What Makes Fender the Best Guitar Company

Fender Stratocaster - Current series and models at a glance

Hardly any guitar has gained such cult status as the Fender Stratocaster. With their development, the American guitar maker achieved a success story that has hardly been repeated a second time.

The story of how the Strat came about should be known: Leo Fender was looking for a visually appealing and technically advanced electric guitar that would succeed the popular Telecaster. That was a success at the end of the 1950s. The rest is ... yes, history.

Reason enough to provide you with the ultimate guide to the Fender Stratocaster. Whether you are already addicted to the Strat or are considering buying a Stratocaster: In the following article you will learn everything about the Strat - sounds, models, tips on care and adjustment and much more. Have fun!

Current series and models (2021)

While the entire range of Stratocaster models developed is almost unmanageable, recently some models have blossomed into real fan favorites. We have selected current series for you in different price ranges and compared them with each other.

Made in Mexico

Here you can find all series and models of the Fender Mexico Stratocaster.

Player Series Stratocaster

Formerly Mexico Standard Series

particularities

  • Body: alder
  • Neck: maple
  • Fingerboard: maple
  • Frets: 22
  • Tremolo: 2 point
  • Pickups: 3 Player Series Alnico Single Coils

Do you want to know more? Then read on: Fender Player Stratocaster

The inexpensive Player Series from 2018 - previously Mexico Standard Series - is one of the most successful Strats from Mexican production. With the aim of producing the best possible guitars for active musicians, the producers concentrate on the essentials: Qualitative pickups, a neck that is easy to play thanks to a matt finish and a price of well under 1000 EUR make the Player Series an extremely good offer for all players, regardless of the level.

Vintera Series Stratocaster

Formerly Mexico Classic Series

particularities

  • Body: alder or ash
  • Neck: maple
  • Fretboard: Pau Ferro
  • Frets: 21 (medium jumbo or vintage style)
  • Tremolo: 2-point or 6-point
  • Pickups: different depending on the model

Do you want to know more?Then read on: Fender Vintera Stratocaster

A wide selection of high-quality instruments with vintage charm: This is the Vintera series by Fender - produced by the highly specialized factories in Mexico. The Stratocaster is represented among the Vinteras with a total of eight models and looks great in every incarnation: Fender made the models based on the 1950s and 1960s and adheres closely to its own historical specifications.

With the introduction of Vintera Road Worn Series For the first time, “aged”, ie artificially aged, instruments are also joining the line-up. The guitar makers have understood not to exaggerate or intrude on the signs of aging. "Paint damage" and aged pickguards look realistic and make the instruments sound and cozy.
The combination of an unbeatable price-performance ratio, great sound and a noble look make the Stratocaster of the Vintera series the ideal instrument for beginners, advanced and professionals!

If you are looking for a good-looking, high-quality and rock-solid Stratocaster, the Vintera series is just right for you. Recordings, rehearsals and excessive live performances: with a Vintera Strat you have a reliable companion by your side!

Made in USA

American performer Stratocaster

Formerly American Special Series

particularities

  • Body: alder
  • Neck: maple
  • Fretboard: rosewood
  • Frets: 22
  • Tremolo: Vintage-Style Synchronized
  • Pickups: 3 Yosemite Stratocaster single coils

Do you want to know more?Then read on: Fender American Performer Stratocaster

With the guitars of the American Performer series, Fender is particularly focusing on the strengths of its US factory: The pickups specially manufactured in Corona (California) are matched to the respective body and thus deliver the versatile and genuine Fender Stratocaster sound.

But it's not just the pickups that stand out from the crowd. With the new Classicgear machine heads, Fender has delivered a modern tuning machine in the style of the classic model. The high translation ensures a precise and comfortable voice feeling.

As with the Mexican-made Player series, Fender uses matted necks and jumbo frets for its Performer series to make the playing feel as comfortable and controlled as possible - perfect for a performance or for sweaty rehearsals.

American Professional II Stratocaster

Formerly American Standard Series and American Pro until mid / late 2020

particularities

  • Body: ash
  • Neck: maple
  • Fingerboard: maple
  • Frets: 22
  • Tremolo: 2 point
  • Pickups: 3 V-Mod II single coils

Do you want to know more? Then read on: Fender American Professionel IIStratocaster

High-quality workmanship, the best woods and a terrific sound: the American Professional II Stratocaster takes up the already very good concept of the previous series and refines the details even further. In particular, the neck profiled in the Deep-C is further enhanced by the soft collar ends and the "Super-Natural" finish. The neck is full and supple in the hand, can be played as soft as butter and conveys a familiar, well-known feeling - typical Stratocaster.

