Wednesday, December 24, 2008

List of Stratocaster players

This is an alphabetized list of musicians who have made notable use of the Fender Stratocaster in live performances or studio recordings. The Fender Stratocaster was designed by Leo Fender and Freddie Tavares with involvement from musicians Rex Gallion and Bill Carson in the early 1950s, and since its commercial introduction in 1954 has become widely used among popular artists in rock, blues, and other genres.[1] The Squier Stratocaster is produced by Fender as a more affordable alternative to the Fender-branded version.

Due to the immense popularity of this model, musicians are listed here only if their use of this instrument was especially significant — that is, they are players who:

  • have long careers and a history of Stratocaster use.
  • have a particular guitar that was unique or of historical importance.
  • have contributed significantly to the popularization of the instrument through their use of it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Yngwie Malmsteen Tribute Series Stratocaster

November 2008 sees the 100-instrument limited edition release of the eagerly awaited Fender Custom Shop Yngwie Malmsteen Tribute Series Stratocaster (“Play Loud”) guitar replica. The instrument is a meticulous recreation of the infamous and battle-hardened 1971 Stratocaster guitar that fueled Malmsteen’s meteoric rise to metal stardom, complete with heavily worn Olympic white finish, scalloped fingerboard and distinctive body graphics.

Malmsteen was one of the very first Fender signature artists; a Stratocaster bearing his name appeared in 1988, the first year that Fender offered artist signature guitars.

The original on which Malmsteen's new Tribute Series Stratocaster is based is a highly significant instrument in the annals of metal and of instrumental rock music. The replica is authentic in nearly every detail, including the famous "Play Loud" sticker on the upper horn and the distinctive scalloped maple fingerboard.

Like the original, it features DiMarzio® HS-3 pickups in the bridge and neck positions and a standard '70s-era Fender middle pickup. It has a standard Fender bridge, a large headstock and a heavily worn Olympic White finish expertly treated to mirror each of the original guitar's many battle scars—the nicks, dings, scratches, burns and worn finish spots from decades of heavy use (and abuse) in Malmsteen's masterful hands.

Malmsteen need no introduction to shred fans, of course. He rose to fame in the early 1980s as the phenomenally talented and flamboyantly theatrical sole progenitor of “neoclassic” metal. Live and on record, his classically inflected guitar chops dazzled all who heard him. His phenomenal playing proved highly influential and served as the foundation for an entire new metal sub-genre. Several of his many albums are considered metal classics, including Rising Force (1984), Marching Out (1985), Fire and Ice (1992) and Unleash the Fury (2005).

10th Anniversary Crossroads Antigua Stratocaster

In the 1970s Fender introduced the Antigua finish on a number of models from the flagship Stratocaster to the classic Coronado Bass. Described as a “rich antique-white finish with halo-mist shading,” it became highly prized among collectors around the world.

In 2008 Sam Ash incorporated the spirit of the Eric Clapton Stratocaster with the spirit of the Crossroads Centre, commissioning a limited run of only 100 pieces of the signature model in the classic Antigua finish along with a commitment to donate $100,000 to the Crossroads Centre. This exclusive instrument is currently being built by the Fender Custom Shop to Slowhand's exacting specifications.

Features include a select alder body, 1-piece maple neck with soft “V” shape, 22 vintage style frets, 3 Vintage Noiseless pickups, “blocked” American Vintage synchronized tremolo, active mid-boost circuit and vintage black case. Each instrument is individually numbered from 1 through 100 and come with an official certificate of authenticity.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Limited Edition Crossroads Signature Guitar and Amp Set for Eric Clapton

Fender introduced a matching set of limited-edition Crossroads instruments, which consisted of an Eric Clapton Crossroads Signature Stratocaster (better known as the "Sun Strat" and produced in a limited run of 100 instruments globally) and a Crossroads '57 Twin-Amp (produced in a limited run of 50 pieces). Each guitar is crafted to Clapton's exacting specifications and bear a unique "Crossroads Antigua" smiling sun graphic designed and originally hand-drawn by Eric Clapton himself.

The commemorative Crossroads '57 Twin-Amps are modeled after the original '57 Twin. This limited-edition amplifier features a custom engraved commemorative "Crossroads 2007" badge autographed by Eric and his "Crossroads Antigua" graphic is artistically embedded on the grill cloth.

