When the Fender Stratocaster burst onto the scene in 1954 it was like an alien creature in a golden era for electric guitars. Then Buddy Holly got hold of it, and all of it sudden it was one of the most recognisable instruments in the world.
Buddy paved the way for many of the most popular guitarists of the 1960s to pick up Fender Stratocasters and popularize the instrument further, after Clapton, Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Ritchie Blackmore, David Gilmour and Stevie Ray Vaughan, there was no turning back for the Strat, it became the quintessential rock and roll workhorse.
The tonal options offered by the Stratocaster set it apart from the Telecaster and the Les Paul; its two leading competitors.
Whilst the Tele had her signature twang on the bridge pickup and smooth clean sound on the neck, and the Les Paul had her searing hot lead guitar sound on the bridge and her rich and warm blues tone on the neck, the Stratocaster offered more variety.
Combining the bridge and the middle pickups gave a sound perfect for a rhythmic solo, constantly working with the right hand and ducking in and out of notes with the left.
The bridge was perfect for rock and roll riffs, and the neck gave a glassy delicate tone with unlimited uses.
Rewiring of the pickups to the tone pots meant that the sonic capabilities developed further. Neck and middle could be wired to one tone pot, and the bridge disconnected from the tone pot altogether, the combination of a reeled off middle pickup and a natural sounding bridge pickup led to one of the most recognisably complex guitar tones of all time, used by guitarists such as Clapton and Gilmour.
What's more, the leftover pot could be turned into a circuit to vary the EQ across all of the pickups, giving a master tone control.
The video on the next page of this article shows an excerpt from crowdfunded film 'Turn It Up', which is an appreciation of all guitars, not just the Strat. But the short clip does show just how much we appreciate the Stratocaster, and it's well worth a watch.
It also shows how much Kevin Bacon appreciates the guitar...
Where would we be without those versatile workhorses? A life without Stratocasters would also be a life without Super Strats, and that's not something we can even bear thinking about!