Friday, July 16, 2010

The Squier and Fender Super-Sonic - The Other Guitar in the Vista Series

In today’s market when we associate Fender with the words SuperSonic, we tend to think of their amplifier that is part Bassman - part Vibrolux. However, in 1997 Fender marketed a guitar under their Squier brand called the Super-Sonic. This was the second guitar in their short-lived Vista series.

We all know Jimi Hendrix was one of the most revolutionary rock guitarists to come down the pike. His style left its mark on the way we play lead guitar. Using  a couple of Marshall stacked amplifiers, a handful of guitar pedals and a Stratocaster played upside down, Hendrix was able to coax sounds out of his instrument that were never before imagined.

Hendrix was the inspiration for the Squier Super-Sonic. Designer Joe Carduci was a Hendrix fan and insisted on the upside down headstock based on watching Jimi play a Fender Jazzmaster upside down.

During these years, Japan was the main site for manufacturing Squier guitars. The body was reminiscent of a Jaguar/Jazzmaster body, although the lower bout was not offset. With its prominent lower horn and diminished upper horn, the Super-Sonic looked something like Fender's answer to a Gibson Reverse Firebird.

The pickguard was similar to a Jaguar with a chromed switch plate for the twin volume controls.

There was no control for tone. The potentiometer at the top controlled the bridge pickup, while the lower one controlled the neck pickup.  In other words, this guitar controls are wired back-asswards

The pickups were designed by Seymour Duncan and manufactured in Korea. Despite Mr. Duncan lending his name to the pickups; it is said they could be microphonic. The neck pickup was parallel to the necks base. The bridge pickup was angled with the 6th string lower than the 1st string; like an upside down Stratocaster. A three-way toggle throw switch controlled which pickup was working.

The bridge was Strat-style with a screw-in arm for the tremolo. The saddles were Strat-style as well. The guitar bore Kluson-style tuners on its upside-down headstock.

It was offered in Silver or Blue Sparkle finishes as well as White or Black.

Like the Jaguar, the guitar had a 24" scale, which was not preferred by most rockers with the exception of Ted Nugent who prefers the 23 1/2" Byrdlands.

Players were unhappy about the placement of the toggle switch. It was right in the area most of us use to pick or strum. The Strat tremolo was not meant for dive-bomb solos and overuse put this guitar instantly out of tune. The biggest issue was the pickups, which were said to be microphonic and tinny.

It was not a popular instrument and was gone by 1998.

But in 2013, it's back! This time as a Fender in the Pawnshop series. Fender re-released some of their greatest Squier creations as Fender guitars in the Pawnshop series.

On the Fender model he twin pickups are slanted the same way. The Fender body is made of solid alder (the Squier was basswood or alder). The neck is "C" shaped and features a bullet style truss rod and a 9.5" radius.

The toggle switch controls which pickups are active and the potentiometers are topped with Fender Jazzbass style knobs. This guitar comes with a vintage style synchronized tremolo and vintage style machine heads.

It is offered in dark gun metal flake, sunfire orange flake or apple red flake.


G L Wilson said...

Actually, these were not just produced under the Squier banner, there was also a more upmarket Fender version - these are much rarer.

Ironically for a guitar designed to look like a left-handed guitar for right-handed players, the only time I've seen one of these on stage it was being played by Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals who plays left-handed.

wade said...

There was never a Fender version. Fender tried, with the Vista Series, to elevate the Squier name. Fender Japan made them. Unfortunately, few bought in to the oxymoronic high-end Squier, and the line was discontinued within two years.
I have all four colours. My favourite guitar by far. I have switched out the pickups on all of them. Small, but playable.

Tyler said...

Hey wade, I recently bought one from years ago, but the tuners were gone and the ones I bought to replace them don't work...does it need left handed ones???

wade said...

It does indeed need left-handed tuners. I replaced the ones on my white one recently. I have acquired four - one in each colour.

jimyfury said...

Fender have re-launched this guitar under the Fender Pawn Shop series! I have the original Black squier...It's a really nice guitar!

George Cornwell said...

While the Hendrix influx makes sense, rumors have it that Fender had an abundance of left handed necks to move and the Supersonic was just right.
The backass ward wiring was for volume control of the bridge pickup w your pinkie to simulate pedal steel licks.
The tremolo works great even dive bombing by 1) locking tuners 2) simulated graphite nut (roller nuts are not of size) 3) graphite saddles replacing originals on bridge.
I love the Fender stock atom pickups. I do play through a POD xl so I must dial in some equalization. But if you change them, there's a demand for the pickups sell them on eBay.

Guy Wulfing said...

Hi wade, I'm obsessed with finding a white super sonic. I know it's a long shot, but I thought I'd ask if you're interested in selling one. Thanks a lot. Sorry for the abrupt message

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