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Next came the existing Standard Series, and at the top of the line were the new Pro Tone models, fine instruments with special touches (aged plastic parts, shell pickguards, painted headcaps, etc.) that appealed to the growing number of Squier players who preferred to upgrade their instruments with after-market parts.
Higher-end options such as transparent finishes on ash bodies and gold hardware began to drive Squier prices up and elevate the brand perhaps a bit too close to Fender and Fender Japan during this brief era.
Non-traditional Squier Vista Series instruments were also introduced in this period.
The Squier Showmaster Series, much like the HM Series of the 1980s, featured non-pickguard guitars with locking tremolos, multiple humbucking pickup configurations, black hardware and reverse headstock designs.
More successful that year was the follow-up to the best-selling guitar of the previous two years, which was Fender's Mexico-built Tom De Longe Stratocaster model.
Squier introduced its version of Blink 182 frontman Delonge's signature guitar, which featured a more familiar Fender approach with its '70s style Stratocaster design, plus a single Duncan Designed™ Detonator humbucking pickup and single volume knob.
The promise of a new, revitalized Fender dawned in the early 1980s as the dismal CBS era wound down, and concerned Fender officials noted the abundance of Japanese guitar makers who were blatantly copying—in some cases cloning—original vintage Fender designs with great accuracy and low costs, albeit with some occasionally bizarre details.
In one particularly galling instance, for example, one manufacturer used headstock logos closely resembling those of original pre-CBS Fender guitars, but using the words "Tokai" (with a large backward uncrossed "F"), "Springy Sound" instead of "Stratocaster," "Breezy Sound" instead of "Telecaster," "Oldies but Goldies" instead of "Original Contour Body" and —the last straw— "This is the exact replica of the good old Strat" instead of "Fender Musical Instruments" in small print below the main logo. Fender acted by setting up its own official Japanese manufacturing operation, Fender Japan, in March 1982. S.-Japanese venture, Fender Japan produced guitars with material and technical support from Fender's U. facilities; Japanese manufacturing facilities even included factories that had been producing the aforementioned Fender copies.
By May, Fender Japan had six vintage instruments— '57 and '62 Stratocaster models, a '52 Telecaster, '57 and '62 Precision Bass® models and a 62 Jazz Bass®.