November 5, 2017

5 Reasons To Play Acoustic Guitar For those about to unplug...


There are a ton of reasons to play an acoustic guitar. Before you get started, however, the main question might be which guitar will accompany you on your musical journey.
To help you decide, you may want to consider Fender's Paramount Series. With a line that includes three different models in Standard and Deluxe versions, the Paramount guitars are perfect for any pursuit.
Below, we’ve listed five reasons to pick up a Paramount.

1. Spontaneous Creativity
Inspiration can strike anywhere. After all, some of the most timeless songs were written in the backseat of a tour van, or even sitting on the couch while aimlessly watching television.
The Paramount Series is made to be that traveling companion, with sturdy all-solid wood (East Indian rosewood back and sides on the Deluxe models, and premium solid mahogany on Standard models) that can handle any situation--from the backyard barbecue to the beachside bonfire, from the studio to the stage.

2. They Look Great
While maintaining elements of modern design, the Paramount Series still has a stylish classic vibe. Just look at that checkerboard purfling and rosette; not to mention the abalone and mother-of-pearl inlays. These guitars will look good in any scenario, for sure.
3. Made for Everyone
There are three sizes in the Paramount Series--DreadnoughtParlor and Triple-0. That means people of all shapes can comfortably play a Paramount. Some prefer the smaller Parlor, some would rather the bigger Dreadnought. Want an acoustic with a single cutaway? Grab the Triple-0. There’s a Paramount guitar ready to roll, no matter how large or small you are.

4. They're Versatile
Learning to play on an oboe or piano is a pretty specialized endeavor. But with a guitar such as one in the Paramount Series, you can play a plethora of tunes with just a few chords. Begin with the G, C and D chords, and you’re off and running. Heck, throw in an E-minor and you might have an entire songbook at your fingertips.

5. Stress Reliever
It’s been proven that playing guitar can help keep you on top of your brain game. Carrying a guitar with you ensures that you’ve got an easy way to break through stressful barriers and just get lost in some music. Whether you're craving a hard-charging riff or an easy-like-Sunday-morning rhythm, Paramount guitars offer a great way to work out the mental kinks.

Source: https://www.fender.com/articles/gear/5-reasons-to-play-acoustic-guitar?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=blast-110517-fender-US&utm_term=fender&utm_content=largemod-5reasonstoplay

February 1, 2017

5 Free Apps That Help You Learn and Play Guitar

As with most other creative hobbies, playing a guitar is much harder than it looks, but it’s also worth the effort required. It’s one of the more rewarding things I’ve ever learned, and I highly recommend it. The only problem is, it’s tough to learn on your own.
Which is why I recommend using mobile apps as supplementary tools.
I didn’t have these when I learned guitar, but I’m confident that these would’ve accelerated my learning had I had them back then. Of all the creative ways to use an Android tablet or the creative ways to use a smartphone, this is one that will really pay off in the long run — so if you’re a novice or intermediate guitar player, check these apps out.

1. Real Guitar




4.1 rating across over 188,000 reviews.
If you already own a guitar and you’ve played around with it a bit, feel free to skip ahead to the next app. Real Guitar is an app for those who haven’t made the leap yet. After all, nobody wants to spend hundreds on a guitar only to realize they don’t like it, right?
In short, Real Guitar is a guitar simulator. It can simulate both acoustic and electric guitars, and it works on both tablets and smartphones. It also supports multi-touch, which is crucial for playing chords, but you’ll need a device with multitouch capabilities for that feature to work.
What’s even cooler is that it comes with 16 track loops that you can play along to, plus a recording mode and the ability to export to MP3. This means you can actually come up with songs, play them with Real Guitar, and record them for later. It’s actually quite fun!
Download: Real Guitar (Free)

2. Perfect Ear




4.7 rating across over 30,700 reviews.
While Perfect Ear isn’t a guitar-specific app, it’s extremely useful for anyone who wants to play guitar (or any other musical instrument for that matter). In short, it aims to develop two crucial skills that every musician must practice: rhythm and tone.
Perfect Ear comes with dozens of interval, scale, chord, and rhythm training exercises to help you get comfortable with and understand music. It also has trainers for sight reading, absolute pitch, and note singing. If you have trouble distinguishing different tones, this app is exactly what you need.
And if you want to dive into the deep end, Perfect Ear also contains articles on music theory, which will come in handy if you ever intend to write your own songs.
Download: Perfect Ear (Free)

3. GuitarTuna




4.8 rating across over 751,000 reviews.
There are dozens of mobile apps that can help you tune your guitar, but GuitarTuna is the absolute best. Note that it can also handle bass, ukulele, violin, cello, banjo, and a bunch of other popular string instruments, so you won’t need to find another app if you pick up another instrument later.
Here’s how it works: you pluck the guitar string, the app listens with your device’s microphone, and shows you which note the sound is registering as. This makes it very easy to adjust your tuning as a beginner, but even as an expert this can be helpful because the app supports hundreds of alternative tunings.
GuitarTuna also has a few other tools, such as a chord library, but you probably won’t bother with them beyond the tuning aspect.
Download: GuitarTuna (Free)

4. smartChord




4.7 rating across over 34,000 reviews.
If I had to designate one app as the all-in-one Swiss Army Knife app for guitarists, it’d likely be this one. smartChord started off as an app for learning all the different chords and fingerings on the guitar fretboard — and yes, it is the ultimate chord reference — but has since evolved into something more comprehensive.
What I find most helpful is the reverse chord finder, but smartChord also has features for tone determination, hundreds of predefined tunings, dozens of different scales, a basic metronome, a virtual guitar for when you can’t lug your actual guitar around, a precise tone generator, and more.
So yeah, use it when you come across a chord that you don’t recognize, but also use it when you want to change tunings, practice scales or rhythm, train your ear, or write your own music. It’s invaluable.
Download: smartChord (Free)

