Types Of Guitars. Part 3: Stratocasters

I've decided to write about the most common and versatile type of guitar -- the Stratocaster!

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Alright, I've decided to write about the most common and versatile type of guitar, (particularly in Argentina) -- The Stratocaster! Have you noticed the high commonality of this kind of guitar? Here are a few reasons they are so common:

  • Stratocasters are generally the cheapest guitars to make. I mean, Les Pauls, SGs, Superstrats require a more complex set up.

  • In my opinion, the "Strat" is the most versatile guitar. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's the best guitar but a good Stratocaster will sound at least acceptable, no matter what amp you plug into or what style of music you play.

  • It has the classical shape of an electric guitar. In most TV shows or movies, you'll see the musician dude playing a guitar of this style, not because of its sound but for its body's cool shape.

    History

    For those of you who want to read the full text, I'll recommend this website. The site has an overview of the interesting history of the Stratocaster. Anyway, here is a very short telling of it.

    Back in 1953, the Telecaster was very popular, but Leo Fender's desire to dominate the global guitars market was still not accomplished. Therefore, he decided to design a new type of guitar, which would provide a different sound, more options and some extras for players to play with while using it. All of the new innovative feature came together and the Stratocaster was born. Designed for younger players, the Stratocaster wasn't a hit, until Dick Dale started using them for his Surf music.

    Its 3 single coils pickups and 5-way pickup selector (originally 3) provided many different sounds to choose from and the exclusive whammy bar was something really funny to play with. The double cutaway body meant easy access to higher frets, and made its body lighter. All advantages from the production line assembly, to the interchangeable parts helped Leo Fender make his dream come true. The world of guitars players were given a new weapon (axe) to choose from. Despite being over 40 years-old, the Stratocaster is still the most duplicated guitar of all time and is till this day, a favorite of many guitar players.

    Now, On To The Description...

    Stratocasters tend to be light guitars with its double cutaway body. The body is usually made from Alder, Ash and many more woods. It features, 3 single coils pickups, 1 volume and 2 tones controls, a 5-way pickup selector and a whammy-bar situated on the bridge. Now let's go into a little more specific about it.

  • The Neck. These guitars have almost always 22 frets, but sometime has only 21 frets. It's odd to find a 24-fret Stratocaster, because that's usually typical of Superstrats and other Strat-Style guitars, such as Ibanez, Jacksons, BC Rich and the like. The types of wood that are commonly used in Stratocasters neck are, Maple, Alder, Ash, Rosewood, Ebony etc. etc. The necks are almost always bolted on to the body as opposed to SGs and Les Pauls set in style necks. This feature can equal much less sustain but can be an advantage because of the easier to replace bolt-on neck.

  • Pickups are traditionally 3 single coils, but some players, like Yngwie Malmsteen, use double-coil pickups in the bridge. I'm pretty sure all of you already know the advantages and disadvantages of a humbucker, so I won't speak to that. Pickup switching is very easy here:

    Position 1: Bridge pickup. This position provides the brightest (trebly) sound, excellent for an arpeggio, funk or a bright lead sound.

    Position 2: Bridge and middle pickup. This combination can add more crunch to your rhythm sound because of the use of two pickups. It is used commonly in ska, funk and rock.

    Position 3: Middle pickup. Very balanced but not as bright. Many strat players decided that they didn't like this position, so they disengaged it (Ex. Malmsteem and Ritchie Blackmore from Deep Purple)

    Position 4: Middle and neck pickup, this is a sad sound, I mean graver. Stevie Ray Vaughn loved using this sound for blues, especially to add a bit more drive to his sound.

    Position 5: Neck pickup, this is the least bright of all (very bassy), especially it you roll tone control to zero. This is "THE" sound for cleans. You can also get a really good sound this way with a bit of distortion. Very good for "sad" sounding solos.

  • Now for the Bridge/Tremolo system. Well playing with a whammy bar is really good fun but a great disadvantage is that it guitar tends to go cause the guitar to go out of tune when you use it too much. Eventually, the Floyd Rose locking systems was invented to solve this problem but I will speak about that when I write about Super-Strats.

