The story of the Fender Stratocaster Guitar
Hi Music makers, Have you ever wondered who invented the famous Fender Stratocaster, An instrument played by musicians like Eric Clapton, Hank Marvin, and a host of other musicians ! Well This is the story of the Stratocaster etc'
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|Body type||Solid, Double Cut|
|Neck joint||Bolt-on (set-in neck on certain models).|
|Scale||25.5" (24.75" on some models)|
|Body||Alder, Ash, Poplar (limited edition guitars available in a variety of woods includingbasswood, mahogany and koa(none of which is plywood) with flamed, spalted or quilted mapletops 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" 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)|
|Pickup(s)||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 SunburstAmerican Standard Series (as of 2012): Black, 3-Color Sunburst, Olympic White, Jade Green Pearl, Charcoal Frost Metallic, Candy Cola (alder), Sienna Sunburst (ash)|
American Special Series (as of 2010): 3-Color Sunburst, 2-Color Sunburst, Black, Candy Apple Red, Olympic White
Black Top Series (as of 2010): Black, Candy Apple Red, Sonic Blue
American Deluxe Series (as of 2010): 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
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 White
Other colors may be available
The Fender Stratocaster is an electric guitar. Designed by Leo Fender, George Fullerton, and Freddie Tavares in 1954, it has been manufactured continuously by the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation to the present. It is a double-cutaway guitar, with an extended top horn for balance. Along with the Les Paul, it is the most popular electric guitar. Although "Stratocaster" and "Strat" are trademark terms belonging to the Fender, the term "Strat" is often applied to any guitar with the same general features as the original regardless of manufacturer.
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 whitepickguard allowed all electronic components——except the recessed jack plate——to be attached to it for easy assembly. Despite subsequent Stratocaster models (including copies) vintage Fender models are highly valued by collectors for their investment potential and players who prefer thetimbre of older models.
Among the genres the Stratocaster has been used for—besides Country, the genre Leo Fender intended it to be for—it has played a large role in rock, pop,soul, rhythm and blues as well as bluesand jazz.
Original Stratocasters were shipped with five springs anchoring the bridge flat against the body. 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 tremolo arm mounted on the bridge up or down to modulate the pitch of the notes being played. Jeff Beck and Ike Turnerextensively used the Strat's floating tremolo in their playing. But players, such as Eric Clapton, disliked the floating bridge's propensity to detune guitars, inhibited the bridge's movement with 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 threesingle 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, Eric Clapton and Robert Cray, can be obtained by using the pickup selector into 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 andBuddy 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 Stratocasterthermo-plastic which is sometimes incorrectly identified as Bakelite. On many early examples, the pickup covers have worn through from repeated friction from 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 theguitar 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 theSurfaris, 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 Showmanamplifier. In the early 1960s, the instrument was also championed byHank 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 of the Beatles both 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 1962 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 until 1979 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 and that the maple fingerboards discolored very quickly because the old nitro cellulose lacquer was not very durable and wore through on the fretboard very fast. Since the introduction of the Fender Stratocaster Ultra series in 1989, ebony was officially selected as a fretboard material on some models (although several Elite SeriesStratocasters 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 Fender Jaguar.
CBS buys Fender; 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 thewah-wah pedal. 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 withhumbucking 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 theAmerican Deluxe, American, Hot Rodded American, American Special andAmerican 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-rockguitar. Yngwie Malmsteen is known for playing a Stratocaster in theNeo-Classical genre.
1982/3 Dan Smith Fender Stratocaster
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, 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 in which 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 Japanproduced 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.
In 2000, for the anniversary of the Squier line of Stratocaster guitars, that year's model was offered in a limited-edition green finish.
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 the series was not created to be completely era correct, but rather to impart the 'vibe' of a classic Fender design, which is Squier's attempt at bringing back the vintage-quality feel, look, and sound of their first series of guitars in 1982.
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 left over parts from the Fullerton factory. These three guitars form an important part of the American Vintage Series line since July 10, 1998.