The latest copy of the Stratocaster was made to Clapton's current exacting specifications. Bearing in mind the number of changes he makes with regards to neck dimensions, Slowhand fans purchasing this will be getting an exact replica as used at the Crossroads Guitar Festival 2007.

Construction and design variations of Eric Clapton Stratocaster

Several variations of the Clapton Strat were made by the Fender Custom Shop throughout the years, including fancy versions with ash bodies, quilted or maple tops, abalone dot position inlays, matching headstocks, gold hardware and white pearloid pickguards, made by Senior Master Builder J. W. Black. Many of these guitars were sold for charity auctions for the Crossroads Centre of Antigua, the drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation facility founded on the small, idyllic Caribbean island in 1998. They include the Gold Leaf Stratocaster of 1996 (used during the Legends and Montserrat concerts in 1997) and the Crashocasters (signature model Stratocasters hand-painted by New York-based street artist John Matos, better known as Crash), used by Clapton from 2001 to 2004.

The Gold Leaf Stratocaster
The original Gold Leaf guitar was built by Fender Master Builder Mark Kendrick as a custom order for Eric Clapton at the time of the 50th Anniversary of the firm in 1996 and was Slowhand's main instrument of choice during the Legends period in 1997. Clapton used the guitar for the last time during his Japanese One More Car, One More Rider tour of 2001 before selling it to Christies for US $455,000.

The Fender Custom Shop reissued the Gold Leaf Stratocaster after 8 years of absence as a limited-edition run of 50 pieces. Each guitar was built to Eric's exacting specifications, with Fender's Vintage Noiseless pickups and a standard tone control instead of the TBX tone circuit actually found on the original 1996 model.

Bacchus BST-GL
Japanese guitar manufacturer Bacchus Custom Guitars had popularized Clapton's Gold Leaf guitars with the BST-GL series since late 1998. These guitars were basically nearly close reproductions of the original Gold Leaf Stratocaster (using genuine USA electronics, Gold Fender Lace Sensor pickups and hardware), except for the "Bacchus Custom Guitars" decal on the headstock rather than the "Fender" spaghetti logo found on Clapton's gold-finished signature model. Since 2005 the Japanese guitar company stopped using its own decal on the guitar's headstock, after few customers requested to have the Fender logo put on for reasons of authenticity.

Features of Eric Clapton Stratocaster

Clapton asked Fender for a V-shaped neck similar to his Martin acoustic guitar and what he called a "compressed" pickup sound, similar to that of a humbucker, explaining everything else about the famous "woman tone" he had developed during the Cream period in the late '60s, a playing technique almost synonymous with various Gibson models such as the ES-335, Les Paul Standard, Explorer, Byrdland, SG and Firebird, all sporting a pair of humbucking pickups. Early prototypes made around 1986/87 featured 21 frets and locking strap buttons. Few of these prototypes had an active/passive toggle button. The final product (released in 1988) came with 22 frets and three Fender Gold Lace Sensor pickups powered by an active mid-boost circuit with 25dB of gain and TBX tone controls. These world famous pickups (made by AGI Lace Music Products since 1985) were used exclusively by Fender until 1996. Powerful active 25dB midrange boost and TBX tone circuits (first introduced in 1983 with the shortlived Elite Series instruments, which have been discontinued at the end of 1984) helped augment the tone of the sound delivered, opening up a greater tonal range Clapton desired. Also, the guitar had an interesting feature: a vintage-style synchronized tremolo bridge blocked off to tremolo arms. This idea came about as Clapton disliked the tone of hardtail Stratocasters but never used the whammy bar. In 1991 Eric agreed to have his signature model with a rosewood fretboard as well to suit the needs of players disliking the feel of maple-neck models. However, only 94 of these shortlived guitars were made and their production finally ceased.

In 2001, reflecting the changes Clapton had made to his own guitar, the Lace Sensors were replaced with Fender Vintage Noiseless pickups, which were available as a standard equipment material on the Fender American Deluxe Series guitars manufactured between 1998 and 2003. The Custom Shop version (introduced in 2004) is available in Midnight Blue, Mercedes Blue, Black and Gold Leaf with gold-plated hardware (also available in two new "Thinskin Nitro" finishes, Olympic White and Pewter, as well as a left-handed version).

