As the electric guitar began to change, Fender came out with their innovative double cutaway and three single-coil pickups concept way back in 1954. Naming it Stratocaster, little did they know that this particular model will be produced for decades and that it will ultimately conquer the world. Name any genre out there, and you'll find countless guitar players rocking out on a Fender Strat, both amateurs, semi-pros, and professionals. However, we need to bear in mind that Strats were made popular by some of the biggest guitar heroes of all time. So in order to pay respect to them and this great instrument, here are the top 10 Stratocaster guitarists of all time.
1. Yngwie Malmsteen
The absolute shred beast, Yngwie Malmsteen made a revolution with his approach to playing, combining the music of Paganini and, as well as some other classical composers, with heavy metal. When he emerged in the 1980s, no one could have thought that it is possible to play electric guitar this way. From the very beginning of his career up until now, Malmsteen has been playing a Fender Strat.
2. Buddy Holly
Going back a few decades, to the earliest days of rock 'n' roll, Buddy Holly is one of the first guitar heroes of the genre. The impact he made playing through his Fender Stratocaster can be felt even to this day and countless guitar masters over the years should be thankful to Holly and his work.
3. Hank Marvin
Another legend from the old days, Hank Marvin became known for his work with The Shadows. The twangy crystal clear Stratocaster tone could be heard in their instrumentals such as "Apache", "Wonderful Land", "Kon-Tiki", and countless others. Even though many have copied him and his style over the years, Marvin's one of a kind playing can still be easily recognized.
4. Mark Knopfler
The legendary Dire Straits frontman became known for his distinctive fingerpicking and the very bright and clear Stratocaster tone. Although he's also known for using his Gibson Les Paul in certain songs, he's still remembered as one of the biggest Fender guitarists of all time. His Strat tone on "Sultans of Swing" has easily persuaded countless young music lovers to start playing guitar.
5. Jeff Beck
One of the most innovative guitar players of all time, Jeff Beck has spent most of his career playing on a Fender Strat. This guitar has been an essential part of his style as he implemented Strat's whammy bar in his own unique way. This technique, that sometimes resembles the use of slide or fretless instruments, has earned him the reputation of one of the most expressive players of all time.
6. Stevie Ray Vaughan
The raw and heavy Stevie Ray Vaughan's tone was definitely a new thing in blues music when he broke out in the 1980s. However, aside from "Pride and Joy" and his cover of "Voodoo Chile," Stevie showed us how diverse a Strat is with some softer tunes like "Riviera Paradise" and "Lenny".
7. Ritchie Blackmore
Responsible for writing the best-known riff of all time, Ritchie Blackmore spent a huge portion of his career playing a Fender Strat. All the classic Deep Purple and Rainbow songs were recorded on one, giving him that distinctive crunchy tone that was still capable of delivering some heavier riffs and solos. He is also one of the people responsible for bringing classic and rock music closer together, all while using the power of Stratocaster.
8. Eric Clapton
Only a handful of people out there have done so much for guitar world as much as Eric Clapton did. Although there are also his famous "Beano" and "Lucy" Les Pauls that he used in the early days of his career, Clapton has almost exclusively played Fender Stratocasters over the decades. So all of those tasty tones from Mr. Slowhand you hear on his records are from a Strat, many of which are now of historical significance.
9. David Gilmour
There were many different guitars in David Gilmour's collection, but he's mostly known for his use of Fender Stratocasters. His best-known one is the so-called Black Strat that he sold for charity in 2019 for the record price of $3.75 million. Knowing that, officially, the most expensive guitar in history is now a Strat, it's definitely a proof of Fender's quality and legacy. After all, there's a reason a musician like Gilmour would prefer it over other guitar models.
10. Jimi Hendrix
The obvious entry for a list like this, Hendrix is still considered to be the most influential rock guitar player of all time. Deeply rooted in blues, most of his music was recorded and performed on Fender Stratocasters. Probably the most famous Strat that he played is the one he doused in lighter fluid and set on fire during the '67 Monterey International Pop Festival.
Did we miss anyone? Who would you add to this list?