A true classic, this week’s featured piece of gear is the Fender Stratocaster! Continuously manufactured since 1954 to present, it is a double-cutaway guitar, with an extended top “horn” shape for balance like the Fender Precision Bass. Along with the Gibson Les Paul, it is one of the most famous guitar styles and immitated shapes.

The Stratocaster was the first Fender guitar to feature three pickups and a spring tension vibrato system, as well as being the first Fender with a contoured body. Along with the contoured body shape, it has double cutaways that allow players easier access to higher positions on the neck.

The Stratocaster features three single coil pickups, with the output originally selected by a 3-way switch. Guitarists soon discovered that by positioning the switch in between the first and second 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. In 1977 Fender introduced a 5-way selector making those pickup combinations more stable.

The tone of the middle and bridge pickups obtained by using the pickup selector in positions 2 and 4 has been popularized by players such as Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, David Gilmour, Mark Knopfler, Bob Dylan, Eric Johnson, Nile Rodgers, and Eric Clapton.

Do you own a Strat? How do you feel about their tone and design? Check out this video for a history on the Stratocaster!

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