“I noticed you playing a beautifully worn Squier Telecaster. Please tell me about it, I have an affinity toward guitars that don’t cost a tremendious amount of money yet still play really nice. My Squier Jagmaster is just such a guitar; it plays so nice (though the pickups will probably need to be replaced at some point). Who knows maybe your Squire is an expensive one? Any way, how long have you had it? Did you add the P-90 p/u? what year is it? where was it made?”
My Squier is actually one of the very first models they made in Japan which is now known as a JV series instrument because of the JV serial number on the bridge plate. There’s quite a lot about the JV Squier’s online so I wont cover it here but Fender made their first Japanese models back in the early 80s as a response to the other Japanese brands like Tokai, Greco and Edwards (ESP) who were frankly doing a much better job at producing quality instruments than Fender were themselves in the USA at the time. So the story goes that Fender sent a Japanese factory the best examples of their vintage instruments they could find and said ‘copy that!’ Which they did, rather too well!
Mine is a very early example with a neck date of September 1981 (which is a bit bizarre since they only officially started making instruments there in early 1982). I got mine about 20 years ago for the princely sum of £170. I did have to go to Scotland to collect it (from London) but I think it was well worth the trip. Unfortunately a lot more people have realised the quality of the JV series now so they’re not so cheap any more. You can still get examples for about £500ish if you are lucky but I’ve seen a Tele like mine go for as much as £900! They are very good instruments though and it’s the one guitar I consistently go back to. So if you see one, buy it! Or tell me about it and I’ll buy it!
I put the P90 in myself as a previous owner had already butchered it by badly fitting a Strat pickup in the middle anyway so I didn’t really do any more damage. If you can find any of the early Japanese Fender’s, Squier or otherwise from the 80’s I think they represent a sound future investment. 15 years ago you could pick up unloved 70’s Fenders for a couple of hundred quid. Many were really low quality instruments but these have all rocketed in price in recent years. The Jap stuff is consistently better and still available quite cheap so the price is only going to go up especially as people born in the 80s will want a guitar from their birth year and start to earn more money as they get older.
Other brands like ESP and Tokai are definitely worth a look but again a lot of this stuff has started to become collectable so don’t expect ridiculous bargains. Another one to watch is the Squier Pro Tone series from the mid 90s. Great guitars and still reasonable prices if you dig a bit.
Good question John – Get those ebay fingers working!