Fender Stratocaster | The Best Guitar
by Jonathan N. Stewart
The Stratocaster guitar was designed in 1954 by Leo Fender, George Fullerton, and Freddie Tavares in response to the needs of working guitarists of the time. Fender's goal was to design the best electric guitar ever made and he incorporated several new design "firsts" into the Stratocaster guitar.
The most important of the new design features was a contoured body style that Fender called the "Comfort Contour Body". The back of the guitar was contoured to fit comfortably and smoothly against the player instead of having the hard, square edge found on the Fender Telecaster body.
In addition, the front of the guitar was contoured to allow your arm to rest comfortably on the guitar while playing. Also, the body featured double cutaways near the neck to allow easy access to the highest frets, help reduce the weight of the guitar, and improve the overall balance of the guitar.
The earliest Stratocasters came in a 2-color sunburst finish on a solid, contoured ash body with a one piece maple neck containing 21 frets, black dot inlays, Kluson Deluxe tuners and the guitar featured a synchronized tremolo bridge with "whammy bar".
Later, Fender began offering the Stratocaster in brilliant solid colors such as Daphne Blue, Surf Green, and Fiesta Red which were popular in the automobile industry at the time and gave the Stratocaster a modern, "cool" appeal.
The Stratocaster guitar was the first solid body electric guitar to feature three single coil pickups. The early models came with a three-way pickup switch for selecting either the neck, middle, or bridge pickups.
However, guitarists realized you could wedge the switch in between positions to simultaneously select either the neck and middle pickups, or the middle and bridge pickups to mix the signals from two pickups and create new sounds. Because of this player inspired trick, Fender created the five-way pickup switch which has been a standard feature since 1977.
Another novel design feature was the single-ply "drop in" pickguard that allowed all the electronics such as pickups, selector switch, volume and tone controls to be mounted on one removable surface making the Stratocaster easier to mass produce, repair, and customize.
Leo Fender set out to design the best guitar ever made and no one would argue that it is truly one of the best guitars in the world. The results speak for themselves as the Stratocaster guitar is still one of the most popular and commercially successful guitars of all time. It's popularity continues to be driven by countless guitarists who love the style, playability, and versatile tonal qualities of this truly legendary guitar.
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