How to Play a Fender Stratocaster

Written by christian mullen
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How to Play a Fender Stratocaster
The Fender Stratocaster is also known simply as the Strat. (Guitar player #1 image by Warren Millar from

Playing a Fender Stratocaster is relatively easy if you are already proficient at playing the instrument in general. Overall, Fender Stratocasters are easy to play and have become well-known due to their use by famous guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn and, more recently, John Mayer. With a few lessons and a bit of guitar knowledge, you can play a Fender Stratocaster just like the professionals do in a live or studio environment.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Guitar pick
  • Strap
  • Tuner

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  1. 1

    Tune your Fender Stratocaster to pitch. In order to play in-tune notes and chords, you will want to tune the guitar. Use a tuner, pitch pipe or even tune by ear. If you are playing by yourself, your strings will only have to be in tune with each other, so you will not necessarily need to tune to a specific note.

  2. 2

    Place a strap on the guitar to play standing up or rest the bottom contour of the Fender Stratocaster on your leg. This will allow you to strum with your right hand and play notes and chords with your left hand. If you are a lefty, you will be using your left hand for strumming and picking and your right hand for chords and individual notes.

  3. 3

    Pick the pickup configuration on your Fender Stratocaster you want to use. With the five-way selector all the way toward the bridge, you are only using the bridge pickup. The next position toward the neck is the bridge and middle. Click it one more time toward the bridge to use the middle pickup only. Flip the switch all the way toward the neck and you will be solely using the neck pickup, which is great for lead guitar work.

  4. 4

    Hold the pick horizontally, parallel with the string you plan on playing. Pluck the individual string in order to play single notes. Strum the strings in an upward or downward motion to play chords. You only want to hit the strings that you will be using to make the chord. Some chords are only two strings while others are all six strings of the Fender Straocaster.

  5. 5

    Use the whammy or tremolo bar to manipulate the notes that you play. Pluck a note with your pick and depress the bar as much as you would like. This will produce a modulating sound to the note. The tremolo bar loosens the strings and lowers the pitch of the notes played. Guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn have been known to use their tremolo bar in this manner.

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