I have expressed my dislike of Strats frequently to anyone who will listen, but I'm not sure I've ever fully explained why this is. I mean, my first guitar was a Strat (albeit a Squier) and I'm now a committed Tele fan, meaning the technically superior Strat should hold a certain allure for me. But it just doesn't. It does, of course, remain the best-selling guitar of all time. Even more worryingly, a colleague of mine who was a dyed-in-the-wool Les Paul enthusiast and the sort of person who would equate a single-coil pickup with a single-testicle scrotum, has not only bought a Strat but really likes it. I remain unconvinced.
Is it the sound, perhaps? My Telecaster is the only single-coil guitar I've ever played that I've really loved the sound of. It's got that rich, earthy, timeless twang. To date, I've played it in an indie band, a psychedelic folk band, a country band and a doom band and it's been a faithful companion all the way. Strats, though? I find they lack that primal punch that the Tele has.
It's not like none of my musical influences ever wielded a Strat, either. I'm not a fan of conventional 'lead guitar' at all, unless it's David Gilmour or Jimi Hendrix, who of course are both famous for playing Strats and nothing else. John Squire played one, Johnny Marr probably did at some point, Wilko Johnson has frequently upset decades of iconography by briefly exchanging his trusty black-and-red Tele for one. Even Radiohead's Ed O'Brien has wrangled some impressive sounds from Strats for the last 15 years or so, albeit ones with Fernandes Sustainers fitted that are basically for generating noise.
But, at the other end of the scale, you have what Mark Kozelek recently brilliantly derided The War On Drugs as, which is 'beer-commercial lead guitar s**t'. Yes, the Strat is the undisputed king of the middle-aged pub-blues noodling guitar. 99% of what ever gets played on Strats is minor pentatonic licks into an amp that can't be turned up loud enough to sound any good, strung into life by a £300 pedal that's basically a Tubescreamer whose components are made of unobtainium and myrrh.
Which is why, on browsing a GAK advert in the newest issue of Guitarist, I quite literally LOLed. Fender have released a hat. Finally, they have acknowledged that their guitar is central to the white-boy blues scene, second only to the hat in terms of a must-have piece of equipment. They may well have cornered the market here, especially if a few enterprising dealers offer a Strat-and-hat package for the Christmas period.