A case-study approach to teaching electronics system design that has been used since 2004 to demonstrate the importance of both nontransferable and transferable design issues to first-year undergraduate students is described. The student cohort of relevance to this work represents a diverse group comprising both students studying for a four-year engineering degree together with students studying for a variety of different degrees who take electronics design as an option in their first year. In this respect, they represent an exacting challenge for the engineering educator tasked with providing an introductory basis to both nontransferable and transferable electronic engineering design skills. Research arising out of the four years' experience of this scheme is described, which demonstrates, in particular, the suitability of the Fender Stratocaster electric guitar as a design example in both teaching and learning transferable engineering design issues. These issues include requirements capture, innovation, simplicity in design, and ensuring commercial viability.