Squier is known in the world of music as a budget brand. Thus, you don’t typically see many professionals use them on stage or in the studio. However, there are a few musicians who actually prefer Squier guitars over their more expensive counterparts.
Jeff Healey, Joe Trohman, and Mike Rutherford were well-known for using Squier guitars. Healey, in particular, was vocal in his appreciation for Squier, alleging many Squiers were better than high-end Fenders. Other notable musicians using Squiers are Jack Pearson and John Mayall.
In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss some of the most notable guitarists to use Squier guitars professionally. These guitarists proved that you don’t necessarily have to buy expensive guitars to produce incredible music!
List Of Famous Artists Who Play Squier Guitars
- Jeff Healey
- Mike Rutherford
- Joe Trohman
- Jack Pearson
- John Mayall
Squier Guitars: Some Background Information
Squier was originally established in 1890 as V.C Squier Company. They specialized in making strings for banjos, violins, and guitars. However, in 1965, guitar giant Fender acquired the company, turning it into a manufacturing unit for the budget versions of classic Fender models.
Today, you can get classic Fender models like the Strat, Jag, or Jazz at a cheaper rate from Squier. While the budget versions are naturally not as high-quality as the original Fenders, they’re good enough for beginner guitarists. And, as we’ll see in this article, even professionals appreciate their quality!
One of the biggest grouses that professional guitarists have with Squiers is the parts used in the manufacturing process. Most Squier models are made in China and Indonesia today, although the first few were made in Japan.
Squier also uses cheaper parts. For example, the Fender Stratocaster uses alder in its body. However, the Squier Stratocaster uses basswood instead.
However, despite the difference in quality, many people claim that Squier models are great for beginner guitarists, and some can even be used on stage.
If you’re a beginner player looking for online guitar lessons, check out my article on the Best Guitar Lesson YouTube Channels.
1. Jeff Healey
Norman Jeffrey Healey was a jazz, rock, and blues musician who rose to fame in the 1980s and 1990s. His biggest hits include “Angel Eyes” and “I Think I Love You Too Much.”
His musical inclination began when he was young. At the tender age of three, he was already playing guitars. At age nine, he showcased his talent on the Canadian children’s program Cucumber.
He then went on to form a band called Blue Direction in his teens, which included his childhood friend Rob Quail on guitar, bassist Jeremy Littler, and drummer Graydon Chapman.
His real rise to fame began with the formation of the Jeff Healey Band, consisting of himself, the drummer Tom Stephen, and the bassist Joe Rockman.
Their first album became an immediate hit, with “Angel Eyes” reaching the top 5 of the US Billboard charts and its accompanying song Hideaway getting nominated for a Grammy award.
Healey became known throughout the music world as someone with a unique guitar style. While many musicians developed their signature styles — like Slash positioning his guitar by his knees or Jimmy Page favoring double-neck guitars — few seemed as eccentric as Healey’s style of playing.
Healey became known for playing his guitar while it lay flat on his lap, positioning it almost like a piano. Unlike many other guitarists, who developed emotional attachments to their instruments, Healey famously refused to treat them as anything more than tools.
In an interview with Vintage Guitar Magazine in 2002, Healey talked about how he’d never been “a gear man.”
“Give me something with six strings, keep it in tune, and make sure it’s working!”
At his peak with the Jeff Healey Band, he used a black Squier Strat with red single-coil pickups made by Rod Evans in Victoria, British Columbia.
Healey continued outfitting his guitars with Evans pickups, claiming his single-coil pickups were “the perfect combination of the standard single-coils and humbuckers.”
His signature black Squier Strat went through hell and back with him, often getting stomped or thrown around on stage. His childhood friend, and fellow Blue Direction band member, Rob Quail recalled the guitar getting scrapped after it was broken so many times it became unusable.
Here’s a clip of him playing his signature black Squier Strat during a performance of See the Light.
After losing his signature guitar, Fender approached him to remake his guitar in a custom Jeff Healey line. The new guitars resembled his Squier Strat but featured Fender’s Lace Sensor pickups, which were the best of the best at the time.
However, Healey wasn’t a huge fan of the remakes, so he gifted the guitars to a friend.
Apart from his Squiers, Healey occasionally used a Les Paul and a Gibson L-12, which he used primarily for jazz.
