A Timeline of Fender Stratocasters

The Fender Stratocaster was Fender’s second major electric solidbody, following the Telecaster. It was introduced in 1954 intended as a sleeker, improved model.

Fender has continued to produce the Stratocaster in a variety of forms through eight decades, and today you can buy brand new or classic used Strats in many different forms.

They range from affordable guitars such as the Standard and Player models through to elite versions like the American Deluxe and American Ultra Luxe, with many variations and options along the way.

Fender has built hundreds of different styles of Stratocasters. Here are some of the most important models.

Stratocaster, 1954–59

1954 Stratocaster
1954 Stratocaster

First main version of the standard Strat: fretted maple neck, sunburst-finish double-cutaway body (some rare color finishes), three knobs and three-way selector, eight-screw pickguard, regular bridge or vibrato bridge. Variations during this period include neck profile, headstock string-guide shape, rear string-hole shape, sunburst color mix, knobs material, and pickguard material.

Modern Alternatives: American Original '50s Stratocaster, American Vintage ’56 Stratocaster, Traditional 50s Stratocaster, ST-57, Vintera '50s Stratocaster, Road Worn '50s Stratocaster.

Stratocaster, 1959–65

1959 Stratocaster
1959 Stratocaster

Second main version of the standard Strat: rosewood fretboard on maple neck, color or sunburst finish, 11-screw pickguard. Variations during this period include neck profile, fretboard/neck join style, dot marker material, patent numbers on headstock, logo style, and pickguard material.

Modern Alternatives: American Original '60s Stratocaster, American Vintage ’62 Stratocaster, ST-62, Vintera '60s Stratocaster, Classic Player '60s Stratocaster.

Stratocaster, 1965–81

1966 Stratocaster

Third main version of the standard Strat: rosewood fretboard on maple neck (maple fretboard option), larger headstock, three-screw neckplate from 1971, five-way selector from 1977.

Modern Alternatives: American Performer Stratocaster, Vintera ’70s Stratocaster, Classic ’70s Stratocaster, ST-72.

Strat, 1980–83

Fender Strat

Early attempt at a revamp: old-style smaller headstock, four-screw neckplate, hot bridge pickup, revised controls and circuitry, revised vibrato, gold-plated brass metalwork. Also Walnut Strat (1981–83) with walnut body and neck.

ST-57, ST-62, 1982–2015


Japan-made period-vibe models. Early examples known as JV series (their serial-number prefix). Some other Japan models available domestically only; others sold more widely, usually marked Made In Japan (1982–97, 2007–15) or Crafted In Japan (1997–2008). Revisited in 2022 for the JV Modified ’50s HSS and JV Modified ’60s Stratocasters.

Other MIJ Vintage-Style Models: ST-68 Stratocaster, ST-72 Stratocaster, ST-Standard series.

Elite Stratocaster, 1983–84

Elite Stratocaster
Elite Stratocaster

Shortlived attempt at revised high-end Strat: noise-cancelling white-cover pickups, three pushbutton selectors, active circuit, side-mounted jack, redesigned bridge or vibrato bridge. The Gold Elite and Walnut Elite came with gold-plated metalwork, the Walnut with walnut body and neck. These Elites should not be confused with American Elite Stratocasters (2016–19).

American Standard Stratocaster, 1986–2016

1989 American Standard Stratocaster
1989 American Standard Stratocaster

Long-running new-standard modern take on traditional model, with 22-fret board, smaller headstock, four-screw neckplate. Known as American Series Stratocaster 2000–07.

Other American Standard Models: American Standard Stratocaster HSS, American Standard Stratocaster HSS Shawbucker, American Standard Stratocaster HH.

HM (Power) Strat, 1988–92

1989 HM Strat
1989 HM Strat HSS

Japan-made (1988–92) and US-made (1989-90) attempts to create a Fender superstrat-competing line: 25-inch scale, 24 frets, locking nut, smaller body, optional H, HH, HS, HSS layouts, side-mounted jack, locking vibrato. Also US-made HM Strat Ultra (1990–92) with four single-coils in HSS layout, ebony board. Limited HSS reissue in 2020.

Strat XII, 1988–96, 2005–09, 2018–19

Strat XII
Strat XII

A Japan-made model providing one of the few opportunities to own a 12-string Strat. The design required a new elongated six-a-side headstock and, at first, a 12-saddle bridge based on Fender’s ’60s Electric XII model.

Standard series, 1988–2017

Standard series
Standard Stratocaster With Vintage Tremolo

Affordable Japan-made (1988–91) then Mexico-made (1991–2017) regular Strats. Offered as regular model as well as versions with the fancy-wood Plus Top, non-gloss Satin, synth-linkable Roland-Ready, and with pickup options (HH, HSS, HSS Plus Top) and vibrato options (HSS With Locking Trem, Plus Top With Floyd Rose, HSS With Floyd Rose).

Deluxe series, 1997–2021

Deluxe Roadhouse Stratocaster
Deluxe Roadhouse Stratocaster

Mexico-made upgrade models, often with non-standard feature sets, including HSS-loaded Fat Strat (1999–2006, larger headstock), Lone Star (2008–16, tortoise guard), and Roadhouse in two major runs (2008–14, 2014–21). Not to be confused with US-made Lone Star (1996–2000) and Roadhouse (1997–2000) or contemporary US-made American Deluxe series.

