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The Fender Stratocaster, often referred to as the Strat, is a model of electric guitar designed by Leo Fender, George Fullerton, and Freddie Tavares in 1954, and manufactured continuously to the present. It is a double-cutaway guitar, with an extended top horn for balance while standing. The Stratocaster has been used by many leading guitarists, and thus can be heard on many historic recordings. Along with the Gibson Les Paul, Gibson SG, and the Fender Telecaster, it is one of the most common and enduring models of electric guitar in the world. The design of the Stratocaster has transcended the field of music to rank among the classic industrial designs of all time; examples have been exhibited at major museums around the world.

In its original form, the Stratocaster was offered initially in a 2-color sunburst finish, together with a solid deeply contoured ash body, a one-piece maple neck with 21 frets, black dot inlays and Kluson machine heads until 1957, when Fender started making bodies made from solid alder. There was also a set of available custom colors that wasn't standardized until 1960. These custom colors were mostly automobile lacquer colors made by Dupont and could be had for an extra 5% cost. The single-ply, 8-screw hole white pickguard was a unique concept that allowed all of the guitar's electronic components - except the recessed jack plate - to be mounted on one easy-to-remove surface. Subsequent Stratocaster designs (by both Fender and other imitating companies) have ostensibly improved upon the original in usability and sound, but vintage Fender models are still often worth large amounts of money and some prefer the timbre of older models.

The Stratocaster has been widely copied; as a result, the term "Strat," although a trademark of Fender Musical Instrument Corporation, is often used generically when referring to any guitar that has the same general features as the original, regardless of manufacturer.

Design and popularity changes

The Stratocaster's radically sleek, contoured body shape (officially referred to by Fender as the "Comfort Contour Body") was a marked difference to the flat, slab-like design of the Telecaster. The body features a unique curve on the upper back and a gradual curve at the front bottom, where the player's right arm rests. The one-piece maple neck's uniquely-shaped wide "dogleg"-style headstock again contrasted to 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 bridge cavity on the back of the guitar. Original Stratocasters were shipped with five springs anchoring the bridge flat against the body. Players were able to remove the backplate covering the bridge, remove two of the springs and tighten 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. Once in the floating position, players can move the tremolo arm mounted on the bridge up or down to increase or decrease the pitch of the notes being played. Many players such as Eric Clapton, who dislike the tuning instability of floating bridge Stratocasters, usually block the tremolo bridge by inserting a small wedge of wood in against the inertia block (the gap towards the bottom of the guitar body) and placing excessive tension on the springs, pulling in the opposite direction, to 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."

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, 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 adjustment knob, while the bridge pickup, which is slanted towards the high strings for a more trebly sound, has no tone control for maximum brightness. As this configuration means that combining the neck and middle pickups sends the signal through two tone potentiometers, resulting in a loss of tone, a common modification is to rewire the second tone control for the bridge. 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 which cuts (or boosts) treble and bass frequencies, affecting all the pickups; the second tone is an active midrange booster which boosts the midrange frequencies up to 25dB (12dB on certain models) to produce a fatter humbucker-like sound.

All three pickups' volume level is controlled by a single volume knob. The placement of the knobs allowed 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.

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).

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 refitted with a rosewood fretboard, as well as color choices other than sunburst, including a variety of colorful car-like paint jobs that appealed to the nascent surfer and hot-rod culture, pioneered by such bands as the Surfaris, the Ventures and the Beach Boys. 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 of the Shadows, a band which 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 and chose other marques. However, in 1965, George Harrison and John Lennon of the Beatles both acquired Stratocasters and used them for the Rubber Soul and later recording sessions.

The one-piece maple neck was discontinued in 1959 and 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 an optional maple neck with a separate glued-on laminated maple fretboard in 1967 (known as a "maple cap" neck), with the rosewood fretboard over maple neck remaining the other neck option. Two 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 was to meet increased demand, as one piece maple necks required more work to manufacture and more work to finish. 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 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 Jaguar.

CBS buys Fender and player modifications

After CBS bought the Fender companies in 1965, rosewood fretboards were no longer slabs of rosewood with a flat bottom glued onto a maple neck (with a corresponding flat top for the fretboard). They were curved pieces of rosewood glued onto a maple neck of the corresponding curvature at the contact point. During that time the older "clay"-style dots were replaced by pearloid shell position markers. This was done to save money (ie. these new necks would use less rosewood than the original 1959 ones).

