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The Fender Stratocaster, often referred to as the Strat, is Billie Joe Armstrong's model of electric guitar designed by Leo Fender, George Fullerton, and Freddie Tavares in 1954, and manufactured continuously by the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation to the present. It is a double-cutaway guitar, with an extended top horn for balance while standing. The Stratocaster has been used by many leading guitarists, and thus can be heard on many historic recordings. Along with the Gibson Les Paul, Gibson SG, and the Fender Telecaster, it is one of the most common and enduring models of electric guitar in the world. The design of the Stratocaster has transcended the field of music to rank among the classic industrial designs of all time; examples have been exhibited at major museums around the world.
In its original form, the Stratocaster was offered initially in a 2-color sunburst finish, together with a solid deeply contoured ash body, a one-piece maple neck with 21 frets, black dot inlays and Kluson machine heads until 1957, when Fender started making bodies made from solid alder. There was also a set of available custom colors that wasn't standardized until 1960. These custom colors were mostly automobile lacquer colors made by Dupont and could be had for an extra 5% cost. The single-ply, 8-screw hole white pickguard was a unique concept that allowed all of the guitar's electronic components - except the recessed jack plate - to be mounted on one easy-to-remove surface. Subsequent Stratocaster designs (by both Fender and other imitating companies) have ostensibly improved upon the original in usability and sound, but vintage Fender models are still often worth large amounts of money and some prefer the timbre of older models.
The Stratocaster has been widely copied; as a result, the term "Strat," although a trademark of Fender Musical Instrument Corporation, is often used generically when referring to any guitar that has the same general features as the original, regardless of manufacturer.
- U.S. Patent No. 2,741,146 (Tremolo device for stringed instruments; Stratocaster Tremolo system)
- U.S. Patent No. 2,960,900 (Utility patent for offset body styled guitars (Fender Jaguar/Jazzmaster))
- U.S. Patent No. D186826 (Design Patent for Fender Jazzmaster)
- The Stratocaster Chronicles: Celebrating 50 Years of the Fender Strat. Tom Wheeler. Hal Leonard (April 1, 2004) ISBN 0634056786 ISBN 9780634056789
- The Fender Electric Guitar Book: A Complete History of Fender Instruments. Tony Bacon. Backbeat Books. 3rd edition (September 1, 2007) ISBN 0879308974 ISBN 978 0879308971
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- Fender official website