unveiled as the 1982 Stratocaster. It featured a pre-CBS smaller headstock (compared to the 1980 "Strat"), a four bolt neck plate, an overwound X-1 pickup (introduced on the 1980 "Strat" model) in the bridge position and a body end truss-rod adjustment without the Bullet nut. These are known today as "Dan Smith" Stratocasters and prized by collectors for the attempted, albeit brief, return to pre-CBS stylings.
The following year the Standard model received a short-lived redesign seeking to reduce production costs and price on American Stratocasters. This revised version lacked a second tone control and featured a newly designed Freeflyte vibrato system and a bare-bones output jack. A reshaped ‘Comfort Contour’ body with deeper forearm and waist contours similar to an early 1960s model was introduced. What it did retain was the 1970s-style headstock decal. The 1982/83 version of the Standard Stratocaster has little in common with the Dan Smith guitar, apart from the period when they were sold, but is sometimes informally (and controversially) presented as a "Dan Smith-era" or "redesign" guitar. After the Standard Stratocaster was discontinued in 1984, Fender Japan produced a 22-fret version with a flat 9.5" radius and medium-jumbo fretwire until 1986.
Squier models (1982–today)
After Fender's decision in 1982 to switch Squier's production from strings to guitars, the Stratocaster was one of the first models put under the Squier production line in Japan. It was the most commercially successful guitar Fender had produced. Originally in 1982, the headstock had a "Fender" name written in large script, followed by "Squier series" in smaller script. In 1983, this was later changed to the current 1970s large headstock featuring "Squier" in larger script, followed by "by Fender" in smaller script. Since then, there have been several variations of headstock size and Squier logos, typically based on what series the guitar is.
From 1996-1999, "Made in China" Squier Stratocasters carry the "Affinity" decal on the smaller ball of the headstock and have serial numbers as NCXXXX with the first number the year of manufacture, e.g. NC6XXX (Made in China 1996). NCXXXX is also used for Squier Strat Bullets of the same vintage. The Affinities are practically the same as the Japanese-made Squier Bullets of the mid-'80s; the same alder bodies, same rosewood-type fretboard and maple necks. Tuners and electronics are also very similar - not the best but distinctive in sound. Common modifications are more stable tuners, larger potentiometers, better capacitors, and pickups. They had single-ply 8-hole pickguards like the '50s Fender Strats giving them a classic look. Colors were typically black, white and red.
In 2000, for the anniversary of the Squier line of Stratocaster guitars, that year's model was offered in a limited-edition green finish. The "Crafted in China" Squier Affinity Strats are different from their immediate predecessors; most have alder bodies, larger headstock shapes, and somewhat inferior small parts. The pickguards generally now have 11 holes and screws, departing from the original '50s style. Many people attribute the Affinity's decline in quality to the introduction of the changes in 2000. The next major change for the Affinity line was a reduction in body thickness from 1.75" to 1.5", noticeable in size and weight.
In 2008 Squier released its Classic Vibe series, a series of electric guitars and basses mirroring classic Fender designs of the 1950s and 1960s—each roughly reflecting the hardware, woods, color variations, finishes, body contours, and tonal characteristics of their respective era; Squier states that they did not intend the series as completely era correct, but wanted to impart the 'vibe' of a classic Fender design—the vintage-quality feel, look, and sound of their first series of guitars in 1982.
When the Fender company was bought from CBS by a group of investors and employees headed by Bill Schultz in 1985, manufacturing resumed its former high quality and Fender was able to regain market share and brand reputation. This sparked a rise in mainstream popularity for vintage (and vintage-style) instruments. Dan Smith, with the help of John Page, proceeded to work on a reissue of the most popular guitars of Leo Fender's era. They decided to manufacture two Vintage reissue Stratocaster models, the one-piece maple neck 1957 and a rosewood-fretboard 1962 along with the maple-neck 1952 Telecaster, the maple-neck 1957 and rosewood-fretboard 1962 Precision Basses, as well as the rosewood-fretboard "stacked knob" 1962 Jazz Bass. This project was very important and critical to the company's survival. These first few years (1982–1984) of reissues, known as American Vintage Reissues, are now high-priced collector's items and considered as some of the finest to ever leave Fender's Fullerton plant, which closed its doors in late 1984.
