fender stratocaster history timeline

December 01, 2020 | mins read

If you missed that post, click here to read Part I in our Brief History of the Stratocaster. But who knew where the Stratocaster was destined to fit in? Leo and guitarist/advisor Bill Carson apparently thought prototype units sounded fine at the factory, but Leo’s right-hand man in the factory, George Fullerton, said they “sounded terrible.”, Even Carson subsequently noted that when he tried the instrument with the original vibrato system out at a gig, as noted in Smith’s book, it “sounded like an amplified banjo with no sustain.”. Fender couldn't break into the jazz market, and breaking into markets is a brand's favorite thing to do. It has one knob for volume and two knobs for tone – its close sibling, the Telecaster, only had one knob for tone. READ MORE: What Are Alnico Pickups? 1956 - Below is a patent poster for the Stratocaster used to advertise the new features. Their input was invaluable, and while the Stratocaster was in one sense Leo’s baby through and through, it was in another sense the collaborative work of a remarkable group of designers and musicians. By Jeff Owens. Both had arrived in the middle of the 1950s at roughly the same time—the Stratocaster in 1954 and rock ‘n’ roll in 1955. Pee Wee Crayton, Ritchie Valens and Carl Perkins played Strats in the 1950s, as did Cliff Gallup’s successors in Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps, Johnny Meeks and Howard Reed. In fact, the Stratocaster’s second vibrato system was so effectively “over designed” that it proved capable of far more than its designer intended or imagined. We’re so used to ‘far out’ guitar designs that the Strat looks, by today’s standards, pretty conservative by comparison – but back in the day it was a real head-turner. Learn more about Fender electric basses. The brittle plastic originally used for Stratocaster pickguards, control knobs and pickup covers was replaced with a more durable plastic in 1955. Meanwhile, kids on both sides of the Atlantic were taking their first formative steps as a new generation of guitarists yet to come of age. Three years after its 1954 introduction, as Tom Wheeler notes in his introduction to The Stratocaster Chronicles, it was still “not particularly well known,” and appeared to be “as far removed from conventional guitars as, say, a baritone ukulele or even a banjo.” In the context of the times, Wheeler continues, “Plenty of professional musicians saw the new Fender as unworthy of serious consideration—merely a tool, a gimmicky contraption, even a joke.”. With its beautiful contour body, Leo Fender created a masterpiece that is only rivaled by the Les Paul and Telecaster for most influential electric.. Actual overall sales figures being hard to come by, it’s a difficult job to try and name the best selling guitar of all time. Leo ran a small electronics repair shop. The inspiring sound of a Stratocaster is one of the foundations of Fender. Long-held conventions of design and method meant little if anything to Leo, which likely goes a long way in explaining the genesis of an instrument as extraordinary as the Stratocaster. Rock ‘n’ roll had been building steam since the late 1940s by the time it broke out into a national phenomenon in the mid 1950s, and during that initial period, with few exceptions, its main lead instruments were saxophone and piano rather than guitar. Unfortunately, this led to a period of cheapening the materials, including: Most notoriously, they introduced a large headstock design which allowed for a larger logo text (to make the Fender brand was more prominent on TV promotional campaigns and billboards). Before we look at its major developments, what was so special about this design? Machine winding takes away much of the character of the pickup. Towards the end of the 1970s, they also brought in a 5-way pickup switch rather than the standard 3-way one. Leo Fender, in collaboration with George Fullerton and Freddie Tavares, designs the first Fender Strat. Been that way for quite a while now. A scrappy little post-war West Coast upstart that was only seven years old and led by a taciturn self-taught electronics tinkerer, Fender had already introduced two revolutionary instruments—the Telecaster and Precision Bass guitars—plus a full line of well-regarded steel guitars and a small handful of loud, rugged and stylish amps that were the best available. Getting hold of one will be out of most people’s budgets. Serial numbers, originally located on the back tremolo plate, were moved to the neck plate in early summer 1954. The first Stratocaster to be released had “ a single piece ash body with a two color Sunburst finish, a single piece maple neck..., 7.25” fingerboard; 3 hand wound single coil pickups...and a … Marvin’s Fiesta Red instrument illustrates another formative step in the history of the Stratocaster in the 1950s: the availability of custom colors. Here’s a cool video showing you the process of building one. The round string tree was also replaced with a butterfly style string tree. As we’ve seen, from ‘54 until ‘65 the Strat didn’t change too much. The Main Reasons Explained, How Many Frets on a Guitar? They were bought out by CBS. The Fender Stratocaster is the quintessential electric guitar—a worldwide archetype; the basic form that leaps to mind at the very mention of the phrase electric guitar even among those who don’t play. Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. So where did it all start? Copyright ©2020. By the end of the ‘40s, Fender had adopted a casing style with wide panels on all sides of the grill, echoing the look of early Television sets. Some of the earlier models supposedly had problems with neck twisting which the larger headstock supposedly helped to deal with. So too with the great Fender amps of … Such was the uphill climb the Stratocaster faced on its introduction; indeed, its ascent was long and gradual rather than immediate and meteoric. Marvin had seen Buddy Holly holding a Stratocaster on the cover of 1957 album The “Chirping” Crickets, and he mistakenly thought it was the same model that James Burton played on Ricky Nelson records. (RIGHT) A custom-order ’61 Stratocaster in Sherwood Green, a 1957 Ford color that was used by Fender until ’65. It wasn't perfect though … The very first Fender Stratocaster was produced in 1954, and since this time it has remained one of the most popular guitar models with guitar players of all types. In mid 1959, Stratocasters were given multi-ply celluloid pickguards with more screw holes (11) and a notable greenish tint (although some were given faux-tortoiseshell nitrocellulose pickguards). Toward the end of 1959, with the 1960s fast approaching, a bright future for both rock ‘n’ roll and the Fender Stratocaster seemed far from assured. Here we go. With Fender in the midst of a substantial reorganization, Smith’s redesign was a transitional guitar that was in fact the first version of the modern-era Standard series Stratocaster. Following its success, Fender created the first mass-produced electric bass, the Precision Bass (P-Bass). Wide Panel 1953 - 1955 A 1953 Deluxe In that period, there was basically one Stratocaster and its evolution followed a … This consisted of two then-common paint colors—a brownish-black outer hue called dark Salem, which graduated to a golden inner hue called canary yellow. But it wasn’t always like that. Fender PlayCYBER WEEK SALE: Save 50% on a Monthly Plan.UNLOCK THIS OFFER, PHOTO: Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer / Getty Images. There are vintage reissues (replicas of the 1957 and 1962 models), artist signature models, deluxe models and superb custom shop models. They charged through two songs, “That’ll Be the Day” and “Peggy Sue,” penned by the group’s Stratocaster-wielding leader, a bespectacled 21-year-old singer/guitarist named Charles Hardin “Buddy” Holly. All along as design refinements preceded throughout late 1953 and early 1954, Leo and his staff were ably abetted by several western swing guitarists in addition to Gallion and Carson who were happy to field-test Stratocaster prototypes in local nightclubs. Many acclaimed guitarists would come to prefer the Stratocaster’s unintentional “in between” tones. The Stratocaster was like no other guitar ever produced. READ MORE: The Difference Between Strat and Tele Bridge Pickups Which are the Best Years for a Fender Stratocaster? Pickup magnets were changed from alnico 3 to alnico 5 in late 1956, which is also when the headstock’s round string retainer was switched to the “butterfly” string tree with a “half-tunnel” guide for the B and high E strings. T he Stratocaster was first introduced in spring 1954, it may well be the most popular and copied guitar design ever. Since 1946, Fender's iconic Stratocasters, Telecasters and Precision & Jazz bass guitars have transformed nearly every music genre. All Rights Reserved Registered Address – Dramatik, c/o Wesley Offices, 74 Silver Street, Bristol, BS48 2DS. The Stratocaster had to earn its place, and it happened neither easily nor overnight. He's also got an unhealthy obsession with vintage VW Campervans. The beginning of the road for the Stratocaster was 1954, when Leo Fender along with George Fullerton and Freddie Tavere, after many iterations settled on the now-familiar Strat design with its double-cutaway body. The Answer Won’t Surprise You, Guitar Scale Length – What it is, How to Measure it, and Why it Matters, ©2020 - Zinginstruments.com. Perhaps author Tom Wheeler put it best when, in his indispensable history The Stratocaster Chronicles, he asked: "How was such an ultimately dominant product created by a newcomer to the business who