List of Stratocaster players

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Stratocaster Headstock

This is a list of musicians who have made notable use of the Fender Stratocaster in live performances or studio recordings. The Fender Stratocaster was designed by Leo Fender and Freddie Tavares with involvement from musicians Rex Gallion and Bill Carson in the early 1950s, and since its commercial introduction in 1954 has become widely used among popular artists in rock, blues, and other genres.[1] The Squier Stratocaster is produced by Fender as a more affordable alternative to the Fender-branded version.

Due to the immense popularity of this model, musicians are listed here only if their use of this instrument was especially significant — that is, they are players who:

  • have long careers and a history of Stratocaster use.
  • have a particular guitar that was unique or of historical importance.
  • have contributed significantly to the popularization of the instrument through their use of it.


Eric Clapton in a Switzerland concert on June 19, 1977.
Joe Bonamassa in 2016
  • Billie Joe Armstrong (born 1972), lead singer and guitarist of Green Day, has used a Fender copy, a Fernandes Stratocaster nicknamed "Blue". He also recorded Nimrod with a Fender Stratocaster from the Fender Custom Shop.
  • Randy Bachman (born 1943), a founding member of both The Guess Who and Bachman–Turner Overdrive (BTO) who recently fronted the project "Randy Bachman's Jazz Thing." After a visit to a chiropractor, Bachman was persuaded to switch from a Gibson Les Paul to a lighter Stratocaster. He modified the pickups on his first Strat, putting a Gibson pickup at the neck and a Telecaster pickup at the bridge, while leaving the Stratocaster pickup in the middle.[2] Randy favored Stratocasters and custom Strat-style guitars throughout his years with BTO.[3] Though his bands are mostly known for their simplistic rock-radio anthems, Bachman's soloing often revealed complex melodies and jazz-inflected phrasing. Among his Stratocasters used are a '63 standard and a '71 four-bolt hardtail. He has listed guitar influences as varied as Lenny Breau, Leslie West, Wes Montgomery[4] and Hank Marvin.[5]
  • Jeff Beck (born 1944), a Grammy award-winning rock guitarist, Beck is known for playing for various bands such as the Yardbirds and his own group The Jeff Beck Group. Beck primarily plays a Stratocaster and also has a signature Strat.[6] He is noted for his innovative use of the Stratocaster's vibrato system.[7] Up to 1975 Beck had been, primarily, a Les Paul player. In an interview with Jas Obrecht about switching to the Stratocaster Beck stated "With a Les Paul you just wind up sounding like someone else. With the Strat I finally sound like me."[8]
  • Adrian Belew (born 1949), is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and record producer. He is perhaps best known for his work as a member of the progressive rock group King Crimson. He has also worked extensively as a session and touring musician, most famously with Talking Heads, David Bowie, Frank Zappa, and Nine Inch Nails. During much of his career, Belew made extensive use of a weathered-looking Stratocaster, later memorialized in song as "The Battered Strat." This guitar was relic'ed by Seymour Duncan.[9]
