Friday, March 11, 2011

The Squier '51 Guitar

In 2004, the Fender Musical Instrument Company came out with a guitar that was reasonably priced ($150 U.S dollars), superbly designed, and was an instant hit. This guitar sold under the Squier brand name and was named the Squier ’51.

Although the '51 was a guitar, the one piece pickguard and chrome control plate appeared to be taken right off of a 1951 Precision Bass design, hence the name. This guitar was a true mutant. The neck and headstock resembled a Fender Telecaster and the body resembled a Stratocaster. It was equipped with a slanted single coil Strat-style pickup in the neck position, much like the lay out of a Duo-Sonic.

A hot humbucker graced the bridge position. The bridge was similar to what you would find on a hard-tail Stratocaster, except the strings loaded in the rear of the unit instead of through the body. The C-shaped neck was made of one-piece maple topped with medium-jumbo frets.

Although some of these instruments were made using a two-piece neck with a maple cap for the fretboard. And a few came with a rosewood fretboard. The neck radius was 9.5” had a 25.5” scale typical of what one finds on most Fender guitars. The guitars body was made of basswood. The controls were unique. The first knob controlled not just the volume, but its push-pull function acted as a coil-splitter for the humbucking pickup.

The bottom knob was a three way rotary switch that controlled the pickup combinations. Squier offered the ’51 in three colours:

Black, Two-tone Sunburst, both with white pickguards and Blonde with a black pickguard. However, the early versions of the Blonde model came with a white pickguard.

The Squier ’51 was available for a short time. Production started late in 2004 and ended in January of 2007. The guitar was a bargain at $150. At the end of the run, Fender deeply discounted these to $99 at most chains and some were selling them for even less money.

Like all guitars, the short production period caused the value to increase when the supply was exhausted. Although still inexpensive by most standards, these are commanding $200 and up.

One of the aspects that has made this guitar so popular is the fact players can easily modify the guitar to meet their own specifications. Most folks that would not hack up a Strat or a Tele do not mind making changes to this bargain instrument. 

There are pages on the internet devoted to modifications players have made on their ’51. This is a guitar that has an almost cult following and one that deserves to be reissued, perhaps under the Fender label.


Anonymous said...

In my lifetime, I have owned quite a few Fender guitars. The Squier '51 is perhaps the biggest sleeper Fender ever made. I am not familiar with the newer reissues, but the original (2004-2007) are a pleasure to play. 90% of the time, I pass over my USA Strat, my MIM Strat, and my MIJ Strat preferring to play my Squier '51.

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