THE SQUIRE FILES
Over the years we have seen John play a variety of guitars. Some of them well known brands, others not so well known. But they all looked pretty cool and more importantly sounded great! I will give detailed information about the guitars used by John pre-second coming (or pre '95). I feel there has been plenty documentation on his equipment from then on. So I am only going to concentrate on the earlier stuff.
First off, let's look at the guitar we probably saw John with first. That's right...it's the one from the picture on the back of the first Album 'The Stone Roses'. It is a Gretsch 'Chet Atkins' Country Gentleman. Squire's particular model is a 1964 (more on this further down). The guitar itself is a walnut brown colour. This will be better seen from pictures of my guitar shown (right).
Pictures of the country gent are quite misleading, as it has a very large body and can be quite cumbersome at times. However, it is no surprise that this was John's primary weapon of choice for live stuff as its sound is second to none! The hollow body of this guitar coupled with 2 humbucking pickups means MAJOR output. Which can also mean lots of feedback if you're not careful! The woods used on these guitars are absolutely beautiful to look at. The many volume and tone controls make this a super versatile instrument for live stuff. These guitars aren't as hard to find as they used to be. There are just more people selling them on now. Also some of the models have been re-issued. You can expect to pick a vintage one up for about £2000+ (A good one that is!). Re-issues probably about £1500 although I don't think they've re-issued the 1964 model. Squire had a knack of picking great quality and sounding guitars. Unfortunately for us wannabes they are all vintage/top end market prices. In my opinion this is the guitar that shaped the definitive Squire sound. John would use this guitar live on the following tracks. 'I wanna be adored','Elephant Stone', 'Waterfall', 'Don't Stop', 'Sugar Spun Sister', 'Made of Stone', 'Mersey Paradise', 'Going Down', 'This is the One', 'Sally Cinnamon', 'Bye Bye Badman', etc.
Here is the pickup that is in the neck position of my gretsch. It is the same as Squire's. It is called a Supertron pickup. It was only Country Gents made in 1964 that had this pickup. It was the first model along with the Viking and 1 other to sport this pickup, but I believe they stopped making the pickup itself in 1980. Gretsch decided to try it out in the neck position of the Country Gents instead of the 2 Filtertrons that normally went in. This proved unpopular with customers so they changed back to the 2 Filtertrons after only 1 year of production. Squire would select this pickup via his selector switch to give a fuller thicker sound for his guitar solo's or sometimes for the whole song.
The other thing that determines the correct year of the Guitar is the plate on the headstock with the serial no. on it. Ones made in 1964 were numbered 63,000-77,000. There were also ones made from the end of 1964 through to the start of 1965 that were numbered from 77,000 - 84,000. These early 1965 guitars should also have the Supertron pickup. The picture (right) again is taken from my guitar. I don't know what the exact serial no. on Squire's guitar is but it will likely be in between the 63 and 77K. Later country gents had the serial no's on the back of the headstock.
This is probably the guitar that people know least about. It is called a Hofner T4S or T4ST. These are basically the same guitar but with a special octave divider feature on the ST model. Most people will recognise the name Hofner in association with Paul Mcartney's violin bass. Hofner were German made instruments. The 'T' series were part of the thinline collection. There were a few types made, again only for 1 year in 1979. Notice any theme's here? There are T2, T4 and also T6's which are all quite similar. Squire seemed to have an affinity for hollow body guitars. They do offer great tonal versatility and are all usually fitted with humbuckers. So you are going to get lots of oomph with one of these! This guitar received a few of Squire's trademark pollock designs. The first being an overall splatter covering the front and sides. Later he would incorporate a design taken from the 'I wanna be adored' sleeve. This design would remain, featuring in both videos for 'Adored' and 'Fools Gold'. (Right) is a picture of a T4S without the pollock paintjob. It was for sale in Music Ground in Leeds about a year ago. You can probably pick one up for about £800-£900. That's if you can find one! I'm not 100% sure what pickups Squire had in his one. He may just have removed the covers. Hopefully I will find out more on this at a later date.
If the Gretsch had become Squire's right hand man, then this next guitar was to become his left hand man. A pink 1962 Fender Stratocaster. This was the guitar that would give most of the jangle to the Stone Roses sound. The single coil pickups are suited to a more subtle brighter sound. Squire being a massive Hendrix fan would inevitably want to play some riffs on a strat. He also had a big thing for the beach boys (Another group containing exponents of the jangly strat sound). Songs on which Squire would opt for the strat would be; Standing here, She Bangs the drums, Where Angels Play, Shoot you down, I am the Resurrection, What the world is waiting for. Story has it that it was actually a guitar residing or hired in to a studio they were recording in (possibly rockfield). And after using it on some of the tracks on the album ('The Stone Roses') had taken a shine to it and wanted to buy it. Never one to be scared of bold statements, (a pink guitar was about as bold as you could ask for back then!) it was soon in his possession. Although I imagine it was the sound of the guitar that captured his heart. If Squire's choice of guitars were his way of doffing his hat to his heroes. Then the Gretsch would be George Harrison, the strat would be Hendrix/Beach Boys/Eric Clapton etc, possibly the pink fender strat could also be tied to Hank Marvin. (Although his trademark was a red strat, he did also sport a pink one occasionally. It's either that or Gary Moore!!)