Since their introduction in 2004, Custom Shop Clapton Stratocasters use a standard tone control instead of a TBX tone circuit.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Eric Clapton Stratocaster

In 1981, Fender had informally discussed the idea of a signature model Telecaster with the legendary James Burton; however, this would not come to be until 1990. Jeff Beck had also been offered a signature model Stratocaster, but he rejected the idea until 1991, when he opted for an Artist Series signature guitar based on the Fender Stratocaster Plus Series models of 1987.

Eric Clapton, though he had played Fender Telecasters and Jazzmasters in his brief career with The Yardbirds, would attain "guitar god" status while playing models such as the Gibson Les Paul, Firebird, ES-335 and SG whilst a member of Cream. However, in 1970, for his landmark Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs with a new band, Derek and the Dominos, Clapton switched to a tobacco sunburst Stratocaster from 1956, nicknamed "Brownie". This was in part due to the influence of his former Blind Faith bandmate Steve Winwood. He later assembled the best parts of three mid-'50s Strats to create his favorite guitar, the famous "Blackie", a black composite Stratocaster which he played for many years. Both guitars would later sell for record prices at auction. When Blackie finally wore out, Eric and the Fender Custom Shop began to work on a signature guitar modeled after the artist's original instrument.

In popular culture

The Fender Stratocaster or 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.

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 Function Control (5 Rotary Positions) and Mode Control (5 Rotary Modes), offering 37 different Stratocaster, Telecaster, humbucking, 12-string and acoustic sounds, plus five alternate tunings, all at the simple flip of a switch or twist of a knob. The VG Stratocaster was introduced in 2007 and promoted by Fender guitar clinicians Jeff Kollman and Greg Koch.

Custom Classic Strats are 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 pick-up featuring a custom steel inductance plate. Custom Classic guitars made before 2003 were equipped with a set of Fender Texas Special single-coils.

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 are also 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. Additionally, the alder-bodied guitar with the rosewood fretboard and the 3-ply mint pickguard sports a set of Custom Shop '69 Stratocaster single-coil pick-ups.

The Artist Signature Series line includes several Stratocaster models come with features and specifications favored by popular artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, John Mayer, David Gilmour, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Mark Knopfler, Eric Johnson, Yngwie Malmsteen, Billy Corgan,Pete Townshend and others. The Custom Artist guitars are the Custom Shop versions; they slightly differ from the regular Artist Signature range in terms of quality and construction, making these instruments much more expensive than the regular production versions. Like the other Custom Shop models, the Custom Artist guitars are available as Team Built and Master Built items.

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 a Fender 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 Ensenada, 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.
Fender also produces Stratocasters under the Squier brand in China, Indonesia and India 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.

Current models

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) utilizes a Fender DH-1 humbucker in the bridge position and two Hot SCN pickups for a proper balance with the humbucking pickup. This guitar was also available with an optional Fender Deluxe locking vibrato bridge (American Deluxe Strat HSS LT). 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.

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 and has been endorsed by Fender guitar clinician Greg Koch.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

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.

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 to wedge it in position) for further tonal variety, resulting in a 'quacky' sound when two pickups are combined. Hendrix would also move the switch across the settings while sustaining a note, creating a characteristic 'wobbly' sound. Since 1977, Stratocasters have 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 to accommodate the popular superstrat configuration of two humbuckers and central-position single-coil pickup (HSH).

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. This allows players to modify their pickups to the most often see after-market configurations without re-routing or cutting into their guitar’s body.

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 Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray and Buddy Guy in their choice of the Stratocaster as a primary blues-rock guitar).

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-neck 1957 and a rosewood-neck 1962 along with the maple-neck 1952 Telecaster. This project was very important and critical to the company's survival. These first few years (1982–1984) of reissues are now high-priced collector's items and considered as some of the finest to ever leave Fender's Fullerton plant, which closed its doors in late 1984.

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

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 the front of the inertia block (the gap nearest the neck) and placing excessive spring tension on it to pull the fulcrum tight against this block.

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, 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. 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 (or 12dB), giving a richer, fatter sound, almost identical to that of a full-sized humbucking pickup. The Elite Stratocaster of 1983 had similar features, except for the addition of three push-push buttons for pickup selection and a side-mounted jack socket. 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 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. Typically, the neck pickup is used for rhythm playing, while the bridge pickup is used for lead work.