Many artists discovered that the three-way pick-up 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. Since 1977, the Strat has been fitted with a five-way switch to make such switching more stable. 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-'60s Stratocasters with the large "CBS" headstock and (from the mid 70s) 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 (although some new models with 4-bolt necks retained the MicroTilt system that was native to the 3-bolt necks, like the Strat Plus, the flagship American Standard Stratocaster and, what's now known as the American Deluxe Stratocaster) and added a new BiFlex truss-rod system, which adjusts the neck curvature in two directions, convex and concave, as well as locking security StrapLock Ready strap buttons made by Schaller on guitars produced after 1982/83. However, many blues-influenced artists of the late '60s soon adopted the Stratocaster as their main instrument, reviving the guitar's popularity. Also, so-called 'pre-CBS' Stratocasters are, accordingly, extremely sought-after and expensive due to the huge 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. Many now reside in Japan, cached away as collectible pieces of Americana.

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.

Squier models

In late 1981, Greco (Japan) relinquished its Stratocaster division to Fender Japan. By 1982 the company had started producing Stratocasters in Japan. Fender Japan produced the less expensive "Squier Stratocasters" for the European and American markets (Squier was originally a string company that was acquired by Fender, under CBS in the late 1960s). In addition, Fender produced a non-Squier model. In the earliest years, 1982–1984, these guitars were made with a serial number beginning with "JV". These guitars are referred to today as "Fender JV" Stratocasters. The top model non-Squier JV guitars, the ST-85 and ST-115, had Fender hardware, pickups, and a nitrocellulose lacquer finish. All of Fender's guitars in the 1985 catalog were made in Japan. Some estimate that as much as 80% of Fender's sales between 1984 and 1986 were Japanese models. Japanese models are now only available in Japan, with the exception of some instruments, like the Sting Signature Precision Bass, the Flower Power models, the '51 Re-Issue Precision Bass, as well as the Jaguar Bass, the Richie Kotzen Signature Stratocasters and Telecasters, the Marcus Miller 4-string and Geddy Lee Signature Jazz Basses.

Fender 1985–1998

When the Fender company was bought from CBS 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, a maple-fretboard 1957 and a rosewood-fretboard 1962 along with the maple-fretboard 1952 Telecaster, the maple-fretboard 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 Fullertonmarker plant, which closed its doors in late 1984.

In 1985, Fender's US production of the Vintage reissues resumed into a new factory at Coronamarker, located about 20 miles away from Fullerton. These three guitars form an important part of the American Vintage Series line since July 10, 1998.

Current models

A 2004 maple-necked Mexican Standard Stratocaster next to a Vox amplifier.
As of 2007, Fender offers a wide line of Stratocasters alongside vintage reissues, as well as maintaining a "Custom Shop" service that builds guitars to order. Those who wish period-accurate replicas can request Stratocasters with original cloth-coated wiring, pickup and electronics designs, wood routing patterns, and even artificial aging and oxidizing of components using the Custom Shop "relic" process.

The American Deluxe Series Stratocasters 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 Noiseless pickups 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.

American Series Stratocasters come 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, all American Standard Stratocasters come with a redesigned bridge with vintage-style bent steel saddles and the S-1 switching has been dropped. Fender offers 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).

Highway 1 Stratocaster
The Highway-1 series, originally introduced in 2002 and re-designed in 2007, is a concept based around bridging the pricepoints of the Standard and American Series instruments, and also offering an affordable "reissue" meant to resemble Strats from the 60's and 70's. The instruments are made in the U.S. and incorporate a hybrid of hardware; the tuners and string trees are similar in design and quality to those on American Series instruments, while the bridge hardware is largely similar to the Standard Series. The most striking difference to any other current mass-produced Strat is the body finish, which is a thin satin-finish nitrocellulose as opposed to the thick polyurethane coating used on both Standard and American series models. This coating provides a very vintage look, as nitrocellulose was the standard lacquer finish for vintage Strats. Highway 1 Strats use hotter Alnico III pickup polepieces similar to those on American Series guitars, giving a very bright sound compared to cheaper "ceramic" polepiece elements, and also feature a tone circuit called the Greasebucket, first seen on the Custom Pro series guitars; functionally similar to a traditional tone control, it provides a more natural roll-off of high frequencies, without the bass frequencies becoming more present as can occur with traditional tone circuits. The first two years of Highway 1 instruments resembled "pre-CBS"-era instruments with the traditional headstock design, small frets and vintage color choices. Beginning in 2007, the line was redesigned to resemble 70's-era instruments with a large headstock, bigger frets, CBS-era color schemes and other visual cues.

