Not only is this an iconic-looking guitar – it’s also an interesting one. In fact, it’s not really a guitar. It’s three. Well, sort of. Three separate Strats have been plundered in the creation of this fine specimen. Incidentally, if you're more interested in original Squier Vintage Reissue Strats, please check out The Truth About 1980s Squier Strats for a detailed account of the range. If you're interested in this one, here's the story of how it came about...
I made the guitar in 1994, when the Squier Hank Marvin Strat had been on sale since early 1992 and some shops had reached the stage of virtually throwing them away. Originally priced at £275, the Japanese-made Squier Marvin wasn’t technically a vintage reissue. It was reminiscent of Marvin’s late 1950s pink Strat (and it only came in that one colour), with a single-ply white plastic scratchplate and a maple neck. However, the neck had modern trappings including the then contemporary-style Squier machine heads, and truss-rod adjustment from above the nut rather than the body end of the neck. The headstock shape and size was similar to, but not the same as that of a ‘50s Strat, and the headstock bore Hank Marvin’s signature. The electrics were in keeping with Squiers of the time too, and this meant one-piece moulded pickups with non-magnetic, non-staggered pole-pieces, and a long magnet stuck to the bottom. Most unlikely to duplicate the precise Hank Marvin sound, but this was a budget model.
Of course, the difficulty with this guitar was that whilst the Hank Marvin signature would attract a lot of guitarists, it would also put a lot off. After the initial surge of interest from Hank Marvin fans, the guitar was probably quite difficult to shift, hence the instrument’s inability to hold its retail price throughout its shelf life. It probably didn’t help sales in the UK when Guitarist Magazine revealed that Marvin didn’t specifically endorse this Strat’s design or components. The mag went on to express that: “Hank has endorsed this instrument because he is so impressed by the quality of what’s available to young guitar players in the ‘90s, compared to what he had to put up with in his early years.” A very non-committal remark, and to me, almost like saying: “It’s better than a piece of rubbish, but my name wouldn’t be on it if Fender weren’t paying me”.
Anyway, I eventually stumbled upon a Squier Marvin going cheaper than the regular Squier Strats (which unlike the Japanese-made Marvin Strat, were Korean). I couldn’t resist the bargain, and I originally planned to keep the guitar untouched in a case for two or three decades, then either display it or sell it as a collector’s piece. However, a couple of months later, I found a sonic blue Fender MIJ ’62 Strat reissue, with ‘aged parts’, also heavily reduced in price. It was brand new, and at first I wondered if the price was a mistake. However, after picking it up I realised the problem. The finish was the worst I’ve seen on any Fender guitar, and quite clearly, the instrument should never have left the factory. Over the next couple of days it struck me that if I bought the dodgy MIJ ’62, I could swap the body with the one on the Marvin Strat. The Marvin’s salmon pink body was very nice. Made in Japan from solid wood, and with a high quality finish – it would solve the problems with the ‘aged parts’ Strat, and since the MIJ ’62 reissue was not listed in salmon pink, it would give me something quite individual to boot. I had to pray that the necks and neck slots were the same size. If they weren’t, I’d simply refinish the MIJ ’62 and keep the Marvin ‘as is’. But gladly, the necks did switch easily.
The first thing I noticed once I’d replaced the dodgy sonic blue body with the Marvin’s pink body, was that the MIJ ’62 not only looked better – it sounded better. The tone was more rounded with a more powerful midrange. Later still in the year when I bought a set of Seymour Duncan Alnico II pickups for my Fender USA ’57 Strat reissue, I found myself with a spare set of Fender USA vintage Strat pickups, which were going to be a perfect donation for my salmon pink hybrid. Since I added the Fender USA pickups, and a better selector switch, and rewired with authentic vintage-style cloth-covered wire, this salmon pink guitar (for clarity, an MIJ '62 reissue neck on a Squier Hank Marvin body) has been a really high quality piece – totally belying its ‘bargain-basket’ roots.
I did eventually get round to refinishing the flawed sonic blue body, from which I assembled a new guitar with the Hank Marvin neck. I also refinished the Marvin headstock, getting rid of the signature, which I thought would make it difficult for me to sell. I sold the 'by-product' guitar with the Fender MIJ staggered Strat pickups from the sonic blue ’62, leaving myself with this excellent salmon pink ’62 Strat reissue. I wonder what Hank would think of the result?
Posted by: Bob Leggitt