While it was originally created for players who were involved with the Country & Western and Swing music that was popular in the early 1950s, the Strat also quickly found favor with early rock musicians such as Buddy Holly, and Surf guitarists such as Dick Dale. It has remained popular with a staggering number of legendary players in a wide range of genres ever since. For over fifty years, musicians such as George Harrison, Yngwie Malmsteen, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and countless others have used the Strat as a major component of their sound.
In its original time-honored configuration, the Fender Stratocaster sports a 25.5" scale maple neck with either a maple or rosewood fret board, three single coil pickups, synchronized "tremolo" (vibrato) bridge, three-way switching (most modern models use a more flexible five position switch), one master volume and two tone controls -- one for the neck and one for the middle pickup. This gives the guitarist a wide variety of different sounds that can be selected with the flip of a switch. The volume control is located close to the player's picking hand, which makes it easy to quickly adjust on the fly; some players, such as Rory Gallagher, have used this for adding violin-like volume swells to notes and phrases. You can also adjust your amplifier for a distorted or overdriven tone, and then get a cleaner, less crunchy sound by just turning down the Strat's volume control a little when a less distorted sound is desired.
The basic design of the Stratocaster has remained relatively unchanged, but over the years, various aspects of the instrument have been adapted and refined to meet the demands of new musical styles and ever-changing player preferences, needs and tastes. Today there are several different models of the Fender Strat available; everything from low-cost entry-level instruments for the beginner and intermediate player on a budget, to reissues of highly sought-after vintage models, and modern souped-up versions with alternative bridge designs, high output noise canceling or humbucker pickups, flatter neck radius and larger frets for easier string bending when playing solos. There are even high-end models crafted by the highly skilled master builders at Fender's world-famous Custom Shop. The foresight of the original designers, and the flexibility of the Stratocaster has allowed it to change and evolve over time while still remaining a vibrant and desirable instrument for the modern guitarist. Whether you play Blues, Rock, Country, Metal, Alternative, Funk, or Punk, there is a Stratocaster that is designed for your needs, and at a price that you can afford.