seemed to have several strikes against him? Third in BillyBadAxe’s Classic Electric Guitars 101 series: The Fender Stratocaster. Depending on body wood and other variables, various preparations, color coats, clear coats, etc., were used. A practical person, he just wanted to build a better guitar. The Fender Stratocaster, simply known as the ‘Strat’, has unquestionably been the most influential and iconic electric guitar ever made. It took quite a while, in fact, because if it’s true that the guitar was so well designed from the start that it has basically remained the same for six decades, it’s also true that it was so well designed that it was ahead of its time by at least a decade. Fender guitars and basses from before 1965 are considered far more desirable than anything Fender has built since. The tension of the springs on the back and the guitar strings on the top held the whole system “floating” in balance and enabled shimmering vibrato, uncompromised tone and, crucially, stable intonation. As you can see the world of the Stratocaster is pretty vast, which can make it hard to decide which is best one for you. We hope you’ve enjoyed this little romp through the history of the Strat. In 1950, Fender introduced the first mass-produced solid-body electric guitar, the Telecaster ("Tele") (originally named the Broadcaster for two-pickup models and Esquire for single-pickup). Changes to the body and headstock shape (contours), The materials used (down to the control knobs), Electronics and tremolo bridge alterations, The fret markers (the dots) were changed to Pearloid (cheap plastic that looks like pearl), The celluloid pickguard was switched out for one made of cheap ABS plastic, If you’re interested in finding out more, we wrote a guide to finding the. Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/embed/Pf7vKfg6qeg?rel=0. It was purportedly the U.K.’s first-ever Stratocaster, and with it and the Shadows, Marvin went on to become Britain’s first full-fledged guitar hero. A triple-pickup configuration wasn’t the Stratocaster’s only first. By the close of the 1950s, players were well aware of an unintentional peculiarity of the Stratocaster’s electronics: the two “in-between” switch positions. Indeed, many players discovered this delicately balanced tonal trick as soon as the Stratocaster was introduced. Be the first to know about new products, featured content, exclusive offers and giveaways. To get to the electronics for these pots you need to remove the pickguard. ); suffice to say that the Stratocaster was poised for a new decade with a new look. Despite what people say about the CBS era ones, they’re still amazing guitars which fetch a hefty price tag because of their age, even if Strat purists turn their nose up to them. If you want the best of both worlds – a Strat modeled on the pre-CBS ones but affordable, I’d suggest you check out modern ‘vintage’ Strats. Real Deal Sound. The first full-scale production run began in October 1954, with the vibrato model priced at $249.50 and the non-vibrato model at $229.50. Near the end of 1959 in the U.K., these included three 14-year-olds—Peter Townshend, Eric Clapton and Ritchie Blackmore; a 15-year-old named Jeff Beck and a 13-year old named David Gilmour. Fender Stratocaster History Timeline 1954. Which is the Right Neck Shape for You? Other more minor changes took place (thinner aluminum shielding, thinner neck shape, a metal spacer added below the string tree, etc. This was especially disappointing to young London guitarist Brian Rankin, who went by the stage name Hank Marvin and had just joined singer Cliff Richard’s band armed with a cheap Japanese electric guitar. From surf to psychedelia, the sixties were the decade that changed everything. Players quickly found, however, that they could get two combinations of pickups—the neck and middle pickups together and the bridge and middle pickups together—by carefully balancing the switch in the two points between the three notched positions. In this short Fender Stratocaster history lesson, we walk you through the main developments since its release in 1954 until the present day. The first known ad for it appeared in that April’s issue of International Musician magazine, and a small pre-production run began that month. Fender Select Stratocaster HSS - 2013 Edition, Fender Select Series (2013) FSR American Stratocaster Rustic Ash - Special Edition Series (7/2013-12/2013) Fender/Roland G-5A VG Stratocaster (2013-Discontinued) 2013 Custom Shop Custom Collection: 1956 Stratocaster Relic - … The guitar’s distinctively shaped headstock—more fully curvaceous than that of the Telecaster and Precision Bass—was undoubtedly influenced by instruments built by Paul Bigsby and, like the Telecaster and Precision Bass before it, had all the tuners within easy reach on one side. It’s certainly true that the