In 1985, Fender's US production of the Vintage reissues resumed into a new factory at Corona, located about 20 miles away from Fullerton. Some early reissues from 1986 were crafted with leftover parts from the Fullerton factory. These three guitars formed an important part of the American Vintage Series line since July 10, 1998.
Fender also supply a variety of signature models, each with specifications similar to those used by a well-known performer. Custom Artist guitars are the Custom Shop versions of the Artist Series line, which significantly differ from the standard production models in terms of quality and construction, making these instruments much more expensive. As well as the other Custom Shop instruments, the Custom Artist guitars are available either as Team Built or Master Built items, some being exact replicas of the specific artist's original instrument, better known as "Tribute" series (featuring various degrees of "relicing", such as Closet Classic, New Old Stock, Relic and Super Relic treatments, depending on the model). Artists with models available in the signature range include:
- Jeff Beck: select alder body with a thinner C-shaped maple neck, contoured neck heel, rosewood fretboard with 22 medium-jumbo frets, three dual-coil Ceramic Vintage Noiseless pickups with 5-way switching, LSR Roller Nut, Schaller locking tuners and an American 2-point synchronized tremolo with stainless steel saddles. Available in Olympic White and Surf Green finishes (Artist Series, Custom Artist), as well as a "Custom Thinskin Nitro" version with a "Thinskin" nitrocellulose lacquer finish.
- Ritchie Blackmore: a variety of versions, each with a 22-fret neck, CBS large headstock with 1970s-style decals and two Gold Fender Lace Sensors; some variants have the neck set into the body rather than bolted on and a Roland GK2A synth pickup. Reintroduced in 2009 with a 21-fret maple neck, graduated scalloped rosewood fingerboard, Bullet truss rod nut with 3-bolt neck plate and Micro-Tilt neck adjustment, flush-mounted Jim Dunlop locking strap buttons and two Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound Flat single-coil pickups (the middle pickup is omitted, but the pickup hole for the middle pickup is still present).
- Eric Clapton: select alder body with a special soft V-shaped maple neck/fretboard, 22 vintage-style frets, three Vintage Noiseless pickups, 25dB active mid-boost circuit and a "blocked" original vintage synchronized tremolo. Available in olympic white, pewter, candy green, Torino red (Artist Series), Antigua burst, gold leaf, EC grey, daphne blue, graffiti canvas, mercedes blue, black and midnight blue (Custom Artist), as well in olympic white, Torino red and pewter with a "Thinskin" nitrocellulose lacquer finish (Custom Thinskin Nitro).
- Billy Corgan: available in olympic white or black satin nitro finishes with a hardtail, string through body bridge. Other unique features include a large 1970s-style headstock, alder body, and three DiMarzio humbucking pickups (BC-1, Chopper and BC-2 models), two of which are signature Billy Corgan models wound specifically for this instrument.
- Dick Dale: nicknamed "The Beast" by Dale himself, the guitar comes in "chartreuse sparkle" (a greenish-gold color) with a white pickguard and rosewood fretboard, with vintage 50s features and a number of custom modifications. Notably, the guitar comes with a reverse headstock and a reverse angled bridge pickup to achieve the sound of playing a Stratocaster upside-down, which was how Dale learned to play.
- Tom DeLonge: single humbucking Strat with pearloid pickguard, a Seymour Duncan Invader humbucking pickup, single volume, hardtail bridge and a maple neck with a 21-fret rosewood fingerboard and a CBS large headstock. It was discontinued in 2003.
- David Gilmour: two models of Gilmour's famous "The Black Strat" are available from the Fender Custom Shop: One is an American '69 Strat body with an '83 remake C-shaped '57 RI maple neck (labeled as New old stock) with electronic and cosmetic modifications. The other is a "relic" style guitar that replicates the "The Black Strat" down to every scratch and dent. The relic version has two completely different coats of paint, just like the original.
- Buddy Guy: ash body with a V-shaped maple neck featuring a 22-fret fretboard, three Lace Sensor "Gold" single-coil pickups and a 25dB active midrange boost circuit (USA, discontinued as of 2010), alder body with a V-shaped maple neck featuring a 21-fret fretboard and three standard alnico single-coil pickups (Mexico). Available in a variety of finishes, including black with white polka dots (Mexican Artist Standard), 2-color sunburst and honey blonde transparent (USA Artist).
