Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Fender Stratocaster - Why Do Guitarists Still Love It After 50 Years?

Self-taken photo of Rock Band Fender Stratocas...                                Image via WikipediaBy Andrew Atkins

The Fender Stratocaster, a design classic and guitar icon, loved by guitarists everywhere from unknown beginners strumming at home to some of the most famous artists in the world, was designed by Leo Fender, George Fullerton and Freddie Tavares in 1954 and has been manufactured by Fender Musical Instrument Corporation ever since.

Perhaps one of the reasons for the enduring popularity of the Fender Strat is that there have been subtle improvements and alterations in line with customer demand over the last 50 years without losing the classic design and appeal.

A major design change facilitated by customers occurred during the 1970s. The original Strat incorporated three single-coil pickups controlled by a three-way switch. Guitarists discovered that by jamming the switch between first and second position they could select the bridge and middle pickups. In the same way between second and third they could select both middle and neck pickups. Responding to their customers' needs Fender introduced a 5-way pickup selector, which became a standard feature in 1977, allowing guitarists to develop their own unique sound and to experiment more with the instrument.

To coincide with this Fender also introduced a reverse-wound, reverse-polarity middle pickup. Essentially a hum-cancelling device, it created what became known as 'Fat Strat', giving a thicker tone. It led to artists choosing varying numbers of 'humbuckers' for even more versatility and distinctive sound.

After a slight dip in popularity of Fender Stratocasters during its ownership by CBS from 1965-1985, when manufacturing was shipped out to Asia, Fender regained its high-ranking place in the world of guitar manufacturing with a change of ownership. Bill Schultz bought the company in 1985 and the first change was a return to high quality manufacturing, leading to a new interest in vintage instruments. The most popular guitars from the Leo Fender era were ear-marked for this remarketing of the brand, designs including a maple fret board from 1957 and a rosewood fret board from 1962. These became known as American Vintage Reissues and are now some of the most sought-after guitars.

Following on this tradition of responding to the voice of the consumer, since 2007 Fender offers an extensive range of Stratocasters as well as a Custom Shop service that makes individual, limited edition Strats. Amongst the most popular are the signature guitars of some of the famous players of the Fender Stratocaster, each with different specifications distinctive to the performer. Guitars include:
  • The American Artist Jeff Beck Signature Stratocaster, whose specifications are, amongst others, an alder body with thinner C-shaped maple neck, Fender Special Design dual-coil ceramic Noiseless pickups and straight-ahead five-way switching.
  • The Fender Artist Series Eric Clapton Stratocaster with a select alder body and a soft V-shaped maple neck and fret board, three Fender Vintage Noiseless pickups, powerful active mid-boost and TBX circuits.
  • The Fender Artist Series Billy Corgan Stratocaster with two Special Design DiMarzio Billy Corgan single-spaced humbucking pickups (neck and bridge) and a DiMarzio Chopper middle pickup.
Other stellar artists available for the aspiring guitarist are David Gilmour, Mark Knopfler, Buddy Guy, Richie Sambora, Eddie Van Halen and Jim Root.

Custom Shop Fenders are made in a limited quantity or timescale so that they become as much an investment as an instrument for the discerning guitarist. They are individually designed and handcrafted by the Fender team, such as the Fender Custom Shop David Gilmour Signature Series Stratocaster. Based on David Gilmour's iconic 'Black Strat' the Fender Custom Shop worked with the artist himself and his technician Phil Taylor to create it. The guitar has a black nitrocellulose lacquer finished alder body, one piece maple neck, custom pickups, David Gilmour's electronics and shorter tremolo arm. It comes with a custom case too.

Also in the Fender family is the Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster. It has a new compound radius fret board allowing effortless string bending, new Samarium N3 noiseless pickups to provide improved clarion tones with no hum and newly reconfigured S-1 switching, staggered locking tuners, two-point synchronized tremolo bridge with pop-in arm and beveled neck heel.

The Fender American Standard Stratocaster, which has been improved recently with a new bridge, a new neck and body finish and Fender exclusive high-tech moulded case, whilst still retaining hand-rolled fretboard edges, alnico V pickup and staggered tuning machines is a popular range for the company.

All these and more can be seen, along with more detailed information, at soundsliveshop

As a true example of Fender keeping up with reality-altering, popular culture, they have licensed the appearance of the Stratocaster to EA as a replica guitar controller and to Harmonix's Rock Band video game. A real Stratocaster, retrofitted to be an electronic controller will be a feature on Rock Band 3. It is now bizarrely possible for wannabe rock stars to play air guitar with a real Fender Strat!

With something for everyone and Custom Shop for the customer requiring a more personal touch, it's no wonder the Fender Stratocaster is still the favourite after more than 50 years manufacturing. What guitarist could resist the sleek lines, classic shape and iconic design of the Fender Strat?

As part of Andrew's work, he has an on-going personal and professional involvement in the music industry. In addition to advising several companies involved in the sector, such as Soundslive and Let's Do Music, his gigging roots go back to the club and pub circuit in the English Midlands of the late 80's and early '90's. These days he's more likely to be found working on online marketing for music industry businesses or lending his sound deck experience (and gear!) to local music groups. This article was written on behalf of

Article Source:

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment