“Had I been there when the guitar was designed…”: Hank Marvin would have made these fundamental changes to the Stratocaster

Marvin also has a lot of love for the iconic guitar design, even referring to it as “an old friend”.

Hank Marvin

Credit: Ragnar Singsaas/WireImage

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It goes without saying that the Fender Stratocaster is a true classic of the guitar world. As such, you might well assume it’s best not to mess with a winning formula. Hank Marvin, however, has other ideas, listing five changes he would have made to the Strat had he “been there when the guitar was designed”.

Marvin writes the editor’s letter in the new issue of Guitaristcommemorating the guitar’s 70th anniversary. He did have plenty of praise for the iconic guitar: “Leo Fender got it so right with the Strat,” he remarks, later adding that to him, the guitar is “like an old friend”.

“The contoured body is so comfortable and one volume knob controls the three pickups so there are no level discrepancies when switching between pickups,” he writes. “The double-cutaway gives superb access and the three pick-ups provide a variety of tones, either singly or in combination.

“The whammy bar, when set up correctly (as mine are), does not affect the tuning even when violently shaken (never stirred). Also, the bar could swivel across the strings, unlike a Bigsby, allowing it to be held in the picking hand so you can use it and pick at the same time. And it’s such a cool looking guitar!”

Fender Vintera II ’50s Stratocaster control knobs by Adam Gasson
Credit: Adam Gasson

However, if he’d had a say in the guitar’s design, Marvin might have made some tweaks. “I might have gone for a slightly wider fingerboard so that the first string is not pulled off the edge so easily,” he writes. “A five-way pickup switch would have made it easier to access the possible combinations and locking machine heads would have helped with changing strings and better tuning. Also the Easy-Mute vibrator bar that I use never gets loose as the originals do.”

Meanwhile, in celebration of the Strat’s landmark birthday, a group of virtuosos came together to play an all-star cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Child (Slight Return).

In the video titled ‘Voodoo Child (Slight Return): Forever Ahead of Its Time’, virtuosos Mateus Asato, Nile Rodgers, Tom Morello, REI, Tash Sultana, Jimmie Vaughan and more come together to pay homage to the iconic instrument and one of its most legendary riffs.

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