American Standard Series
American Series Stratocasters came with alder or ash bodies, rolled fingerboard edges, three custom "modern" staggered single-coils and the DeltaTone system (which includes a high output bridge pickup and a reverse-wound single-coil in the middle position). Hardtail versions were discontinued in 2007. New for 2003 was the American Strat HSS, which features a Diamondback humbucker (bridge), two Tex-Mex single-coils (neck/middle) and S-1 switching. An HH model with dual Sidewinder/Black Cobra humbuckers was offered until 2007.
As of 2008, the American Standard Stratocasters (which are updates to the American Series line) come with hand-rolled fingerboard edges, alnico V pickups, staggered tuners, improved bridge with bent steel saddles and copper-infused high-mass block for increased resonance and sustain, tinted neck, high-gloss maple or rosewood fretboard, satin neck back for smooth playability, thin-finish undercoat that lets the body breathe and improves resonance, and Fender exclusive SKB molded case. Fender offered a 2009 Limited Edition American Standard Stratocaster featuring a matching headstock, a rosewood fretboard with 22 jumbo frets and a melamine nut (available in Surf Green, Fiesta Red and Daphne Blue). In March 2012 Fender updated the American Standard Stratocaster with three Custom Shop Fat 1950s single-coil pickups and aged plastic parts.
American Deluxe Series
The American Deluxe SeriesStratocasters came with a variety of high-end options such as a Fender DH-1 humbucker in the bridge position and an American 2-point locking vibrato bridge (Fender/Floyd Rose assembly) with LSR Roller Nut, locking tuners on certain models and Samarium Cobalt Noiselesspickups with S-1 switching. Guitars produced before 2004 featured Vintage Noiseless pickups and 4-bolt neck fixing. The contoured neck heel feature on these Stratocasters was added in 2002. The American Deluxe Stratocaster HSS (also known as American Deluxe Fat Strat) is the same guitar except for the addition of a Fender DH-1 humbucker in the bridge position and two Hot SCN pickups for a proper balance with the humbucking pickup. The American Deluxe Strat HSS LT had the same specifications as the Stratocaster HSS, with an additional feature; the strings lock into the bridge, LSR roller nut and locking machine heads. Introduced in 1998 and upgraded in 2004, the American Deluxe Strat HSS LT has been discontinued as of 2007. As of March 23, 2010, Fender updated the American Deluxe series with N3 noiseless pickups for improved Stratocaster tones. The S-1 switch has been reconfigured for wider tonal options and the necks now feature a vintage tint and compound radius fretboards for increased comfort while chording and soloing. The HSS models also sport Fender's "Passing Lane" switch, which routes the signal from any pickup position to the bridge position with the tone circuit bypassed.
American Special Series
American Special Stratocasters (made in Corona, California (USA)) are equivalent to the American Standard with a moreclassic / « vintage » design. Features include a solid alder body finished in a gloss urethane, 9.5"-radius maple necks with 22 jumbo frets, CBS large headstock with black Fender logo and three Texas Special pickups with 5-way switching and Fender's Greasebucket tone circuit. The Greasebucket was first seen on the Custom Pro series guitars; functionally similar to a traditional tone control, while providing a more naturalroll-off of high frequencies, without the bass frequencies becoming more present as can occur with traditional tone circuits. The HSS models feature a rosewood fingerboard, a 3-ply black pickguard and a Fender « Atomic humbucker » pickup in the bridge position.
American Special Stratocasters feature the same woods and manufacturing quality as the American Standard, differing on the following points :
The VG Stratocaster (made in Corona, California (USA)) was designed by Fender in collaboration with Roland. It is an American Series virtual modeling guitar with a Roland VG pickup and two extra knobs for tuning control (5 positions) and mode (also 5 positions), offering five alternated tunings and 37 different guitar sounds. The VG Stratocaster was introduced in 2007 and discontinued in April 2009.
Vintage Hot Rod Series
The Vintage Hot-Rod Series (made in Corona, California (USA)) feature authentic 1950s and early 1960s designs paired with some hot-rod modifications, including flatter fretboards and larger frets to increase the playability of necks and modern pickups.
