Squier is a musical instrument brand name owned by the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation.
Fender, under the ownership of CBS, acquired the Squier brand name in 1965 when it bought a USA based string making firm, but it lay dormant for many years. Before the Fender Squier series was introduced in 1982, Fender was making lower priced guitars such as the Fender Lead series at its Fullerton California plant. Until the introduction of the Fender Squier series, Fender had never produced lower priced guitars based on its main Stratocaster and Telecaster designs and had always used different model designs for its lower priced guitars.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s Fender was facing competition from lower priced Japanese made guitars. The higher priced Fender guitars were made in America and could not compete with the lower prices of Japanese made Fender copies. In the early 1980s, Japanese labour and production costs were much lower than in America and to compete with the Japanese made guitars, Fender moved the lower priced Fender guitar production from America to Japan.
Fender was also losing sales in Japan to Japanese guitar brands such as Tōkai, Greco and Fernandes and the establishment of Fender Japan would benefit Fender sales 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 is also known for once being part of Epiphone Japan. Kanda Shokai owned 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 from the Japanese market which were selling in Japan at much lower prices than the American made Fenders and it also benefited Kanda Shokai because Kanda Shokai could then distribute Japanese made Fender branded guitars in Japan. Further negotiations between Fender and Japanese guitar factories took place. Tokai was seriously considered to start building the first Japanese made Fenders, but after a breakdown in negotiations, FujiGen Gakki was chosen instead.
The first Squier series was launched on July/August 1982 and 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.
Initial Squier JV & SQ series
The first Fender Japan models introduced in May 1982 were the 1957 and 1962 series, which were Fender Stratocaster models ST'57-115, ST'57-85, ST'57-65, ST'62-115, ST'62-85, ST'62-65 and the Precision Bass models PB'57-95, PB'57-70, PB'62-98, PB'62-75. These models were Fender models and not Squier models. The stratocasters had Fender USA pickups installed and were made for the Japanese market only and not for export.
Fender soon added a less expensive export Squier series based on the Fender Japan 1957 and 1962 series in July/August 1982, which had a large Fender logo with a smaller Squier logo and had a zinc rather than a steel tremolo block and again the stratocasters had Fender USA pickups installed. The Squier series were also made available for the Japanese market in October 1982, which incorporated small changes compared to the export Squier series. The large Fender logo of the export Squier series was soon changed to a large Squier logo.
The first Fender Japan guitars are known as the JV Fenders and JV Squiers, with JV standing for "Japanese Vintage" to reflect the guitars were made from the original blueprints of the vintage US guitars, were made by the FujiGen Gakki factory in Japan, using technical support from Fender USA. The SQ Squier series was introduced in late 1983 to early 1984. The SQ Squier series was based more on 1970s Fender models and also had USA made pickups installed.
Squier Vintage Modified Series
2007 saw the introduction of Squier's Vintage Modified line, a series of high-end instruments based around the concept of taking vintage designs and adding "hot rod" features such as hardware variations, gloss maple necks, new finishes and pickguards, and Duncan Designed pickups. The VM line draws from a wide range of Fender instruments, and has resulted in a large variety of models with many different feature combinations.
Vintage Modified guitar models include Stratocasters, Telecasters, Jaguars, Jazzmasters and Mustangs. The bass lineup features Precision and Jazz basses (including fretless versions of both), Jaguars and Telecasters, with five-string and short-scale models featured in the range. In 2013 a Bass VI was added to the VM line. The majority of Vintage Modified instruments are available only in right-handed configurations.
Squier Classic Vibe Series
In 2008 Squier released its Classic Vibe series. A series of electric guitars and basses mirroring classic Fender designs of the 50's and 60's. Each roughly reflecting the hardware, woods, color variations, finishes, body contours, and tonal characteristics of their respective era; although Squier state that the series was not created to be completely era correct, but rather impart the 'vibe' of a classic Fender design.
The Classic Vibe series of guitars and basses include the following models:
- Classic Vibe Stratocaster (50's and 60's)
- Classic Vibe Telecaster (50's and 60's)
- Classic Vibe Duo Sonic 50's
- Classic Vibe Precision Bass (50's and 60's)
- Classic Vibe Jazz Bass 60's
Classic Vibe series guitars start with the serial CG followed by the Factory/Plant Letter and the year produced.
Serial number tracing
As follows is an approximate method in which Squier dates the serial numbers of manufactured instruments.
MN: M = Mexico, N = Nineties (1990s), the first number following the serial number prefix is the year.
MZ: M = Mexico, Z = 2000's, the first number following the serial number prefix is the year.
- "MN8" indicates that it was made at Ensenada, Mexico in 1998-1999.
- "MZ1" indicates that is was made at Ensenada, Mexico in 2001-2002
Some USA made Squiers have a serial number with an E = Eighties (1980s) prefix, and some have a serial number with a N = Nineties (1990s) prefix. Some USA made Squiers also had a 000XXX serial stamp on the neckplate with no letter prefix and no serial number on the headstock.
USA Squiers were made for less than a year spanning 1989 and 1990 before production of Squiers went back to Mexico.
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.
- "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.
- "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.
The first guitars made in Korea are those with serial number written in silver E1 + 6 digits
- "E7 + 6 digits with silver serial = made by Young Chang in 1987-88.
- "S9" = made by Samick in 1989.
- "E0" = made by Sung-Eum in 1990.
- "E1" with black serial = 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. Some early 90's examples held a serial number with the prefix M followed by 7 numerals, featured the a high gloss maple neck with a slimmer 40mm body made from plywood.
Chinese and Taiwanese Squiers
yN: Y = Yako (Taiwan), N = Nineties (1990s), the first number following the serial number prefix is the year.
- "YN5" = made by Yako in 1995.
CY: C = China, Y = Yako (Taiwan), the serial number prefix is followed by a 2 number year.
- "CY97" = made by Yako in 1997.
CY, COS, or COB 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). The plant from which the COB serial number prefix models originate remains a mystery. No documentation, or comment from the manufacturer has resolved the question of which plant produced them.
Some Squiers that are sold only in the Chinese and Asian markets are made by Axl in China, these guitars usually have the serial number starting with CXS; with the 'X' standing for 'Axl'.
Squier Classic Vibe series guitars/basses serial numbers start with CG. e.g. CGSxxxxxxx
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. For example "IC02" Made in 2002. In 2009-10 some Indonesian Squiers had the prefix ICS09XXXXX and ICS10XXXXX. There are a number of standard models that have the ICS prefix some are FSR but some are just normal run models. The ICS11XXXXX Prefix has also been seen on 2011 Indonesian made Squiers on Standard models and on Squier Stratocaster Vintage 70's models. I= Indonesia, C= Cor-tek, S= Squier brand.
––===Indian Squiers=== Some Squier IIs were made in India around 1989-1990. The head stock is marked "MADE IN INDIA". Made in India Squier IIs seem to follow the made in USA serial numbering scheme. For example a 1990 made in India Squier II serial number would start with N0 plus 5 digits. The serial number is printed on a sticker located on the back of the neck, close to where the neck attaches to the body. Because the number was placed on a sticker it is fairly common for the serial number to be missing.
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