A Brief History of the Stratocaster Part II

Last month, we did a post on the history of the Stratocaster from its inception in 1954 up until the end of the CBS-era in the early ‘80s. If you missed that post, click here to read Part I in our Brief History of the Stratocaster.

In that period, there was basically one Stratocaster and its evolution followed a neat timeline. Since then, Strat production has splintered into a various series, so in Part II we’re going to break things down on along those lines instead of following a strict chronology.

Now keep in mind, Fender has produced an enormous variety of Strats in the past 30 years, and there are plenty that aren’t mentioned here. But hopefully these examples give a solid representation of the different types with our usual selection of glossy pictures to ogle.

Standard Stratocasters

American Standard

The main American-made production Stratocaster is the clearest continuation of the original Stratocaster model. Fender began calling this guitar the Standard Stratocaster in 1982 and then the American Standard in 1986 to differentiate it from other offerings. Between 2000 and 2008, Fender changed the official name to the American Series Stratocaster, though most players usually just call these American Standards as well. Click for more American Standard Strats

Made in Japan Strats

One of the major transitions Fender made in the early ‘80s was the beginning of production in Japan. The Japanese factory made a number of Strat models including its share of reissues collectively referred to as MIJ Strats. In the mid-'90s Fender transitioned the marking on the back of the neck from "Made in Japan" to "Crafted in Japan," so you'll see these guitars termed as both MIJ and CIJ.

Made in Mexico Strats

Fender began operations a factory in Ensenada, Mexico in 1990. If you’re one of the countless guitarists who’s owned a MIM Fender, you know these guitars are the best bang-for-your-buck instruments produced by anyone, anywhere. In addition to the Standard Stratocaster, Fender also produces various other Strats in Mexico including the Classic Players sereies and newer Blacktop series.

American Vintage Reissue

1988 '62 Reissue Strat

The first production reissue Fenders were built in the original Fullerton Fender factory in 1982, before production moved to Corona, CA in 1985. As far as Strats go, the first two reissues were the '57 and '62, and those built in Fullerton have earned growing interest from collectors.

1991 '57 Reissue Strat

In 2012, Fender overhauled the AVRI series, discontinuing the long-running ‘57 and ‘62, and introducing a ‘56, '59 and ‘65 models.

Signature Strats

Signature Strats became a mainstay of the Fender lineup in the late ‘80s with the success of the Eric Clapton signature (introduced in 1987). Fender has since launched plenty of signature models including the Jeff Beck model in 1991, the Stevie Ray Vaughan in 1992, and more recently, the Eric Johnson in 2005. The Clapton and Beck models originally used Lace Sensor pickups, but have been updated to Noiseless pickups in more recently releases.

Super Strats


Once companies like Charvel and Jackson started marketing their metaltastic Strat-like guitars in the '80s, it didn’t take long for Fender to respond with their own take on super Strat. The early-'80s "the STRAT" included a locking Floyd Rose-esque tremolo as well as Fender's newly introduced X-1 bridge pickup. The finish on this one speaks for itself.

1995 Strat Plus

The Strat Plus series -- which included the Strat Plus, Strat Plus Deluxe and Strat Ultra -- used more modern hardware and Lace Sensor pickups. These were made from 1987 until 1999.

Contemporary Strat

The MIJ Contemporary Strat (made from 1985 to 1989) also featured a locking tremolo, as well as one of three coil-tap equip pickup configurations.

Custom Shop

Fender opened its Custom Shop in the late-'80s as a way to build guitars and basses to rival the legendary vintage instruments of Leo Fender's time at the helm. The Custom Shop builds fully customizable high-end Strat, along with Closet Classic, NOS, and Relic'd aging options.

More Eye Candy

And then there are just those unique Strats we thought we’d throw in for the heck of it. Feast your eyes Fender fiends friends.

1996 Blue Star Strat

2012 Wayne Kramer Signature

2004 12-String Strat

2005 Stratosonic

1989 HLE Homer Haynes Limited Edition

2009 Stratacoustic

2007 Roland VG Stratocaster

2012 FSR Black Paisley Stratocaster

Click here to see part I of the Strat story.

Buying Guide: Stratocasters
Learn everything you need to know to choose the right Stratocaster for you.
Learn More
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