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fear not the stratocaster

Anyone who follows me in music circles knows that I champion Stratocaster-style guitars. Even though I primarily play Squier brand, it is the traditional Fender Stratocaster configuration, as in what's known as the Fender double-cutaway "contour" body, 3 single-coil pickups controlled through a 5-way blade selector, 1 volume knob, 2 tone knobs, strings that rest on 6 individual saddles and a block tremolo system (even though I don't use the tremolo) and a 21-fret neck.

Oftentimes I'm asked how I get that sound out of a Squier Stratocaster guitar using nothing but stock configuration, as in from-the-factory hardware with no modifications. Does practicing a lot have something to do with it? Yeah, but what's more important to know is that I'm not afraid of the Stratocaster.

Strats whether made by Fender or Squier play loose and sound jangly, clacky, ridiculously "trebley" and twangy. In other words, the guitar is quirky by nature. That's not to say the guitar is bad, but rather that's just the way it is.

How does one become unafraid of the Stratocaster? You accept the quirks of a Strat and work with them.

My advice to anyone looking to wrangle tones out of a Squier like I do is to simply let go of the fear. Don't be afraid to bend a string hard to get that screaming solo note. Don't be afraid to rake the strings. Don't be afraid to pick hard. Just go for it. Break a few strings if you have to. I've broken plenty.

I'm not saying to beat the crap out of your Strat, but it is true that some of the best Strat players (Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix, Ritchie Blackmore, Yngwie Malmsteen) play real hard. That's not all showmanship, believe me. Playing a Strat hard is sometimes the best way to get that sound out of it.

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