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 the Hank Marvin 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 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. However, a maple neck with a separate glued-on laminated maple fretboard was offered as an option in 1967 (known as a "maple cap" neck). The rosewood fretboard over maple neck remains the other neck option. In 1969, after a 10-year absence, the one-piece maple neck was again made available as an option. 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 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 1965 the Stratocaster was given a broader headstock with altered decals to match the size of the Jazzmaster and Jaguar.

Fender Stratocaster

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 only in a 2-color sunburst finish, together with a solid one-piece maple neck with 21 frets, black dot inlays and Kluson machine heads. 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.

History of fender

For more than four decades, Fender electric guitars and amplifiers have had a tremendous influence on the way the world composes, plays and listens to music. While guitarists in the early part of this century played country, folk or blues on acoustic guitars, in the 1930's, jazz musicians experimented with amplifying traditional hollow-body guitars so they could play with other instruments at the same sound level. One problem was that the speakers and pickups tended to generate feedback when played at a high level.

In the 1940's, a California inventor named Leo Fender had made some custom guitars and amplifiers in his radio shop. Eventually, Leo would create the world's very first instrument amplifiers with built-in tone controls. More importantly, though, was Leo's vision of better guitar. With his knowledge of existing technologies, he knew he could improve on contemporary amplified hollow-body instruments . . . and improve upon them, he did. In 1951, he introduced the Broadcaster, the prototype solid-body guitar that would eventually become the legendary Telecaster®. The Tele®, as it became affectionately known, was the first solid-body electric Spanish-style guitar ever to go into commercial production. Soon to follow the Tele were the revolutionary Precision Bass® guitar in 1951, and the Stratocaster® in 1954.

In 1965, because of poor health, Leo Fender sold his company to corporate giant CBS. Over the next two decades, Fender Musical Instruments experienced some tremendous growth. But as time wore on, CBS's lack of commitment and real understanding of music and musicians was becoming apparent.

In 1981, CBS recruited a new management team to "re-invent" Fender. William Schultz was soon named President, and was supported by associates William Mendello and Kurt Hemrich. They had developed a five-year business plan based on the idea of increasing Fender's presence in the marketplace by dramatically improving quality and making a significant commitment to research and development. This association continued until CBS decided to divest itself from the non-broadcast media business.

So, in 1985, a group of employees and investors led by William Schultz purchased the company from CBS. This sale put Fender in the hands of a small group of musically dedicated people who have committed their lives to creating the world's best guitars and amplifiers.

The team had to start from scratch - there were no buildings or machines included in the deal. They owned only the name, the patents, and the parts that were left over in stock. Supported by a core group of loyal employees, dealers and suppliers - some of whom had been with the company since Leo Fender began making guitars and amplifiers - Bill Schultz and his colleagues set out to re-build an American icon.

Initially, Fender imported their guitars from offshore manufacturers who had proven their ability to produce affordable, viable instruments. But the quest for even more control over quality soon led to the construction of Fender's flagship domestic factory in Corona, California. Eventually, Fender would build a second modern manufacturing facility in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, with the goal of being able to build quality instruments and offer them at more budget-oriented prices.

In 1987, Fender acquired Sunn, a storied line of amplifiers whose past endorsees have included The Who, Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones. This jump-started Fender's re-entry into the amplifier business by making accessible Sunn's manufacturing facilities in Lake Oswego, Oregon. But this was still an early stage of the "new" Fender, so Schultz put the Sunn line of amps on the shelf until the Fender name had been re-established as the world's leading amplifier.

Fender has always recognized the importance of an open-door policy for the professional musician. When artists first started requesting specific features for their guitars, they were accommodated on an individual basis. These relationships led to the formalizing of Fender's custom operation in 1987. Today, the world's greatest guitarists work with the renowned Fender Custom Shop in Corona, California, to create their dream instruments. Recently, Fender has added amplifiers to the list of custom-made instruments that can be produced at the Custom Shop in Corona.

In 1991, Fender moved its corporate headquarters from Corona to Scottsdale, Arizona. From here, administration, marketing, advertising, sales and export teams oversee the operations of Fender's satellite facilities around the world, which now include the locations in the United States (California, Tennessee, New York and Rhode Island), as well as international operations in: Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico London, England Dusseldorf, Germany Suresnes, France Brussels Japan Korea and China.

