Name an American product that’s had a worldwide impact, is more popular than ever, yet still looks the same as it did when it was introduced nearly a third of a century ago? Here’s a hint: It might be the only musical instrument whose fame rivals that of the people who’ve played it.
The Fender Stratocaster will be 70 years old next year. When it came out of the factory in 1954, it didn’t sound — or look — like any other guitar. Leo Fender’s small company was looking to improve the Telecaster, its groundbreaking solid-body electric, first introduced three years earlier. But far more than a tweak here or there, Fender created an entirely new instrument that’s become almost synonymous with the phrase “electric guitar.”
It is remarkable how little the Stratocaster has changed over the years. Here is a look by Popular Mechanics on how a Stratocaster comes to life.