Squier Stratocaster tribute, 1987 – 1996

My first electric guitar was a Squier Stratocaster which I traded up to with a friend of my Dad’s in around 1987. My Fender Catalina was part of the bargain (back then I could only afford to own one guitar at a time) but of course I was happy to now have an electric with which I could emulate those cool rockin’ sounds that I’d heard from ZZ Top, Zeppelin and so on.

Early on, I couldn’t afford an amp, but I was lent one by one of my best buddies at school – Dinosaur Warhead. He also played the guitar – he had some kind of Les Paul replica that had been lent to him by his cousin (seems we all survived on hand-me-downs back then) that was in some copycat cherry sunburst finish, but it looked totally bitching. He also had the first overdrive pedal that I ever saw; no idea what it was, but the sound that came out of it through this nasty little Winfield (not the current boutique Winfield I think) amp was the best thing that I’d ever heard. Warhead an I used to stay behind after school and thrash our guitars loud while composing offensive songs with juvenile lyrics involving the Virgin Mary, faecal matter and young children… probably best forgotten that bit, but they made us laugh anyway – back then that was part of our reason for being. He knows what I mean.

A couple of years later, I took a half-round file to the fingerboard of the Strat and scalloped it having heard Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Marching Out” and “Trilogy” albums which Warhead and I borrowed from another kid at school called Christian having heard about him from some old dude who played like a demon at Rockbottom in Croydon when we out scouting for cheap beginners gear one day. I remember making up my mind that I was going to do it, unbolting the neck and heading for my Dad’s garage and completing the job within 3 hours. Since I’d routed so much wood out, I’d also gouged out the dot inlays on the fretboard.  I improvised new ones by taking a hole punch and punching tiny circles out of a sheet of white plastic – they fit the shallow holes left behind perfectly. I used some dark Ronseal wood varnish to tidy it up. Yep – I wanted to be just like Yngwie and I was a total convert at that point; it marked the start of my Shred Years and when I really started to devote time to perfecting technique. This must have been around 1988.

That guitar followed me to University for three years in Norfolk where it became paired with a series of different amps – a red 15W Marshall practice combo, then a Marshall Mini Stack and finally a Marshall 50 watt solid-state combo – can’t remember what model. It was Marshall all the way – after all, that’s what Yngwie had! Spent a lot of time with it in my room, getting stoned and  practicing licks when I should have been in lectures hearing about chemical bonding, biochemistry and quantum theory.

After Uni, I eventually acquired an Epiphone Les Paul (cherry sunburst probably due to the lasting influence that Warhead’s first axe had had on me) which became my main guitar. At one point I became divided between London and Brighton (where I was doing postgraduate studies) and kept one guitar in each location. The Squier was eventually deserted in Brighton as a sacrificial offering when I split up with a girlfriend with whom I was residing in around 1996.

Here’s the only picture of me with it circa 1994. Note the Marshall combo in the background (eventually sold to Warhead), music stand with Bach Lute Suite in E minor which I was trying to learn, Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force Tab Book (tray on floor) and last but not least – bitchin’ rock and roll pony tail which is kinda obscured by being black hair against black T-shirt.

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Looking back, it wasn’t the best guitar in the world and it had really weedy noisy pickups. The tremolo system was quite unstable and the threads were shot on the saddles so I couldn’t adjust the action on at least two of the strings. Of course, back then I didn’t know any better, but I learned a lot of things on that guitar. Shadows numbers, my first arpeggios, sweep picking, tapping, diad riffing ala Billy Gibbons, Black Dog, I’ll See the Light Tonight, palm muting, thrashing, pinch harmonics, Slayer and Metallica numbers, basic maintenance etc. and I occasionally think of it fondly – hardly surprising since it’s probably the one single guitar that I spent the most time with in the duration of my life. Wonder where it is now. Hmm….

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4 Responses to “Squier Stratocaster tribute, 1987 – 1996”

  1. rocket french

    haha nice one mate i like this post!

  2. I couldn’t have said it any better myself

  3. Mark Golladay Says:

    I’ve been looking for the same pickups which came in my 1987 MIJ Strat. They are non-staggered height versions. Do you have them for sale?

  4. I do believe all the ideas you’ve offered to your post. They are very convincing and will definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are too short for novices. May you please lengthen them a little from subsequent time? Thank you for the post.

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