5. Metronomerous




4.7 rating across over 2,700 reviews.
Most metronome apps on the Play Store are too basic — they get the job done when you’re a beginner, but their limits are quickly reached as you improve your skills. As soon as you hit that point, you’ll want to start using Metronomerous, the best metronome app for Android users.
The interface may be a bit intimidating at first, but that’s only because it can do so much. It can go as far down as eighths, sixteenths, triplets, quintuplets, and septuplets. It can accent on any note down to the sixteenth or triplet note, it can mute during bars to make sure you’re on tempo, and it can even program complex beat sequences.
If you only need a basic beat, it may be overkill. But when basic isn’t good enough, Metronomerous is the only app that will give you the freedom you need.
Download: Metronomerous (Free)

Other Resources for Learning Guitar

Limiting yourself to Android apps will severely hinder your progress as a guitarist. There’s an entire world of guitar resources on the web, such as these websites for learning the guitar and these websites for finding guitar chords for songs, so go ahead and incorporate them alongside the apps from this post. Learn to Play Guitar with These 5 Websites Learn to

Source: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/5-free-apps-learn-play-guitar-android/

September 3, 2016

Free Recording Software - Channel your inner Dre for free with these 7 pieces of recording software





When it comes to the search for a free and reliable Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) to record music, the Internet has a number of terrible choices to offer. Free apps often come in one of three forms: gutted versions of premium software, fully functional trials of premium software, or standalone programs developed with the financial lure of proliferating malware and useless toolbars. Fortunately, a number of pretty awesome and reliable applications exist as well. The “freemium” software often lacks the advanced functionality of renowned programs such as Pro Tools, but still provide options for recording audio, adding layers upon layers of effects, and cutting waveforms, among other basic tasks. These free applications certainly can’t do it all, but for most users, a simple method for recording beats and acoustic guitar is enough.
Below is our list of the best free recording software you can download, install, and immediately start using on your computer.



Presonus Studio One Free

presonus studio one

Presonus Studio One comes in four different versions. Studio One Professional, the most versatile incarnation of the bunch, costs around $450. Studio One Free, meanwhile, is the most stripped down and, as the name implies, it is free.
Presonus designed Studio One Free for beginners and more-experienced DAW users who want to try out the software before doling out the cash. This means Studio One Free intentionally leaves out key features that typically come standard with the other versions. Some of these features you can live without, such as the ability to directly export files to SoundCloud, while others hurt the usability of this program. For instance, not being able to import or export MP3 files or integrate third-party synthesizers and effects is a major crux. Disabling the use of outside effects hurts the program’s potential for long-term use, especially since Studio One Free comes with only eight onboard effects and one instrument.
On the other hand, Studio One will never display a nag screen like other free recording programs, nor does it ever time out. The interface looks cleaner and runs smoother than most freeware because it’s not technically freeware, but rather the demo version of a reliable, high-end digital audio workstation. And despite its limitations, the free version includes unlimited audio and instrument tracks, latency compensation, time-stretching capabilities and other tools and features necessary for budding musicians to create layered, polished recordings.
Download now for:



Audacity

audacity screen

First released in 2000, Audacity has gone on to become one of the most popular pieces of free software around, and for good reason. The open-source program gives users a wide range of options for recording and editing audio, all tied together with a simple interface. Perhaps most importantly, unlike many other free programs, Audacity is not “free for a limited time” or “free with many features locked.” Everything Audacity has to offer is free of charge.
Compared to other notable DAWs such as ProTools and Sound Forge, Audacity’s layout is very minimalist. There are toolbars for navigating a track, editing it, and mixing. When tracks are loaded, they will appear as waveforms, and users can edit specific sections of a track by highlighting the appropriate section of the waveform. Navigating the interface is easy, although it may take time for new users to figure out what every specific tool does. As far as editing goes, Audacity offers a surprisingly robust set of tools for a free program. Users can adjust pitch, bass, and treble, or normalize noise and add effects like reverb and phasing. Audacity even has some tools for analyzing tracks, including frequency analysis.
Of course, no piece of free software is without its shortcomings, and despite Audacity’s many virtues, it has some issues. The most notable problem is that Audacity uses “destructive editing,” which means that when users add effects to a track, they are actually altering the waveform; these changes happen to the original file, so you can’t go back and undo them later. This isn’t necessarily a problem if you’re carrying out simple tasks — such as editing pauses out of a podcast — but more complex actions like mixing  might be difficult. Furthermore, Audacity requires numerous plugins to reach optimal functionality; it cannot export projects as MP3s, for example, unless the user installs an MP3 encoder. Overall, however, Audacity offers one of the most robust packages available among free recording programs.
Download now for:



Ardour

ardour screen

Ardour is an open-source DAW designed for Linux and available for Mac OS X. Its developer, Paul Davis, also invented the JACK sound server for Linux and worked previously as one of the original programmers at Amazon.
Ardour features highly versatile multi-track recording features that include the ability import video for film scoring purposes, to record and edit either non-destructively or destructively, and to prepare any combination of individual tracks for recording. Its use of JACK makes it compatible with a number of outside applications, as well. However, unlike other DAWs, Ardour does not come with any built-in effects or instruments and relies instead on the installation of third-party software. Unfortunately, it’s also not compatible with Windows.
Download now for:



