The Stratocaster is quite possibly the worlds most copied, imitated and modified guitar. Many players took their vintage Strat’s and hot-rodded them in the 1970’s to mark a change in guitar demands. Many players were turning to humbucker loaded guitars in the dawn of rock, metal and punk. The old single coils simply weren’t cutting it for many players.
One of the most famous Strat-modders is Eddie Van Halen. He took his old Strat, put in a humbucker from a Gibson ES335, added some eye-catching stripes and built a single pickup guitar that was ready to handle all the high gain, dive bombing, shred guitar action that was thrown at it. The birth of the Super Strat.
This simple modification paved the way for companies like Ibanez, Jackson, Charvel, Kramer and more to release their own Strat inspired guitars. Except, instead of single coils and vintage tremolos many of these rock machines were loaded with humbuckers and locking tremolo systems as heavy metal and guitar playing in general stepped up to a new dawn of technique and tone.
Fender themselves worked tirelessly to keep the Stratocaster up to date, in the mid 1980s they launched some notable models including:
- Fender Contemporary Strat (1984 – 1987) – with a super flat 12” fretboard radius, 22 medium jumbo frets, Schaller locking tremolo and twin humbuckers.
- Fender Performer (1985 – 1986) – Not quite a Stratocaster, but a more 80’s take on the design, this had a pointed headstock, locking tremolo system and a pair of angled humbuckers as well as coil-tapped electronics for a huge range of tones.
- Fender HM (1988 – 1992) – The HM stands for Heavy Metal. This was Fenders response to the super Strat builders of the 80s. This guitar was designed for hard and heavy with a DiMarzio humbucker in the bridge, 24 fret neck, offset neck heel for upper fret access and a Kahler locking tremolo.
In more recent years, Fender have continued to push the boundaries of where the Stratocaster can go with many options ranging from HSS pickup Strats, super Strat variations, vintage voiced Strats with advanced switching capabilities and so much more. There is no limit to what the Stratocaster can do, that’s why it’s been around for as long as it has. While technology advances, the Stratocaster will adapt itself to find a place in guitar players inventories.
No guitar players collection is complete without a Stratocaster.