First released way back in 1954 and in continuous production ever since, the Fender Stratocaster, or "Strat" as it is commonly known, is one of the world's most iconic and popular electric guitar models. The graceful lines of the Strat have landed it in museums for industrial design and modern art, but there is also a functional side to those curves and contours, and they help make the Stratocaster an exceptionally well balanced and comfortable instrument to play. While it was originally developed largely for the Country & Western and Swing music that was popular in the early 1950s, the Strat was also quickly embraced by early rock pioneers such as Buddy Holly, and has remained popular with a huge number of legendary players in a wide variety of genres ever since. For over fifty years, influential players such as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix and countless others have relied on the Strat as a major component of their sound.
In its classic configuration, the Fender Stratocaster features a 25.5" scale maple neck with either a rosewood or maple fingerboard, three single coil pickups, vibrato bridge, three-way switching (later versions went to a more flexible five position switch), one master volume and two tone controls -- one for the neck and one for the middle pickup. This provides the player with a wide variety of tones that can be accessed with the flip of a switch. The location of the volume control is close to the player's picking hand, which makes it easy to manipulate while playing; which some players, such as Rory Gallagher, have used to good effect for adding violin-like volume swells to notes. You can also dial up a distorted sound on your amp, and then "clean up" the sound simply by rolling off the Strat's volume control when a less distorted or cleaner sound is desired.
The basic design of the Stratocaster has been modified and adapted to meet the needs of various styles and ever-evolving player tastes, needs and preferences. Today there are a variety of different models of the Fender Strat available; everything from affordable entry-level instruments for the beginner and intermediate player, to recreations of vintage classics, to modern hot-rodded versions with high output noiseless or humbucker pickups, flatter neck radius and larger frets for easier lead playing. There are even high-end models built by the highly skilled craftspeople in Fender's world-famous Custom Shop. The genius and adaptability of the original design has allowed the Strat to change with the times and still remain a relevant, even essential tool for the modern guitarist. Whether you play Surf, Country, Blues, Metal, Alternative / Indie Rock or Funk, there is a Stratocaster that is perfect for your needs and budget.