Cockos REAPER

cockos reaper screen

Justin Frankel, who played a major role in the development of both the Winamp media player and the “Gnutella” peer-to-peer file sharing network, also led the development of REAPER (Rapid Environment for Audio Prototyping and Efficient Recording). The program is essentially a shareware recording tool with loads of features and capabilities, many of which rival high-end DAWs.
Though an extremely capable piece of software, REAPER also features a steep learning curve compared to applications such as Audacity. Because of this, Cockos encourages users to use the product for free before paying for the license, so users can acquaint themselves with the program’s capabilities and workflow. REAPER allows for the customization of practically everything, even the shape and color of the program’s controls themselves.
It also comes with hundreds of native instruments and allows for the integration of VST plugins, along with the rewiring of applications and just about every other third-party program. It even features its own programming environment where users can script, debug, and compile their own plugins using a variety of computing languages. REAPER is an extremely versatile application that’s available for both Windows and Mac OS X users, one you can start learning for free. Keep in mind that Reaper is only free for 60 days, however, and will require a $60 purchase thereafter.
Download now for:



Rosegarden

rosegarden screen

In 1993, programmers at the University of Bath began working on a Linux-based DAW called Rosegarden. They initially released the source code without licensing it. Since then, they’ve licensed Rosegarden for general use, increased its MIDI capabilities, and rewritten the program from scratch into an entirely different programming language.
Despite the software’s innate appeal, Rosegarden’s visual layout isn’t as appealing as other DAWs. Its recording capabilities can hinder performance, while incorporating third-party plugins requires some additional knowledge of programming. Its main strengths, however, lie in its ability to interpret and sequence MIDI. It also recognizes musical notation, which distinguishes Rosegarden from other DAWs in terms of its capabilities with regards to scoring and arranging music.
Download now for:



Zynewave Podium Free

zynewave podium free

In 2005, programmer Frits Nielson left his position as a user interface designer with TC Electronic to focus his efforts on a recording application he began developing back in the early ‘90s. Nielson started a company called Zynewave and released a program called Podium — a fully functional DAW with a 64-bit sound engine, MIDI capabilities, VST and third-party plugin compatibility, and a number of other advanced functions. It was also priced at a mere $50.
Zynewave now offers a free version of its software called Podium Free. Granted, it comes with some limitations — Zynewave has disabled Podium’s multiprocessing capabilities, which hinders the program’s performance under pressure and its surround-sound playback capabilities. Otherwise, though, Podium Free is identical to Podium, a program that takes some getting used to. Once users learn how to use it, however, they will find that Podium Free offers an interface that excels in terms of customization, while offering a suite of effects and other features on par with premium DAWs. The program also never times out or displays a nag screen, and Nielsen regularly updates the software to fix bugs and known issues.
Download now for:



VirtualDJ Free

virtualdj

Those looking for an intuitive way to record and mix audio should enjoy the free version of VirtualDJ, which provides users with an easy-to-use interface in which to tweak audio. The first thing new users might notice when launching VirtualDJ is that the interface is modeled after a traditional DJ table. There are two decks to load tracks onto, and numerous dials and sliders for adjusting pitch, volume, and other audio aspects. There are even two “records” that users can scratch and spin if they please. Tracks are displayed as overlapping waveforms at the top of the screen, which allows users to line up two different tracks at precise intervals.
Users coming to VirtualDJ for musical purposes will also find an array of effects to use, including reverb and flanging. The program also allows users to splice samples into their songs; the default samples — which include an air raid siren and a person saying “pump it up!” — are kind of dull, but what is really nice about the program is the ability to create your own samples. The process is straightforward thanks to VirtualDJ’s readable interface, so if you wanted to cut out the chorus of Take On Me and speed it up alongside a hip-hop beat, for example, you could to do in a matter of minutes.
Of course, VirtualDJ is hardly perfect. The options for editing audio are relatively shallow and the built-in effects are pretty basic, so users looking to really experiment with audio will probably want to look elsewhere. Still, with it’s very intuitive interface, VirtualDJ is a great tool for aspiring musicians looking to dip their toes into mixing and editing.
Download now for:



Updated April 18, 2016, by Will Nicol
: Added VirtualDJ Free and updated copy to reflect recent software changes.


March 15, 2016

Squier Stratocaster Buyers Guide from Sam Ash Music


Built And Backed By Fender

Let's get something straight: Although Squier Stratocasters (and for that matter all Squier guitars and basses) are for the budget conscious, they are not just beginner instruments and they are not cheaply made. Every Squier Stratocaster is made to the strict specifications of the Fender Musical Instrument Corporation and under Fender supervision. Many well known recording artists use Squier guitars and basses, such as:

Squier Stratocasters have the same basic features that have made the Stratocaster one of the most successful and enduring guitars of all time:
  • Traditional 3 pickup design
  • 5 position pickup selector
  • Comfort Contour Body
  • Most have the Synchronized Tremolo
  • And the other basic features that make a Stratocaster a Strat.
You won't get a fancy case and, with the exception of the higher end Squier Strats, you won't get the latest, most powerful pickups, but you will get a great guitar that puts the classic sound and feel of a Strat in your hands.

Choosing your Squier Stratocaster

There are quite a few Squier Stratocaster models, each with its own unique features. Your choices include:
*** "Fat Strat" refers to the HSS pickup configuration, which means that one of the single-coil pickups has been replaced by a humbucker. Many people describe the humbucker as having a "thicker" sound, so this type of Strat is called a "Fat Strat"


Squier Mini Stratocaster

If you are looking for a guitar for travel or for a smaller size guitar player, the Squier Mini Stratocaster is just the ticket. It has the traditional 3 single coil ceramic pickups and, at 20 frets, a shorter scale. The Squier Mini Stratocaster also lacks the tremolo bridge in favor of the fixed hard-tail design that many artists prefer.


