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September 2, 2014

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Photo essay: The iconic Stratocaster guitar turns 60

Image

Matt York / AP

A finished Fender Stratocaster is adjusted by Kenneth Maas in the Fender Custom Shop in Corona, Calif. on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013. Leo Fender developed the instrument in a small workshop in Fullerton, Calif. six decades ago.

Stratocaster 60th Anniversary

Freshly-painted Fender Stratocaster electric guitar bodies are stacked at the factory in Corona, Calif. on Monday, Oct. 14, 2013. Described as Launch slideshow »

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jimi Hendrix made it shriek. Buddy Holly made it swing. Stevie Ray Vaughn made it snarl.

Some of the most legendary guitarists in music history have elicited unforgettable sounds from the Fender Stratocaster, the distinctive double-cutaway guitar born in a small Fullerton, Calif., workshop 60 years ago this month.

It's far from a musical relic: It remains an essential tool for some of today's top guitarists. Vince Gill relies on it so much he calls it an "extension of my hands," while blues virtuoso Robert Cray calls it a workhorse.

As shredder Yngwie Malmsteen put it: "There is no substitute."

As this iconic guitar celebrates its 60th anniversary in April, The Associated Press takes a visual journey into the creation of the iconic guitars, and explores why it's still a fixture on concert stages today.

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