Other Deluxe Models: Deluxe Big Block Stratocaster; Deluxe Double Fat Strat; Deluxe Stratocaster HSS Plus Top with iOS Connectivity; Deluxe Players Stratocaster; Deluxe Power Stratocaster; Deluxe Powerhouse Stratocaster, Deluxe Super Strat.

American Deluxe series, 1998–2016

American Deluxe series
American Deluxe Stratocaster

High-end versions of contemporary American Standard models. Major Stratocaster runs dated 1998–2003, 2004–2010, and 2011–2016.

Other American Deluxe Models: American Deluxe HSS Stratocaster, American Deluxe HSH Stratocaster, American Deluxe Strat Plus, American Deluxe V Neck Stratocaster, American Deluxe Ash Stratocaster, American Deluxe HSS Shawbucker Stratocaster.

American Vintage series, 1982–current

American Vintage '57 Stratocaster
American Vintage '57 Stratocaster

Long-running group of US-made period-vibe reissues, with regular Stratocaster models recalling ’56, ’57, ’59, ’62, and ’65 styles. Renamed American Original series from 2018 forward comprising '50s Stratocaster and '60s Stratocaster.

Classic series, 1999–2018

Classic Series '70s Stratocaster
Classic Series '70s Stratocaster

Affordable Mexico-made takes on contemporary American Vintage models: ’50s Stratocaster, ’60s Stratocaster, ’70s Stratocaster. Not to be confused with Classic Player series (2006–18) that matched Custom Shop know-how with Mexico production.

Road Worn series, 2009–18, 2020–21

Road Worn '60s Stratocaster
Road Worn '60s Stratocaster

Mexico factory take on Custom Shop's Relic idea, offering ’50s, ’60s, Player, and Player HSS models with aged finishes. Later grouped as part of Classic series (2015–18) and Vintera series (2020–21).

Pawn Shop series, 2011–14

Pawn Shop '70s Stratocaster Deluxe
Pawn Shop '70s Stratocaster Deluxe

Shortlived Japan and Mexico-made mashup designs, first seen in 2011, with Stratocaster influence in the ’72 (Strat meets Thinline Tele), ‘70s Stratocaster Deluxe (Strat meets Tele), and Offset Special (Strat meets Jazzmaster). The related 2018 Parallel Universe series added the Whiteguard Strat (Strat meets Tele) and the 2019 Alternate Reality series the Sixty-Six (Strat meets Jazz Bass).

American Professional series, 2017–current

American Professional Stratocaster
American Professional Stratocaster

The Professional Series Stratocaster is a modern US-made model, replacing the long-standing American Standard, with deep-C-shape neck, improved pickups, tweaked circuitry. Replaced (2020) with similar American Professional II adding a sculpted neck heel and push-push neck-pickup switching.

Other American Professional Models: HSS, HSS Shawbucker, HH Shawbucker.

Player series, 2018–current

Player series
Player Stratocaster

Affordable Mexico-made models replacing Classic series, in two major runs: 2018–20 with C-shape neck; 2020–current adds revised tone-controls wiring. Player Plus versions added 2021, replacing Deluxe series, with treble-bleed and rolled-edge board with flatter 12-inch radius. Not to be confused with China-made Modern Player series produced 2012–16.

Other Player and Player Plus Models: Player Stratocaster HSS, Player Stratocaster HSH, Player Stratocaster Plus Top, Player Stratocaster HSS Plus Top, Fender Player Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS; Player Plus Stratocaster HSS.

American Performer series, 2019–current

American Performer HSS
American Performer Stratocaster HSS

American Performer Strats are relatively affordable US-made models: C-shape satin-finish neck, 22 jumbo frets, larger headstock, high-ratio tuners, '70s-style headstock logo, Greasebucket tone system. Also HSS version.

Vintera series, 2019–current

Vintera '60s Road Worn Stratocaster
Vintera '60s Road Worn Stratocaster

Mexico-made vintage-vibe models: ’50s Stratocaster has Soft V maple neck, 21 frets, vintage-style pickups; ’60s Stratocaster has C-shape pau ferro board; Modified versions have Modern C necks and S-1 switching; ’70s Stratocaster (2019–20) has a period C neck and larger headstock.

American Acoustasonic Stratocaster, 2020–current

American Acoustasonic Stratocaster
American Acoustasonic Stratocaster

Acoustic-electric hybrid with spruce top set into mahogany body and Fender/Fishman three-pickup system (saddle, body, bridge) for acoustic flat-top and electric Strat sounds. Also higher-end version with cocobolo top set into white limba body. An early attempt at a similar idea was the Mexico-made Deluxe Acoustasonic Strat (2003–09).

American Ultra Stratocaster, 2020–current

American Ultra Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS
American Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd Rose HSS

American Ultras are the most recent high-end Strats, with Modern D neck, compound radius board, and S-1 switching and treble bleed. American Ultra Luxe versions (from 2021) have Augmented D neck, stainless steel frets. HSS option for either, the Luxe adding a Floyd Rose vibrato.

About the author: Tony Bacon writes about musical instruments, musicians, and music. His books include The Stratocaster Guitar Book and Legendary Guitars. Tony lives in Bristol, England. More info at tonybacon.co.uk.

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