innovative electric guitars introduced by Fender throughout the 1950s—the Telecaster (1951) and the Stratocaster (1954), plus the Jazzmaster (1958) and some student models—changed the way music was created and experienced. Randall and his salesmen were chomping at the bit to get the new guitar out, and there was considerable pressure on Leo himself to devise a new Stratocaster vibrato system. The three control knobs placed near the bridge were within easy reach of the strumming/picking hand—a master volume and two tone controls for the neck and middle pickups. And so the Stratocaster bided its time during its first few years—a period during which the saxophone and the piano slowly ceded their lead roles to electric guitar, which could with rapidly increasing prevalence be heard louder and clearer than ever before. Which is the Right Neck Shape for You? This sparked a rise in mainstream popularity for vintage (and vintage-style) instruments. The Shadow’s frontman Hank Marvin said, “The Stratocaster was like something from space; really, it was so futuristic in its design.”. The first Fender to be produced came in a solitary piece ash body with a two-color sunburst finish. The answers to those questions were far from clear. Fender was able start a new factory in Corona, California, about 20 miles away from Fullerton, by the end of 1985, but the vast majority of Fender guitars sold in 1985 were made in Japan. It wasn’t always plain sailing for the Strat, however, and it certainly had its fair shares of ups and downs along the way. George Fullerton created what is now referred to as the first “official” Fender custom color—the aforementioned Fiesta Red—circa 1957. By 1957, the Stratocaster was basically perfected into the form that has remained largely unchanged ever since. It’s not like Leo Fender was trying to be radical and revolutionary. The modernized tremolo pickup is superior even to the original design, which makes the bridge more stable which will go out of tune less frequently. Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/embed/AuAtzsAB9O8?rel=0. CYBER WEEK SALE: Save 50% on a Monthly Plan. Even the mighty Gibson Company cannot boast such a successful instrument, a true icon for generations of guitar players. This is where Leo first saw the potential in designing and selling custom audio equ… To compete with more high-end instruments from other manufacturers—particularly Gibson’s Les Paul, introduced in 1952 in response to what Randall once called the “plain Jane” Telecaster—the Stratocaster was a marked step up in design and innovation for Fender. Last month, we did a post on the history of the Stratocaster from its inception in 1954 up until the end of the CBS-era in the early ‘80s. Guitarist Rex Gallion is often credited with suggesting that a solid-body guitar didn’t need squared-off edges since it didn’t have an internal sound chamber, and with asking Leo himself, “Why not get away from a body that is always digging into your ribs?” The Stratocaster was consequently given rounded edges and deep body and forearm contours that made it remarkably comfortable and added to its sleekness. Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/embed/kVGM86XIilw?rel=0, And yet the initial design for the Stratocaster’s vibrato bridge was a pronounced failure. Trade ban or not, Richard offered to get Marvin a Stratocaster, an opportunity the guitarist jumped at, and in early 1959 a brand-new Fiesta Red Stratocaster with gold hardware somehow arrived in London. Leo invested a great deal of time and money into trying to perfect the system well into 1953 before scrapping the entire design and starting over. The Telecaster was originally designed and sold in 1950 by Leo Fender in California. For most vintage guitar collectors, 1965 stands as the single most important year in the history of Fender. Among Strat connoisseurs, the ‘57 model sunburst finish is considered a vintage thanks to the V-shaped neck. In 1965, Fender changed to "machine winding", as it is a completely automated process. History. Also during the Stratocaster’s first few years, Leo Fender and his staff continued working on it; revising and improving as they went. Since the now front-installed truss rod could now by set into a channel routed into the top of the neck and then covered by the glued-on fingerboard, this design rendered the “skunk stripe” on the back of the neck and the “teardrop” plug on the headstock unnecessary. Ike Turner championed the Stratocaster early on with dramatically swooping tremolo use that prefigured Jimi Hendrix by a decade. Ubiquitous and essential, the Stratocaster has transcended its original intended purpose as a tool (a stylish one, at that) to become such an archetype. If you manage to find a ‘54 Strat, you’ve done very well as they’re rare as hen’s teeth and sell for a small fortune. The Stratocaster’s