I just got a new Fender Strat made by Squier, from Guitar Center. It was part of the Strat Pack. This is a standard Fender Stratocaster design, but it is made in Indonesia to encourage fair labor standards. Just kidding, it's for the low cost. A decent American-made Fender will set you back over $1000, but a Hecho en Mexico model is somewhat less, and then these are an entry-level option for essentially the same design, but made in Indonesia. I am just getting started in electric guitar, so I opted for the low-priced model. The Strat Pack, for $250, included the guitar, 15-watt practice amp, strap, bag, picks, whammy, tuner, and an extra set of strings, along with an ultra-beginner "fender method" guitar-playing book. What it did not include, however, was instructions on how to use the dang thing. I don't mean play it, because coming from an acoustic guitar I was familiar with the concept of frets, chords, and strumming. What I mean is, what do all those damn knobs and buttons do? There was no instruction along those lines in the Strat Pack. So, after literally hours of searching the internet, I was able to find the answer, and have reproduced it here. The Squier Strat mimics the Standard Stratocaster found here, which site also has wiring diagrams and whatnot in case you need those.
Starting with the basics, the standard strat design has three single-coil pickups. The topmost one is the neck pickup, the middle one is just called the middle one, and the bottom one is the bridge pickup.
The 5-way selector has five positions available. By switching it to the top position (closest to the neck), this activates the neck pickup only, so that any sound picked up by the other two pickups is not sent to the amp. The next click on the switch turns on both the neck pickup and the middle pickup. The third position activates just the middle pickup. The fourth position activates the middle and bridge pickups, and finally the fifth position activates just the bridge pickup.
Since they are single-coil pickups, there is a natural 60hz hum that will occur whenever any single pickup is selected. Special humbucker coils are available which are wound in two different directions and cancel out each others' hum. Short of that, most Stratocasters have the middle pickup wired in the reverse direction from the other two, and whenever you select position two or four, the hum is cancelled out.
Meanwhile, the tone knobs also work in conjunction with the pickups, and consequently are affected by the pickup selector switch. The tone knob closest to the neck works with the neck pickup only, so it is only active when the switch is in the first or second position. The other tone knob will adjust the tone for the middle pickup. Having the tone turned up to 10 will bring out all the rich, clean tones from the pickups, but turning them down will mute the sounds somewhat. Experiment with these knobs to get the sound you are looking for. Naturally when the pickup selector switch is not selecting the appropriate pickup, the corresponding tone knob does nothing.
The knob in the diagram is for volume. Set this in the middle and adjust the amp accordingly, so that you can turn volume up or down directly from the Strat body.
Screw the whammy bar into the hole in the bridge, made for that purpose. Don't screw it in too tight or it will damage the bridge. Leave it one turn from tight, so it will fall by itself when you let go of it. To use the whammy, press down or pull up on it. This will bend all notes that are currently ringing out either down or up, respectively.