33. Squier Vista Series Super-Sonic
THIS distinctly odd bird came into our household as a consequence of two singular obsessions, both of which I’ve touched upon before.
On the one hand, there was Owen’s desire for a Lake Placid Blue Strat. On the other was my growing fascination with Strats with left-handed headstocks (See No 24). I can’t honestly remember where this funny little guitar came from, though I do know where it went – more of which later.
In the 90s, Fender Japan made some very fine guitars, some under the Fender brand name – and others with Squier on the headstock. Squier, of course, had generally been a budget range, but in this case, the build quality of these Vista Series Squiers, made between 1996 and 1998, was easily on a par with the Fenders that were most likely coming off the same machines at the same factory anyway.
The Vista series seemed to be aimed at the alternative/indie rock crowd – I seem to remember Courtney Love having some kind of signature model – and they were certainly quirky enough. The Super-Sonic definitely fitted that weird and whacky offset vibe, with its squat, upside-down body and large, 70s-style reverse headstock – slightly oddly, fitted with a 70s-style bullet truss rod adjuster, but still boasting a four-bolt fixing at the heel.
I’d had half an idea I might take off the neck and put it on a Strat, until I discovered the Super-Sonic had a 24″ scale length – same as the Jaguars and Mustangs beloved of many of the indie crowd – and a full inch and a half shorter than the Strat. So much for that idea… It would never have quite played in tune.
Still, was a beautifully-made instrument. It played well and the blue sparkle (almost Lake Placid Blue, but not quite!) was rather fetching. It had a Strat-style bridge and tremolo system and a very non-standard neckplate (with the strap button attached at the heel via one of the neck screws in a most non-Fender way). The noise came from a fairly indifferent pair of humbuckers – the bridge one slanted the opposite way to a Strat pickup. Oh, and no tone control, just a volume control for each pickup, a la Gibson. Weird, and indeed, whacky.
I can’t remember exactly what I paid for it, but it must have been cheap enough to take a chance on. I played it out a few times, as did Owen, but neither of us ever really took to it. Fortunately, my pal Dave Werewolf did, so I sold it to him. He tells me he still has it among the vast heap of guitars in his magic lockup.