The Vintage Hot-Rod Series has vintage looks and modern playability ignited together in these next-level guitars, which feature authentic ’50s and early ’60s designs paired with some hot-rod modifications, including flatter fretboards and larger frets to increase the playability of necks and modern pickups.

The American Special Series included Stratocasters with features that span the bridge between traditional and modern technology, either in specifications, design or both. Fender American Special series models were made in Corona, California (USA). 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 humbucking pick-ups, which lasted until 2007.

The VG Stratocaster (designed by Fender and Japanese synthesizer giant Roland) is an American Series virtual modeling guitar with a Roland VG pickup and two extra knobs for Tuning and Mode control. The tuning knob allows the player to switch between standard, Drop D, D Modal, open G, baritone, and twelve-string tunings. The Mode control knob allows the player to choose between Stratocaster, Telecaster, humbucking pickup, and acoustic guitar sounds. The VG Stratocaster was introduced in 2007 where it won "Best In Show" at the NAMM show, and has been endorsed by Fender guitar clinician Greg Koch. Fender discontinued this model as of April 1, 2009.

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 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 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:

  • 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 '70s-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, mercedes blue, black and midnight blue (Custom Artist), as well in olympic white and pewter with a "Thinskin" nitrocellulose lacquer finish (Custom Thinskin Nitro).
  • Billy Corgan: based on Fender's Highway 1 series. Available in Olympic White or Flat Black satin nitro finishes with a hardtail, string through body bridge. Other unique features include 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: white pickguard with a rosewood fretboard. The whammy bar is optional (as Dale's guitar was originally supplied with one, but it broke off during a performance and he decided not to reattach it).
  • 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.
  • David Gilmour: Two models of Gilmour's famous "black Strat" are available from the Fender Custom Shop: One which is a standard American Stratocaster (labeled as New old stock) with electronic and cosmetic modifications and a "relic" style guitar that replicates the "black Strat" down to every scratch and dent. The relic version even 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. Available in a variety of finishes, including black with white polka dots, 2-color sunburst and honey blonde transparent.
  • 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, four-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-Colour Sunburst, Black and Candy Apple Red. Also available as a rosewood neck version with a bound round-laminated 12”-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 (Lucerne Aqua Firemist, Tropical Turquoise and Medium Palomino Metallic) are exclusive to this model.
  • 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), 5-way switching and a "TEXAS" sticker stamped on the pickguard.
  • John Mayer: features a select alder body, a thick C-shape maple neck with African rosewood fingerboard and 21 Jim Dunlop 6105 narrow-jumbo 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 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.
  • 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. Introduced in 2002.
  • Yngwie 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, DiMarzio YJM single-coil pickups (neck,middle), DiMarzio HS-3 Stack humbucking pickup (bridge) with 3-way switching, 3-ply W/B/W pickguard, aged plastic parts and American Vintage hardware.
  • Richie Sambora: features an alder body, a 22-fret neck with maple fingerboard, abalone "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, Vintage 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. Discontinued in 2002.
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan: a reproduction of "Number One", Vaughan's favourite guitar. First offered in 1992, has a black pickguard with Vaughan's initials, three Fender Texas Special pickups and a pau ferro fretboard.
  • Kenny Wayne Shepherd: based on Kenny'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 2-tone sunburst, white with a cross graphic, or black with a racing stripe graphic.

In popular culture

The Fender Stratocaster (Strat) has been featured in many movies, roller coasters, TV shows and much more. It has been featured in Rock N Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith in Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Custom Classic Strats were Custom Shop versions of the American Series models, sporting C or V-shape maple necks with rosewood or maple fingerboard and three Modern Classic single-coils with a Hot Classic bridge pickup featuring a custom steel inductance plate. Custom Classic guitars made before 2003 were equipped with a set of Fender Texas Special single-coils. Discontinued in 2009 and replaced by the Custom Deluxe Series models.

