Walter Trout: The One Thing Leo Fender Got Perfect About the Stratocaster
"I don’t think it can be improved upon," the blues man says of one particular Strat innovation.
Blues guitar great Walter Trout – a veteran of Canned Heat and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, and the author of an impressive catalog of stellar blues-rock records on his own – has owned quite a few guitars in his time, but the Strat generally remains his weapon of choice.
Trout elaborated on why the none-more-iconic solidbody was his favorite in a recent interview with Guitarist (opens in new tab), where he was asked: "Are there any common design features in electric guitars that are an instant turn-off for you when you’re auditioning potential guitars?" In response, Trout said:
“Let me tell you one thing about the Strat that I think Leo got perfect and no-one has made it any better… One of the problems I had when I was playing a Les Paul or a 335 was I tended to change the volume all the time and I changed the pickups all the time, too.
“I’d be playing and if I wanted to change the pickup I’d have to reach up to the top of the guitar to the pickup switch then I had to go down to the volume buttons and goof with them and it was a lot of work. It required me to stop playing for a second.
“One of the things that Leo Fender got perfect, and I realized it the first time I played a Stratocaster, is that you can control all of it with your pinkie without ever stopping playing. I can switch pickups, I can move the tone control, I can turn the volume up and down and I don’t have to quit playing. It’s all right there within reach of my little finger. I really think he got it perfect and I don’t think it can be improved upon.”
Back in August, Trout released his 27th solo album, Ordinary Madness. Recorded days before the United States' COVID-19 shutdown, it features his band – Michael Leasure on drums, Johnny Griparic on bass and Teddy ‘Zig Zag’ Andreadis on keys – plus special guests Skip Edwards, Drake ‘Munkihaid’ Shining and Anthony Grisham.
To pick up a copy of the album, step right this way (opens in new tab).
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Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.