Some Tender Fender Stories

Leo Fender | Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar[Fender Stratocaster electric guitar designed 1954 made 1957 wood metal and plastic MoMA | Leo Fender (American 1909-1991), George Fullerton (American 1923-2009) and Freddie Tavares (American 1913-199)].

The Stratocaster (“Strat”) electric guitar was designed by Leo Fender, a self-taught electrician, inventor and amateur musician from Southern California and it is one of the most successful musical instrument designs from the 20th Century. Sold with a range of finishes with detachable elements which are easily repaired or replaced, these guitars were designed to withstand heavy use and amplification.

The ergonomic and balanced form was contoured to fit comfortably with the player’s body and technical innovations included a three pickup for a bright glassy sound, and a fender-patented built-in tremolo arm (“whammy bar“).

The Strat’s user-friendly design and unique sound meant it soon dominated the market, attracting numerous devotees including: Jimi Hendrix, Mike Oldfield, Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt, Rory Gallagher, David Gilmour, Jeff Beck and The Beatles to name but a few.

  • Mike Oldfield has a “Salmon-pink” Strat, which is his favourite guitar.
  • Ry Cooder used his 60s Strat slide guitar for the film soundtrack Paris, Texas (1984).
  • Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour owns Strat #0001, which was manufactured in 1954, but was not the first Strat made since Fender does not use sequential serial numbers. His custom modified Strat features in his solo piece on The Wall’s Comfortably Numb, which remains a definitive Strat moment in music.
  • Both George Harrison and John Lennon from The Beatles were Strat owners. Harrison hand-painted his original Strat in psychedelic paint with “Bebopalula” painted above the pick-guard and the guitar’s nickname, “Rocky” was  painted on the head-stock. He can be seen playing Rocky in the Magical Mystery Tour film as well as The Concert for Bangla Desh. Lennon had a 1961 Strat during his Beatles days and a different one for his solo Imagine album. He acquired a candy apple red Strat with 22 carat gold electroplated brass hardware around 1980 not long before his untimely death.
  • Jeff Beck is noted for his innovative use of the Strat’s vibrato system. Originally a Les Paul devotee, he moved over to a Strat in 1975 and is recorded as saying “With a Les Paul you just wind up sounding like someone else. With the Strat I finally sound like me.
  • Jimi Hendrix’s main stage guitar was a Strat. Although left-handed, he is noted for playing a conventional right-handed Strat flipped upside down because he preferred to use the controls in that position, rather than buying a left-handed guitar.
  • In 1990, Hendrix’s white Strat used at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 sold at a Sotheby‘s auction for $270,000. (A record price at the time).
  • Rory Gallagher loves his worn 1961 sunburst Strat. He once said “B.B. King has owned over 100 Lucille’s, but I only own one Strat, and it hasn’t got a name”.

Sounds like a case of Fender Splendour for the Megablaster Stratocaster

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