    Those who have a Stratocaster, might have felt a bit disappointed when they tried to change the guitar's tone control for the first time. Have you noticed that if you are using the bridge pickup position, the tones doesn't change much? That's because each tone control (remember there are 2 controls) works better in certain blade positions. The one that is higher, I mean, closer to the strings, works with the graver positions, and the one that's in the bottom of the guitar works better for the traditional selection, so remember to try different combination to see what do you get.

    Okay, Now Lets See What's Next? Mmm, Sound!

    As I said before, the Stratocaster is one of the most versatile guitars ever made! Just think about it Ritchie Blackmore, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Dick Dale and many, many more have used this guitar. Their styles, technique, and sound really vary from each other. You can see that you can play any kind of music type with it. Styles in which a Stratocaster tend to be better in, would be:

  • Blues (Eric Clapton, Eric Johnson, Jimi Hendrix)
  • Rock (I wont dare to write any names here, because then I would finish writing this article tomorrow morning)
  • Soft Heavy Metal (Blackmore or Rainbow)
  • Ska and Reggae (A Telecaster would be nice also)
  • Funk and R&B and so on.

    Okay, if you like using lots of distortion maybe you should seek for a guitar with humbuckers but you never know! Yngwie Malmsteem (I'm already tired of writing his name) uses a lot of gain and he sounds awesome! The Stratocaster's sound is characteristically thin and bright but if you think a fatter sound would suit you better, go pick up a Les Paul, Super-Strat, SG or sell your soul to satan. Do whatever you want but don't expect to sound like Slash in November Rain easily with it (Believe me, I tried to do this for months and as I didn't succeed in this I had to buy a Superstrat :P)!

    Almost Finished!

    Anyway, this is an excellent guitar which should be at the very least be tried by anyone. It doesn't matter which band you like or what you want to sound like, this is a guitar for anyone! Stratocaster could be yours!! It is an inexpensive guitar and if you can't afford a Fender, many others brands sell strat-style guitars. Some of them are really good, such as Squier *especially for beginners*, Yamaha, Essex and more.

    "Fat" Strats

    Companies like Fender also produce Fat Strats. A guitar which headstock is upside-down, and feature a 2 humbuckers combination instead of 3 single coils (Sometimes a S-S-H configuration). These guitars are better included under my Superstrats article, so I won't say anything about the topic.

    So I hope you liked this one, the next one will be about Les Pauls, so if you'd like to know about them, wait until it is done...