Now, brace yourself...... If you wanted to get your hands on one of these babies, you'd be looking at £2500 at least. The only good thing about paying this sort of money for a 62 strat is that it would actually be a lot more if it was a nuetral colour. Squire's equipment always seemed to be in good shape and this guitar was no exception. It doesn't seem to have any chips or dents on the front (which isn't bad for a 30-40 year old guitar!). As always Squire manages to pick the guitars that are a little bit different from the masses. Finding a pink original 1962 fender strat these days wouldn't be impossible, but it wouldn't be a walk in the park either. Alternatively, Fender have re-issued the 62 strat in pink!! They re-issued them about 4 years ago from the Japanese factories, and then again quite recently from the USA. If you are considering buying a re-issue !!Remember!! a re-issue strat won't sound or feel the same as a genuine vintage one. Vintage guitars were mainly hand crafted. Rich quality brazilian rosewoods were used for the necks. Every pickup was different as the bobbin machine that winds the wire did it in a random manner back then. Where as nowadays, due to the mass production of instruments, pickups are wound all the same way. Woods sound better with age, as do the pickups. Guitars tend to sound their best after 30 or 40 years. They peak around this time and then deteriorate until the pickups die etc.
Here we have possibly the coolest guitar ever made (in my opinion!). This one was first viewed in the video for 'One Love'. He had 2 of them made. One of them in white (shown right), and one in sunburst. I've spoken in depth with the guy who made these custom jag's for Squire. He gave me a full explanation about the making of them. Originally the guitar was made pretty much as a jaguar except the custom shape body and pickguard. It had single coil jaguar pickups, and all the electronics were the same. But Squire wanted a more meaty sound so the obvious choice was humbuckers. He must have played a flying v round about that time and liked the sound. Subsequently wanting to transfer the sound into his new guitar/s. Once the flying v pickups were installed this lay ground for lots of different switching combinations. The humbuckers were wired so you could split the coils for single coil sounds as well as humbucking. Out of phase modes could also be achieved. To enable this, 3 mini toggle switches were fitted beneath the 2 roller wheel controls on the rhythm plate. This is about as versatile as it gets! The other thing about this guitar is that Squire opted for a fender strat tremolo system instead of the already fitted jaguar one. In effect the jaguar trem became redundant. Although the semi-circle shaped tremolo plate strongly associated with the jaguar stayed intact on the body giving a very cool cosmetic element to the guitar. From a more personal analysis Squire seemed to be on a techno/modern trip. He'd started to shape his sound differently involving more digital/midi stuff for guitar. Possibly to make things more compatable with recording and samples which was the direction he was heading in at that time. It also seemed like there was a possible pull between two forces. A reluctance to go down the predictable les paul route that would pigeon-hole him in the same box as other 'rock guitarists'. Although anyone who has played both a strat and a les paul will know that the gibson has lots more beef. And it's hard not to like that as a guitarist. However the silky smooth countours of the strat/jaguar body and effortless playability of the neck is fantastic. So I think he tried for the best of both worlds.
These are the type of pickups Squire put into his custom jaguar guitar. (Left) is a picture of a pair I managed to buy recently. By a mystical stroke of luck a vintage parts dealer in the states knew someone who was selling his pair which he had in his les paul. Having tried to find a pair in this country for ages, I jumped at the chance to get them. After lengthy deliberation and an agreement to carry out the job by Stuart (the guy who made Squire's guitars), I decided that I wanted one of these guitars for myself. (I will also add pictures of my guitar once it is made) These pickups being the hardest parts to get, I decided to source these first. They are the only gibson humbuckers to have a printed circuit board on the bottom. The pickups were taken from flying v guitars made in 1989 and 1990. If you remember that this was at the time of one love being recorded, so the pickups would have been easy to get hold of. Again, because they were only in production for a short time they are now mega, mega, extremely difficult to find as a pair not in a guitar already. Even more so a pair of them, as some of the 89/90 flying v's just had the one humbucker in them.
Extra notes: The sunburst version of the same guitar was up for sale in '94/95 I think from Music Ground. I actually bid for the guitar, but in the end I believe it went for £2500 to a guy in York. His Dad apparently bought it for his 18th Birthday!! I had the privilege of meeting John Squire in Aberdeen once and asked him about the white guitar. He said that he thinks it went to someone in Japan.
