In 1982, Fender was only too aware of the effect that the sudden rash of unauthorised Strat copies was having on its profits and so the Squier range was introduced to form a sort of counter-attack on brands such as Tokai, whose near-as-dammit lookalikes were rapidly gaining popularity.
Shifting the site of manufacture from the US to Japan meant that the Squiers could retail at extremely competitive prices, but initially the quality of the JV Series - so called because of the JV prefix to the early Squiers’ serial numbers - was absolutely staggering.
The very first Squiers, which are now very heavily sought after by collectors, had a large Fender logo on the headstock, but it wasn’t long before Fender realised that this meant that there was very little to delineate the US models from those made in Japan.
The solution was - as you see on this Squier Strat from 1984 - a large ‘transition-style’ gold and black Squier logo with a very 70s looking ‘Stratocaster’ decal.
Initially, the Squiers were made at the FujiGen Gakki factory and had US parts, including pickups. Gradually, though, US parts were used less frequently and Japanese-manufactured parts became the norm.
Sorting the Japanese thoroughbreds from the US/JP hybrids is one of the frustrations that early Squier hunters know only too well. They’re hard to find these days, but definitely worth looking out for as they represent an important part in Fender’s history and are extremely good value for money.
Guitar courtesy of Guitars: The Museum, Umeå