Ode to the Single Coil…

Now that’s cryptic.

And just to clean up the last post;

Jimmy Page. He’s the only one from that list that has never used the venerable Fender Stratocaster, at least not in public.

The Stratocaster is likely the most often-used and consequently the most-often heard electric guitar on the planet. It has a very particular tonality, one which lends itself to a great many musical styles. I have often said that if I had to live and die with just one guitar, it would be a Strat.

And I don’t own one presently. I haven’t yet been threatened with deportation to a small deserted island, so haven’t had to choose yet. There’s still time…

Fender guitars generally use a type of pickup called a single-coil. ( A pickup is essentially a magnet with a row of small microphones on it, wrapped with thin copper wire.)

They have a very bright and responsive tone, as opposed to the ( Gibson) humbucking  pickup. Humbuckers have a much more subdued, mid-range tone to them, and were originally designed to  make much less noise than single-coils. They consist of two sets of coils; their close proximity to one another cancels much of the noise that the small microphones generate, hence the term ” humbucking.”

Once you learn to recognize the Strat’s body shape and three-single-coil configuration, you’ll realize that they are everywhere. You’ve been listening to them all your life, and now you know what they look like.

There is a very, very long list of dedicated Strat players in the world, and you probably have a favorite or two among them without even knowing it.

Do you think you could choose a best- ever Strat player? Most people would probably choose Jimi Hendrix, but there are very many to consider…Eons ago, Jimi plugged a Strat into 3 100-watt Marshall amps, and started making just a little less noise than a thermonuclear device. Kind of like the soundtrack to sticking your finger in a light socket.

But the era of psychedelia was born. Jimi had created a new genre just by being able to control the beast.

I’m always most impressed with what David Gilmour has done with the tonality of a Strat…but then, there’s Jeff Beck…

Any opinions out there?

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Despite being a legend, I still feel like Jeff Beck is a little underrated sometimes. I got to see him once around 1989(?) on the tour with SRV, and he blew me away. I couldn’t believe the sounds he got out of that guitar. However, having said all that, I’d still go with Jimi if I could only pick one. Just found your blog, enjoying it!

    • Jeff is absolutely underrated. No one can do what he does. And a Strat is perfect in his hands.

  2. what about billy corgan as well. Totally cool strat player. Dick dale, beach boys, and yes, Beck is awesome. Bolero is an odd little piece but it works. Bolero is a hard rhythym to hit right. SRV rocked! Buddy Guy and his polka dot strats!!!! awesome.

  3. I add my vote for jeff beck being the most underrated*
    I once said that Jeff Beck has so much talent that you could hand him a toaster and say, ‘Key of G …two…three’ and he would drag the notes out of the thing.
    And that’s the thing about Jeff Beck that makes me smile… he is not so much playing the guitar as he is using it… to produce whatever ‘sky church music’** is on his head at the moment.

    I offer as evidence of Beck’s get-the-note-in-whatever-manner-seems-to-be-most-available the following video (hopefully the WP guardians will let it pass)

    (watch 00:55 can you count the different ways to vibrato? lol)

    *this is because the mutant-level of talent the guy possesses is not always recognized, at leas by anyone other than guitar players.
    ** a term that Hendrix is oft quoted as saying in response to the question of what he wanted to do with his music in the future


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