  • Ritchie Blackmore (born 1945), a founding member of both Deep Purple and Rainbow, currently a member of the band Blackmore's Night.[10] After starting his career using various Hofner and Gibson guitars, Blackmore switched to a Stratocaster in the late 1960s after seeing Jimi Hendrix perform with one. Blackmore's Stratocasters are modified; the middle pickup is lowered and not used (sometimes disconnected completely) and his Stratocaster fingerboards are all scalloped from the 10th fret up. Through the early/mid 1970s Blackmore was notorious for onstage abuse of his guitars, sometimes destroying them completely. By the late 1970s the guitarist had found a Stratocaster model he was content with and it remained his main stage and studio guitar up until it had to be refretted.
  • Tommy Bolin (1951–1976), a versatile guitarist who is noted for his influence in genres ranging from acoustic blues to hard rock and jazz fusion. He was the lead guitarist for Zephyr, James Gang and Deep Purple. He also had a successful solo career, and collaborated with artists like Billy Cobham, Alphonse Mouzon and The Good Rats. Bolin played by ear and was known for his improvisational skill. His primary guitar was a stock 1963 Stratocaster.[11][12]
  • Joe Bonamassa (born 1977), When he was 12 years old, Bonamassa played a crimson 1972 Fender Stratocaster. Joe Bonamassa is known for his extensive collection of vintage amplifiers and guitars.[13] In 2018, Bonamassa has said that he has more than 1000 guitars and amplifiers.[14]
  • Bill Carson (1926-2007), a country and western guitarist credited by Fender as "the man for whom the Stratocaster was designed."[15]
  • Eric Clapton (born 1945), a Grammy Award-winning guitarist who originally played Gibson guitars. George Harrison convinced Eric to play the Stratocaster. George Harrison had owned a Strat for a long time and suggested Clapton should use it. It was George Harrison's favourite guitar from 1958 until his death. Clapton bought his first Stratocaster ton 1969 while a member of Cream, Brownie, which was later used on "Layla".[16] Blackie, a composite of three different guitars, went into service in 1970 and was regularly played until its retirement in 1985. It was sold at charity auction for $959,500 in 2004. In 1988, Fender introduced the Eric Clapton Stratocaster, the first model in their Signature series. Clapton has been a long-standing client of the Fender Custom Shop.[citation needed]
  • Kurt Cobain (1967-1994), Lead singer of ground breaking alternative rock band Nirvana. Cobain used many different solid bodied Fender guitars including the Stratocaster.
  • Ry Cooder (born 1947), a guitarist, singer and composer who is well known for his interest in American folk music, his collaborations with other notable musicians, and his work on many film soundtracks. Cooder's bottleneck slide guitar playing, heard on such works as the soundtrack to the 1984 film Paris, Texas, influenced other guitarists such as Bonnie Raitt and Chris Rea and contributed to the popularity of the Stratocaster as a slide guitar.[17] He uses a 60s Stratocaster for such playing.[18]
  • Robert Cray (born 1953), a long-time blues guitarist and singer, Cray plays a '64 Strat and had his own Signature model made in 1990. The signature model, manufactured by the Fender Custom Shop, combines aspects of Cray's '59 Strat and the '64, omits the standard Stratocaster whammy bar, and includes custom pickups.[19]
  • Dick Dale (1937-2019), one of the first owners of a Stratocaster; his was given to him personally by Leo Fender in 1955. Considered the pioneer of surf rock. He has been revolutionary in experimenting with the sound of the guitar by using heavy reverb and a unique playing style.[20]
  • The Edge (born 1961), lead guitarist of U2, known for his percussive, melodic playing and use of delay, has used the Stratocaster as one of his main guitars throughout his career.[21]


