Fender Stratocaster

The Fender Stratocaster was first introduced in 1954 and although there have been many variants over the years, the design has remained largely unchanged. An extensive range is available from Fender ranging from the budget Fender Squier for around £100 to custom versions costing many thousands.

The body offers twin cutaways for ease of access to the upper registers and is sculpted for comfort. Three single coil pickups have a five position switch allowing the selection of the individual pickups, or combinations consisting of neck & middle or bridge & middle; both out of phase. The passive tone knobs control the middle and neck pickups allowing a reduction in treble response, while the bridge pickup is bypassed. The bridge has individual saddles for string height and intonation and most versions feature a tremolo system either based on Fender’s original vintage design or on more modern versions. The necks are available with rosewood or maple fingerboards and the headstock ensures that strings run in a straight line from bridge to machineheads.

The scale length is 20mm longer than a Gibson Les Paul which means that the same strings have greater tension on a Fender. The neck is a comfortable profile and Fender advertise a more comfortable ‘rolled edge’ on guitars further up the range. The frets are well fitted and finished and action is set comfortably low as shipped from the factory. Controls are conveniently located for fast adjustment of sound level and tone. The standard tremolo system is adequate for general use but for extreme technique, the locking systems available on some versions would offer a better option.
The sound is identifiably ‘Fender’ and the out of phase switch positions two and four produce ‘sweet’ tones without the RF interference present in positions one, three and five.

You can do just about anything with this guitar and the design innovations that have ensured it’s longevity are brilliantly simple but effective. Choose this guitar for most applications except jazz a la Joe Pass or Barney Kessel where a more traditional tone can be gained from a guitar with humbucking pickups. If you wanted to drive your amp harder or get a more traditional jazz tone, then fit high output alternatives or humbuckers. There are some excellent replacement ‘stacked humbucker’ pickups available that don’t entail any physical modification. If you’re on a budget try the Standard range. Costing anything between £290 to £350 these are made in Mexico, feature Fender hardware, and are excellent quality. The Fender Stratocaster may lack the smooth sophistication of a Gibson Les Paul but it’s more than made up for by the innovative design features, unique tone and playability.

Body Alder
Neck Maple, Modern “C” Shape
Fingerboard Rosewood or maple 9.5” Radius (241 mm)
Frets 21 Medium Jumbo
Pickups 3 Standard Single-Coil
Controls Volume , Tone (Middle and Bridge),
Tremolo Vintage Style Synchronized
Machine Heads Fender® Standard Cast/Sealed Tuning Machines
Hardware Chrome
Pickguard 3-Ply White
Scale Length 25.5” (648 mm)
Width at Nut 1.650” (42 mm)

Further information: Fender Guitars