The Fender Stratocaster was launched in 1954. Leo Fender relied on feedback from professional musicians and the Fender staff to develop the guitar, using the Telecaster as a starting point. The new design featured deep contours that made the Strat extremely comfortable and the double-cutaway made reaching the top frets much easier.
Often referred to as the most popular and influential guitar ever made, the Stratocaster is largely unchanged since its release in 1954 and is still favored by players of all levels who turn to a Strat for its legendary sound, versatility and playability.
So just what is it about the Fender Stratocaster that makes it so popular? First and foremost, Strats sound great. (They sound like a Strat!) They also feel good and are incredibly comfortable to play, but there’s more to the Strat’s appeal. Face it, a Stratocaster looks very cool. And it doesn’t hurt that so many great guitarists – from Buddy Holly, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Ray Vaughn to Eddie Van Halen, Yngvie Malmsteen, Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan and John Mayer – have made music history with the help of the Fender Stratocaster. The Stratocaster has a long, rich history as one of the first and most enduring electric guitars ever made.
There are four major “families” in the Fender Stratocaster line. The major differences in the families are in the places where they are built, the quality of components and the quality of fit and finish. They are (in order of increasing quality of components, fit and finish), Squier by Fender, Fender Stratocaster, Fender American Stratocaster and Fender Custom Shop.
Today, Fender offers a large variety of features, options and finishes in the Stratocaster line, yet all Stratocasters retain the classic features that made them a worldwide icon. Those features include:
• Solid ash or alder body
• Double-cutaway “Comfort Contour Body”
• Bolt-on maple neck
• Maple or rosewood fingerboard
• Nitrocellulose lacquer finish (vintage and Fender Select models)
• Urethane or polyester finish (modern models)
• Three single-coil pickups
• Five-position pickup selector (position 1 – bridge pickup only; position 2 – bridge and middle pickup; position 3 – middle pickup only; position 4 – middle and neck pickup; position 5 – neck pickup only)
• Two tone controls and one volume control
• 25-1/2″ scale length, 21 or 22 frets
• 7-1/4″ fretboard radius (vintage models)
• 9-1/2″ fretboard radius (modern models)
• Synchronized Tremolo (Vibrato arm/tailpiece)
Whether you’re just starting out or have been playing – or collecting – for years, there’s a Fender Stratocaster that’s exactly what you’ve been looking for. For more information, check out our Fender Stratocaster Buyers Guide.