************ FENDER JAGUAR CUSTOM No.003 ************
As promised, here are some pics of the guitar I had made up. It was made by an amazing guitar luthier Stuart Palmer who made both of Squire's custom jags. I can't tell you how good this guy makes guitars. Everything on my guitar is basically made to the same specifications as John Squire's. Apparently there have been 5 of these made ever!! John obviously had the first 2. The guitarist from The Uncertain Feelings apparently has another, although the spec is different including the pickups and some of the hardware omitted. There is one more, but I forget who Stuart said it went to. Anyway, mine is the only other one that is virtually identical. So I checked with Stuart and we thought it would be ok to number it 003. Stuart has also authenticated it by signing the trem cavity. (shown in pics below)
So what on earth is going on with this monster of a guitar?
Well...... It is essentially a bass guitar body with the rest of the bits from a jaguar. I will see if Stuart remembers where the idea came from. John's were initially built like a jaguar with single coil pickups and the jag trem in operation. However, after playing with it he decided he wanted humbuckers in it and a different trem system. So pickups were used from 89/90 flying v guitars (as shown above), and a strat trem fitted instead of the jag bridge. The trem plate from the jag was to remain keeping true to the jaguar hardware. (see pic below left)
I assume John had some vintage jaguars he had acquired and decided to bastardise them for these fender/gibson hybrids. Both the necks on his custom jags were vintage 1964 or earlier. This can be checked from the type of fender logo present on the headstock. The neck on my guitar is from 1964. I tried to get a 62 neck but they get snapped up like gold dust, so I settled for a 64. It's not easy finding a good condition vintage neck for a reasonable price, but I got very lucky with this one. It is nice and straight and plays like a dream. It needed some work on the frets as they were a bit worn. But now it is superb. There is some nice wear on the back of the fingerboard, and you can see where all the playing has been done on this neck over the years.
From this pic left you can see the type of logo used in 1964 on Fender Jaguars. There has been some wear on the 'Jaguar' part of the logo but I kind of like it like that. You can tell it's had a bit of use over the years!!
The tuning pegs are brand new kluson deluxe ones. These are the type that you would expect to find on the old jaguars and strats from the 60's. If you're buying a vintage neck on it's own, it very rarely comes with the original tuners as well. Reason being is that whoever is selling it will be able to fetch a higher price selling the neck and the tuners seperately than both together.
As you can see from the pic left, the trem cavity cover is removed. Aparently this is how Squire liked his fenders. His Pink Strat also had the cover removed. The pic on the right shows where Stuart has signed the guitar. He has also signed the date in there aswell, but it is behind the middle spring.
This view of the neck shows where the wear has taken place over the past 40 years. There has been a lot of play down the first couple of frets up to about the 10th fret. But from there up to the high frets is virtually untouched!! There are some nice grooves in the wood where wear has taken place (on front side of neck), probably from loads of open chord playing. It's almost like a mould to place your fingers in for various chords, they just seem to slot into place quite nicely!! The neck is brazilian rosewood which isn't used today due to...well lots of reasons. But cost and the environment are the main reasons. Which is a pity because in my opinion the quality of the wood definitely does good things for the sound of your guitar.
As you can see from the main picture above of the guitar. There are absolutely loads of switches and controls. I'll start with the top panel (pic left). The 2 rotary wheels don't actually do anything!! They are purely cosmetic. Normally they would act as seperate volume and tone controls for the neck pick up only. The top switch is also redundant. This would normally act as a selector for the neck or the bridge pick ups. So what does do something? Well the 3 mini toggle switches are not normally on this top plate, but ironically they are the only controls that actually do anything on this part of the guitar. I've still to get the full sp from Stuart on these. But from what I can remember, this is what they do. The far right switch activates an out of phase mode on/off for either pick up. The middle switch activates a coil tap (splits the pick up for humbucking or single coil sound) on the neck pick up. And the far left switch activates a coil tap (splits the pick up for humbucking or single coil sound) for the bridge pick up.
On the picture featured right, we have 3 switches resident within the hexagonal chrome plate. These are all functional this time. Again I will need to confirm with Stuart what they each do. But I think it goes something like this. The far right switch is on/off for the neck pickup. The middle switch is on/off for the bridge pickup. And the far left switch activates a sort of treble booster, much the same as a TBX tone control on a fender strat.
The only other 2 controls that I've not mentioned are the volume and tone knobs (on the other chrome plate) which are active on all pickup combinations. So that pretty much covers what all the electronics do on this guitar. I've only really started to experiment with this guitar, so I've not even scratched the surface of the versatility of all these controls. One thing I've not mentioned about these guitars is that they are possibly the heaviest thing known to man!!!!! John unfortunately (IMHO) sold both his custom jags. Not sure of the reason, but I imagine the weight might have had something to do with it. I've yet to see how my shoulder holds up to an hour plus of playing this guitar standing up! I hope you've enjoyed reading this insight to this brilliantly crafted guitar. Maybe Fender will make them like this one day. Although they'd have to change the GIBSON pickups for starters.