The legendary Fender Stratocaster is one of the most popular (and most copied) electric guitar models in history. It is an icon of modern design, engineered to be reliable, affordable, versatile, eminently playable and, most of all, fantastic sounding. So successful was the initial design of the instrument that it has been in continuous production since it was first introduced over sixty years ago, along with an ever-evolving array of variations.
The Strat was first introduced in 1954, just a few years after Fender debuted the Telecaster, which is widely considered to be the first commercially successful solidbody electric guitar. While the Tele was a solid and reliable workhorse, the Strat was a sleek and sexy, futuristic-looking instrument, with offset horns for better balance and enhanced playability, Fender's "Comfort Contour Body" that was shaped to better conform with the player's anatomy, and a newly-designed whammy/vibrato system that offered a compelling alternative to the more massive Bigsby rigs that were gaining popularity at the time. Although it was initially designed with a great deal of input from country and swing guitarists, such was its versatility that the Strat soon caught on with rockers like Buddy Holly and English instrumental band The Shadows, as well as blues, surf, and jazz players of all stripes.
Today, the Strat is identified as the guitar of choice for such giants as Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Eric Clapton, as well as legendary pickers like Robin Trower, Rory Gallagher and Jeff Beck, to name just a few.
While there have been many variations on the Stratocaster over the years, the same basic design, with contoured body, bolt-on 25.5" scale length neck, three single-coil pickups and Fender vibrato system, has continuously remained at the heart of the Strat legacy. Today, however, Fender markets an unprecedented variety of Stratocasters, ranging from the pint-sized Squier Mini Strat, with 22.75" scale neck and hardtail bridge, to pre-modded axes equipped with dual- coil humbucker pickups and Floyd Rose tremolo systems. There are cutting-edge axes like the Roland G-5 Strat, equipped with Roland's COSM modeling technology for an arsenal of Strat, Tele, acoustic and 12-string tones, as well as a bevy of alternate tunings at your fingertips; electrified old-timey innovations like the solidbody Mando-Strat electric mandolin; a dazzling array of Custom Shop beauties with never-before seen finishes and design flourishes; and Artist Series signature guitars modified to the exact specs of Strat masters like Eric Clapton, Ritchie Blackmore, and Dick Dale. There's even a Custom Shop replica of Stevie Ray Vaughn's treasured Lenny guitar for some truly authentic Scuttle Buttin'! Fender offers the iconic Strat design in several versions, including various models in the Standard, Classic and Deluxe Series, as well as the US-made American Standard, Vintage and Deluxe Series. They mix it up a bit with variants like the Road Worn Series, with vintage-vibe versions of classic Strats from the 50s and 60s, but pre-broken in and aged, so they feel as comfortable as an old friend right out of the box; or the Vintage Modified and Blacktop Series, offering axes hot-rodded with such niceties as high-output pickups and customized pickguards and finishes.
The Pawn Shop Series are mutated masterpieces, with hints of Telecaster or Jazz Bass appointments, for instance, adorning the classic Strat chassis, resulting in a collection of guitars that "never were but should have been," as Fender puts it - but you'll be glad they're here now! And the Custom shop Heavy Relic guitars, like the 1961 Stratocaster Burnt Heavy Relic, are radically pre-aged to look like they've been rode hard and hung up wet every night for years, but they play like a dream and sound even better, with state-of-the-art pickups, hardware and electronics. If you're the type who likes to hot-rod your own rides, however, or you're just looking to replace some sweat-pitted hardware, Fender offers everything you could need, from headstock to hardtail bridge, including replacement jack plates and pickup selector switches, extra-groovy pickguards and pickup covers, whammy bars or entire tremolo systems, and even replacement necks, bodies and vintage-style replacement pickups, as well as souped-up single coils and humbuckers from top-notch aftermarket winders like DiMarzio, Seymour Duncan, and Joe Barden. You can even trick out your castle or your practice space with Strat accessories like fridge magnets, mouse pads and a Strat-style cutting board, for when it's time to get down to some serious pentatonic vegetable shredding! And, of course, you can always flaunt your love for all things Strat with an authentic Stratocaster T-shirt. However you play it, the Strat has been an integral part of the music scene for over sixty years, and it's more popular now than ever. Strap one on and continue the legend!