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Stratocaster At The Music Zoo

The Fender Stratocaster is a truly definitive electric guitar. First introduced in 1954, it has come to represent the top-of-mind mental image of the electric guitar for many. The Music Zoo's Stratocaster inventory spans all price ranges and decades of styles and inspiration, from original era vintage pre-CBS Stratocasters, to popular Artist-inspired models, value packed Mexican and Squier examples, top shelf custom shop pieces of art, best-selling USA base models, and even our own custom creations created with Fender's best Master-builders! These guitars are endlessly versatile and truly let their player's individuality shine through.

Stratocaster History

The Fender Stratocaster was the second solid body guitar envisioned by Leo Fender and his partners, and it hit the market in 1954, pairing nicely with the already exploding popularity of the Telecaster. The Stratocaster was a much different beast though! While it's tonewoods and bolt-on maple neck construction were similar to the Telecaster, the Stratocaster was the first solid body to feature a "contoured" body - in the form cut-outs for the tummy and arm. It's double cutaway shape was new and offered impeccable balance as well.

The new trio of single coil pickups were mounted to a unique pickguard that made for easy assembly. these original pickups were controlled with a 3 way switch, but true to the guitarist's tinkering nature, it was discovered that "in between" positions that produced different tones could be achieved - so eventually Fender started using a 5-way switch. The Stratocaster was also the first guitar to feature a spring-driven guitar vibrato/tremolo system, still in use to this day, and an idea that spawned countless other similar pieces of guitar "expression hardware". The Stratocaster also was seen later on with a "hardtail", non-tremolo bridge, which many thought helped sustain and tuning stability.

Throughout the 1950's, the Stratocaster continued to evolve, the neck was reshaped several times, and new finishes including special custom colors were added on top of the original two color sunburst offerings. Both alder and ash bodies were used, and in mid 1959, rosewood fingerboards became standard, which offered a different tone and playing feel. The pickup magnets also between stronger - Alnico 3's became Alnico 5's, and new pickguard materials and colors were eventually introduced. The now highly defined tone of the Stratocaster was chimey, crisp, clear and clean, a contrast from the warmth and darker tones of a Gibson.

When Fender was sold to CBS in 1965, many agree that quality suffered. But there were still changes to the Stratocaster in this era that have stuck, including 5 way switching (1977). And while the 3-bolt neck joint, bigger headstocks and bullet-style truss rods in this era never caught on, today these designs are looked back on as endearingly quirky, and have even been reissued. Aftermarket player-performed modifications of the '70s, such as the bridge humbucker installation trend, also inspired Fender to create factory original guitars with this pickup configuration. The tail end of the CBS era, from 1982 until 1985, saw another important development, the new idea to reissue the classic 1957 and 1962 models. These American-made reissues can be very valuable, and eventually led the way to the American Vintage series in 1998.

In 1987, Fender launched the American Standard series, a popular line which lasted until the series was renamed American Professional in 2017. The "Strat Plus" series of the late '80s until the mid '90s, was short-lived but these guitars are highly regarded. They used a unique metal roller nut to help tuning stability and intonation, as well as a new set of lower noise Lace Sensor single coils paired with unique tone controls.

The Stratocaster is attached to countless well-known artist's names as well. The Eric Clapton Stratocaster was one of the first modern-era "Artist model" electric guitars, and signature Stratocasters also exist for the likes of Yngwie Malmsteen, Eric Johnson, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and countless others.

The Music Zoo is an authorized Fender and Squier dealer, and our used inventory is packed to the brim! Our Stratocasters are individually photographed and weighed, and undergo a rigorous inspection by our team of technicians, so you can be sure that wood grain you just fell in love with will look the same when it arrives at your doorstep, and the guitar will be ready to play right out of the case. Make your next Stratocaster purchase online at The Music Zoo, or visit our New York showroom to shop today!