The Fender Stratocaster. An icon. A giant and one which is respected by many of the music industry's finest players. And now it's turned 60.
Virtually unchanged since its 1954 debut, the Strat got it right from the get go. Usually adopting three single coils fuelling their trademark bell-like clarity, you'll hear the Strat on the likes of Buddy Holly's 'That'll Be The Day', Jimi Hendrix's 'Purple Haze', Eric Clapton's 'Layla', Pink Floyd's 'Comfortably Numb', Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'Texas Flood', Pearl Jam's 'Alive', The Strokes' 'Last Nite' and Daft Punk's 'Get Lucky'. Rock, pop, funk, blues, surf, jazz, soul, metal - it can take it all.
Designed by Leo Fender himself, it was dubbed the "Stratocaster" by Fender sales chief Don Randall.
Not only did the Stratocaster provide many great rockers and bluesmen with their axe of choice, it also spawned a wave of interest from those wanting to learn. Not as expansive or heavy as a Les Paul, the Stratocaster's shape was key to its success since its genesis in 1954
It's curved back sat into your body perfectly, the thin neck was simple to get your hand around, the double cutaway's edges expertly tucked away the strap so it didn't get in the way and it also provided easy access to those higher frets to find those wailing screams. Few guitars are as user-friendly.
And it's not just aesthetics or practicality. The average Strat's clean, yet dominant, tone expertly chops through rhythmic strums to provide blistering solos. Just look at Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix. It's also the guitar that Bob Dylan infamously plugged in to obliterate the gap between folk and rock. But which other axes ruled the music world?
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