Equipped with the new V-Mod II single-coil pickups, the Professional II Stratocaster throws an even clearer, accentuated sound into the mix: sparkling highs and a singing, brilliant mood that can clearly and safely assert itself in every mix.

The American Professional II Stratocaster is the right Strat for those who do not want to compromise on their instrument: Solid craftsmanship and first-class workmanship await professional use!

American Original Stratocaster

Formerly American VintageSeries

particularities

  • Body: ash or alder
  • Neck: maple
  • Fingerboard: maple or rosewood
  • Frets: 21
  • Tremolo: Pure Vintage Synchronized Tremolo
  • Pickups: 3 Pure Vintage ’59 (‘50s) or ’65 (’ 60s) single coils

Do you want to know more? Then read on: Fender American Original Stratocaster

With a company history like the Fenders, it is clear that there will always be models that see themselves as an homage to times long past. The American Original Stratocaster is one such model and takes the bow to the past to the extreme.

In two versions (1950’s and 1960’s Strat), the American Original Stratocaster offers originality and the joy of playing from a bygone era in combination with the latest technology and manufacturing processes.

The elaborate single-coil pickups, specially wound for the American Original Stratocaster, breathe life into the instruments - great sounds combined with modern interconnection make the American Professional interesting for both vintage fans and modern guitarists.
With a nitro-lacquered alder body and historically correct hardware, the American Original Strat is a great tool for anyone who identifies with the guitar as an instrument.

American Ultra Stratocaster

Formerly the American Elite Series

particularities

  • Body: alder
  • Neck: maple
  • Fretboard: rosewood or maple
  • Frets: 22
  • Tremolo: 2 point
  • Pickups: The American Ultra Strat with the classic SSS pickup has 3 Ultra Noiseless Vintage Strat single coils. The HSS model, on the other hand, has an Ultra Double Tap humbucker (bridge) and 2 Ultra Noiseless Hot Strat single coils (middle and neck)

Do you want to know more? Then read on: Fender American Ultra Stratocaster

Not just reflecting on old strengths, but also reinterpreting existing b instruments is a core aspect of the Fender brand. The American Ultra series takes up the now five-year-old concept of the American Elite Stratocaster and expands the range with the American Ultra Stratocaster. With a further milled alder body, the Strat offers even more comfort than other instruments of this type. Frets and fingerboard have been professionally rounded and feel pleasantly smooth and gentle, the modern D-profile of the neck fits snugly and firmly in the hand. The pickups of the series were inspired by the Noiseless pickups and are called Ultra Noisless Singlecoils.

In addition to the classic 3-single-coil version, the Strat is also available in an HSS version - by using a fat-sounding humbucker on the bridge, this Stratocaster sounds much more powerful and can also assert itself well in high-gain sounds. All in all, the American Ultra Stratocaster is a highly professional instrument for the highest demands - and you can tell and see that!

Review: Series that are no longer produced

Not only the newest and most up-to-date models of the Strat enjoy great popularity. Especially on the used market you will find excellent instruments from the following series ...

American Deluxe Stratocaster

  • Introduction: 1995
  • End of production: 2016
  • Revised: 2004 and 2010
  • Replaced by: American Elite Series in 2016

The American Deluxe series is characterized by numerous features that were only used in this series. The circuit layout in particular has been fundamentally changed. The layout, known as the S-1 Switching System, makes it possible to switch two single coils in parallel and thus imitate the sound of a humbucker. The now possible combination of neck and bridge pickup offers new sounds - the unusual combination sounds similarly nasal and twangy as a Telecaster.

American Elite Stratocaster

Was created in 2019 by the Fender American Ultra Series replaces with which Fender upgraded its Stratocaster models with contemporary features and brought upgrades to the elite models on the market.

American Elite vs. American Ultra

These are the upgrades of the new Ultra series compared to the older American Elite series

  • Alder body
  • screwed maple neck
  • Rosewood or maple fingerboard
  • Medium jumbo frets
  • Ultra Noiseless Vintage Pickups
  • modified S-1 circuit
  • revised neck profiles

Highway One Stratocaster

  • Introduction: 2002
  • Revision: 2006
  • End of production: 2011
  • Replaced by: American Special Series (Today the: American Performer Series)
  • Special features: cheapest entry into the Stratocaster made in the U.S.A.
  • until 2006 the Highway One were built with a traditional guitar head
  • from 2006 the guitars were equipped with a large headstock

American Standard Stratocaster

  • Introduction: 2012
  • End of production: 2016

The American Standard Strat is practically the base model of the Stratocaster variants produced in the USA. With many of the pre-CBS specs popular with gamers, the Standard Strat has been a top seller for years.