Squier Bullet Stratocaster

The Squier Bullet Stratocaster is the perfect guitar for the beginner. It has the classic Strat features including the three pickup design, 5 way selector switch, and synchronous tremolo with cast saddles. The neck is maple with a rosewood fingerboard and covered tuners and the body is basswood. The Bullet Strat gives you ceramic pickups instead of the more powerful pickups used on the higher end models. This model is also available in an HSS or "Fat Strat" version.


Squier Affinity Strat

For a few dollars more, the Squier Affinity Strat upgrades you to an alder body with die cast tuners. It also gives you the option of a maple fingerboard. The Affinity Stratocaster is available in a left handed version and in an HSS model for those who prefer the sound of a Humbucking pickup at the bridge position.


Squier Standard Stratocaster

All the critical features are upgraded in the Squier Standard Stratocaster. At this level you get:

  • More powerful Alnico pickups
  • Standard die cast tuners with lifetime lubrication
  • Slimmer neck for easier playing and 22 frets
  • The better synchronous twin-pivot tremolo with satin anodized saddles
  • An agathis body
What all this means is that the Squier Standard Stratocaster will feel better, play better, and sound better than the Bullet and Affinity models. There is even a Special Edition version with a gorgeous Cherry Sunburst Finish and mint green pickguard. Although the Squier Standard Stratocaster will satisfy a more advanced player than the Bullet and Affinity models, we recommend it as an excellent choice for beginners as well. With its improved sound and features, the Squier Standard Stratocaster will be a more enjoyable instrument when learning to play and will remain so for years.



Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster


If you yearn for the sound and feel of the vintage Strats of the 1950's and 60's, but the price tag of a vintage or vintage reissue model is not for you, then you should consider the Squire Classic Vibe Stratocaster 50's and the Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster 60's models. These are not reproductions of the instruments of the era, but they have design and features that give you much of the sound and feel of the classic models. Both have classic alder bodies and one piece "C shape" maple necks, with a rosewood fingerboard for the Classic Vibe 60's Strat or a maple fingerboard for the Classic Vibe 50's Strat. Aside from the fingerboards, the most important difference between the two is that the 50's model has vintage style Alnico 3 pickups and the 60's model has Alnico 5 pickups, giving each the characteristic sound of its era. Other differences between the two are cosmetic and include color choices and pickguard design and colors.



Squier Vintage Modified Strat

An instant hit when they were released, the Squier Vintage Modified Strats are as if you took an older model Strat and gave it the "hot-rod" treatment. Medium-jumbo frets and a fast-playing rosewood neck, along with the three Duncan designed SC-101 pickups set this one apart from the pack. The Squire Vintange Modified Strat is also available in an HSS version.







Squier Stratocaster

Squier Strat Value Packs

When you want a single package including everything you need, The Squier Value Packs can't be beat. The Squier Packages include all of the essentials - a guitar, amp, headphones, strap, tuner, gig bag and instructional DVD - and they offer you three choices based on which kind of guitar and amp you would prefer:


Squier SE Special Strat Pack i

The Squier SE Special Strat Pack includes the SE Special Stratocaster, with three single coil pickups, agathis body, and synchronous tremolo and the Squier SP-10 amp.

Affinity Strat Special and Frontman 15 Pack

The Affinity Strat Special and Frontman 15 Pack upgrades you to the standard Affinity Strat electric guitar with the Fender Frontman 15 practice amp, a great sounding compact model perfect for dorm rooms.The Affinity Strat in this package has an agathis body instead of alder.

Affinity Strat HSS and GDEC Jr Pack

The Affinity Strat HSS and GDEC Jr Pack gives you the Affinity "Fat Strat" and the fantastic Fender G-DEC junior amplifier, which has 15 digital amp models allowing you to sound like you're playing through many different classic amps. The G-DEC also includes several accompaniments making it a fun amp to play along with. The Affinity Strat in this package is the Affinity Fat Strat HSS model (two single coil pickups and one Humbucking pickup at the bridge position) also with the agathis body of the Squier Standard Strat.

Other Things You'll Need:

The Squier Value Packages include everything you need to get started, but you might want to pick up a few extra things along the way.
  • Extra Guitar Strings - Whether you buy one of the Strat value pack or any other Squier guitar, you will need to buy extra strings Strings oxidize over time so, you should replace the strings on your guitar at least every 90 days to keep them sounding great and feeling good.
  • Hardshell Case - If you are planning to transport your guitar other than by carrying it yourself, you need to protect it with a hardshell case.
  • I nstructor - If you're a beginner without a guitar teacher, we also recommend that you sign up to the Sam Ash Music Institute. This is more than on-line instructions, we have guitar teachers standing by to help you whenever you have difficulty

March 14, 2016

Stratocaster Buying Guide

The specs & features that matter when you shop for a Fender or Squier Strat
The Fender Stratocaster is among the most iconic electric guitars to have ever been produced, and it’s been a major influence on the sounds of modern music. Since it’s introduction in 1954, the  Strat has been featured on countless recordings, and played by rock, punk, jazz, blues, soul, R&B, and country artists the world over. During its six-decade history, the Stratocaster has consistently been one of the most popular (and copied) guitars in production.



Table of Contents

A Brief History of the Stratocaster
Why Choose a Stratocaster?
Basic Stratocaster Features
Squier Stratocasters
Fender Stratocasters
USA Fender Stratocasters
Fender Custom Shop
So, Which Stratocaster is Right for Me?

