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Paul Balmer: The Fender Stratocaster Handbook Hardcover – 15 Feb 2007

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: MBI Publishing Company (15 Feb. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780760329832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760329832
  • ASIN: 0760329834
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 1.3 x 27.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 901,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Balmer was born in Liverpool England in 1951.

he performed as part of the 'Merseybeat' scene from 1962 until 1974.

He also studied classic guitar with the great Brendan McCormack and drums with Ron Parry.

In 1974 Paul joined the BBC at Pebble Mill studios initially as a sound engineer and then trained as a radio producer and television director.He presented many music programmes on BBC Radio 3

Founding his company 'Music On Earth'in 1991 he travelled extensivly making programmes such as 'Africa I Remember' for BBC2.

In 2002 his DVD film Stephane Grappelli a life in the Jazz Century was nominated for a British Academy Award.

The book of the film 'Stephane Grappelli With and Without Django' was well recieved by GRAMOPHONE -..useful and interesting..fine writing..good research sorting the facts from the myths! Guitarist Julian Bream declared it "a fascinating part of jazz history vividly retold!"

In 2007 Paul's film 'Julian Bream My Life In Music' became The Gramophone DVD of the year.

he has written ten books including contributions to The Penguin Encyclopedia of Music.

His guitar series has been well recieved;


Fantastic! Very, very impressive. - stewmac.com


" The ultimate tome ... Superb ... a must for every Telecaster owner" - GUITAR BUYER

"GENIUS!" - MI Pro (Musical Instrument Professional)


" ... packed with essential information about one of the greatest guitars that has ever twanged upon this earth ... the right level of insight and detail for players to gain a better understanding and confidence" - GUITARIST

"The complete guide to sourcing, setting up and maintaining your Tele" - TOTAL GUITAR



"Thanks for the Fender book, I can now tune up and start playing" - HANK MARVIN

"Should come as standard with every new Strat" - STEWMAC.COM


"The definitive book on the Les Paul"- PERFORMING MUSICIAN

"Great for budding rockers - a great reference item for when your Les Paul needs a little extra" - VINTAGE GUITAR


"This manual is one of those books where you'll dip in to find something specific and realise sometime later you've read way more than you originally planned - always the sign of a job well done!" - GUITAR & BASS

"... useful tips ... interesting ... useful comparative measurements ... enough in the way of general information, large photographs, to earn it a place in your bathroom for weeks to come." - PERFORMING MUSICIAN

"A Comprehensive Guide" - GUITAR TECHNIQUES

"64 fascinating pages of repair, maintenance and good old fashioned TLC - the narrative brings the subject matter to life ... good practice whatever guitar you play ... fascinating" - UK ROCK MAGAZINE

"... the ultimate owner's manual for these iconic instruments" - CANADIAN MUSICIAN

"It isn't hard to make a good guitar sound great even on a limited budget - this book is one of the best at showing you how" - VINTAGE GUITAR

"Look's fantastic! , they have become our favorite place to go when looking up facts about Les Paul's, Strat's or Tele's." STEWMAC.COM

He is currently writing The Haynes Acoustic Guitar Manual and A Haynes Electric Guitar Primer.

He lives in Oakley Vale England with Judy Caine and their son Karl

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having recently acquired a second hand Startocaster, I deemed it necessary to learn all I could about this musical masterpiece. I therefore "surfed" the internet until I came accross this handbook. Having just recieved it and had a the briefest of looks through it, it appears to cover everything I required of it. I shall become my "bible" for caring for my new acquisition.
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By Mr. F. Reid on 19 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you have a Strat and want to know how to modify it in any way, then this is for you.
The history of the Strat and the illustrations make this an excellent book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 42 reviews
61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
The BEST book out there on Strat maintenance 14 April 2007
By Glen Murley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wanted to give a more in-depth review of this book than what's currently on here now.

First, about myself. As of the writing of this review I'm 38 and have been playing for over 20 years. I have been setting up, modifying and tinkering with guitars all along. So trust me when I say that this book is a must-have if you want to work on your Fender Strat. Or, if you just want to know more about what makes a strat sound and play the way it does, this book serves that purpose as well. If you are already familair with setting up your strat then this book won't tell you anything new, but it's still an enjoyable read.

The book is 176 glossy pages with rich, beautiful professional photos throughout the entire book. The text is very easy to read even for those that aren't entirely familiar with the intricate working and electronics of guitars in general and therefore provides for an enjoyable read even for the casual reader.

What the book is not: Althought it touches on repair, t's not a repair manual. The information on repair is not comprehensive enough to actually do it yourself. It's not a compendium of Strats from year to year giving comprehensive differences and when things changed. This information is already available from other sources. It's not simply a picture book or coffee table book even though the size and Hard Cover format might suggest.

