The Fender Stratocaster is a model of electric guitar designed in 1954 by Leo Fender, George Fullerton, and Freddie Tavares. The Fender Musical Instruments Corporation has manufactured the Stratocaster continuously from 1954 to the present. It is a double-cutaway guitar, with an extended top "horn" shape for balance. Along with the Gibson Les Paul, it is one of the most popularly copied electric guitar shapes. "Stratocaster" and "Strat" are trademark terms belonging to Fender.
Originally the Stratocaster was offered in a 2-color sunburst finish on a solid, deeply contoured ash body, a 21-fret one-piece maple neck with black dot inlays and Kluson tuning heads. In 1956 Fender began issuing solid Stratocasters with alder bodies. In 1960 the available custom colors were standardized, many of which were automobile lacquer colors from DuPont available at an additional 5% cost. The unique single-ply, 8-screw hole white pickguard held all electronic components except the recessed jack plate—facilitating easy assembly. Despite many subsequent Stratocaster models (including copies and the Superstrat), vintage Fender models are highly valued by collectors for their investment potential and players who prefer the timbre of older models.
Stratocasters have been used in many genres, including country (the genre Leo Fender intended for), rock, pop, soul, rhythm and blues, blues, jazz, and even heavy metal.