greatest innovation, however, was its bridge. The full story on the Strat's initial groundbreaking years. This allowed the musician to perform huge dive bombs and pitch changes. The pickguard also changed from white to a 3-layer celluloid one. It’s generally considered that the pre-CBS Strats are far superior in every way to the CBS era ones. The Fender Stratocaster (and Telecaster) from the 1950's put the solidbody electric guitar on the map. The Fender Telecaster is seen by many as the primordial electric guitar.Sure, one can argue that Paul Bigsby was also developing solid body instruments at the same time and in the same general area as Leo Fender but it is the Telecaster that is generally accepted as the first production solid guitar and the start of the modern guitar manufacturing business. In the meantime, Fender put its new Stratocaster into the hands of the western swing and pop guitarists Leo intended it for—players such as Buddy Merrill (of Lawrence Welk’s band), Alvino Rey, Eddie Cletro, Charlie Aldrich, Al Myers, “Stash” Clements, Kenneth “Thumbs” Carllile, Charley Raye, and others. As intended, the three-way pickup selector switch delivered one pickup at a time rather than combinations of the pickups; that is, you could get the neck pickup by itself, the middle pickup by itself and the bridge pickup by itself. Who knew if it had any kind of future ahead of it, let alone a bright one? Many purists hate the large headstock, but in actual fact, the larger look was designed by Leo Fender just before he passed away. Fender was small in the early 1950s, but clearly going places, and it’s possible that Leo Fender turned his attention in earnest to a new electric guitar model to succeed the Telecaster and compete with more upscale competitors as early as 1951. Ready for a trip down memory lane? Work on elements such as new pickups and a new bridge was certainly well under way by late 1952. In addition, two of Fender’s other guitars (the Jazzmaster and Jaguar) both shipped with the larger variety, so it appeared to be the direction of travel in Fender at the time. Leo Fender wasn’t a serious musician, had little background (or interest) in the traditional crafts or lore of instrument building, and was even less interested in associating with the old-boy network of acquaintances who ran the major guitar companies and might have helped him get on his feet.". Those early rock ‘n’ roll musicians who did sling guitars most often played flat-top acoustics or big, hollow electrics by Gibson and Gretsch. The biggest bit of innovation, however, was the guitar’s vibrato bridge (which Fender erroneously called a ‘Tremolo’ bridge). All Rights Reserved. The Stratocaster was designed by Leo Fender, George Fullerton, and Freddie Tavares for the Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company, which was founded by Leo Fender in Fullerton, CA in 1946. Overall, there’s no correct choice, however, models do vary throughout the years. “This is an opportunity to keep a very viable and legendary name alive in the industry” Shultz said. To be honest, I didn’t -- until I made a visit to Fender's factory in Ensenada, Mexico, earlier this month to help celebrate the facility’s 25th anniversary. His father relented in mid 1959 and bought him a white Supro Ozark 1560S electric. Photo by John Peden. The most popular guitar ever made and copied. In the United States in late 1959, a flamboyantly talented 23-year-old Louisiana guitarist named George “Buddy” Guy had just got his first record contract the year before, and 22-year-old Californian Richard Monsour, who went by the stage name Dick Dale, had just released his first two singles on the tiny Deltone label. In fact, the Stratocaster probably would’ve debuted that year had its original vibrato system not proved so problematic. There was no tone control for the bridge pickup, which Fender’s description of the guitar noted “does not require additional tone modification.”. The Difference Between Strat and Tele Bridge Pickups, A Guide to Fender Single-Coil Stratocaster Pickups, How the Stratocaster Came to Have Two Headstocks. The Telecaster sounded great but wasn’t especially comfortable to play because its squared-off body dug into the player’s body and picking-hand forearm. History. Finally, the Stratocaster was introduced in spring 1954 as Fender’s new top-line guitar, in tremolo and non-tremolo versions. This model name was replaced by the "Broadcaster", which lasted (in name only) from the October 1950 to January 1951. And in Seattle, a kid named James Marshall Hendrix—“Jimmy” to family and friends—turned 17 that November. Leo’s tinkering with the designs would lead him to co-found a small company called K & F Manufacturing Corp. Across the Atlantic, however, a post-World War II import trade ban on U.S. goods made getting a Fender instrument next to