A Brief History of the Stratocaster

In 1954 California inventor Leo Fender along with his cohorts Freddie Tavares and George Fullerton set out to design a guitar that would build on the success of Fender’s Telecaster and Precision Bass. Seeking to create a guitar with more tonal versatility as well as improved playability and comfort, the trio came up with the Stratocaster. Adapted from the profile of the P-Bass, its double-cutaway, deeply contoured solid body offered easier access to the higher frets and nestled more comfortably against the player’s body. The addition of a middle single-coil pickup gave the Strat greater tonal versatility than its Telecaster stablemate’s two-pickup design.
The original Strat had a 3-way pickup selector switch. Players soon discovered they could engage two pickups simultaneously by using a toothpick to wedge the switch between the “factory” settings and thus create unique tones. As we’ll see, Fender was paying attention, and over the years switching and wiring grew more sophisticated.
The Strat also had a cavity routed into its back, housing a through-body pivoting bridge that  anchored the strings. Strat players began modifying their guitars’ standard fixed bridge by removing two of its five retaining springs and adjusting the anchoring screws allowing the bridge to “float.”  By doing this, they could move the tremolo arm that was attached to the bridge up and down, thus modulating the pitch of the played notes. Jimi Hendrix,  Ike Turner, and Jeff Beck were all notorious for their enthusiastic use of these pitch-bending tremolo effects.
But vigorously yanking on the trem bar caused the guitar to go out of tune. In response, guitarists such as Ron Wood and Eric Clapton modified their bridges to remain fixed while retaining the floating tremolo. Others did away with the tremolo entirely leading to what are now referred to as “hard-tail” Strats. Here too, Fender was watching, and as the Strat evolved, new models incorporated many of the modifications pioneered by these artists and their guitar techs.
In 1965 Leo Fender sold his company to CBS—a move that many Fender fans associate with a change in the quality of Fender instruments. Nonetheless, the business grew, and in 1977 the company introduced 5-way pickup switching and a reverse-wound, reverse-polarity middle pickup. This provided a hum-canceling effect in positions 2 and 4 on the selector switch, creating the tones popularized by iconic guitarist such as Jimi Hendrix, Dick Dale, Eric Clapton, and David Gilmour. Today, the 5-way switch and reverse-wound middle pickup are standard on most Strats.
In 1982 Fender introduced a version of the Stratocaster produced under its Squier trademark—a division spun off to create value-priced instruments. Originally built in Japan, it became one of the company’s most successful models. Since then, Fender has produced Stratocasters in Korea, Indonesia, and China, aiming to provide instruments that retain the Fender heritage and quality standards while being very affordable.
A group of Fender employees and investors bought the company from CBS in 1985 reinvigorating a business largely lacking in leadership that understood music gear and musicians. Following the buyout, Fender initially built its instruments in overseas factories that had the skills to create instruments meeting the company’s standards.
Later in 1985, Fender’s flagship factory began production in Corona, California. This was followed two years later with the opening of its second North American factory in Ensenada, Mexico. That same year—1987—Fender’s revered Custom Shop was launched and began building some of the finest Stratocasters ever.
Since then Fender has continued to rethink its flagship Stratocaster, introducing dozens of model variations with unique capabilities and cosmetics. Yet the essential shape, playability, and sound of the Strat remains unchanged six decades later.
In this guide we’ll walk you through the many Stratocaster series and models available today. As you browse Musician’s Friend’s huge collection of Strats, we hope you’ll find this guide a useful companion in sorting out all the details.

Why Choose a Stratocaster?

With all the electric guitars available, why should you choose a Strat? While only you can determine if a particular guitar is a good fit, there are compelling reasons the Stratocaster has proven to be the guitar of choice for so many players. With its 3-pickup array and 5-way selector switch, the Strat offers players a variety of options to achieve the sound they want. From bright and twangy to mellow and moody, the Strat covers many colors  on the tonal palette.
Aside from tone, the Strat offers a very smooth, comfortable feel. The contoured body and neck joint make the Stratocaster easy to hold and play, and its deep cutaways give the player ready access to the entire fretboard. With several neck profiles to choose from, there’s a Strat to match just about everybody’s hand and playing style.
 

Famous Stratocaster Players

Countless guitarists have chosen the Fender Stratocaster as their instrument of choice. Whether playing a tasty blues lick or laying down some righteous funk, the Strat has earned its place among the most revered guitars ever. Some famous Stratocaster players include:
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Eric Clapton
  • Jeff Beck
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • George Harrison
  • John Frusciante
  • Dave Murray
  • Ritchie Blackmore
  • The Edge
  • David Gilmour
  • Buddy Holly
  • Eddie Hazel
  • John Mayer
  • Buddy Guy
  • Robert Cray
  • Eric Johnson
  • Mark Knopfler
  • Bonnie Raitt
This is just a short list—if space were no issue, we could fill your screen several times over with the names of notable Stat players.

Basic Stratocaster Features

The Fender Stratocaster comes in many variations, but the following features are generally found on most Strats produced under the Fender and Squier nameplates:
  • A double cutaway contoured alder or ash body offers excellent resonance, comfort, and playability.
  • 3 single-coil pickups with a 5-way blade switch accesses 5 different pickup configurations: Neck, Neck/Middle, Middle, Middle/Bridge, and Bridge.
  • Master volume and 2 tone knobs control the output signal and the treble frequencies of the Neck and Middle pickups.
  • A bolt-on maple neck provides strength and stability, while being easily removed for repairs or replacement
  • Maple or rosewood fingerboard for tonal definition and durability
  • Nitrocellulose lacquer finish (vintage and Custom Shop), Urethane or Polyester finish (modern)
  • Synchronized tremolo bar
  • 25-1/2” scale length
  • 7-1/4” fretboard radius (vintage)  9-1/2” (modern)
  • Classic “C”-shaped or “V”-shaped neck

Squier Stratocasters

Squier is a division of Fender and its Stratocasters are based on Fender models, sharing many of the same design features at super-affordable prices. In the company's own words, Squier is the “value brand alternative to its big brother, Fender.” Squier Strats are largely made in Asia.

