A ‘Hank Marvin’ Strat by Cort!

Bob Leggitt | Tuesday, 20 November 2012 |

Well, my endless habit of thumbing through old books, papers and magazines has once again unearthed a really interesting Fender Squier Strat advert – the third I’ve located in which Hank Marvin can be seen endorsing different variants of Squier Stratocaster in the early 1990s. As well as appearing in the obvious ads for the Squier Japan Hank Marvin signature model, Hank also briefly popped up in a sort of stop-gap ad, immediately before the Squier Japan Hank Marvin was introduced, endorsing what turned out to be a 1991 Samick-made Korean Strat.


But the interesting ad in this post comes immediately after the reign of the official Japanese signature guitar. The ad was published in the October of 1994. The Japanese Marvin signature Strats were now obsolete, and had generally disappeared from the shops through the summer – with many dealers offering them at big discounts to clear them out fast. Their very close relations the Japanese Squier Silver Series models, however, were still on sale – some with salmon pink Marvin bodies, maple necks, and white, eight-screw scratchplates. These guitars presumably used up remaining factory stock of the Japanese Marvin signature parts, after it was found the signature guitars were harder to sell in the longer term than the standard Silver Series. That’s me making an educated guess, by the way. I don’t have anything more than circumstantial evidence on the sales totals.

Incidentally, the salmon pink Silver Series Strats were only, as far as I’m aware, available after the Marvin signature Strat was taken out of production. The only difference I can establish between the two was that the salmon pink Silver Series said ‘Silver Series’ on the headstock, where Marvin’s signature would have been on the official Marvin model. Doesn’t sound much of a difference, but semantics could be make or break, and there were definitely guitarists who’d buy a Strat with ‘Silver Series’ on it, but not with Hank Marvin’s signature. The Silver Series branding was of much more universal appeal.


So, the ad in this post is once again easy to mistake for a regular signature model ad. The featured Strat sports the correct Fiesta red / salmon pink finish, maple neck, vintage-look bridge… But look closely… Signature on the headstock? No. Silver Squier logo? No – it’s a black logo. Eight-screw scratchplate? No – the guitar has an eleven-screw plate. This is not a Hank Marvin signature model, and it’s not Japanese-made...

This lesser-spotted UK Squier Stratocaster advert from 1994 has the Hank Marvin endorsement, and reads: "Since their introduction in the UK, Squier guitars have been consistent winners in top readers' polls. That's because the authentic authorised design, the finest quality hardware, the superb electronics and that unmistakable feel are all offered at a price that makes these great guitars THE affordable Fenders.

So whilst there are many rival, unauthorised guitars on the market - some cheap and disappointing, others ludicrously more expensive than the real thing - none of them can be a Fender and match the quality of the genuine article. Nobody can make Stratocasters, Telecasters, Jazz or Precision basses quite like Fender can."

Time, then, to break out the magnifying glass and find out precisely what Hank is endorsing… Obligingly, the resolution of the print is just sufficient to decipher the headstock markings, and it transpires that this particular Stratocaster has a ‘CN 4’-prefixed serial number, making it a 1994 Korean Squier, manufactured by Cort.

Cort certainly knew how to build guitars, and would subsequently spearhead a golden age for Korean Squier guitars from 1996, when plywood body construction was finally eliminated in the Squier Deluxe Strat, and the Pro Tone range of upmarket Squiers set a new precedent for quality in Korean Fender Strats. This ’94 job, however, would have been a cheaper, plywood-bodied Strat, and on seeing the £170 recommended retail price alluded to in the above advert, that’s something you’d pretty much expect. The Squier Japan Hank Marvin signature Strat was introduced nearly three years before this ad with an RRP of around 70% higher, so there was going to be no mistaking this plywood Cort for the alder-bodied and obviously superior FujiGen Gakki-made signature instrument. The parts (hardware/pickups) on these Korean cheapies were pretty blatantly inferior to the parts on the Japanese Hank Marvin too – it wasn’t just the body wood.

That said, the standard of assembly was good on these ’94 Cort Squiers. Even comparing the appearance of the Cort guitar in this ad with that of the Samick Strat in the 1991 ad, you can see that things line up and fit together more professionally on the Cort.

So not a particularly unusual guitar per se. This was the run-of-the-mill Korean Squier Stratocaster of the day. But I don't remember it being so closely associated with Hank Marvin, and finding this advert was an unexpected and enlightening experience.

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