Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Squier Venus Guitar aka the Venus Vista

In 1997 my local music store had these unusual Fender guitars hanging up for display. On closer examination, they bore the Squier brand name. Under the Squier name in small type was "by Fender." Both instruments had a surf-green paint job and bound maple necks with rosewood fretboards.

One was a six-string model with 1956 Fender style headstock. The headstock was painted the same color on the front. The other was a 12-string version that bore a headstock similar to the 12 string Stratocasters that were marketed in the 1990's.

The pickup arrangement on the Squier Venus 12 was much like the Fender XII's pickups. The 12 string also had a tone control.

I learned these were Squier Venus guitars or Vista Venus made by Fender.

The guitars bridge was Fender's version of a tune-o-matic bridge. The strings went through the body and held in place with rivets on the guitars backside.

I learned these were guitars designed in conjunction with Courtney Love.

The six string version had a single coil strat-type neck alnico pickup with staggered pole pieces and an open humbucking pickup near the bridge.

The wiring scheme was simple; one volume control, a three-way throw switch for the pickups and a top mounted input jack, all of which were on the pearloid pickguard.

The twelve string version was a much different instrument. The headstock had one string guide. The bridge/saddle unit was similar to the one on the Fender XII.

This guitar also had a single volume control, but it also had a single tone control, plus the three-way throw switch (unlike the complex Fender XII's switching system) and a top mounted jack. All were mounted on the guitar's pearloid pickguard. The bridge and saddle was one unit with a chromed base plate, Fender style bridge saddles adjusted by turning a screw at the distal side of the bridge. The strings appear to go through the body.

Surf green was not the only color for these instruments. They were also produced in Black and Sunburst.

The shape of the guitar is different from anything Fender has produced. The guitar was made of basswood that had two offset cutaway horns and an asymetrical carved lower bout as on a Jaguar. The body was more compact than other Fender instruments.

It was also unusual in its price point, which was suggested as $999.99 with a gig bag. Squier was Fender's import line at the time, so the asking price was rather high. Perhaps that is why it was only produced for two years. It was discontinued in 1998.

Ms. Love's personal instruments must have been built by Fender's Custom Shop, since they were different from off-the-rack models. Of the two she played, one had a sky blue body with a tortoise shell pickguard and the other was pink with a white pearloid pickguard. Her guitars had only a single Seymour Duncan '59 neck pickup.


Mr Noble said...

hi! nice blog about guitars :)
i wish it was 1996-1998 so that i can buy squier jagmaster vista series

Mel x said...

I've wanted one of these for a very long time... great looking guitars (if you like unusual stuff) I have a recent Jagmaster which is still a very nice guitar for the money.

Tim George said...

Ms. Love did not design this guitar. I did. Check out my story on the "I love my venus guitar" on Facebook. Might as well know the true history of this guitar's development.-Tim

Anonymous said...

The 12 string was $999. The 6 string was $599.

Marc said...

Tim, I've looked high and low for your Facebook page and Venus story, but I cannot find it.

The information that I have run across lists Courtney Love as a co-designer. How much input she actually had may be questionable. No doubt it made marketing better for Fender if she endorsed the Venus.

Thanks Tim for stopping by and commenting.

Darrell Blevins said...

I have the 12 string model. I learned a lot from this page. I had no idea Courtney Love collaborated with Fender. The guitar plays and sounds great. The neck is heavy so it takes a dive when you strap it on. I think I paid $299. Didn't know it was rare.

Anonymous said...

It's probably time to amend this article, as it's pretty easy to see that the Venus is a Mercury ripoff and Courtney Love had nothing to do with it—other than having bought a Mercury and likely asked the Fender Custom Shop to replicate it when the original creators could not.

I own a Venus and it is no shock that Love had nothing to do with the design of the Venus.

Thanks, Tim! The Mercury is a beautiful guitar and the Venus is at least a cool-looking guitar (that actually plays and sounds pretty well, too), which, if not for its existence, I wouldn't even be aware of the Mercury.

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I actually have a sunburst vista venus 6-string for sale, I love this guitar and i have owned it for around 10 years now but i need the funds for other things so if you are interested and would like more info, Please get in touch.

Thanks Chris