David Gilmour in 2006.
Buddy Guy in 1992.
Jimi Hendrix in 1967.
  • John Frusciante (born March 5, 1970), the current guitarist of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Frusciante owns many pre-70's Stratocasters (most notably his 1962 Strat), and is most known for using them on all the Red Hot Chili Peppers' albums he was involved with, including Stadium Arcadium, By The Way, and Californication,[22] and earlier in his career on Mother's Milk,[23] and Blood Sugar Sex Magik,[24]
  • Rory Gallagher (1948–1995), an Irish blues rock guitarist, often credited as one of the most influential Irish rock and blues guitarists of all time. Gallagher is well known for his worn 1961 sunburst Stratocaster. He described his battered Stratocaster as "a part of my psychic makeup". "B.B. King has owned over 100 Lucilles, but I only own one Strat, and it hasn't got a name". Gallagher's Stratocaster has also been reproduced by the Fender Custom shop, to the exact specs of the original one.[25][26][27]
  • Lowell George (April 13, 1945 – June 29, 1979), was an American songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, who was the primary guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter for the rock band Little Feat.[28] Lowell was proficient on slide guitar employing his trademark tone which he achieved through use of compression and open tunings helping to define his soulful sound as well as giving him the means to play his extended melodic lines.[29] Additionally, he used to swap the bridge pickups of his Stratocasters for Telecaster bridge pickups.
  • David Gilmour (born 1946), as a solo artist and guitar player for Pink Floyd, Gilmour is credited for his unique, blues-based compositional approach and expressive soloing. Author Tony Bacon stated "his solo on 'Comfortably Numb' remains for many a definitive Strat moment."[30] Gilmour's guitar of choice is a custom modified Fender Stratocaster.[31] He is the owner of Strat #0001, which was manufactured in 1954 but was not the first Stratocaster made since Fender does not use sequential serial numbers.[32][33] Gilmour is considered to be one of the more influential Stratocaster players since the instrument's invention.[34] David's signature black Stratocaster, used frequently in 1970s concerts and on the blockbuster albums The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall, is featured in a recent book by his long-time guitar tech Phil Taylor: Pink Floyd, The Black Strat—A History of David Gilmour's Black Stratocaster.[35] The "Black Strat" was retired in the 1980s in favour of a Candy Apple Red American Vintage Stratocaster fitted with EMG noiseless single-coil pickups as seen on the Delicate Sound of Thunder and Pulse tours. The Black Strat was briefly used on the documentary Classic Albums: Dark Side of the Moon before being put on display at the Hard Rock Cafe in Miami, Florida. It was finally brought out of retirement by David in 2005 and fitted with a '83 Fender Stratocaster neck for the Pink Floyd reunion at the Live 8 concert. David subsequently used it again for his "On An Island" album and tour in 2006 and when he played "Comfortably Numb" with Roger Waters on his tour of "The Wall" on May 12, 2011, in London and also played most of the leads on the final Pink Floyd album The Endless River and his 2015 solo album Rattle That Lock and its tour.
  • Buddy Guy (born 1936), an American blues guitarist and singer, Guy is well known for playing the Stratocaster throughout his long career. He is also known for his wild showmanship; Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan both pointed to Guy as an influence on both their playing and their stage shows. Fender has issued several different variations (black with white polka dots, red with white polkadots, white with black polkadots, a two-color sunburst and a honey-blonde finish) of a Buddy Guy Signature Stratocaster since the early 1990s; the guitars generally have gold Lace Sensor pickups and modified circuitry.[36]
  • George Harrison (1943–2001), lead guitarist for the Beatles, Harrison got his first Stratocaster in December 1964 and used it for the recording of the Help album. The Stratocaster was his main guitar in the Beatles from 1965 to 1970 and throughout his whole solo career. The Fender Stratocaster was George Harrisons absolute favourite guitar. Harrison hand-painted his original Stratocaster from Dec 1964 (originally a 1961 Stratocaster) with a psychedelic paint job that included the word "Bebopalula" painted above the pickguard and the guitar's nickname, "Rocky", painted on the headstock. He can be seen playing Rocky in the Magical Mystery Tour film as well as The Concert for Bangla Desh.[37][38] Harrison was said to own between 50 and 100 different Stratocasters and used several others with the Beatles as well. It was seen out of the studio in songs like "I Am the Walrus", "All You Need is Love" in the movie Magical Mystery Tour and the Let it Be movie. Used extensively on the Let it Be album but is just briefly showing up in the movie.
  • Jimi Hendrix (1942–1970), known for developing blues in a modern context, Hendrix's main stage guitar through most of his short career was a Fender Stratocaster.[39] In 1990, the white Stratocaster used by Hendrix at the 1969 Woodstock Festival sold in a Sotheby's auction for $270,000, a record price at the time. Although Hendrix played left-handed, he did not normally use a custom left-handed Stratocaster. Instead, he is noted for playing a conventional right-handed Stratocaster flipped upside down because he preferred to use the control knobs in the top position. Like Buddy Holly, Hendrix was responsible for a large increase in the Stratocaster's popularity, especially in his favorite finish, olympic white. In reference to his famed on-stage Stratocaster burning, Hendrix is quoted as saying, "The time I burned my guitar it was like a sacrifice. You sacrifice the things you love. I love my guitar."[40] In 1997 Fender produced a limited edition Hendrix tribute model Stratocaster.[41]
  • Buddy Holly (1936–1959), identified as "the first Strat hero." A statue of Holly in his home town of Lubbock, Texas, portrays him playing his Stratocaster, and the guitar is also engraved on his tombstone.[42] Although the initial release of the Stratocaster came in 1954, the guitar did not begin to achieve popularity until Holly appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1957 playing a maple-neck Strat.[43] Holly was also pictured on the cover of The Crickets' 1957 album The "Chirping" Crickets with a sunburst Stratocaster, inspiring The Shadows' Hank Marvin to adopt the guitar.[34]
  • Ernie Isley (born March 7, 1952), member of the American musical ensemble The Isley Brothers has developed three custom Zeal Stratocasters from Fender Custom Shop, using his personal design.[44]
  • Eric Johnson (born 1954), a Grammy Award-winning guitarist from Austin, Texas, Johnson has played Stratocasters regularly during his career and has played many different types of music. He has participated in developing an Eric Johnson signature Stratocaster model with Fender, which can be bought with both maple and rosewood necks.[45]