Squier Bullet Series

The Bullet series offers a tremolo-equipped Stratocaster for the new player on a tight budget. These guitars deliver the tone and playability of a Stratocaster without breaking the bank.
  • Designed for beginners and students
  • Mini option available (¾ scale, 20 frets)
  • Bullet (21 frets)
  • Laminated hardwood body
  • Maple C-shaped neck
  • Model-specific pickup arrays
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • 9.5" fretboard radius
  • Chrome-covered machine heads
  • Large, ’60s style headstock
  • 1-ply white pickguard
  • Made in Asia
Squier Bullet Stratocaster HSS
Ideal for the new guitarist, the ultra-affordable Squier Bullet Stratocaster HSS offers plenty of tonal choices with its bridge humbucker pickup and single coils in the middle and neck positions.

Squier Affinity Series

A step up in the Squier line, Affinity Stratocasters offer more features than the Bullet including upgraded wood and pickups for a fuller, richer sound.
  • Solid alder body with thinner 40mm depth
  • Maple or rosewood neck
  • 9.5" fingerboard radius
  • 21 medium-jumbo frets
  • Model-specific pickup arrays
  • Large, ’60s-style headstock
  • 1-ply pickguard
  • Made in China and Indonesia
Squire Affinity HSS Stratocaster Burgundy Mist
This Squier Affinity HSS Strat in Burgundy Mist has a humbucker in the bridge position to make a sonic impact equal to its knockout looks.

Squier Affinity Stratocaster Packs

These money-saving packs come complete with an amp, guitar tuner, strap, gig bag, cable, and an instructional DVD—everything you need to start playing the guitar! They’re an excellent choice for the cash-strapped beginning guitarist.
Squier Affinity Strat Pack
This Squier Affinity Strat Pack includes everything you need to make your dream a reality. Just add your commitment and start playing!

Squier Standard Series

The Squier Standard Stratocaster delivers the feel and comfort of a Standard Fender at a more accessible price.
  • Solid agathis body; 45mm depth like most Fender models
  • C-shaped neck
  • 9.5" fingerboard radius
  • 22 medium jumbo frets
  • Large, ’60s style headstock
  • 3-ply parchment or 4-ply tortoise shell pickguard
  • Made in China and Indonesia
Squier Standard Stratocaster
Based on its Fender American Series counterpart, the Squier Standard Strat sports a classically old-school antique burst finish and vintage single-coil sound.

Squier Deluxe Series

Squier’s Deluxe Series Strats are tricked out with modern features that enhance their old-school vibe with advanced playability, sound, and visuals.
  • Basswood body
  • Finish: Polyester
  • Neck: 1-Piece Maple, Modern "C" Shape
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood or Maple, 9.5"
  • Frets: 22, Medium-jumbo
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Nut Width: 1.65"
  • Hardware: Chrome
  • Tuning Keys: Standard die-cast
  • Bridge: Vintage-style, 6-saddle tremolo
  • Pickguard: 3-ply parchment
Squier Deluxe Stratocaster Blue
This Squier Deluxe Strat is loaded with three Duncan Designed SC-101 single coils that add presence and chime to its traditional Strat tone.

Squier Classic Vibe Series

Reminiscent of early Strat designs, the Classic Vibe series serves up affordable versions of the vintage Strats you’ve always dreamed about with some choice modern touches.
  • Alder body
  • Finish: Polyester
  • Neck: 1-Piece Maple, Modern "C" Shape
  • Fingerboard: Maple, 9.5"
  • Frets: 21, Medium-jumbo
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Nut Width: 1.65"
  • Hardware: Chrome
  • Tuning Keys: Vintage-style tuning machines
  • Bridge: Vintage-style, 6-saddle tremolo
  • Pickguard: 1-ply
Squier Classic Vibe '50s Strat Sunburst
Dripping with vintage vibe, the Squier Classic Vibe ‘50s Strat improves on its forerunner with a modern neck profile and searing AlNiCo 3 single-coil pickups.

Squier Vintage Modified Series

Vintage Modified Strats offer the playability and tonal characteristics of classic-era Stratocasters with hot-rodded updates such as hotter pickups and unique finishes. All they’re missing is the steeper chop-shop price tag.
 
Despite its very modest price tag, the ‘70s-era Squier Vintage Modified Strat delivers full-bodied sound and great playability.
  • Bolt-on neck construction
  • Basswood body
  • 25.5" scale maple neck
  • 9.5" radius fretboard
  • 21 frets
  • Upgraded model-specific pickups
Squier Vintage Modified '70s Stratocaster Black
The Squier Vintage Modified ‘70s Strat delivers extra snarl courtesy of a trio of Duncan Designed TM SC-101 single-coil pickups.

Fender Stratocasters

Fender Stratocasters have proved to be one of the most enduring electric guitars ever, having been in continuous production in one form or another since 1954. The Stratocasters below are produced in Fender’s Ensenada, Mexico plant.

Artist Series

The moderately priced Artist Series includes Stratocasters built to evoke the sound and look of iconic axes played by some of the world's most important guitarists. The pickups, electronics, and cosmetics reflect the choices of the artists whose names they bear. A great example is the Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster with its reversed headstock and bridge pickup that recall the southpaw master’s habit of restringing and flipping over right-hand Strats to play them left-handed. The altered string geometry coupled with Vintage 65 pickups deliver the snap and fire that were signatures of Jimi’s jaw-dropping technique.
Fender Artist Series Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster
The Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster offers easier bends on treble strings and a tighter feel on the bass strings thanks to the “flipped" headstock.
Fender Artist Series Jimmie Vaughan Tex-Mex Stratocaster Red
Three Tex Mex single-coils with an extra-hot bridge pup plus custom tone-control wiring give the Artist Series Jimmie Vaughan Tex-Mex Strat Vaughan’s nasty trademark tone.

