The Fender Stratocaster, informally also Strat, is a solid-body electric guitar (without a sound box) created by Leo Fender in the fifties and still produced by Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. Together with the Gibson Les Paul is considered the electric guitar par excellence, for its popularity and its diffusion, as for the influence exerted on the music scene and on the collective imagination.
Designed and built by Leo Fender in 1954, with the collaboration of Freddie Tavares, Rex Gallion and Bill Carson, the Fender Stratocaster is still marketed without substantial differences compared to the original model.
In Fender's intentions, at the base of the creation of a new line of guitars that would support the success of the Telecaster model, there was the aspiration to create a guitar that would introduce innovations of a technical nature (among which a greater number of picks). up and the introduction of the vibrato lever), both of a design nature (the abandonment of the traditional shape of the guitar towards more ergonomic solutions).
The result is a revolutionary project: thanks to the innovative shape, the lightness of the instrument and the greater ease of access to the keener notes due to the particular hollowed shape of the shoulder, the Stratocaster is considered the most advanced among the electric guitars of the time .
The assembly of a newly developed vibrating lever integrated into the body of the guitar has allowed to exploit original sound effects, maintaining a remarkable sustain. Moreover, the new conception of the bridge with adjustable saddles for the length and height of the strings allows an accurate adjustment of the instrument.
A careful search was made in the arrangement of pick-ups, placing the upper two perpendicular to the strings, while the one on the bridge has an angle of about 20 degrees able to emphasize the high tones. The first pickups to be used were in Alnico 3, but already at the end of 1956 they were replaced by those in Alnico 5.
The changes immediately following were suggested by the musicians of the time, who, moving the selector in an intermediate position, realized that a particularly interesting nasal sound was born (typical of two parallel pick-ups). Following numerous reports, the Fender in 1977 replaced the three-position selector with a five-position selector that allows, in a simple manner, to also use 2 pick-ups at the same time. This is, in practice, the only considerable technical change to the original model.
The first Stratocaster on a commercial basis was produced on May 15, 1954. Among the Fender Stratocasters of 1954 it is important to remember the "Hard-Tail" or the first prototype of the fixed bridge Stratocaster, without tremolo, designed in about 20 specimens that became standard in limited production from the end of March 1955.
The success of the Stratocaster continued to grow, at least until the late 1960s, when the impact of CBS, which acquired Fender on January 5, 1965, became evident. There were many changes that were gradually made by the multinational on the guitar to speed up productivity often to the detriment of quality: the blade, the body less shaped or the Tilt-neck with the joint of the handle with 3 screws. But certainly the ones that contributed most to the Stratocaster "decline" were the use of a new poor die-cast metal bridge and the new polyester paints.
To date, the Fender Stratocaster represents a point of reference in the sound of electric guitars thanks to its characteristics, thanks to the Leo Fender's choices, all oriented towards a more ringing sound, such as single-coil pick-ups and the use of woods that emphasize the acute sounds, in contrast to the lower and deeper sounds typical of the Gibson guitars. This orientation towards more brilliant sounds was born years before, when Leo Fender in 1948 created the first "solid body" electric guitar of industrial production (some experiments were conducted by other violin makers, but never put on sale), or the Fender Broadcaster, subsequently evolved in Esquire models, single pick-ups and two-pick Telecaster.
In 2006, from a collaboration between Fender and the famous Japanese company Roland, the Stratocaster VG was born, which combines the classic construction technique of USA-made models, the versatility of the Roland synthesis system (sampled sounds of various Fender models, tunings not traditional, 12-string effect) driven by a hexaphonic pick-up connected to a complex electronic part powered by a 9v battery. Aesthetically, it is recognized by the presence of a fourth knob, a blue led indicating the ignition of the instrument and the hexaphonic pick-up near the bridge.
August 1st, 2018
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