Road Worn Series
The Road Worn series (made in Mexico) includes a 1960s Stratocaster (with rosewood fretboard and C-Shape neck) and a 1950s Stratocaster (with maple fretboard and Soft-V neck), Tex-Mex pickups, Alder body, nitrocellulose lacquer, and 6105 frets. These guitars are deliberately aged to produce the "road worn" look of a vintage Stratocaster. In 2011 the Roadworn Player series was introduced, and it includes two Stratocaster models sporting 3 Texas Special single-coils or 2 Texas Special single-coils (neck/middle) and a Seymour DuncanPearly Gates humbucking pickup (bridge).
In September 2010 Fender introduced the Mexican-made Black Top Stratocaster HH. This twin-humbucker model sports a pair of hot vintage alnico humbucking pickups with chrome covers, a 9.5"-radius maple neck with either rosewood or maple fingerboard and 22 medium-jumbo frets. Other features include a solid alder body with a gloss polyester finish, black skirted amp control knobs and chrome hardware. This guitar is also available with a Floyd Rose Special locking tremolo since 2011.
Pawn Shop Series
In March 2011 Fender released the Fender Pawn Shop Series guitars (made in Japan), which were manufactured with components and the appearance of instruments that might be found in a typical pawn shop in the 1960s or 1970s. Three models were released, two of which were Stratocaster based. TheFender '51 features a Strat body and a "C"-shaped Telecaster neck, with a single-coil Texas Special neck pickup, Fender Enforcer humbucking bridge pickup, maple fretboard, a 1970s-style hard-tail bridge, and a white pick guard. The Fender '72 has a semi-hollow Strat body with an f-hole, a Telecaster style neck, two humbucking pickups, and dual-knob chrome control plate with master volume and pickup blend.
Factory Special Run Series (FSR)
Throughout recent years Fender has issued limited run Stratocaster guitars under the model sub-classification of "FSR" or Factory Special Run. These guitars are often a guitar of one of the above models with special features such as limited finishes (special colors or "thin skin" lacquer), pickup options (configurations or pickup type), hardware options (gold), or trim options (plastics). Commonly these FSR instruments are built in the Mexico factories, but some have been built in the Corona, CA, USA factory.
Highway One Series
The Highway-1 series, originally introduced in 2002 and re-designed in 2006 (and discontinued in October 2011), were entry-level made in the U.S.A Stratocasters. Both body and neck are the same on the Highway-1 and American Standard/Special Strats, except that the Highway-1 Strats body is finished with a thin satin nitrocellulosecoating to reduce cost (as opposed to the high-gloss polyurethane coating used on both American Standard and American Special series models (this thin satin nitrocellulose coating is not the same high quality nitrocellulosecoating used on vintage Fender instruments). The first model (3+ years) of Highway 1 instruments resembled "pre-CBS"-era instruments with the traditional headstock design, small frets and vintage color choices. Beginning in 2006, the second model (upgraded) was redesigned to resemble 1970s-era instruments with a large headstock, bigger frets, and CBS-era color schemes.
Floyd Rose Classic
The Floyd Rose Classic Stratocasters (made from 1992 to 2003) featured an original Floyd Rose locking tremolo bridge. They came in HSS (Fender DH-1 humbucker and 2 DeltaTone single-coils) and HH (dual Fender DH-1 humbuckers) configurations. Models manufactured before 1998 had DiMarzio PAF Pro humbucking pickups. The range also included the Honduran mahogany-bodied Strat-O-Sonic guitars with the choice of Black Dove P-90 soap-bars and Atomic II humbuckers, which lasted until 2007. Signature models
Fender also supply a variety of signature models, each with specifications similar to those used by a well-known performer. Custom Artist guitars are theCustom 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 replications 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 the model). Artists with models available in the signature range include:
A standard Squier Stratocaster is mass-produced in factories located inIndonesia or China. For its construction, Squier usually uses woods readily available in those countries, such asagathis 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.
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