Mark Knopfler in a Hamburg concert on May 28, 2006
Rocky Kramer performing live in 2018
Yngwie Malmsteen in Barcelona in 2008 concert
  • Ed King (1949-2018) is known for his work with the southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd from 1972 to 1975. He used a 1959 model with a black refinish and tortoise pickguard for most recordings and live performances at that time, and also a 1973 model which he used when writing the hit "Sweet Home Alabama".
  • Mark Knopfler (born 1949), known for his work with British rock band Dire Straits. Knopfler is known for his very particular and unique fingerstyle playing. The song "Sultans of Swing", from the first album of Dire Straits, in 1978, was a huge hit that showed the characteristic tone and technique displayed on Knopfler's red Stratocaster. He used the Fender Stratocaster throughout his entire career, in Dire Straits (especially since 1978 and 1982) and solo career, him being a great Fender Stratocaster enthusiast. Fender now produces his Signature Stratocaster.[46]
  • Greg Koch (born 1966) Known for his incendiary guitar work. Koch was a Fender clinician and ambassador. He played the Stratocaster for many years and even recorded an album called "Strat's Got Your Tongue" (2012) He is known for his love of Fender guitars.[47]
  • Rocky Kramer (born 1990) is known for being a Norwegian "Master Guitarist," now living in the United States. Kramer has been described as a guitar virtuoso "setting fire to the atmosphere with incandescent licks,"[48] as well as "[o]ne of the strongest and most poignant guitarists since [Jimi] Hendrix."[49] Kramer plays and endorses Fender Stratocaster guitars.[50]
  • Bruce Kulick (born 1953), long-time member and lead guitarist of Kiss and Grand Funk Railroad. Kulick stated on his personal website that he used a Fender Powerstrat to add a harmony solo line to his song, "What Love's All About." He wrote, "[T]his solo is sweet. I love when there is a melody you can sing along to for a solo section. I used a red Fender Powerstrat that I used to play live with Grand Funk a few years back. Made in Mexico but it rocks." Kulick used a 1989 yellow Fender Strat Plus, during the recording of the 1992 Kiss Revenge album, including for the hit single, "God Gave Rock 'n Roll to You II." Revenge reached the Top 20 in several countries.[51][52]
  • Michael Landau (born 1958), friend of Steve Lukather and prolific session guitarist of the 1980s, has used many Stratocasters in his career and is working with Fender as of 2016 to create a Michael Landau Signature Stratocaster.[53]
  • John Lennon (1940–1980), the Beatles' rhythm guitarist, acquired a 1961 Stratocaster during the 1965 sessions for Help!. It was used on the track "Nowhere Man". Lennon also used the guitar during the Sgt. Pepper sessions. A different Strat was used on the Imagine album. John Lennon acquired a candy apple red "Strat" with 22 carat gold electroplated brass hardware around 1980. A photo of him playing this guitar in bed one morning in late 1980, shortly before his death, was used an inner sleeve of the album The John Lennon Collection.[54][55][56]
  • Alex Lifeson (b. 1953), the Guitarist for Rush since 1968, first recorded with a black Stratocaster on the Rush 1977 album A Farewell to Kings. In 1979, he modified the '77 Strat with a '57 classic humbucker, a Floyd Rose tremolo unit (first ever made), a Gibson toggle switch on the lower bout, and rewired with master volume/tone. He used that same guitar for the leads and direct recording for 1979's "Permanent Waves." In late 1980, Alex Lifeson acquired two more Strats in red and white, modifying them exactly the same as the former.[57][58]
  • Yngwie Malmsteen (b. 1963), known for his work in the neo-classical metal genre. Influenced by an array of musicians, Malmsteen is regarded as highly influential for his use of heavy classical-style chord progressions, interesting phrases and arpeggio sweeps. He is known for playing Stratocasters with scalloped fretboards.[59][60]
  • Hank Marvin (b. 1941), the lead guitarist of The Shadows, Marvin is reputed to be the owner of the first Fender Stratocaster in the UK (given to him by Cliff Richard). The guitar was finished in a shade of Fiesta Red, sometimes referred to as 'Salmon Pink'. This guitar, with its tremolo arm, contributed to the Shadows' distinctive sound.[61] Guitarists such as David Gilmour and Mark Knopfler credit Marvin and The Shadows, who had "the first Strat that came to England", with influencing their own decisions to buy Stratocasters.[34]
  • John Mayer (b. 1977), a Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter has enjoyed recent popularity. Mayer has played Stratocasters throughout his career and has had a Fender Artist Series Stratocaster made in both standard and limited edition form.[62][63] Mayer's use of the Stratocaster in a wide range of musical genres is noted as a testament to the guitar's versatility.[17]
  • Mike Oldfield (b. 1953), a British guitarist who plays a wide range of guitars and instruments. His "Salmon-pink" strat, bought at the time of his hit Moonlight Shadow, is his favorite guitar.[64]
  • Yosi Piamenta (1951–2015)


