History of the Fender Japan Stratocaster

Updated July 19, 2017

Since the early 1980s, when Fender first licensed the JV ("Japanese Vintage") line, Japanese Stratocasters built by Fender Japan, Squier and the Japanese arm of Fender's Custom Shop have been highly sought-after guitars for their craftsmanship and attention to detail.


Fender established Fender Japan in March 1982 in response to a large glut of fake Fender guitars in Japan. When Fender temporarily ceased production in 1984, the company relied heavily on Japanese production of the expertly crafted JV line.


Japanese Fender Stratocasters range from Standard models to several reissues ('50s, '62, '68 and '72), as well as HM, Hot Rod, Contemporary and Contemporary Standard 22 models. Signature models include the John Jorgenson Limited Edition Hellecaster, the Ritchie Blackmore, the Hank Marvin and The Ventures.


As the original JV line increased in popularity in Japan–and as Fender copies began flooding the market–Fender established the Squier name, avoiding confusion with its American-made Fender Stratocasters. Squier JV instruments were produced until late 1984.

Serial Numbers

Serial numbers for Japanese Fender Stratocasters are arranged in "JV" series, "SQ" series and "E" series before becoming alphabetical. The "Crafted in Japan" line began a new series that ran from 1997 to 2005.

"Made" vs. "Crafted"

Fender's first "Crafted In Japan" instruments were made around 1992, but most Japanese Fenders until 1996 or 1997 were "Made In Japan." By this time, the company began using "Crafted In Japan" on most of its Stratocasters, including its Squier guitars. As recently as 2007, though, some Fender Japan models used "Made in Japan" instead of "Crafted in Japan."

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About the Author

Everett Bradman has been an editor since 1994 and a professional writer since 2000. He has worked for "The Miami Herald," the "San Francisco Bay Guardian," "Rolling Stone," "Vibe," "Bass Player," "Computer Shopper" and NYC & Company. He holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Florida A&M University.