Fender Classic Series

Fender builds these moderately priced Classic Strats using period-correct specs from the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. Each Strat model in the series has its own unique vibe and quality components that do full justice to this iconic guitar’s status.
Fender '70s Classic Strat Natural
This ‘70s Classic Series Strat includes all the original features: U-shaped neck, large headstock, “bullet” truss rod, and Schaller vintage machines.

Fender Standard Series

Widely considered an industry standard, the Fender Standard Stratocaster incorporates classic Strat features at a midrange price. It’s an excellent choice for the weekend warrior or committed hobbyist in need of a guitar that’ll keep coming back for more year after year.
  • Alder body
  • Modern C-shaped maple neck
  • Choice of a maple or rosewood fingerboard
  • Satin polyurethane neck finish
  • Chrome hardware
  • White plastic parts
  • Ping standard cast/sealed tuning machines
  • Made in Mexico
Fender Standard Strat Lake Placid Blue
Infused with the same playability and vibe as the first Stratocaster created in Leo Fender’s workshop, the Fender Standard Strat continues its tradition of affordability.

Deluxe Lonestar Strat

It’s got all the Standard Strat specs plus Texas Special pickups in the neck and middle position for extra-bluesy grit. A Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates Plus humbucker in the bridge pours out its own meaty tone making the Deluxe Lonestar Strat a budget-friendly choice for the rocker seeking extra power and versatility.
  • Body: Alder
  • Neck: 1-Piece Tinted Maple, "C" Shape (Satin Urethane Finish)
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood, 9.5" Radius
  • Frets: 21 Medium-Jumbo
  • Scale Length: 25.5" (648 mm)
  • Width at nut: 1.650" (42 mm)
  • Hardware: Chrome
  • Machine Heads: Fender/Ping Standard Cast/Sealed Tuning Machines
  • Bridge: Vintage-Style, Synchronized Tremolo
  • Pickguard: 4-Ply Brown Shell
Fender Deluxe Lonestar Strat Sunburst
The Deluxe Lonestar Strat serves up blues grit and fat ‘bucker tones for a Texas-size helping of tonal versatility.
 

Deluxe Player's Strat

Classic Strat style with a choice of sweet finishes, the Deluxe Players Strat offers a beautiful look and 7 potential pickup  configurations for more tone at your fingertips.
  • Comfortable modern C-shaped maple neck
  • 12" radius
  • 21 medium-jumbo frets
  • 3 Vintage Noiseless single-coil pickups with advanced switching for 7 pickup configurations
  • Traditional Vintage-style synchronized tremolo
  • Gold-plated hardware
Fender Deluxe Player's Strat Sunburst
Vintage Noiseless pups and 7-way switching mean you won’t run out of tone choices with the Deluxe Player’s Strat. The hard part’s choosing a color from all the options!

Fender Classic Player Series

Fender updates classic designs with modern improvements in the Classic Player Series. Based on revered 1950s and ‘60s instruments, a selection of choice mods give these timeless models the sonic juice and playability demanded by the contemporary guitarist.
Fender Classic Player Strat Sonic Blue
The Classic Player 60's Stratocaster was designed by Master Builder Greg Fessler and bristles with cool elements such as its 2-point custom vintage bridge—previously a Custom Shop exclusive.

USA Fender Stratocasters

Built in Fender's Corona, California factory, USA Stratocasters set the standard for quality, tone and playability. Made with premium tonewoods (usually alder or ash), custom shop pickups, and master craftsmanship, the USA Strats are sure to please demanding players across a variety of styles.

American Special Series

In recognition that musicians were struggling along with most everyone else during the economic downturn of the late 2000s, Fender introduced this remarkably affordable U.S.-made series in 2010.  These axes include special pickups, bridges, circuitry, and finishes, and represent an incredible value where domestically made Strats are concerned.
  • Contoured alder body
  • Glossy urethane finish
  • Modern C-shaped maple neck
  • 22 jumbo frets
  • Model-specific special pickups deliver upgraded tones
  • Vintage-style synchronized tremolo
Fender American Special Strat Green
The American Special Strat’s Texas Special pickups serve up tight bass, midrange chirp, and crystalline highs. Built in the U.S., it’s an outstanding value.

American Standard Series

The American Standard Stratocaster is the time-honored workhorse of seasoned pros and discerning hobbyists alike. Part of a series that debuted in 2008, it’s limited to four classic Fender instruments: the Strat, Tele, P-Bass and Jazz Bass.
  • Traditional alder body for classic Strat tone
  • Popular C-shaped neck with gloss fingerboard and smooth satin back
  • 3 full-sounding Fender Custom Shop Fat ’50s pickups
  • Delta-tone no-load circuit for more midrange and hotter output
  • Copper-infused cast Strat bridge block
  • Aged plastic parts
  • Fender SKB hardshell case
Fender American Standard Stratocaster Ocean Blue Metallic
Custom Shop Fat ‘50s pickups and aged plastic components give the American Standard Strat a distinctly vintage vibe while the copper-infused bridge block adds newfound sustain.

American Deluxe Series

The American Deluxe Strat features all the quality you’d expect from an American-made Fender, plus enhancements that will supercharge your performances. The compound-radius fretboard makes playing a breeze, and S-1 switching offers unique sounds at the push of a button.
  • Select alder body
  • Contoured heel and body
  • Rosewood or maple neck
  • C-shaped neck profile
  • 22 medium-jumbo frets
  • Compound-radius fretboard (9-1/2" at the nut, 12" at the 12th fret, and 14" at the 15th fret)
  • Three N3 Noiseless single-coil pickups
  • S-1 switching system
  • Passing Lane switch instantly routes signals to the bridge position
  • High-mass tremolo block
  • Locking tuning keys
  • Upgraded, molded case
Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster Sunset Metallic
Hate hum? The stacked N3 Noiseless pickups in the American Deluxe Strat serve up classic yet pristine Strat tone while S1 switching offers extended sound textures.

