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Squier History

Squier is a second-line brand of the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. It produces models mostly derived from the Fender line of products but at lower cost, and are marketed similarly in providing high quality instruments at affordable prices for novice players.

Fender, under the ownership of CBS, acquired the Squier brand name in the mid to late 1960s when it bought a USA based string making firm, but it lay dormant for many years. Before the Fender Squier series were introduced in 1982, Fender were making lower priced guitars such as the Fender Lead series at their Fullerton California plant. Until the introduction of the Fender Squier series, Fender had never produced lower priced guitars based on their main Stratocaster and Telecaster designs and had always used different model designs for their lower priced guitars.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s Fender was facing competition from lower priced Japanese made guitars. The lower priced Fender guitars were made in America and could not compete with the Japanese made Fender copies lower prices. In the early 1980s, Japanese labor and production costs were much lower than in America and to compete with the Japanese made guitars, Fender decided to move the lower priced Fender guitar production from America to Japan.

Fender were also losing sales in Japan to Japanese guitar brands such as Tokai and Greco, so the establishment of Fender Japan would benefit Fender in Japan as well as overseas. Fender began negotiations with several Japanese musical instrument distributors and reached an agreement with Yamano Gakki and Kanda Shokai to establish Fender Japan. Yamano Gakki are also known for once being part of Epiphone Japan. Kanda Shokai own the Greco brand name and one of the conditions of the Fender Japan agreement was that Kanda Shokai cease production of its own Greco Fender copies.

This arrangement benefited Fender because it removed the Greco Fender copies which were selling at much lower prices than the American made Fenders in Japan and also benefited Kanda Shokai because it could now distribute Japanese made Fender branded guitars in Japan. Further negotiations between Fender and guitar factories were done. Tokai was seriously considered to start building the first Japanese made Fenders but after a breakdown in negotiations FujiGen Gakki was chosen instead [1].

The first Fender Japan guitars produced were the Squier JV series. These were very accurate reproductions of classic 1950s and 1960s Fender guitar models. Soon after a second series followed and these were called the SQ series as seen from the prefix to their serial numbers. They were generally reproductions of 1970s models with the main difference being that they had Japanese made pickups whereas the initial JV series used Fender American made pickups. Over time the Squier series has slowly evolved to include original model designs and production has moved from Japan to various other Asian countries such as Korea and China.

When initially launched in Europe in the early 1980s the Squier range offered classic reproductions of Fender's most popular models: '57 and '62 Stratocasters, '57 and '62 Precision Basses, '52 Telecasters and '62 Jazz Bass. These were made in the FujiGen Gakki factory in Japan - then also used by Ibanez - using original factory blueprints. These early Squiers are referred to as "JV Squiers" due to those two letters being the prefix on the serial number stamped on the neck plate that stand for "Japanese Vintage". Initial shipments to Europe had Fender's logo in large script on the headstock with a small "Squier Series" decal but quickly this gave way to a large Squier logo with a small "by Fender" decal. These early JVs are extremely accurate reproductions of the classic models and are highly sought by guitar collectors, especially in Europe.

The early JV Squiers often used neck and body parts that were originally meant for Greco Fender copies [2]. Kanda Shokai had to cease Greco Fender copy production as part of its agreement with Fender to not compete with the Fender Japan guitars and unused Greco neck and body parts were used by FujiGen for some of the Fender JV Squiers. The early JV squiers often had USA pickups installed such as the X-1 single coil pickup which were used on the USA made "Fender Lead II", "Strat" and the "Dan Smith Stratocaster" models.

There have been a few Squier models that have been distinct enough in specification from standard Fender models to be notable, such as the Super-Sonic, the Squier '51 (a design that hybridizes elements of the Stratocaster, Telecaster, and 1951 Fender Precision Bass), and the Jagmaster (partially derived from the Fender Jazzmaster and Jaguar). The Bullet name, currently used for an inexpensive Stratocaster variant, was originally applied to an early '80s short-scale model which resembled a hybrid of a Strat and a Mustang.