The small headstock and the neck with four-point screw connection create a certain vintage feeling, but the pickups and the free-floating tremolo, with all the nostalgia, also offer access to modern technology.

The high-quality nitro lacquer and the use of the best woods make these instruments top-class guitars - once picked up, it is difficult to put them down again.

American Professional Stratocaster

Formerly American Standard Series and American Pro until mid / late 2020

particularities

  • Body: ash
  • Neck: maple
  • Fingerboard: maple
  • Frets: 22
  • Tremolo: 2 point
  • Pickups: 3 V-Mod single coils

Do you want to know more? Then read on: Fender American Professionel IIStratocaster

A professional tool for anyone who doesn't want to compromise on their guitar - this is Fender's approach to this high-end Stratocaster.

While many modern innovations, such as the modern C-neck profile with an even thicker neck, the newly developed Narrow Tall Frets or the specially designed Tim Shaw pickups have found their way into the Professional Strat, Fender is also reflecting on its traditional values.

The best workmanship, high-quality woods and spectacular nitro paint make the instruments of the Professional series stand out from the crowd.

Thanks to the Elite case and removable tremolo arm, everything is ready for the tour bus too. The American Professional series is exactly what its name promises: a high-quality instrument for professional demands, Live or in the studio.

Buying advice: which Strat is right for me?

Fender offers a suitable series for every budget. The maximum amount of money you want to spend on your new Strat can largely determine which series is suitable for you.

Price range € 100 to € 200

Fender Squier Strats: A cheap start is the Squier Bullet series from 100 € and Squier Affinity series from around 200 €, both of which are aimed at beginners and those returning to the game.

Price range € 300 to € 400

The Fender Squier Classic Vibe series, which is located in the middle price segment, has been offering an entry into the classic Fender models of the 50s, 60s and 70s for almost 10 years.

Price range € 500 to € 900

The Fender Made in Mexico Strats of the Player series from 550 € and Vintera series from 750 € offer a bit more expensive but also significantly more quality.

Price range from 1000 €

The Stratocaster models of the Fender American Performer Series (formerly American Special Series) are the "inexpensive" entry into the American Stratocaster models. If you want to call a real US-Strat your own, you should look around here.

Price range from 1500 €

The legendary: The "original" from California is represented by the American Professional Series (formerly American Standard Series). These Stratocaster guitars are stage-ready work animals that give you the typical Fender sound. The classic par excellence.

Price range from 2000 €

For professionals and enthusiasts, there is also the American Ultra Series (formerly American Elite Series) and the Custom-Shop Strat and Signature models in the upper price segment (> 2000 €). This is where professionals come in who know their way around and know exactly what is important to them.

Cheap Stratocaster alternatives (replicas / copies)

There are many inexpensive ST models in Strat construction on the market, but only a few come close to the quality of a Made by Fender Stratocaster. But a Strat copy doesn't have to be bad. However, especially in the low-price segment, many providers attract with inferior Strat replicas. In any case, you should take a closer look. Popular representatives among the Stratocaster replicas are for example Harley Benton ST-20, Harley Benton ST-62 (Vintage Series), Ibanez GRG and Yamaha Pacifica.

The cheapest Fender Strat "Made in USA" models

The American Performer series represents the entry-level Made in USA Fender electric guitars. So if you really want a "real" USA Strat, you should take a closer look at these models. The price starts at just over € 1000. Compared to the American Professional Stratocaster, which starts at 1500 € and the American Ultra Stratocaster, which is just under 2000 €, this is one Top price-performance ratio.

Buying a used Strat?

The different models of the Fender Stratocaster are not only real bestsellers at the large music retailers, there are also many suitable offers on the used market.

So that the supposed bargain does not turn into a disappointment, you should stick to our checklist for used guitars very carefully - there are also some "Fender specifics" that you should pay attention to:

To check the authenticity of a Fender Stratocaster, you should have a screwdriver with you when you pick up the guitar. At Fender, the most important information about the guitar is handwritten between the neck and the body. Attention: loosen the strings beforehand! Also the serial number on the headstock you should coordinate with the Fender database.

Which amplifier for Fender Stratocaster?

A Stratocaster works perfectly with a Fender amplifier. For most guitarists, the optimum in sound is a tube amplifier, such as the Fender HotRod Deluxe IV.

The modeling models of the Fender Mustang GTX series and the Fender Champion amplifiers suitable for beginners are also popular in 2021.

