Squier Guitars History

Squier Guitars

Fender acquired U.S. guitar string manufacturer the V.C. Squier Company in 1965; by 1982 the Squier name had resurfaced as a "value brand" alternative initially manufactured and distributed in the Japanese domestic market and soon offered to Europe, North America and the rest of the world.

At the time, many other established brands offered copies of classic Fender models including the Stratocaster™, Telecaster™, Precision Bass™ and Jazz Bass™ guitars. When Squier versions of these instruments appeared, demand for them as the "official" cost-conscious alternatives was immediate, and a brand name was reborn.

While continually advancing quality and playability, Squier instruments have been produced in several nations, including Japan, Korea, India, China, Indonesia and Mexico. While the brand has produced its share of innovative designs over the past 25 years, its main focus and most successful approach has always been to be the "value brand" alternative to its big brother, Fender.

Earliest Days

Jerome Bonaparte "J.B." Squier, a young English immigrant who arrived in Battle Creek, Mich., in the latter part of the 19th century, was a farmer and shoemaker who had learned the fine European art of violin making. He moved to Boston in 1881, where he built and repaired violins with his son, Victor Carroll Squier. To this day their violins are noted for their exceptional varnishes and command high prices as fine examples of early U.S. instrument craftsmanship; indeed, J.B. Squier ranks among the best-known U.S.-trained violin makers and is often referred to as "the American Stradivarius."

Victor returned to Battle Creek, where he opened his own shop in 1890. Up to 1900, the best violin strings were made in Europe. Victor Squier started making his own hand-wound violin strings, and the business grew so quickly that he and his employees were producing 1,000 uniformly high-quality strings per day. Squier violin, banjo and guitar strings became well known nationwide and were especially popular among students because of their reasonable price.

In the 1930s, Squier began making strings for the era's new electric instruments. Fender entered the picture in the 1950s, when the V.C. Squier Company began supplying Southern California inventor and businessman Leo Fender with strings for his electric guitars. The V.C. Squier Company became an official original equipment manufacturer for Fender in 1963, and Fender bought the V.C. Squier string company in early 1965 shortly before Fender itself was bought by CBS in May of that year. By the mid-1970s, the Squier name was retired as the strings had taken the Fender name.

Squier Instruments

In the early 1980s, concerned Fender officials noted the abundance of Japanese guitar makers who were blatantly copying original vintage Fender designs. Fender acted by setting up its own official Japanese manufacturing operation, Fender Japan, in March 1982. A joint U.S.-Japanese venture, Fender Japan produced guitars with material and technical support from Fender's U.S. facilities. By May, Fender Japan had six vintage-style instruments in production.

Meanwhile, as the flood of Asian Fender copies surged over Europe, Fender sought a competitive low-cost alternative. The long-dormant Squier name was resurrected and assigned to export versions of Fender Japan's new high-quality vintage models; these became known as Squier JV ("Japanese Vintage") instruments. These were produced until late 1984 and are highly sought after among collectors today for their quality and relative scarcity.

In late 1983, as it had in Europe and Japan, Fender decided to import Squier instruments into the United States in order to compete with the many copies flooding the domestic market. To make them stand out without competing directly with Fender's existing domestic models, these U.S.-bound Squier Stratocaster, Telecaster, Precision Bass and Bullet™ models were given '70s features and touted as the first instruments ever "officially authorized" to borrow from Fender's classic designs. Using the slogan "There's Magic in the Breed," Fender re-launched the Squier name in the U.S. market with these instruments.

The brand proved amazingly successful. The Squier Standard Series was introduced in the mid-1980s and continued throughout the early 1990s before evolving into a new generation of Squier models. The mid-'90s saw the Squier Affinity, Pro Tone and Vista Series models. Of these, the Affinity Series paved the way for the subsequent great success of Squier instrument/amp/accessory packages, such as the Strat Pak and Bass Pak by providing aspiring musicians with everything they need to enter the world of amplified music in a single all-in-one purchase. Fender had previously experimented with "holiday bundles," but the Squier package concept proved wildly successful, putting a new generation of young musicians on a path to making music.

Throughout the early 2000s, Squier staples such as the Affinity and Standard series continued with few changes other than occasional color additions. Squier celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2002, and that year's Squier version of Fender's Tom DeLonge Stratocaster model proved very successful.

Squier produced a succession of successful launches from the early to mid-2000s. Limited edition Affinity series guitars included a Butterscotch Blonde Telecaster and Two-color Sunburst Stratocaster. Figured-top Deluxe models and black-and-chrome Standard Series models were launched, along with two Telecaster Custom models that became part of the new Vintage Modified family. Squier scored big in 2004 with the upgraded Jagmaster II and the popular Squier '51; the Master Series appeared in 2005 with five instruments with dual humbucking pickups intended for players of all styles, from blues to rock to metal to jazz. In a first for Squier, Fender Custom Shop master builders designed two Master Series models, the M-80 and the Esprit.

In 2006, Squier partnered with the Sanrio company on a successful line of Hello Kitty® instruments, and with noted graphic artist Shepard Fairey on the distinctive art-driven line of OBEY guitars. In 2007, Squier expanded its Vintage Modified series to include basses and additional vintage-styled Stratocaster and Telecaster models with "hot rod" modifications such as custom pickguards and finishes, gloss-finished maple necks and Duncan-Designed™ pickups.

The Future: Stop Dreaming, Start Playing!™

Artist associations have been an important part of Fender from the beginning, not only in terms of brand awareness, but also as part of product evolution. Squier introduced three new Squier Artist Model basses that debuted in 2007-one apiece from Green Day's Mike Dirnt, Anthrax's Frank Bello and Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz. In the future, Squier will collaborate with other artists interested in delivering products that give their young fans an affordable instrument of inspiration and expression.

Squier is by Fender-sharing its product platforms, trademarks, standards and iconic designs. Squier is the launching pad for beginners, pointing intermediate and advancing guitarists toward their ultimate goal-owning a Fender. With those goals and others in mind, Squier continues to offer products with features and prices that deliver truly excellent value, from beginners to hobbyists to working musicians alike.