There’s no getting away from it, the Fender Stratocaster guitar has without doubt played a significant part in helping to shape popular music throughout the years. We have witnessed countless prominent guitar players opting for the Stratocaster as their guitar of choice including: Jimi Hendrix, Hank Marvin, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan and many others.
Below are 10 facts about these world altering guitars:
1. The Stratocaster was designed by Leo Fender, Freddie Tavares and George Fullerton in 1954.
2. The heavily contoured double-cutaway body was crafted from Ash right up until the middle of 1956 when Alder became the hardwood of choice for the body. Alder is still used to this day.
3. The first 1954 model showcased a 1-piece maple neck with 21 frets. Inlays were black dots.
4. The guitar initially arrived equipped with Kluson machine heads. These were quite often changed for other styles over time as guitarists will have certain machine heads they can’t live without.
5. The guitar pickups selector switch was formerly a 2-position style which fortunately was updated to a 5-position variation in 1977. This made possible far greater versatility deciding on pickup combinations and sounds.
6. The volume of the Stratocaster pickups is controlled by way of a single master volume knob.
7. The three single-coil pickups set up in the guitar used to be originally identical in style and design. 1977 saw the roll-out of the RWRP (reverse wound reverse polarity) middle pickup, which when linked with either the neck or the bridge pickup could function in hum-cancelling mode. This went some way to making the at times noisy pickups quieter, and helped the guitars contend with the quieter humbucking pickups supplied with Gibson electric guitars. Gibson used to be and still are great competitors of Fender.
8. The guitar was built with a rosewood fretboard as standard between the years of 1959 to 1967.
9. 1965 witnessed CBS take over the Fender brand and for many, this became the start of many years of poorer quality instruments. The company in time upped their game but many devotees had been lost in the process.
10. In 1982 a low cost model of the guitar began production in Japan under the ‘Squier’ name. It was for many an ideal way of owning a Fender guitar without the higher, United States built asking price.
So there are my 10 interesting facts about these wonderful guitars. Whether a Stratocaster is your electric guitar of preference, there’s no denying the astonishing influence that this 50’s guitar has had on the music industry.
I’m fairly certain this guitar intends to stay around for a while yet.