- Robert Cray: with an Aztec silver, violet or sunburst alder body, the Cray signature model is one of the few with a hard tail bridge (i.e. no tremolo, and no body routing). It features a 'fat' 1962 C profile 9.5" radius neck, 21 medium jumbo frets, and Fender Custom Shop Custom Vintage Stratocaster pickups. It is made in Mexico.
- Rory Gallagher: A Custom Shop model with an alder body, 21 jumbo frets, a maple neck, and a rosewood fretboard. Many custom touches on the guitar replicate the wear and features of Gallagher's beloved 1961 Stratocaster, including a near-complete removal of the three-color sunburst finish on the body (replicating the "ex-sunburst" finish Rory's guitar was famous for), the replacement of one of the 12th fret's neck dots (the originals were clay, one was replaced with plastic), and a mis-matched set of tuners (one Gotoh on the low E string, and the rest are Sperzel tuners), and the replacement of the Phillips-head screws with flat-head screws on the pickup selector switch.
- Jimi Hendrix: right-handed vintage white body flipped upside down for left-handed use with an oval profile maple-cap neck. The controls and electrics are vintage-modern to ensure stability. The guitar is strung upside down with the strap button on the lower horn, the backwards 68 thick black CBS headstock decal is so that—in front of a mirror—the player sees the guitar as it would appear if Jimi Hendrix played it. As well as this upside-down lefty Strat for right-handed players, Fender also made four exact copies of the Vintage white Stratocaster Hendrix used in many performances, the most famous being Woodstock (1969).
- Eric Johnson: highly contoured two-piece select alder body finished in a "Thinskin Nitro" lacquer, one-piece quarter-sawn maple neck with a V-shaped profile, 12" fingerboard radius and 21 polished frets, Fender/Gotoh staggered vintage-style machine heads eliminating the need for a string tree and three special-design custom-wound single-coil pickups with countersunk mounting screws. Other features include a parchment '57-style pickguard, five-spring vintage tremolo, silver-painted block and '57-style string recess with no paint between the base plate and the block. Colors include white blonde, 2-color sunburst, black and candy apple red. Also available as a rosewood neck version with a bound round-laminated 12-inch radius rosewood fretboard, a three-ply parchment pickguard, staggered vintage-style tuners, a custom tremolo block and four brand-new finish options (including Dakota red), three of which are exclusive to this model (Lucerne Aqua Firemist, tropical turquoise and Medium Palomino Metallic).
- Mark Knopfler: 57-style ash body with 62-style C-shaped maple neck, rosewood fretboard and 21 medium-jumbo frets, gold "transitional" headstock decals and three Fender "Texas Special" single-coil pickups with 5-way switching. It was introduced in 2002 and discontinued in 2013.
- Yngwie J. Malmsteen: select alder body with a C-shaped maple neck, scalloped rosewood or maple fingerboard, 21 super-sized Jim Dunlop 6000 frets, large headstock with Bullet truss-rod and brass nut, Seymour Duncan YJM Fury single-coil pickups with 3-way switching, 3-ply W/B/W pickguard, aged plastic parts and American Vintage hardware.
- John Mayer: features a select alder body, a thick C-shape maple neck with African rosewood fingerboard and 21 Jim Dunlop 6105 medium width but tall frets, American Vintage hardware and a trio of "Big Dipper" single-coils with a special "Scooped" midrange voicing and 5-way pickup switching. Available in a variety of finishes, including black with 3-ply mint green pickguard and gold hardware, 3-tone sunburst and olympic white with brown shell pickguard and as a limited-edition version with a cypress mica finish, white vintage amp knobs and a 3-ply parchment pickguard. In 2010, Fender also released a limited 500 run of John's personal BLACK1 strat. They also released a super limited run of 83 guitars, replicated to look exactly like Mayer's personal Black1, which was a heavy reliced version of the Black1 made by Fender master builder John Cruz.
