Every guitarist has an opinion on what is the ‘best’ guitar. Some swear by the Les Paul or the SG or the beautiful 335 all made by the Gibson company.
For me there is one guitar that is more versatile and has been used by more legends than any other and that’s the Fender Stratocaster. The strat is so popular primarily because it is so versatile. Blues, rock, country and funk guitarists all love the strat.
Leo Fender designed the strat in 1954. Fitted with three single coil pickups ranging from the biting cut of the bridge to the smoother neck, with the middle pickup great for rhythm playing and two more options of bridge/middle and neck/middle the tonal possibilities are endless.
The strat is very comfortable to hold with a contoured body and is lightweight. Legends from Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Mark Knopfler have all played the strat.
Hendrix used the strat to its full potential. Check out the beautiful Little Wing and the blistering Voodoo Child both played on a strat but sounding worlds apart.
Todays modern strat has obviously evolved over the years with many different models available but the core of the guitar remains the same with the same shape and single coil pickups as standard.
The Fender Strat is a true classic. Plug one into a good valve amp and discover for yourself the sounds of this wonderful instrument.
I remember when I was 13 years old I had to write a music project in school on a musician we liked and I chose to do mine on Buddy Holly.
I had grown up listening to the early rock and roll star as my mum and dad had all his original records and they were regularly played on the record player.
Buddy was a pioneer of rock and roll. Long before The Beatles had written a hit song Buddy was charting on the radio with great songs like ‘Peggy Sue’ and ‘That’ll Be The Day’.
His sound was so simple. Jerry Allison on the drums. Joe.B.Mauldin on stand up bass and Buddy singing and playing his famous black and white Stratocaster.
Holly was from Lubbock, Texas and was born on the 7th September 1936. He soon learned to play the guitar and sang songs with his siblings.
By 1955 Holly had opened for Elvis three times and had a recording contract with Decca records. He called his band The Crickets and so with a unique hiccup vocal style the spectacle wearing Holly was a bona fide music star by the age of 20.
Many hit songs followed including the driving beat of ‘Rave On’ and my favourite ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’.
Tragically his fame was short lived. On a snowy night on the 3rd February 1959 Buddy was killed in a plane crash along with the 17 year old music star Ritchie Valens and the big bopper. A life cut tragically short but a music legend that made a huge impression on a 13 year old!
Electric guitars come in all shapes and sizes, so buying an electric guitar for you or your child can be confusing. There are many makes and models, most of which are copies of the more expensive US made Fenders and Gibsons and a few other brands.
How much do you want to spend?
The first thing that you might want to consider is the amount of money that you want to spend on your electric guitar. As with most things in life you get what you pay for, so beware of anything too cheap.
Does size matter?
If your child wants to lean the electric guitar and is nine and under, I would suggest a 3/4 size guitar. Their size makes it easier for kids to reach the fretboard and have the same features as a larger electric guitar. The only downside in my experience tends to be difficulty holding its tune and the strings tend to be much further away from the fretboard meaning that you have to push down harder to make a note. These problems can be fixed with a few alterations to the saddle and bridge. A 3/4 size guitar can be brought for about £80.
For a child who is nine to ten years and upwards, I would recommend a full size electric guitar with a small watt amplifier. I would go for a ‘Fender Squier’ range of guitars which is at the cheaper end of Fender guitars, but they have been making Fender Squiers for over 30 years now. These guitars are based on the classic ‘Stratocaster’ (played by Hendrix, Buddy Holly, Hank Marvin and many others) and the ‘Telecaster’ (played by Muddy Waters, Keith Richards and Eric Clapton).