There are also original and distinct editions of existing Fender guitar designs like the Fender Stratocaster and Fender Telecaster, such editions being the Hello Kitty Stratocaster with pink finish and fingerboard inlays and the Hello Kitty logo, the OBEY Graphics series of Stratocasters and Telecasters with custom hand-painted bodies or the Avril Lavigne and Eric Clapton editions.

As of 2007, Fender seems to be positioning Squier as both a budget brand (with the Bullet, Affinity, and Standard series of guitars and basses) and an alternate moniker, with some original models in the Squier lineup that are not found in Fender's own catalogue. Special editions of standard production models are not listed below.
  • Squier Strat
    The Squier logo on the headstock of a "Squier" Stratocaster.
  • Squier Tele
  • Squier Fat Strat
  • Squier Mini
  • Squier Mini Player
  • Squier Duo-Sonic (Discontinued)
  • Squier Bullet (Discontinued)
  • Squier Bullet Special (Discontinued)
  • Squier Bullet Strat
  • Squier Stratocaster
  • Squier Telecaster
  • Squier Fat Stratocaster
  • Squier Deluxe Hot Rails Stratocaster
  • Squier Deluxe Stratocaster
  • Squier Deluxe Stratocaster FMT
  • Squier Deluxe Stratocaster QMT
  • Squier Satin Trans Fat Stratocaster HH (Discontinued)
  • Squier Satin Trans Fat Stratocaster HSS (Discontinued)
  • Squier Satin Trans Stratocaster (Discontinued)
  • Squier Satin Trans Telecaster (Discontinued)
  • Squier Double Fat Telecaster Deluxe (Discontinued)
  • Squier Hello Kitty Mini
  • Hello Kitty Stratocaster
  • OBEY Graphic Stratocaster HSS Collage/Dissent
  • OBEY Graphic Telecaster HSS Collage/Propaganda
  • Squier Standard Stratocaster
  • Squier Standard Telecaster
  • Squier Standard Fat Telecaster (Discontinued)
  • Squier Standard Double Fat Stratocaster (Discontinued)
  • Squier Telecaster Special (Discontinued)
  • Squier Jagmaster II
  • Squier Telecaster Custom
  • Squier Telecaster Custom II
  • Squier Vintage Modified Stratocaster
  • Squier Vintage Modified Stratocaster HSS
  • Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster SH
  • Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster SSH
  • Squier Vintage Modified Thinline Telecaster
  • Squier '51 (discontinued)
  • Squier Cyclone (discontinued)
  • Deryck Whibley Signature Telecaster
  • Avril Lavigne Signature Telecaster{{}}
  • Oh Olarn Phromhjai Signature Stratocaster
  • Tom Delonge Signature Stratocaster (Discontinued)
  • Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster
  • Squier Bullet (original, early to mid-1980s model — distinct from the current Stratocaster-based budget model)
  • Fender Japan Contemporary Squier
  • Katana
  • Sub-Sonic
  • Silver Series (higher spec/priced (early 90s?), Japanese made, alternative to the standard level Korean Squire of the time)
  • Showmaster (Jason Ellis Signature Edition)
  • Stagemaster
  • Squier Stratocaster VII - Seven String Variant of the Stratocaster
  • Pro Tone series Korean made
  • Squier Esprit
  • Squier M80
  • Squier M80 Special
  • Squier Master Series Thinline Telecaster
  • Squier Master Series Telecaster CHAMBERED
  • M-50
  • M-70
  • M-77
  • M-77 Limited Edition (Gold Top)
  • S-65
  • S-73
  • Starfire
  • X-155
  • X-155 Limited Edition (White Heat)
  • Jagmaster
  • Musicmaster
  • Squier Musicmaster Bass
  • Super-Sonic
  • Venus
  • Venus XII
  • Squier Stratocaster Tom DeLonge Signature
  • Squier Bronco Bass
  • Squier Jazz Bass
  • Squier P Bass
  • Badtz-Maru Bronco Bass
  • Squier MB-4
  • Squier MB-4 Skull and Crossbones (Special Edition)
  • Squier MB-5
  • Squier Jazz Bass
  • Squier Precision Bass Special
  • Vintage Modified Precision Bass
  • Vintage Modified Precision Bass TB
  • Vintage Modified Jazz Bass
  • Vintage Modified Jazz Bass Fretless
  • Pete Wentz Precision Bass
  • Mike Dirnt Precision Bass
  • Frank Bello Jazz Bass

