The Squier brand is today recognized worldwide as a subsidiary of Fender. It manufactures many of the classic models of the brand, with a lower quality standard, but at a more accessible price. Even so, their models vary from the cheap ones like those at the entry level to the top of the range with products that have made history in the world of guitars such as the Classic Vibe series.
Today, Squier guitars are made in plants in Indonesia, China, and India, but this has changed over the years. Let’s take a look at its history.
History Of Squier Guitars
Jerome Bonaparte Squier was an English immigrant and renowned luthier who worked with his son Victor Carrol Squier in his workshop located in the city of Boston, United States. There they not only repaired but built violins that became highly recognized.
First Series 1982-83
Series from 1983 onwards
In the year 1890, Victor Squier decides to separate from his father and open his store in Michigan City. Once established there, he also began to manufacture strings for violins, banjos, and guitars, which bore the already recognized name of Squier. His business grew rapidly from manual manufacturing to industrialization, turning a sewing machine into a rope winder. Thus, he managed to produce 1,000 cords a day of good quality and at a reasonable price, which gave him popularity throughout the United States.
The VC Squier company continued to operate successfully. In 1950 it began to supply strings to the first electric guitars manufactured by Fender and in 1963 it became the official supplier of strings for Fender instruments.
70´s Telecaster / Custom Squier by Fender
In 1965, Fender ends up buying the VC Squier Company. Later that same year, Leo Fender sold his company to CBS. Finally, in the mid-70s, the Squier brand was withdrawn from the market, and the strings began to be marketed under the Fender brand.
Stratocaster ´57 / ´62 Squier by Fender Catalog
They were difficult years for the Fender company. During the 70s, added to the drop in sales, many guitars very similar to the already classic models came onto the market, high-quality guitars at a much lower price, mostly made in Japan. The challenge was to create a competitive product without losing quality.
In March 1982, CBS established its operation in Japan, creating Fender Japan, Ltd.
In May of that same year, Fender already had six models of vintage-style guitars and basses made in Japan. Initially, these instruments were marketed only in Japan, but given their excellent quality, their low cost, and a large number of imitations available in the European market, the company began to export them. To do this, they use a new brand, reviving the old name Squier.
Thus, while the Fender Japan is exclusively distributed there, practically the same guitars are marketed in Europe under the Squier series.
The first series is known as Squier JV, for Japanese Vintage. These are highly prized today, as they are nothing more than Fender Japan with minimal changes: a small Squier Series logo on the headstock, and a cheaper-than-usual steel zinc tremolo block.
The Fender Squier JV series were made between ’82 and ’84. First with the Fender decal and the Squier Series smaller logo. In 1983 Fender decided to change the large decal to Squier, and add a smaller one by Fender. This also brought a drop in the quality of the instruments, although they were still of high quality.
In 1983 Fender began to market Squier guitars in the United States. In this way, Fender put up for sale an instrument with a lower value, practically half that of an American Fender, but of very good quality. Anyone who couldn’t or didn’t want to pay what a Fender cost could buy a cheap quality guitar without buying a copy.
In 1985, along with the new entry-level models, the currently known Squier by Fender appeared, thus becoming a second, cheaper brand.
In the mid-1980s, there was a series of Squiers made in the United States. In 1988 the Squier began to be manufactured in Korea, with a significant drop in the quality of the materials.
Squier was later made in Indonesia and then China, but the quality of the entry-level models is in no way comparable to the early models.
Quality Of Materials Used In Squier Guitars
The materials used for the production of Squiers are deficient in electronic components, which are generally not equal to, or do not meet Fender’s quality standards. The assembly is carried out in series, mainly in Indonesia or China, and more recently in India.
While many people do not perceive abysmal differences between the sound of a Fender and a Squier, there is a distance when it comes to materials. It is true that in the neck we will find maple wood in both models, but in the body Fender usually uses higher quality woods. And, while it is true that Squier uses generally cheaper woods and materials, it depends a lot on the model we are talking about.
The pickups can also be taken as a distinguishing factor between both manufacturers. In general, Squiers are characterized by being more basic, therefore they tend to use single-coil pickups. In contrast, the Fender tends to use magnetically manufactured pickups, influencing their most characteristic sound.
Perhaps the biggest factor to consider when comparing a Fender and a Squier is the parts and hardware in case replacements are needed. Let’s say that if we choose the first brand, we know where each of its parts comes from, therefore, in the case of having to replace one, we know where to go. With Squier, it is more likely that the woods and materials have a dubious origin, or even a mixture of several, therefore it would be more complicated.
SQUIER STRATOCASTER STANDARD SERIES BLACK AND CHROME 2011
Price Range of Squier Guitars
Finally, we come to perhaps the most distinctive factor. We must take into account that there are different models of one brand and another, therefore there are different prices and consequently we speak of general lines. A Squier starts at $200 and usually doesn’t cost more than $600-700. For its part, a cheaper Fender is priced between $500 and $600 and can cost more than $2,000.
SQUIER TELECASTER CLASSIC VIBE ‘50 BUTTERSCOTCH
Are Squier Guitars Beginner Friendly?
Over the years, Fender expanded its product lineup. From much more expensive series such as the Custom Shop or the American Vintage Deluxe to cheaper models such as the Mexico or American Special lines. Squier was reserved for the entry-level ranges, that is, guitars for beginners.
However, Squier’s success allowed it to incorporate new series and models of higher quality, such as the excellent Classic Vibe or Deluxe series, which are very close to the level of Fender’s low ranges. In this way, today Squier is no longer just an option for beginners, but for guitarists of any level who are looking for a cheap alternative to the American Fender.
As we could see, Fender was able to create, out of a crisis, a whole new successful series of instruments. Today Squier occupies a privileged place, being a very competitive option and one of the best-selling brands in the world, not only for beginner guitarists but also for amateur or professional musicians.