American Elite Series

Introduced in 2016, Fender’s Elite Series electrics deliver all the proven design features of their forerunners , but up the ante with newly developed 4th Generation Noiseless pickups that deliver the electromagnetic energy required by today’s musically intense guitar styles. The American Elite Stratocaster is also equipped with a modern, compound-radius fretboard plus compound-profile neck that marries the best of C and D necks into one of the most comfortable Strats you’ll ever play.
Fender American Elite Stratocaster Sky Burst Metallic
Under the familiar rosewood or maple fingerboard (your choice,) the American Elite Strat has a sleek compound-radius fingerboard and new, transitional neck profile for outstanding feel.
 

American Vintage Series

Fender took a collection of vintage specimen instruments, and then dissected and documented them to come up with modern recreations in creating the American Vintage family. Fender’s painstaking efforts included rehabbing old machine tools and creating new ones where necessary to make these guitars totally authentic in terms of their build process. Each has been given modern upgrades that enhance the original tone and playability of these iconic axes.
  • Period-correct versions of the originals
  • Lightweight alder body (ash on white blonde) with deep contours
  • Thick soft "V"-shaped maple neck
  • Model-specific special pickups
  • Includes deluxe vintage tweed case
Fender American Vintage ’56 Stratocaster Shell Pink
While adhering to meticulously re-created retro cosmetics, dimensions and finishes, the American Vintage ’56 Stratocaster has newly voiced New American Vintage pups that breathe new life into an iconic axe.
 

Fender Custom Shop

Staffed by a crew of Master Builders, Fender’s Custom Shop has produced a trove of world-class instruments since its inception in 1987. Working with and for some of the greatest guitarists of our age, these luthiers craft instruments of unparalleled beauty and playability. Their talents have been put to work in executing guitars for the likes of Clapton, Beck, Townshend, Gilmour, and many more—a veritable Who’s-Who of guitar wizardry. Fender Custom Shop luthiers have undertaken all manner of commissions from modifying existing guitars to creating entirely new instruments from the ground up.
Many Custom Shop creations are one-offs; designs that will never be repeated. Other designs are retired after limited runs, never to be produced again. Every Fender Custom Shop instrument is a tribute to the luthier’s artistry and is an investment-grade purchase.
Visit our Private Reserve Guitar collection to see the current selection of Custom Shop Stratocasters.

Custom Shop Artist

Custom Shop Artist series Stratocasters are based on each artist’s unique specs, executed with master craftsmanship by Fender’s premier luthiers.
Fender Custom Shop David Gilmour Strat
Based on the guitar that figured prominently in the recording of Dark Side of the Moon, the Custom Shop David Gilmour Strat is the result of close collaboration with the Pink Floyd guitarist and his guitar tech, Phil Taylor.
 
Brian Baggett of Private Reserve Guitars details the many mods and demos the amazing sound of the Gilmour Signature Strat.

Custom Deluxe

Luthiers in the Fender Custom Shop select stunning woods and inlay materials along with the finest electronics and hardware components in hand crafting Custom Deluxe models.
Fender Custom Shop Custom Deluxe Strat Honey Burst
Gorgeous, hand-selected woods are complemented by ‘60s-spec pickups with a Fat ’60s bridge pup adding extra chunk to the sound of the Custom Shop Custom Deluxe Strat.

Time Machine

In conceiving the Time Machine series from the Custom Shop, Fender set out to create a shrine devoted to its most revered vintage instruments. Using varied degrees of distressing, Custom Shop luthiers artfully craft instruments that appear to have lived long and muscially eventful lives. Each instrument meticulously mirrors the model on which it is based.
Fender Custom Time Machine 1968 Strat Dakota Red
This Time Machine 1968 Stratocaster has received a heavy relic treatment, replicating the look of an instrument that has been subjected to thousands of hours of playing time.

Masterbuilt

Fender’s Masterbuilt Stratocasters are one-of-a kind instruments that represent the pinnacle of Custom Shop design. Custom Shop Master Builders design and hand-make each guitar to be utterly unique and world-class. Builders personally select the materials and craft each guitar to their exacting standards.
Fender Masterbuilt 1969 Rosewood Stratocaster
This utterly unique Master Built '69 Strat was handcrafted by Greg Fessler—the guy who builds Robben Ford’s guitars.

So, Which Stratocaster is Right for You?

As you can see in this guide, the Strat is available in dozens of variations in features to provide a huge range of options for the enthusiast.
Pick the Stratocaster that suits your budget and your style. Maybe you don’t want to spend a lot, but you want your Strat to have the look and feel of a timeless guitar. Consider the Squier Vintage Modified Series. Perhaps you want to invest in a true piece of art—not just something to play, but a timeless treasure and heirloom. A Masterbuilt or Custom Deluxe Strat will likely meet that aim. Or you might be a working pro who needs  a Strat that you can play every night, year in and year out. The American Standard Stratocaster is probably an excellent choice for you.
We want you to be pleased with your Stratocaster purchase, and offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee and generous return policy so you can order your new Stratocaster with confidence.
After reading this guide, if you’re still not sure which Strat is right for you, we invite you call to one of our friendly and knowledgeable Gear Heads at (877) 880-5907.

Source: http://thehub.musiciansfriend.com/guitar-buying-guides/stratocaster-buying-guide