|This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2012)|
|Scale||25.5 in (650 mm)|
|Bridge||Usually proprietary Tremolo
|Pickup(s)||Usually 3 Single-coils|
|Various 2- or 3-color sunbursts
Various shades of white, blue, red, green, etc.
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.
The Fender Stratocaster was the first guitar to feature three pickups and a floating spring tension tremelo system, as well as being the first Fender with a contoured body. 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 headstock of the Fender Telecaster. 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.
Starting in 1954, the Stratocaster was offered with a solid, deeply contoured ash body, a 21-fret one-piece maple neck with black dot inlays and Kluson tuning heads. The color was originally a two color sunburst pattern, although custom color guitars were produced (most famously Eldon Shamblin's gold Stratocaster, dated 6/1954). In 1956, Fender began using alder for sunburst and most custom color Stratocaster bodies; ash was still used on translucent blonde instruments. In 1960, the available custom colors were standardized, many of which were automobile lacquer colors from DuPont available at an additional 5% cost. A 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.
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.
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.
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)
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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- Ed Mitchell (Total Guitar) (2011-12-28). "IN PRAISE OF: The Fender Stratocaster | IN PRAISE OF: The Fender Stratocaster". MusicRadar. Retrieved 2013-12-14.
- Fricke, David. "American Icons: The Stratocaster". proquest.com. Rolling Stone.
- "1954 Limited Edition Stratocaster Owner's Manual (Catalog Copy)". FMIC. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- Duchossoir, A. R. (1994). Hal Leonard: The Fender Stratocaster. Hal Leonard; Special 40th Anniversary Edition (1994). pp. 8, 9, 51. ISBN 0-7935-4735-0.
- Balmer 20.
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- Babiuk, Andy (2002). Beatles gear. Hal Leonard. p. 157. ISBN 978-0-87930-731-8.
- Bacon 84.
- Riley, Tim (2002). Tell me why: a Beatles commentary. Basic Books. p. 413. ISBN 978-0-306-81120-3.
- Duchossoir, A. R., The Fender Stratocaster, January 2008, Hal Leonard Corporation, ISBN 978-0-7935-4735-7
- Balmer, Paul (2007). The Fender Stratocaster Handbook: How to Buy, Maintain, Set Up, Troubleshoot, and Modify Your Strat. MBI. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-7603-2983-2.
- 365 Days of Magic (2013-09-03). "365DaysOfMagic.com. Retrieved August 2013". 365daysofmagic.com. Retrieved 2013-12-14.
- Balmer, Paul (2007). The Fender Stratocaster Handbook: How to Buy, Maintain, Set Up, Troubleshoot, and Modify Your Strat. MBI. ISBN 978-0-7603-2983-2.
- Bacon, Tony. The Fender Electric Guitar Book: A Complete History of Fender Instruments. 3rd edition. Backbeat Books, 2007. ISBN 978-0-87930-897-1.
- Wheeler, Tom. The Stratocaster Chronicles: Celebrating 50 Years of the Fender Strat. Hal Leonard, 2004. ISBN 978-0-634-05678-9.
- U.S. Patent No. 2,741,146 (Tremolo device for stringed instruments; Stratocaster Tremolo system)
- U.S. Patent No. 2,960,900 (Utility patent for offset body styled guitars (Fender Jaguar/Jazzmaster))
- U.S. Patent No. D186826 (Design Patent for Fender Jazzmaster)
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