As follows is an approximate method in which Squier dates the serial numbers of manufactured instruments

For Japanese Squier serial number dating, see Fender's serial number dating service. The Japanese MIJ (Made in Japan) Squiers were made by FujiGen up to 1997 and the Japanese CIJ (Crafted in Japan) Squiers were made by Tokai and Dyna from 1997..

MN: M = Mexico, N = Nineties (1990s), the first number following the serial number prefix is the year.

For example
  • "MN8" indicates that it was made at Ensenada, Mexico in 1998.

USA Squiers are very rare. Some of them have a serial number with a E = Eighties (1980s) prefix, and some of them have a serial number with a N = Nineties (1990s) prefix.

USA Squiers were made for less than a year spanning 1989 and 1990 before production of Squiers went back to Mexico. This was a period when Made in Japan Squiers had stopped and then they moved Squiers to Mexico, but there was a fire in the Mexican factory which disrupted things for a few months in which Fender USA made the Squiers.

CN/VN: C = Cor-Tek (Cort), V = Saehan(Sunghan), S was already taken by Samick so Saehan(Sunghan) used V instead (Saehan(Sunghan) made the Vester guitars), N = Nineties (1990s), the first number following the serial number prefix is the year.

For example
  • "CN5" = made by Cor-Tek (Cort) in 1995.
  • "VN5" = made by Saehan(Sunghan) in 1995.

KC/KV: KC (Korean Cor-Tek (Cort)) and KV (Korean Saehan(Sunghan)), the serial number prefix is followed by a 2 number year.

For example
  • "KC97" = made by Cor-Tek (Cort) in 1997.
  • "KV97" = made by Saehan(Sunghan) in 1997.

KC and KV serial number prefixes are usually used on Crafted in Korea Squiers.

S/E: The S and E serial number prefix Korean Squiers are from the late 1980s/early 1990s. S = Samick, E = Young Chang, E letter serial numbers were used on Young Chang's Fenix brand guitars . The first number following the serial number prefix is the year.

For example
  • "S9" = made by Samick in 1989.
  • "E0" = made by Sung-Eum in 1990.
  • "E1" = made by Sung-Eum in 1991.

There were also Korean Squier serials with no serial number prefix and 6 or 7 numbers and the first number is the year.

YN: Y = Yako (Taiwan), N = Nineties (1990s), the first number following the serial number prefix is the year.

For example
  • "YN5" = made by Yako in 1995.

CY: C = China, Y = Yako (Taiwan), the serial number prefix is followed by a 2 number year.

For example
  • "CY97" = made by Yako in 1997.

CY serials are usually used on Crafted in China Squiers. Some Chinese made Gretsch guitars also have a CY serial number.

Miscellaneous Chinese serials: CD, CT, CJ, NC: C = China, the first number following the serial number prefix is the year. Probably made by Yako (Taiwan).

Some Squiers that are sold only in the Chinese and Asian markets are made by Axl in China.

IC: I = Indonesia, C = Cor-Tek (Cort), the serial number prefix is followed by a 2 number year.

IS: I = Indonesia, S = Samick, the serial number prefix is followed by a 2 number year.

Some Squier IIs were made in India around 1989-1990, as well as some more recent Squiers.
Some company information may be courtesy of their Wikipedia entry, which is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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