I don't intend to go into great detail about the history. It is well known that the name came from a string company owned by Fender named after the founder hence the unusual spelling.
The name was first used on guitars made by the Fender Joint venture with Kanda Shokai Corporation and Yamano Music.
It first appeared on Guitars with a large Fender Logo and a small "squier series" on the headstock. Soon guitars were produced with the now familiar large Squier logo.
This was intended to indicate made in Japan export models and not to indicate a cheaper or lower quality model.
These guitars were as part of the agreement almost all manufactured by Fujigen exclusively until around 1997. According to Tony Bacon some of the Squier models around 1985 were also made by Moridaira in Nagano. Interestingly Moridaira had connections with Young Chang in Korea. I have no idea how to tell which guitars were manufactured by Moridairi if anyone knows please let me know.
The first guitars were the much lauded JV series and The SQ serial numbers. These are covered in great detail on 21frets.com. To 21 Frets
Confusion arises because people quote phrases like "in the mid eighties Fender moved production from Japan to Korea" This is inaccurate Fender used other countries for manufacture but Fender Japan continued to manufacture guitars branded as Fender, Fender Squier Series or Squier. Although at lot fewer Squier branded guitars were made than Fender Branded Guitars. Fender also used Japanese manufacturing for export Squiers on a few occasions.
My intention is to provide details of Made in Japan Squier Strats and Teles made in Japan on the subsequent pages.
Model codes Fender uses a two part code to identify models the first two digits indicate country or countries of manufacture as follows:
25 is Japan
26 is Japan or China
27 is Japan or Korea
32 and 33 are Japan or several other countries.
If there is a 1 in front such as 125-5000 it appears to indicate a Floyd Rose type trem