2. Joe Trohman
Joe Trohman is a guitarist and singer most known for his work with the American rock band Fall Out Boy, which he co-founded. The band rose to fame in the mid-2000s and went on to release multiple chart-topping hits.
His musical career began in his teens when he joined the punk rock band Voices Still Heard. He then joined a local band called Arma Angelus, where he met Pete Wentz.
Trohman and Wentz quickly found common ground in their musical interests. Both wanted to create more melodic music, similar to popular bands like Green Day. They went on to start a band as a side project and eventually recruited Patrick Stump at a bookstore for their band.
Together, the three formed Fall Out Boy.
Fall Out Boy (also known as That Group With Song Titles That Are So Long They’ve Become A Meme) became increasingly famous with each release. They scored four number-one albums on the Billboard Hot 200 and released some of the most defining rock numbers of the 2000s.
Their first hit came with their 2005 album From Under the Cork Tree. The two singles off that album, Sugar; We’re Going Down and Dance Dance, hit number 8 and 9, respectively, on the Billboard Hot 100.
Their next album, released in 2007, featured my favorite Fall Out Boys song, Thnks fr th Mmrs (yes, that spelling is intentional). This album also became a commercial success, with Thnks fr th Mmrs selling over 2 million copies.
The band went on an indefinite hiatus in late 2009. After a three-year hiatus, they returned with an album in 2013, continuing their chart-topping success. This was also around when the meme-ification of their long song titles began.
Throughout his career, even during the Fall Out Boy hiatus, Trohman stuck to using Squier guitars.
Trohman is one of the most vocal musicians in his appreciation for Squiers. He regularly plays a Squier Telecaster on stage. He even has his own custom line, the Squier Joe Trohman Telecaster.
You can watch him discussing it below.
The signature line features many classic Telecaster parts, including a maple neck and rosewood fretboard. It also includes a C-shaped neck with a vintage 1968-style headstock.
However, it also includes some less conventional additions made to replicate Trohman’s signature configuration.
The biggest difference between the standard Telecasters and the Joe Trohman signature ones is the pickups. The standard version features two single-coil pickups, while Trohman’s signature version uses three pickups.
The craziest thing about this configuration is that it doesn’t even use three single-coil pickups. It actually uses a humbucker-single-humbucker configuration. It also has a rotary selector switch, which allows you to choose between five pickup combinations.
3. Mike Rutherford
Mike Rutherford is an English guitarist, singer, and songwriter, most famous for his work with the legendary rock band Genesis.
He co-founded the band with keyboardist Tony Banks and initially played bass and did the backing vocals. However, following the lead guitarist Steve Hackett’s departure in 1978, Rutherford took over as lead guitarist.
For most of his career, he used guitars suitable for the lead and bass parts. Some of these were double-neck guitars that featured a 6-string electric guitar and a 4-string bass in a custom body.
However, during most tours in the 1970s and after, he used custom-built guitars with a 12-string electric and 6-string bass. The most famous of these, his custom Rickenbacker, is now displayed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Unlike many others on this list, Rutherford didn’t use Squier guitars during the peak of his career. His love for Squiers is a more recent phenomenon.
During the Covid lockdown, Rutherford was stuck in Cape Town. He bought two Squier Bullet Stratocasters there, which he used throughout the 2022 Last Domino tour.
4. John Mayall
In 1956, John Mayall formed a band that would later become known as John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. This band fronted some of the most important figures in the guitar world, including Eric Clapton.
While Mayall has used multiple guitars over his long career, he has occasionally used a Squier Stratocaster. His use of the Squier was particularly unusual at the time when guitar snobbery (for lack of a better term) was at its height.
5. Jack Pearson
Jack Pearson made a name for himself because of his ability to seemingly master any instrument he laid his eyes on. The Nashville-born musician gained fame through a brief stint in which he served as the lead guitarist for the Allman Brothers.
Pearson is well-known for being an all-in-one band by himself. He can play the mandolin, electric guitar, slide guitar, acoustic guitar, banjo, ukulele, and the Hammond organ. He’s also a singer, songwriter, producer, and composer.
His most well-known skill is his ability to crank out blues tunes, rock riffs, and jazzy jingles — all on a standard Squier Bullet Stratocaster.