Tips for caring for a Stratocaster

The Strat is a workhorse, requires little maintenance and withstands even the most demanding tours. However, if you want to do something good for your Stratocaster every now and then, you should be particularly careful with the sensitive nitro lacquer.

Nitro lacquer consists, as the name suggests, to a large extent of nitrocellulose. This substance is particularly critical to solvents and, due to its chemical properties, occasionally causes problems with guitar stands. Special cleaners are recommended for cleaning the paint, and pure alcohol is also a good tip.

If you want to keep your guitar on or in a guitar stand, you should make sure that no foam comes into contact with the paint. The plasticizers contained in the foam can attack and discolor the nitro.Specially developed stands can help, as well as a piece of fabric that sits between the guitar and the Stand is stuffed.

When setting the fret purity and tuning the Stratocaster, it always depends on the type of built-in Tremolos at. Many trems can be adjusted by means of embedded springs so that they float when the strings sound free (floating tremolo) - but when the type of strings is changed, thicker or thinner strings are used or the material is changed, there can be differences come in tremolo. However, this can be quickly remedied by fine-tuning the spring tension.

Sound samples

For the sound samples a Fender 60th Anniversary Strat was used together with a Fender Blues Deluxe Amp. The master volume control was at position 4 for the clean sound and 7 for the crunch sound. The audio signal was picked up with a Sennheiser E 906 microphone and recorded without any further effects. The GAP PRE73 Premier was used as the microphone preamp and the RME Fireface 802 as the audio interface.

Stratocaster Guitarists: These rock stars swear by Fender

Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton is considered by many to be one of the most influential and innovative blues guitarists of all time. Not least because of its iconic riffs in songs like “Layla” or during his time with the super group Cream (“White Room”), the Fender Stratocaster has also flown to rock guitarists. Clapton's black Strat, affectionately known as Blackie, has become particularly famous and is considered one of the most expensive guitars of all time - it was sold for $ 959,500 in 2004.

Jimi Hendrix

When speaking of exceptional guitarists, there is no getting around Jimi Hendrix. And no instrument is so associated with it as the Fender Stratocaster. The self-taught Hendrix discovered the modern instrument for himself and wrote a large part of his iconic songs on a Fender Strat. Fun fact: Hendrix was left-handed, but could not find a real left-handed Stratocaster in his time. Without further ado, he turned the guitar over and wound the strings upside down - and the first left-hand Strat that made it world famous was ready.

David Gilmour

Pink Floyd mastermind David Gilmour, like Eric Clapton, became famous as a friend of the Stratocaster. The spherical, often wacky and opulent riffs and solos of the exceptional guitarist benefit from the clear and assertive sound of the three single-coil pickups. And something else in common Gilmour and Clapton: David Gilmour also had his guitar (called Black Strat) auctioned. At USD 3.9 million, it reached the highest value ever for an electric guitar at Christie's auction house.

Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher is one of the last great lead guitarists who distinguished himself in the 1970s with his virtuoso and then very modern playing. The use of artificial harmonies (also called artificial overtones), bends and volume swells demanded a lot from his Stratocaster. Gallagher was virtually married to his 1961 Stratocaster - no wonder, given the sound!

Yngwie Malmsteen

Malmsteen is considered to be one of the greatest shredders to ever hold a guitar. His insanely fast solos earned him the reputation of the "guitar-playing Paganini of rock". His main tool is a modified Fender Stratocaster. In addition to all sorts of electronic subtleties, Malmsteen likes to play “scallop” frets - the fingerboard is milled out between the frets and allows deeper, wider bends and fast tappings.

Mark Knopfler

Who doesn't have it in mind, the red Stratocaster from Dire Straits guitarist and singer Mark Knopfler? In addition to his excellent and idiosyncratic playing technique (Knopfler almost always dispenses with picks), the sound of his guitars also shaped the albums of Dire Straits. The Stratocaster played by Knopfler can be heard particularly clearly in the song "Sultans of Swing" - a part that is considered THE sound example for a Strat.

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan achieved world fame with his Stratocaster - and rightly so! The guitarist, who died far too early, used a variety of instruments for his recordings and performances. But his rocked Strat with the nickname "First Wife" is particularly famous. The guitar consisted of a body from 1963 and a fat D-profile neck from 1962 - and it was obviously played a lot!

Conclusion

The Fender Strat is a stunning guitar with a great past. Not only suitable for classic rock and blues, but also for modern metal sounds, the Stratocaster offers a superior feel, proven technology and a timeless design.

Once you've had a good Strat in your hands, you won't need another guitar anytime soon. Promised.

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