Stevie Ray Vaughan performing in 1983
  • Trevor Rabin (born 1954), a South African (now has American citizenship) rock guitarist and film score composer. Most well known for his time with Yes (1982-1995) and 2015–present, owns and plays several Stratocasters, and considers it his go-to instrument.
  • Bonnie Raitt (born 1949), an American blues/R&B guitarist, singer, and songwriter, plays a 1965 Stratocaster nicknamed brownie, a 1963 sunburst Strat that used to be owned by Robin Trower as well as her signature Strat.[65]
  • Robbie Robertson (born 1943), guitarist and principal songwriter for The Band. Robertson's main guitar choice was a Stratocaster, despite using a Telecaster early in his career. For The Last Waltz Robertson had a Stratocaster bronzed especially for his use in the film.[66] More recently Robertson made a very rare live appearance at Eric Clapton's 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival using a Stratocaster.
  • Nile Rodgers (born 1952), an American musician known for his contributions with Chic and unique playing style that makes extensive use of the chop chord, has a 1960 Stratocaster affectionately dubbed as "The Hitmaker" for its presence on many hit singles.[67]
  • Kenny Wayne Shepherd (born 1977 Kenneth Wayne Brobst), lead guitarist and lead/backup vocalist for The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Kenny started his playing career at age 16, while attending Caddo Magnet High School, and has performed internationally with many of the great blues legends.[68]
  • Richard Thompson (born 1949), an English musician best known for his finger-style guitar playing and songwriting, was a founding member of Fairport Convention before becoming a solo artist. For many years Thompson played a '59 Sunburst Stratocaster, with a maple '55 neck.[69] That guitar is currently unserviceable and Thompson now uses a '64 sunburst Stratocaster with a rosewood fingerboard.[70]
  • Pete Townshend (born 1945), the guitarist for The Who, used a Stratocaster during the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and has exclusively used a modified version of the Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster since 1989.[71]
  • Robin Trower (born 1945), a British rock guitarist known for his work in the band Procol Harum and his successful solo career, has his own Signature Stratocaster made by Fender. "The sight of him onstage with his signature Stratocaster is as characteristic to his fans as his classic songs."[72]
Ike Turner in 1997.
  • Ike Turner (1931-2007), an American guitarist, musician, songwriter and record producer known for his work with the Ike & Tina Turner Revue and the Kings of Rhythm. Turner was an early adopter of the Stratocaster, buying one on its release in 1954. Unaware that the guitar's tremolo arm could be used to subtle effect, Turner used it to play screaming, swooping and diving solos. Turner explained his technique by saying: "I thought it was to make the guitar scream—people got so excited when I used that thing." Turner was also known to play Telecasters and Jaguars. In 2004 Fender Custom Shop produced an Ike Turner Signature Stratocaster, limited to 100.[73]
  • Ritchie Valens (1941–1959), a pioneer of rock and roll mostly famous for his Latin Rock song "La Bamba", played with a sunburst Strat.[74]
  • Eddie Van Halen (1955–2020), guitarist of hard rock band Van Halen, is notable for his modified Frankenstrats, a replica of which is in the National Museum of American History part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.[75]
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan (1954–1990), known for his Texas blues style guitar playing, was an American blues guitarist who is considered highly influential for his driving guitar style soaked with rhythmic style playing. Vaughan was noted for playing a Stratocaster equipped with a left-handed vibrato system. He was also known for tuning his guitar down a half-step and using heavy strings.[76][77][78]
  • Cory Wong (born 1985/86), known for his clean funk 'lead rhythm' guitar style, both as a solo artist and with the band Vulfpeck, had a signature Stratocaster produced in 2021.[79] A unique feature of this model is the 'fourth position panic button' which uses one of the tone controls to put the guitar in fourth position and disables the selector switch.
  • Ronnie Wood (born 1947), The Rolling Stones, a guitarist with the band since 1975. Wood's main stage instruments are 1954 and 1955 Sunburst Strats. He also uses a 52 Telecaster.[80]
  • James "J.Y." Young, guitarist of multi-platinum rock band Styx, has been using a Stratocaster as his principal guitar almost exclusively since 1967.[81]

See also[edit]


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