The Fender Stratocaster is an electric guitar. Designed by Leo Fender, George Fullerton, and Freddie Tavares in 1954, it has been manufactured continuously by the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation to the present. It is a double-cutaway guitar, with an extended top horn for balance. Along with the Les Paul, it is the most popular electric guitar. Although “Stratocaster” and “Strat” are trademark terms belonging to the Fender, the term “Strat” is often applied to any guitar with the same general features as the original regardless of manufacturer.
Originally the Stratocaster was offered in a 2-color sunburst finish on a solid, deeply contoured ash body, a 21 frets one-piece maple neck with black dot inlays and Kluson tuning heads. In 1956 Fender began issuing solid Stratocasters with alder bodies. In 1960 the available custom colors were standardized, many of which were automobile lacquer colors from Dupont available at an additional 5% cost. The unique single-ply, 8-screw hole white pickguard allowed all electronic components——except the recessed jack plate——to be attached to it for easy assembly.
Despite subsequent Stratocaster models (including copies) vintage Fender models are highly valued by collectors for their investment potential and players who prefer the timbre of older models.
Among the genres the Stratocaster has been used for—besides Country, the genre Leo Fender intended it to be for—it has played a large role in rock, pop, funk, rhythm and blues as well as blues.