What it is: A comprehensive breakdown of how to set-up your Fender Stratocaster. And it does this in a fashion that allows the new tinkerer to get in there and do the work themselves. Very much in the same vein as Dan Earlwine's books.

The book goes over specific bridge designs and how to adjust string height, trem settings, etc. It explains how to adjust the truss rod on the various styles (bullet, vintage at the heel, at the peghead, etc.). It shows you how to set up the pickup heights, string heights, etc. Also explains some weaknesses inherent in specific designs such as vintage tuners, saddles, etc.

The book also has a great set of appendices that explains Fender neck profiles, body woods, what specific screws are used where (great for knowing what to order if you lost one), and a few other tidbits.

Of note there is a good part of the book dedicated to examining a few specific models of guitars and their specs. They are: 54' Custom Shop, US 57 RI, Chinese Squier, Mexican Fat Strat, Indonesian 'Standard' Squier, Custom Shop Clapton, US 74' reissue, Japanese 50th Anniversary, US Am Series 2005, Chinese Standard Squier. These "case studies" examine the actual guitar in the author's hands, not just the model in generic terms. This information isn't terribly useful, but it is fun to read an offers some insight to the variances of some models.

Lastly, there is a small section devoted to some of the Strat's most famous players and it examine's a famous strat that they used. Again, the information contained is not "defining" to me, but it's fun to read.

In conclusion, the reason to buy the book is for the clearly-written step-by-step instructions on how to set up your Stratocaster. The rest of the information can be found in other places, and probably in better detail, but it's nice to have it all contained in one book.

I think a book like this is long overdue. Without this book the tinkerer would have to spend a few weeks asking Q&A at various guitar forums. And even then you have to figure out who's right and who's wrong. I can say from my own experiences over the years in setting guitars up that this book is an excellent resource for the would-be do-it-yourselfer that wants to learn basic maintenance on his/her Fender Stratocaster.

The book is a joy to read too. If you don't have a Strat and are thinking of buying one...this book will put you over the edge and send you running off to buy one.

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Made easy 1 Mar. 2008
By R. Semmens - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought a Squire strat. It had rough unfinished frets, loose whammy, misc rough spots and I had new pickups to put in. I bought this book and did all the work myself- the first guitar work I ever did. It was easy because he gave the specs in various places and explained how things worked. I smoothed the frets, evened the neck, tuned the bridge and put Seymour Duncans in from another strat I had, Adjusted and st the wang bar and now it smokes better than any other strat Ive had. Saved me an extra 250 - 700$ buying a Mex strat, or an american standard. If nothing else- this will teach a newbie like myself how to tear a strat apart and put it back together again making improvements along the way. A good investment.
27 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Does Not Do Justice To The Usual Haynes Manuals Quality 7 Oct. 2007
By You are going WHERE? - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
First, if you just bought a Strat (any type from the far, far East to the current American Standard)you might enjoy this book but if you have owned Strats before and are familiar with them you should save your money. If you are looking for real usable information to really set up your Strat to perfection, you might look at Dan Erlewine's books instead either the one on repairs or the one on how to make your electric guitar play great.
My copy of this book was one of the first editions ordered through Amazon.uk in England and arrived months ahead of the US release of this book. I was disappointed that the book was not up to the usual Haynes manual quality (like the ones for cars and motorcycles). Who needs to see a picture of Squier Strat pickups to know they are junk? Or a close up of a cracked pickguard from an overtightened screw? History wise it gives some data, but not nearly as much as the Duchossoir book and the Wheeler book. Both of which are excellent. Or even the Minnihinnet and Young book.
Don't expect too much from this book. It tries to cover many areas of the Strat but offers no real depth for any area. It might be worth it at about half the price it's offered at. More and better information is available elsewhere.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Manual 13 Sept. 2011
By Sherman47 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a novice guitar player and I ordered a Squire Strat from a large music store and picked it up at the store. There was no instruction manual of any kind with the guitar. The Fender on-line had very little informatin (maybe user error?) This book is very valuable: it breaks down information on different models of Strats. There have been some changes since the 2007 publishing, but not that much. With all of this information in this book, it takes pretty much all of the mystery out of setting up and maintaining a Strat. This is a hard back quality book with great photos. From my perspective, especially if you are new to Fender and Stratocaster, this is an excellent manual.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Short on specifics 30 April 2012
By james mccaffrey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is really a compilation of short reviews of the numerous Strats that Fender has produced over the years. A photo of each Strat with with some general info. However, it is very short, non-existant, on how to repair, modify and technical data. Regardless of what the publisher says in their cover presentation.

If you want a cursory overview, and I mean cursory, of the Strat, than this book is for you. But, I would suggest saving your money and applying it to some, or one, of the numerous "how to" repair and modify your Strat and/or electric axe volumes that are in publication. I was really disappointed. Big on pictures and short on info.
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