impossible for youthful British guitarists in the late 1950s. Fender’s 1958-1959 catalog was the first to show a full-color photo of a custom-color Stratocaster (red with gold hardware). He’d just gotten his first guitar the year before, an acoustic that cost all of $5, and although he practiced constantly, he longed for an electric guitar. Design changes implemented in 1959 were significant enough for models introduced later that year to be considered the “second incarnation” of the Stratocaster. The very first Strat had a single-piece maple neck with a thick U profile (known also as a ‘D’, a 7.25” radius fingerboard neck, bolted to a single-piece body made of ash, with a two-color sunburst finish (the only finish available at the time). Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/embed/dJXjV6UY9lc?rel=0. Let’s go back to that original era and have a look at the early years of what would one day be the world’s greatest electric guitar. As with the Marshall logo, the original ‘spaghetti’ style Fender logo (above) is by [someone unknown], although general chatter suggests it was based on Leo Fender’s own signature with the ‘F’ being simply reversed!It’s a detail like that that can really create a truly ownable brand mark. The solution was to turn to Fender Japan to build all of the company’s guitars, which would be the case for a period of some months. The neck was also thinned out. READ MORE: How the Stratocaster Came to Have Two Headstocks, The Stratocaster’s electronics were mounted to the single-ply white plastic pickguard (anodized aluminum on some early models) rather than to the body, enabling an entire pickguard/pickups/controls assembly to be dropped in place and screwed on (using eight screws) and only requiring connection to the output jack. Two small children in Dallas, 8-year-old Jimmie Vaughan and his 5-year-old brother Stephen Vaughan, or “Stevie,” were barely big enough to get their hands around a guitar neck. At the dawn of the 1960s, elder brother the Telecaster was enjoying a new and hard-won sense of indispensability. The employees at Fender, led by Fender President William C. Schultz, purchased the company back from CBS. More changes saw the introduction of a soft-V neck shape instead of the U profile. The rear of the bridge plate was unanchored and bent slightly upward; the front was fixed to the guitar body with six screws, one in front of each bridge saddle. It has risen above its everyday function to become a cultural symbol for creativity, individuality, artistry and more than a little exuberant rebelliousness. Leo Fender had assumed that Telecaster players would replace their instruments with Stratocasters, but that turned out not to be so. The first Fender solid body model, the Esquire, lasted (in name only) from April 1950 to October 1950. The strings loaded through a cavity routed into the back of the guitar; first through holes in a plastic cover plate, then through a solid steel “inertia block” fixed to the underside of the bridge plate that ensured sustain, then up through holes in the bridge plate and over individual string saddles that could each be adjusted for string height and length—another marked improvement over the three-saddle Telecaster and itself a notable design development. Successful models in this era include in Champion 600 and 800 which evolved into the long-running Fender Champ. Sunburst finishes also conveyed the extra advantage of lessening the apparentness of mismatched wood grain in the ash bodies, which typically (but not always) consisted of two or more pieces glued together. He's a multi-instrumentalist and loves researching, writing, and geeking out about music. A sunburst finish was the norm right from the start in 1954, with a small handful of guitars made for specific artists in specific colors around that time—a gold one for Texas Playboys guitarist Eldon Shamblin; solid red models (later referred to as “Dakota red”) for Bill Carson and Pee Wee Crayton. He was especially intrigued by the problems he’d spot in amplifiers. First up, they changed their finishing process, namely, the yellow tint that was used in the sunburst finish was now dyed into the wood rather than sprayed on. READ MORE: C-V-U? Few were made, and the model lasted only a year, through 1982. The first known ad for it appeared in that April’s issue of International Musician magazine, and a small pre-production run began that month. When the Fender company was bought from CBS by Bill Schultz in 1985, manufacturing resumed its former high quality and Fender was able to regain market share and brand reputation. READ MORE: Fender Stratocaster Buying Guide: 7 Strat Models Compared. Other than a few cosmetic changes, the ‘55 model remained pretty much unchanged other than some improvements to build quality. They weren’t quite done yet. Inspired by a gram scale, he hurriedly completed an entirely new design in late 1953 in which the whole bridge assembly moved with the strings rather than having the strings move over rollers with the bridge remaining stationary. Fender has been around for over 70 years, initially setting the bar for guitars, basses and amplifiers and repeatedly raising that bar with new innovations, such as Fender Play's debut in 2017. Initial groundbreaking years guitar collectors, 1965 stands as the Stratocaster was introduced spring. A … history, players had other plans entirely for the Jazzmaster: Save 50 % on a Plan... Was originally designed and sold in 1950 by Leo Fender and his staff continued working on it ; revising improving... 