Wednesday, July 18, 2018

1985 Fender Squier Stratocaster ST-331 Guitar Review


Most of the 1980s JV and A-series made in Japan Fender guitars stayed fairly close to vintage specifications, though there were a few locking tremolos and nuts to be found. Squier instruments from the same time period had a few models that were more way out there, including the ST-331 Stratocaster that we are looking at today.

This Squier by Fender Stratocaster was built at the revered Fujigen factory on January 24, 1985, and it caries an A-prefix serial number. Deviations from the vintage norm include a sinister black appearance, complete with a matching headstock, a single humbucking pickup and a lone control knob. Metal!

The neck has a nice chunk of rosewood for the fretboard, and there are 21 frets and a plastic nut set into it. The frets show a little wear, but are in amazingly good shape for a 33-year-old guitar. As mentioned earlier, the headstock is painted black and there are 1970s style closed-back tuners installed. The back of the neck has a comfy oval profile to it and it feels just a little different than other Strats because this instrument has a shorter scale than normal: 24.75” instead of 25.5”.

The body has the traditional Stratocaster shape with a nice thick coat of poly finish. Hardware includes a classic tremolo with bent steel saddles, and a single-ply pickguard that looks dreadfully cheap. There is supposed to be a matching cover for the cavity on the back, but it has gone missing over the years. By the way, it is pretty light too, weighing in at under 7 pounds.

Last in the description is the electronics package, which is about as simple as it gets. There is a single Dragster humbucker pickup (7.61 Ohm) at the bridge, and a single volume control. And nothing else: no capacitors, circuit boards, or switches. So, it does just about exactly what you think it would, and that is provide a crunchy rock experience when driven hard. It is refreshing to play, as the tone is all about gain and whatever talent you have in your fingers.

This Strat is a good player and it sounds good, and I think it looks nice too. It has been played out so there are some dings and scratches, as well as some rust on the hardware, but it appears ready to go for another 33 years with a minimum of maintenance. I’m not sure where this fits in with collection, but I could definitely see unloading my LTD George Lynch Kamikaze and keeping this Squier instead. Hmmm.



  1. Hi, I recently bought this guitar at a thrift shop and did some minor restoration and a tune-up. Would you happen to know the value of this guitar in good condition? It's the same year and color and everything.

    1. Maybe a couple hundred bucks max. I have an ST-331 I inherited, the neck and body were so nice it's been completely redone and is a great player, body routed for 3 pups, TX specials, locking tuners, 920D controls, side jack. Wonderful playing guitar. What's it worth? Maybe $200. Enjoy it either way.

  2. $600-$900 in reverb april 2021, depends on the condirion. I just bought one for $75 lml and the guitar is beautiful, planning to do some upgrades let's see how it goes

  3. I have a 1985 ST-331 in Torino Red. It was my first guitar. I put a DiMarzio Super Distortion in it and put two switches that are currently not functional in it. It's a lovely guitar that has been through a lot with me.