Also brought to Scottsdale at this time was Fender's Amplifier and Pro Audio Research & Development. With guitar amplifiers, Fender sets the standard for sound and value. Its R & D staff has pioneered many technological advancements in developing amplifiers that meet the needs of the performing musician. In late 1992, the Amp Custom Shop was opened in Scottsdale, Arizona, to offer custom and limited editions of professional amplifiers for working musicians.

Recognizing that country music and acoustic guitars were increasing in popularity, Fender expanded upon its acoustic guitar line. In addition to working with respected manufacturers in Japan, Korea and China to produce quality acoustic guitars, the company has become the exclusive North American distributor of the prestigious Manuel Rodriguez line of nylon-stringed guitars, which have been hand-crafted in Spain by the Rodriguez family since 1905. These additions have put the company in an excellent position for growth within the acoustic guitar market.

Founded in a loft in New York City in 1952, Guild Guitar Company continues to be known for its quality instruments and exceptional value. Faced with internal financial troubles in the early 1990's, Guild management had decided to sell the company. Fender acquired Guild in 1995, signaling a return to ownership by a group of people dedicated to producing the finest value in American-made acoustic and electric guitars. Today, Guilds are still being produced at its historic, 60,000 square-foot facility in Westerly, Rhode Island.

1998 would prove to be a banner year for Fender and its subsidiaries. With Fender amplifiers once again enjoying a very strong presence in the market place, it was now time to dust off the Sunn line of amps. R&D had spent the previous three years studying the original Sunn products and developing prototype models that faithfully replicated the trademark Sunn sound. The timing was right, and Fender introduced the new Sunn line of amplifiers to an immediate industry acclaim.

And for Guild, 1998 brought the expansion of its Custom Shop in Nashville, Tennessee. First opened in 1996, the new Guild Custom Shop boasts an 8,000 square-foot , climate controlled facility near downtown Nashville that allows a great deal of extra space for production and storage of raw materials.

Guild had also introduced DeArmond guitars in 1998. Fender had purchased the DeArmond brand of musical instrument pickups in 1997, and then combined the company with Guild to produce an alternative line of high quality, affordable guitars and basses that are modeled after Guild designs. The guitars themselves are built and assembled in Korea before being sent back to Corona, where they are fitted with American-made DeArmond pickups. Following their successful test runs in European and Asian markets, DeArmond guitars were introduced to American and Canadian consumers and received instant acclaim as an exceptional value.

But the biggest event for Fender in 1998 was the opening of its new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Corona. The 177,000 square-foot facility was built on a nineteen acre site, with over half of that space set aside for future growth, and is the culmination of a vision that at times seemed almost impossible. The entire line of American-made Fender guitars are built at the Corona factory, which is capable of making over 350 guitars each day. In addition, the Corona facility utilizes the innovative UVOXĂ” system, which combines ultraviolet light, a special scrubber process, and a carbon bed absorption system to help ensure that the air emitted from the factory is 95% clean. The new factory is not only a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, but a tribute to how a group of dedicated individuals, when they set their minds to it, can create the "impossible".

The Fender Custom Shop also shares space at the new facility. Over fifty artisans now work at the Custom Shop, offering the world's finest custom made instruments to professional musicians, as well as a complete line of hand-crafted replications of classic Fender models. And to complete the Corona operation, the amplifier Custom Shop was brought back from Scottsdale and folded into the guitar Custom Shop.

Simultaneously, a new 70,000 square-foot addition was completed at the Ensenada facility. The extra space was added to bring amplifier production, aside from those produced at the Custom Shop, into one main facility.

During the past decade, Fender has grown dramatically in sales and stature. The company manufactures and distributes virtually everything that a guitarist needs to perform, from the guitar, strings and accessories, to the pro audio products including amplifiers and mixing boards. Today, under Schultz's direction, Fender Musical Instruments Corporation is a world leader in the manufacturing and distribution of electric guitars and amplifiers.

Fender became the world leader by defining the sounds we hear, meeting the needs of musicians, creating quality products and backing them up with service and stability. As Fender Musical Instruments Corporation forges through the 1990's and into the 21st century, its management team will maintain Fender's number-one status through a winning combination of business acumen and a love of music.