Highway One guitars (introduced in 2000 and upgraded in 2006) include a large headstock, '70s styling, super-sized frets, three distortion-friendly Alnico III single-coils and a Greasebucket tone circuit (which rolls off the high frequencies without adding bass). The Highway One Stratocaster HSS features a black bobbin Atomic II humbucker in the bridge position. Limited edition models with '50s and early '60s specs were offered with a run of 150 instruments; 2-tone sunburst finish, ash body, maple fingerboard and 1-ply parchment pickguard or surf green finish, alder body, rosewood fingerboard and 3-ply mint pickguard, both featuring a small headstock with "spaghetti"-style decal. The alder-bodied guitar with the rosewood fretboard and the 3-ply mint pickguard came with a set of Custom Shop '69 Stratocaster single-coil pickups.

Standard, Deluxe and Classic Series Stratocasters are generally made in Mexico, although some models are manufactured in Japan and Korea.

Fender Stratocasters are built in the United States, Mexico, Japan and Korea.
  • American Standard, American Vintage, American Deluxe, American Special, Artist, Custom Classic, Custom Artist, Hot-Rodded American Vintage and Highway One series Stratocasters are made in Fender's state-of-art factory in Corona, California, United States of America and are commonly called Made In America (MIA) Stratocasters. There is also a Fender Museum there open to the public.
  • Most other Stratocaster series models are made in a Fender factory in Ensenadamarker, Mexico and are often labelled as Made In Mexico (MIM). Guitar necks are still manufactured in the Corona factory and sent to the Ensenada factory to be mounted onto guitars.
  • Fender Japan Stratocasters and Squiers were exported in the 1980s and 1990s but are now mostly limited for sale to the Japanese domestic market. It is also the most common sold guitar.

Fender also produces Stratocasters under the Squier brand in Chinamarker, Indonesiamarker and Indiamarker at lower cost than Fender-branded models. While Squier Stratocasters are predominantly inexpensive versions of Fender Stratocasters, some models are also unique to the Squier brand, such as the OBEY Graphic series or Hello Kitty series. They also offer a starter kit through Costco, Target and other retailers, which comes with a budget Strat under the name Starcaster by Fender, which comes in standard and deluxe pickup configurations. It also comes with extra strings, three guitar picks, a gig bag and an SP10 Amp. It is common for guitarists who enjoy customizing their instruments to buy a cheap Stratocaster variant and upgrade the components to their own tastes. Many modern Stratocasters are routed with a large single 'swimming pool' pickup rout, allowing a completely different pickguard with any configuration of humbucker or single-coil pickups to be fixed to the guitar virtually instantly; three wires from the bridge ground and jackplate are all that need to be soldered into place. Other modern Strats, such as the American Deluxe, American and American Standard Series, came with the 'universal' HSH rout.

Fender also offers a 12-string version of the Stratocaster, known as the Fender Stratocaster XII.

Fender has licensed the appearance of the Stratocaster to Electronic Arts for a replica guitar controller for EA and Harmonix's Rock Band rhythm video game. A real Stratocaster, retrofitted with controller electronics, is available as a controller for Rock Band 2.

Notable Stratocaster players

See also


  1. Leo Fender at
  2. ART/ARCHITECTURE; Strummed by One Hand, Sculptured by Another - New York Times
  3. Harrison subsequently gave his Strat a psychedelic paint job, and in this guise it can be seen in Magical Mystery Tour. Still later Harrison had "Rocky's" action raised and used it for much of his slide-guitar work.
  4. 株式会社フジゲンの歩み
  5. History of Fender


  • 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)
  • The Stratocaster Chronicles: Celebrating 50 Years of the Fender Strat. Tom Wheeler. Hal Leonard (April 1, 2004) ISBN 0634056786 ISBN 9780634056789
  • The Fender Electric Guitar Book: A Complete History of Fender Instruments. Tony Bacon. Backbeat Books. 3rd edition (September 1, 2007) ISBN 0879308974 ISBN 978 0879308971

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