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American Fender Strat

Hello fellow guitar friends, one of the most ionic guitar ever made and probably the most widely copied electric guitar, well you probably guessed it, the American Fender Stratocaster. Growing up wanting to learn the guitar, my dream guitar was an American Fender Stratocaster. Like most of us, the closest I got in my early playing years was a Squire Fender Stratocaster made in Korea. I played that guitar for years, countless hours per day and still play it to this day. The main reason that I still play it today is that this guitar was the first new guitar my parents bought for me for Christmas way back.

After many years of playing, I decided to purchase an American Fender Stratocaster, an Olympic White with white pick guard and I was thoroughly pleased with the purchase. The guitar has the ability to sound great in almost any genre, as many famous guitarists use the standard as their main guitar. There are several components that attribute to sound such as type of woods used, strings and amplification. We will discuss below the components of the guitar and some options available.

American Fender Stratocaster

Guitar Body

The early American Fender stratocasters were made of ash but later changed to an alder body. Today, there are two to choose from, ash or alder. You will find many genres with each of these tone woods and producing professional sounds. These options give the user different tones which ultimately will be up to the users’ preference. Many guitarists that I know, cannot distinguish the difference of which tone woods used during a blind test but few swear by it. If you are anything like me, you will try everything available regardless of what materials are used despite personal preferences. Sometimes, you can have the right combination of components that just sound great and it is not what you would normally buy. This is why it is very important to try as many as you can and one of them will just feel and sound right to you.

Colours Available

There are several colours to choose from depending on model, year and anniversary, 12 to be exact. Black, blue, burst, gold, gray, green, natural, orange, pink, red, silver, and white. That is quite the colour choice that should be able to please just about anybody. My personal favorites are the burst and the Olympic white colour scheme. Again, this comes down to personal preference. There is no one colour better than the other. But, for some reason the burst seems to be very popular coulour among the bunch.

Guitar Neck and Fretboard

There are generally maple necks with maple, rosewood, pau ferro or ebony. The key difference with maple as opposed to the others is that the neck and fret board are made of one piece. The others will have the neck and the material (rosewood, pau ferro and ebony) glued on the neck. I would have to say I really like the maple lacquer fret board with the satin finish on the neck. It makes it really nice playing along the fret board. They often come with several finishes but you can get them without.

Maple is a stable wood which produces a bright and snappy tone. It is easy on the fingers, and great for bending. Many fast players enjoy this material. After a very long while and constant playing, the material will began to discolour and display wear marks and some people do not like the way the material discolours and others like the vintage look it produces.

Maple Fretboard

Rosewood darker than pau ferro and is a durable material which produces warmer tones and levels out the high-end harshness. This material is naturally oily so it does not require any finishes. Guitarists like rosewood mainly for its natural feel under the fingertips.

Rosewood Fretboard

Pau Ferro a lighter colour than rosewood began to be used more often when rosewood was banned for use but it looks like it is coming back. There are minor differences compared to rosewoods. It produces a slightly brighter sound than rosewood but with the same warm tones.

Ebony is a harder material and less prone to wear. It produces similar tones to the maple fret board. The one disadvantages with ebony is its sensitivity to humidity. With changes in humidity and may have a tendency to crack from shrinking and expansion. This type of material is generally used in metal music. It is generally jet black and effortless throughout the fret board which allows fast playing. There are five neck shapes to choose from, C-shape, Modern C, D-shape, V-shape and Deep V. This will be important more to how it feels in your hands and playing styles.

Pick-up Configuration

The traditional pick-up configuration is the three single coils. Widely used for blues and country music and everything in between. Another option is the HSS configuration which is humbucker with two single coils. This allow the guitarist the ability to achieve the cleans from the single coils and the chunky sounds on the humbucker with a single guitar. This does make this guitar a versatile tool in your arsenal. Another option for those that do not like the sound of the gain with single coils can opt to get the deluxe or ultra series that can come with noiseless pick-ups. You do lose a little of the shine but without the noise. Guitarists such as Eric Clapton uses noiseless pick-ups on his Fender Stratocasters.

Single Coils HSS - Ultra

Cost to purchase

The cost to pick up a brand new American performer series is around $1499 or you can spend a quite a bit more for an ultra for around $2400. This is not including custom shop models that for the most of us is out of our price point. These guitars continue to go up in price and Fender is changing the names as the years go by. As fender adds modifications to the guitars the higher the price will be. You can pick up previous year editions used for alot less, you will have to be carefull as these guitars are designed to be modular so many people will alter the guitar which can make it difficult for the average guitarist let alone a newbie identify if you have something genuine. Buyer beware when purchasing used.

Conclusion

The American Fender Stratocaster is without a doubt, one of the best all-round electric guitars you can get buy. It has the ability to play a variety of music genres from blues, country, rock and even metal if one desired. The best thing I can recommend is go to the music store and try everything available until you arrive at one that stands out to you. It is nice to read reviews and get opinions from others but it has to sound and feel good to you. If you buy what you really want and it feels good when you play it, this will only drive you to pick up the guitar and continue playing even when the novelty wears off. Happy shopping.

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