The Stratocaster Story
The Fender Stratocaster first went into production in mid-1954. Leo Fender, its principal designer, conceived it as the futuristic sucessor to the Telecaster. In other words, Leo fully expected that every Tele or Esquire player would trade up the perceptably superior Stratocaster. Fortunately for Telecaster fans, this did not happen. In fact, initial Stratocaster sales were surprisingly weak. It became clear that Leo Fender had conceived a design that would take some time for the average player to appreciate, but ultimately the guitar was to become Leo's most successful.
If not seen by player of the day as being 'better' than the tele, the Stratocaster certainly represented an evoloution of design. Plastic pickup covers were used to help eliminate microphonic feedback, cutaways were borrowed from the precision bass to make higher notes more accessible, body contours were added to make the guitar more comfortable to hold and play. And of course, there was the revoloutionary tremolo design, in truth added to appeal to the fashionable guitarist of the early fifties.
Needless to say, the strat has gone on to become without a doubt the world's most popular electric guitar, and one that has been used with great success in inumerable different forms of music. The strat has recieved a bit of a bashing in the 'popular is rubbish' nineties, but nobody had improved upon the design that Leo Fender laid down in the early fifties, and the Stratocaster will without a doubt continue to be used by guitarists for many years to come.
Below is a picture of an original stratocaster from that era.