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April 10, 1956: Fender Stratocaster Was Patented
The Fender Stratocaster guitar is one of the most recognizable icons of rock - it’s been 61 years since Leo Fender snagged a patent for the legendary axe on this day in 1956, and there’s plenty of talent out there who, within that time, have given us some great riffs, shreds, and…well...smashes to enjoy.
On that note, the Strat has been lit on fire and obliterated to splinters by Jimi Hendrix; bestowed upon George Harrison, Steve Winwood, Pete Townshend and by God…also known as Eric Clapton; and, its likeness has even been used and licensed for a music-oriented video game (Rock Band 3) as a controller. Its saga continues in the hands of younger musicians like John Mayer and Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys.
A former radio repairman, Fender integrated part of a 1951 Fender Precision Bass to better conform to the human torso. Three pickups and a vibrato (just imagine the unique opening riff to Clapton’s “Layla”) gave the “tremolo” effect that makes the guitar so recognizable to this day.
Longtime personal owner to the world’s most famous Stratocaster, “Blackie,” Clapton recalled the history with his own cherished instrument, one the he actually molded himself, in a Guitar Center interview in 2004 before donating it for charity:
“A guitar like Blackie comes along maybe once in a lifetime. I played it for 12 years non-stop on the road, and it's still got it. The action is perfect even though the neck is quite worn down and narrow. All you've got to do is pick it up and it sort of plays itself. I developed a lot of trust and security with that instrument.”
If you manage to get good enough on the strings, investing in a Stratocaster may just lend you enough courage to go after the seemingly impossible solos, chords, and bridges that so many before, have strived toward and achieved.
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 25: The Fender Stratocaster electric guitar played by musician Bob Dylan on July 25, 1965 at Newport Folk Festival, better known as "the night Dyan went electric" is seen at an auction preview at Christie's on November 25, 2013 in New York City. The guitar is estimated at $300,000 to $500,000. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images
LONDON - AUGUST 20: The Rolling Stones members Keith Richards and Ron Wood (L) perform on stage at Twickenham Stadium on August 20, 2006 in London, England. Photo by MJ Kim/Getty Images
NEW YORK - MARCH 14: Inductee The Edge of U2 performs onstage at the 20th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel March 14, 2005 in New York City. Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images
INDIO, CA - APRIL 27: Musician Alex Turner from the band "Arctic Monkeys" performs during day 1 of the Coachella Music Festival held at the Empire Polo Field on April 27, 2007 in Indio, California. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 11: Eric Clapton performs on stage in concert at Members Equity Stadium on February 11, 2007 in Perth, Australia. The 2007 tour is 16 Grammy award-winning Clapton's third tour in Australia and his first tour in Australia since 1990. Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images
Musician Jeff Beck performs onstage at the MusiCares 2005 Person of the Year Tribute to Brian Wilson at the Palladium on February 11, 2005 in Hollywood, California. Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images
LONDON - JULY 02: Dave Gilmour from the band Pink Floyd on stage at "Live 8 London" in Hyde Park on July 2, 2005 in London, England. The free concert is one of ten simultaneous international gigs including Philadelphia, Berlin, Rome, Paris, Barrie, Tokyo, Cornwall, Moscow and Johannesburg. The concerts precede the G8 summit (July 6-8) to raising awareness for MAKEpovertyHISTORY. Photo by MJ Kim/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 6: Musician John Mayer performs on February 6, 2004 at the Musicares 2004 Person of the Year Tribute to Sting at Sony Pictures Studios in Los Angeles, Ca. Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images
LONDON - MARCH 31: Pete Townshend of The Who performs live on stage during the final night of a series of concerts and events in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust organised by charity Patron Roger Daltrey, at the Royal Albert Hall on March 31, 2007 in London, England. Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images
NEW YORK - MAY 21: Walter Becker of Steely Dan performs at the Beacon Theatre on May 21, 2007 in New York City. Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images
GENEVA - APRIL 17: Nile Rodgers of Chic performs during the IWC Da Vinci Launch party held at the Geneva Palaexpo on April 17, 2007 in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images