Play STRAT 60 Licks

60 Years , 60 Play­ers , 60 Licks One world-chang­ing gui­tar!

Guitar Techniques - - Front Page -

Wel­come to this be­he­moth of a cover fea­ture, which fo­cuses on the play­ing styles of no fewer than 60 of the most fa­mous Fender Stra­to­caster-wield­ing gui­tarists of all time.

Fender’s Strat was first sold in 1954, and was the fol­low-up to its bolt-on brother, the Tele­caster. A much more am­bi­tious de­sign than the Tele­caster, the orig­i­nal 1954 model Strat fea­tured many new in­no­va­tions, in­clud­ing three sin­gle-coil pick­ups, a contoured dou­ble-cut­away body, and the ‘Syn­chro­nized Tre­molo’ vi­brato unit. Over time, the Stra­to­cater’s un­ri­valled mu­si­cal­ity and ver­sa­til­ity have earned it a place as a gen­uine 20th-cen­tury de­sign icon.

Fa­mously, David Gil­mour owns the 1954 Stra­to­caster with the se­rial num­ber 0001, al­though it is widely ac­cepted this was prob­a­bly not the first one man­u­fac­tured. Over the years, the Strat has seen many changes; some of th­ese were due to manufacturing con­straints, some were to im­prove the over­all func­tion­al­ity, and oth­ers were re­sponses to pre­vail­ing fash­ions.

One of the most im­por­tant sonic changes hap­pened when the three-way pickup se­lec­tor was re­placed with a fac­tory-fit­ted five-way in 1977 – of course, play­ers had known for years that the three-way se­lec­tor could be lodged in between po­si­tions 1, 2 and 3 to ac­cess an ex­tra two sounds. While now leg­endary, it’s worth re­mind­ing our­selves of those five pickup se­lec­tor com­bi­na­tions: Po­si­tion 1 = Neck pickup only Po­si­tion 2 = Neck and mid­dle in par­al­lel Po­si­tion 3 = Mid­dle pickup only Po­si­tion 4 = Bridge and mid­dle in par­al­lel Po­si­tion 5 = Bridge pickup only Many of the big­gest mod­i­fi­ca­tions, how­ever, have been player-led, and the Stra­to­caster re­mains the num­ber-one gui­tar for ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and hot-rod­ding. This ‘easy main­te­nance’ ethos was part of Leo Fender’s orig­i­nal in­tent, and the Strat’s sim­ple, bolt-to­gether con­struc­tion makes it a rel­a­tively

The Stra­to­caster’s un­ri­valled mu­si­cal­ity and ver­sa­til­ity have earned it a place as a gen­uine 20th­cen­tury de­sign icon.

sim­ple task for the owner to change tuners, pick­ups, vi­brato units, necks, pick guards or even the en­tire body. In­deed, some play­ers end up with the clas­sic ‘Trig­ger’s broom’ sce­nario, where none of the gui­tar’s orig­i­nal parts re­main un­changed.

As a re­sult of all this tinkering and im­prove­ment, many of the play­ers fea­tured have a sig­na­ture Stra­to­caster model of their own, re­flect­ing the in­no­va­tions and per­sonal pref­er­ences each has added to their own in­stru­ment. Th­ese fea­tures can range from the rather dras­tic scal­loped fret­board of Yng­wie Malm­steen to a more sub­tle ad­di­tion, like Eric Clap­ton’s mid-boost cir­cuit.

The fol­low­ing 60 ex­am­ples are di­vided into six au­dio tracks, with 10 ex­am­ples per track – put very broadly into cat­e­gories, just to keep the ‘six tracks, 10 licks’ vibe in­tact; so please don’t beat us up if you dis­agree! Each ex­am­ple is four bars long with a two-bar drum break to sep­a­rate each one. A back­ing track is pro­vided for each of the six tracks, with the tran­scribed per­for­mance muted so you can play along. While it’d in­deed be a chal­lenge to learn all 60, the aim here is to have fun, to pick up a new tech­nique or trick along the way, and to re­mind our­selves – an al­most un­be­liev­able six decades on – what a fan­tas­tic in­ven­tion Leo Fender’s Stra­to­caster truly was.

This ar­ti­cle is in no way in­tended as a ‘Top 60’ count­down, or a ‘best of the best’ list. To try and as­cer­tain the best Strat player of all time is as sub­jec­tive as it is fu­tile. In­stead, it’s meant as a fun way to cel­e­brate 60 years of a bril­liant gui­tar and its play­ers, and as a jump­ing-off point for many dif­fer­ent ar­eas of study. We had enor­mous fun com­pil­ing this list of our favourite and most mu­si­cally in­ter­est­ing Stra­to­caster users. Apolo­gies if your top twanger has been missed out, but the line-up of Strat supre­mos is all but end­less.

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