- Dave Murray: select alder body with a nitrocellulose lacquer finish, flat soft V-shaped maple neck with satin back, 21 medium-jumbo frets, American Vintage hardware and a humbucker/single-coil/humbucker configuration - DiMarzio Super Distortion DP100 (bridge), American Vintage '57/'62 (middle), DiMarzio PAF DP103 (neck) - with 3-way switching. Other features include chrome pickup bezels, synthetic bone nut and aged white plastic parts with black switch tip. Available in Black only and as a Japanese "Tribute" version with an original Floyd Rose locking vibrato system, dual DiMarzio Super Distortion DP100 humbucking pickups (neck/bridge) with a Fender Texas Special single-coil pickup (middle), 3-way switching and an oval neck profile.
- Bonnie Raitt: features an alder body, a narrow C-shape maple neck with a late 1960s large headstock, rosewood fretboard, 9.5" radius and 22 medium jumbo frets. Other refinements included a 3-ply white shell pickguard, three Texas Special single-coils with 5-way switching and American Vintage hardware. Available in 3-color sunburst and desert sunset. It was discontinued in 2000.
- Chris Rea: Fender made a Chris Rea signature Stratocaster in 1999. It was finished in a special color called "Faded fiesta red". Only 500 examples were made.
- Jim Root: featuring mahogany body, maple Modern C-shaped neck, ebony fretboard in flat black finish, maple in flat white, 22 jumbo frets, EMG pickups (EMG 81 in bridge position and EMG 60 in neck position(, strings-through-body hardtail bridge, locking tuners, 3-way switch, single-volume knob and large headstock. Along with his Jim Root Telecaster, it is the only Fender guitar equipped with EMG pickups as standard.
- Richie Sambora: features an alder body, a 22-fret neck with maple fingerboard, mother of pearl "star" fingerboard inlays, Floyd Rose "Original" locking tremolo, 25dB active mid-boost circuit with active/passive switch, two Fender Texas Special single-coil pickups (neck/middle) and a DiMarzio PAF Pro humbucker in the bridge position. Updated in 1999 with American Vintage hardware, dual-coil Ceramic Noiseless pickups and a 12dB active mid-boost preamp with "no-load" tone circuit and bypass switch. Also available as a "standard" version with a poplar body, rosewood fingerboard with 21 medium-jumbo frets, DiMarzio PAF Pro humbucker with two standard alnico single-coils and a Floyd Rose II locking tremolo. It was discontinued in 2002.
- Kenny Wayne Shepherd: based on Shepherd's own '61 Stratocaster, it features an alder body, maple neck and rosewood fretboard as well as custom-voiced Kenny Wayne Shepherd pickups. Comes in 3-tone sunburst, white with a cross graphic, or black with a racing stripe graphic.
- Eddie Van Halen: Van Halen's "Frankenstrat" has been issued as a special issue.
- Jimmie Vaughan: based on Jimmie's own '57 Stratocaster, the Jimmie Vaughan Tex-Mex Strat reflects his deep roots, traditional style, and preferred Strat features. Notable for its alder body, 3 Fender Tex-Mex single-coil pickups, an extra-hot bridge pickup, a special tinted maple 1957-type V-shaped neck with maple fretboard and medium-jumbo frets, vintage machine heads, original Fender synchronized tremolo, and custom tone control wiring.
- Stevie Ray Vaughan: a reproduction of "Number One", Vaughan's favorite guitar. First offered in 1992, has a black pickguard with Vaughan's initials, three Fender Texas Special pickups, and a pau ferro fretboard.
A standard Squier Stratocaster is mass-produced in factories located in Indonesia or China. For its construction, Squier usually uses woods readily available in those countries, such as agathis and basswood. They also use stamped metal hardware and multiple pieces of wood in construction to reduce waste and to lower costs. In some cases, the body is laminated, much like a plywood, rather than consisting of two or three solid pieces glued together.
In popular culture
Fender has licensed the appearance of the Squier Stratocaster to Electronic Arts for a replica guitar controller for EA and Harmonix's Rock Band rhythm video game. A real Squier Stratocaster, retrofitted with controller electronics, was available as a "Pro Guitar" controller for Rock Band 3, but is now discontinued.
Notable Stratocaster players
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- U.S. Patent No. D186826 (Design Patent for Fender Jazzmaster)
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