Static Shoulder Friction Stir Welding (SS-FSW) is a modification to conventional FSW that was originally developed to improve the weldability of titanium alloys by reducing through thickness temperature gradients. Surprisingly, to date, there have been no published systematic studies comparing SS-FSW to FSW for aluminium welding. This may be because the high conductivity of aluminium means the heat input produced by the shoulder is thought to be beneficial. In the work presented when welding a high strength 7050 aluminium alloy, even in a relatively thin 6 mm plate, it is shown that SS-FSW has several advantages; including a reduction in the heat input, a massive improvement in surface quality, and a more uniform through thickness temperature distribution, which leads to narrower welds with a reduced heat affected zone width and more homogeneous through thickness properties. The reasons for these benefits are discussed.