One of the top benefits of being the most popular instrument known to modern music is the plethora of customization options available. Don’t like the stock pickups on your Stratocaster? Feeling like the neck on your Jazz Bass is a bit too thick? Essentially, with a bit of skill and know-how (or enough money to pay someone with skill and know-how), you can pretty much create any type of mix-and-match guitar that you can dream up of. Although you certainly can create some odd combinations such as a Telecaster with P90 pickups (although you’d have to do some serious surgery on the body to make those babies fit), most look to the pros to see what sort of custom jobs they have done on their rig for inspiration. With that said, there are certainly plenty of signature guitars for tons of well known artists and what better way to achieve the sound of your favorite player than by using the setup that they themselves use. So, if you’re in the market for a guitar inspired by some of the best in the business, read on and check out some of the best selling signature series Stratocasters that Fender has to offer. Remember, the following list was compiled strictly based on sales and not the popularity of its name sake, which more or less explains how some artist models got on the list! While there are certainly several players that have done more than well with a stock setup, there’s never any harm in getting a little inspiration from the pros!
Eric Johnson is an American guitarist and singer-songwriter from Austin, Texas. He is well known for his high proficiency in several instruments including the lap steel, acoustic, resonator and bass guitars. He is also an accomplished pianist and singer. Johnson was born into a musically inclined family that included three sisters that all studied piano. He received his first guitar at the age of eleven and quickly began progressing. His early style was influenced by artists such as Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, Bob Dylan, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Django Reinhardt, Eric Clapton and Mike Bloomfield, to name a few.
This custom Stratocaster features a two-piece alder body in the style of the ’57 Strat, a quartersawn maple neck, a rosewood fingerboard and a 25.5” fret scale length. Keeping with in line with the old-school feel of the guitar, the Eric Johnson Strat also features vintage-styled tuning machinery as well as a custom vintage tremolo bar, all with a synchronized and streamlined look that you’d expect from a Stratocaster. Among the best features of this guitar that separates it from the rest of the pack are the included pickups voiced by the man himself for each of the neck, middle and bridge positions. All in all, there is no better way to sound like Eric Johnson himself!
Few others know guitars the way Jeff Beck does. He is probably as synonymous to his Strat as Eric Clapton is with his. He first became famous as a member of Rock Hall inducted group The Yardbirds, a band that would eventually yield some of the best guitar players ever, such as Jimmy Page and Clapton. Born in 1944, Jeff grew up in Wallington, England and had an interest in music from a very young age. He began his career much like his former bandmate Page, a highly sought after studio musician. Good enough to replace Clapton in The Yardbirds on Page’s recommendation!
Throughout pretty much all of his career, Jeff Beck has relied on his Fender Stratocaster to achieve his signature sound and now thanks to Fender, anyone else can have the same setup as the legend himself. Some of the features unique to the Jeff Beck Stratocaster include a soft C-shaped neck, a contoured heel for easier access to higher notes on the fret board and equipped with custom wired Fender Special Design dual-coil ceramic Noiseless pickups. Other features include a five position pickup switch, all chrome hardware, an American two-point synchronized tremolo with six stainless steel saddles, a 25.5” fret scale, a master volume knob and two tone knobs (one for neck, one for bridge/middle).
Pretty much a man that needs no introduction as far as guitars are concerned, Eric Clapton ranks up there with Jimmi Hendrix as one of the most influential and decorated guitarists of all time. He is the only person to be inducted into the Roll and Roll Hall of Fame three separate times; as a member of Cream, The Yardbirds and as a solo artist. Among his many accolades and awards, he was named No. 2 behind Jimi Hendrix on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” He has won several honors including multiple Grammys as well as an OBE (Order of the British Empire) designation which was later promoted to CBE. Born in Ripley, Surrey, England, Clapton first attained an interest in music at the age of thirteen when he was given his first guitar, an acoustic Hoyer guitar made in Germany. By the age of 16, he was already being noticed for his guitar skill and by the age of 17, he joined his first band, an early British R&B group called “The Roosters.” He would go on to join several other bands during his illustrious career, two of which would become Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted groups.
Among the unique features of Slowhand’s signature guitar, this Strat comes with three of Fender’s Vintage Noiseless pickups, a power active mid-boost, a soft V-shaped neck, a blocked original vintage synchronized tremolo bridge and all TBX circuits. With its alder body, one-piece maple neck, all chrome hardware and Fender/Gotoh vintage style tuning machinery, this Stratocaster has plenty of power and style. The blocked tremolo bridge itself was inspired by an actual Clapton customization that ensures that you won’t lose your tune as fast as you would with a normal Strat.
Among the most contemporary of the artists featured on this list, and for good reason, as the guy currently has the number one record here in the states for two weeks running (as of June 6, 2012). John Mayer picked up the guitar in his early teens and says that Stevie Ray Vaughan was among the most influential in his playing style. By the time he was in high school, John Mayer had already begun playing as a solo as well as with a formal band under the name Villanova Junction. Like many great contemporary players, he attended the Boston’s Berkley College of Music and much like many of the great contemporary players that attended that college, he dropped out before completing a degree, but that did little to stop him on his way to the big time. By 2001, his album “Room For Squares” garnered Mayer his first radio hit and two years later, the single “Daughters” gave him his first No.1 as well as a pair of Grammys.
The features unique to the John Mayer Stratocaster include a thick C-shaped neck, all vintage hardware, five tremolo springs, three Big Dipper single-coil Strat pickups with special scooped mid-range voicing directly specified by John Mayer, 50s spaghetti logo decal, a satin urethane finish on back of the neck and a gloss finish on the face of the headstock. Other notable features include an African rosewood fingerboard with a 9.5"- radius and Dunlop 6106 frets along with your standard five-position blade, one master volume and two tone knobs (one for neck, another for bridge/middle).
Brother of the equally talented Stevie Ray, Jimmie Vaughan has pretty much set the standard for modern roots rock with his band the Fabulous Thunderbirds as they helped reintroduce pure authentic Texas blues into the pop charts. Born in March of 1951 in Dallas, Jimmy was inspired early on by classic top 40 radio, ‘50s rock and roll, jazz, rhythm and blues and of course, vintage blues. At the age of thirteen he was given his first guitar so he would have something to do as he was healing from a football injury. Soon after, he found that he was naturally gifted at the guitar and soon began teaching younger brother Stevie as well, creating two of the most prolific blues guitarists around.
As a Stratocaster, you can look forward to a superbly contoured alder body, a soft V-shaped maple neck, a five-position pickup switching blade, all chrome hardware, Fender Gotoh machine heads, a master volume, two tone knobs and an American Vintage synchronized tremolo. Features unique to the guitar include a Fender/Schaller Straplock strap buttons, U.S. made electronic components, a Jimmy Vaughan Signature on Back of Headstock and most importantly, two Tex-Mex calibrated, overwound, single-coil Strat pickups for neck and middle positions and a Tex-Mex hot single-coil Strat pickup for the bridge.