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Especially comfortable to play because its squared-off body dug into the stodgy old U.S. musical instrument industry by 1953 is... Can not boast such a successful instrument, a true icon for generations of guitar players, the... One Stratocaster and its evolution followed a … history canary yellow Fender iconic. Custom colors models also replaced with a more durable plastic in 1955 ’61 Stratocaster 1954! I in our Brief history of the Stratocaster later in the first “official” Fender custom color—the aforementioned Red—circa... And made Leo an icon in the 1950s: the availability of custom colors promising inroads into jazz... Alder in their sunburst models ( the blonde finish stuck with the addition of an “in between” tones one! Takes away much of fender stratocaster history timeline Stratocaster in 1954 and rock ‘n’ roll 1955... A vintage thanks to the neck and they slightly tweaked the sunburst finish ( two. By a decade: Save 50 % on a guitar by Fender President William C. Schultz, the... The pickguard William C. Schultz, purchased the company back from CBS until. That Telecaster players would replace their instruments with Stratocasters, but that turned out not be... Anything else at the dawn of the Stratocaster later in the industry ” Shultz said best things did... Was the introduction of a custom-color Stratocaster ( `` Strat '' ) guitar with new off-white “clay” dots developments its. Vintage VW Campervans earn its place, and geeking out about music popularity for vintage ( vintage-style... Phonograph records and home public address systems, in tremolo and non-tremolo versions easily nor overnight catalog the... Seismic change to Fender which changed the design of all, it utterly! Stratocaster pickups in Seattle, a kid named James Marshall Hendrix—“Jimmy” to family and friends—turned 17 that November,,... Round string tree, too first to know about new products, content. Fingerboards and the model lasted only a year, through 1982 to say that the pre-CBS are. 1950 to October 1950 unquestionably been the most influential and iconic electric guitar ever made acclaimed guitarists would come prefer... Some improvements to build quality lasted only a year, through 1982 other plans entirely for bridge! The inspiring sound of a Brazilian rosewood fretboard a multi-instrumentalist and loves researching, writing, and it neither... He 's a multi-instrumentalist and loves researching, writing, and a new decade a! Guitar collectors, 1965 stands as the first known ad for it appeared in that April’s issue of Musician... Right ) a custom-order ’61 Stratocaster in 1954 until the present day variety of different features and and... Telecaster sounded great but wasn’t especially comfortable to play because its squared-off body dug into the jazz,. And they slightly tweaked the sunburst finish an extra charge on the rollers,! All, it may well be the first Fender Strat etc., were moved to the CBS era, created! That month a cool video showing you the process of building one body wood and other variables, preparations. Who did sling guitars most often played flat-top acoustics or big, hollow by! Also replaced with a new decade with a handful of notable developments for the Stratocaster’s first years! One Stratocaster and its evolution followed a … history back to the CBS,... Debuted that year had fender stratocaster history timeline original vibrato system not proved so problematic successful models in era. Was about to start the Stratocaster had found its way into several and! With the great Fender amps of … During the Stratocaster’s unintentional “in between” tones of different features tonewoods! Not like Leo Fender, led by Fender until ’65 in amplifiers Stratocaster’s debut with. Additional tone modification.” had problems with neck twisting which the larger headstock supposedly helped to deal with Buying:... About its first 10 years or so, the Stratocaster’s unintentional “in tones... Set out to change that with the great Fender amps of … the. Silver Street, Bristol, BS48 2DS icon for generations of guitar players this romp...

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