  • 137 comments sorted by best / new / date

      homeboy
      hombey: Half as much as a strat? I find it hard to believe that SG's weigh about 3 pounds. - in response - your right, but what i was doing there is called exageration. sometimes people use it when talking about a fish they caught one day or how hot this one girl was. i know that an sg in fact does not weigh half as much as a strat or a tele, but it is a lot lighter than either of those guitars. sorry for the {misunderstanding}- hope thats spelled right.
      homeboy
      heil gibson(sg)! (which in fact is not half the weight of a strat or a tele) -satisfied?-
      Slashfan#1
      vantage4: stevie ray vaughan used to mess around with the pickup selector and the tone knobs in the middle of solos. he'd be playing with a cool, mellow sound and then all of a sudden switch to the bridge pickup and turn a knob and start rippin. so maybe you and slash just don't have the magic touch. Fu*k you I guess Page aint got the touch either right, your so fool of shit.
      kurt_was_killed
      ^ i agree. you see em everywhere. and of course, the god-aweful copies. i say go out and by a jackson soloist, or b.c. rich warlock (acrylic series). or if ur a rich bastard, you can always buy a real les paul.
      Kartman
      Oh yeah. I own a lefty standard strat in suburst, with a Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge and a Seymour Duncan Vintage Staggered in the bridge and a creme white pearl pickguard. It's been so customized, it sounds alot better than any American strat I've ever played. But thats just my opinion.
      Kartman
      CharlesMathon: Strats are gay guitars nowadays commonly used by punk/emo and gay bands. I prefer Ibanez or les pauls or gibsons. Strats own, bro. Dude, I don't know of to many Emo bands that use strats. I think Simple Plan uses teles, which is a slap in the face to fender. C'mon, man! Jimi, Yngwie, Kurt, Myself, and alot of sweet bands use strats.
      Gilmour_Rocks
      Strats are great, My dad ha the eric clapton signature model, It goes off when you turn up the 25 db boost , the body is timeless, it looked right for its time in the 50's and it still looks right fors the 00's, whereas the Les Paul (still an awesome guitar) has that classic look, not the timeless look of the strat.
      Strat_Monkey
      An article about Strats where you didn't mention Tom Morello OR John Frusciante? Shame on you! I was under the impression that one tone knob (presumably the one nearer the strings) controlled the neck pickup's tone, the lower one controlled the Middle pickup, and the neck pickup didn't have a variable tone, but I may be wrong. And I think the new(ish) Strats with S-1 Switching are probably the most versatile guitars out there.
      morello_man
      i love strats...personally if you play rock you should swap your bridge pickup to a seymour duncac strat sized humbucker immediately. I got the hot rail and coupled with the two other pickups it's a great working combination. It gives you the benfit of the single coil cleans and the fat les paul style distortion. I have played a strat for years and I can't knock it for any style I've played - blues, jazz, rock, funk, metal (w/Seymour Duncan Hot Rails)...anything really
      askurmoran
      personallyi dont like strats cus of their sound but the shape is alright but i preffer the shape of most Ibanez guitars like a GIO 7-string
      GAC1989
      wow, you'd think a history section would contain the fact it was orignally called the broadcaster, and only changed just before the production started. never mind though
      tht was the telecaster! cool article! the AXL strat is a good beginners guitar. the problem with all strats is their boring lol
      Mr_Die_Easy
      Must make love to my strat.....
      Now for the Bridge/Tremolo system. Well playing with a whammy bar is really good fun but a great disadvantage is that it guitar tends to go cause the guitar to go out of tune when you use it too much.
      You can fix that with a roller nut. The problem lies in when the strings pop back in tuning. The strings get traped at the nut. With a roller nut the strings back and fowand on the nut smoothy when using the whammy bar. http://www.guitarpartsresource.com/NS1.j...
      TNfootballfan62
      CharlesMathon: I can't really comment on Emo bands since i dont listen to them, but i can't flip through guitar world without seeing a punk/emo band holding a Les Paul, i think you may be misinformed. stratguy08: I agree, blues all the way!!! hombey: Half as much as a strat? I find it hard to believe that SG's weigh about 3 pounds.
      homeboy
      If you want a really light guitar, try a gibson sg. they weigh about half as much as a strat or a telecaster. oh... article was fantastic.
      GetLostInIt776
      actually strats got their first big break when Buddy Holly used one on the Ed Sullivan show...
      revilo
      yeah, m thinking of buying a strat and i was wondering if they make standard strats in the usa or ir those are all the american series. anyways if someone could tell me hoew they cost that would be a great help.
      revilo
      yeah im thinking about buying a strat, and i got a noobish question: do they make standard strats in usa if so how much do they cost in CAD
      mid46531
      might have been useful to mention that a strat has a longer neck (therefore longer overall string length) than a Gibson SG etc, which makes it considerably softer on the fingers and easier to bend i believe, just a distinction i thought was worth mentioning
      GodoftheHammer
      "they mostly have 22 frets" uh no, all normal strats have 21 frets. Just like every other fender.
      fenderplaya015
      Who can disagree with a guitar that was played by clapton, hendrix, malmstein and jeff beck. it is easily the most versitile guitar and you get a lot for your money.
      Android0818
      i got my epiphone les paul. the strat looks cool, and clapton uses one so it must be a great guitar, but id never trade anything for my les
      Mispeled
      I find it interesting that just about every article ends up with 3 stars, no matter how good or bad it is...
      punk_metal
      im sick of fenders..i hate them...the sound izs kool.....but they look like boring old crap...go with ibanez, esp, prs, B.C Rich!!!