Regarding a "Standard of Excellence" . . .
Why did you buy a Fender? Some folks might walk into a shop and play all the guitars and just like the Fenders more, but most shoppers have at least heard the name and know of the reputation. We see our favorite rock heros playing them. We are aware of the Fender mystique.
But consider this (all numbers completely made up, but probably good estimates):
Total population: 100%
People who like music: 95%
People who go out and see live music: 60%
People who play a musical instrument: 30%
People who SERIOUSLY play a musical instrument: 10%
People who PROFESSIONALLY play a musical instrument: 1% (at most)
Now, of that ONE PERCENT, consider this:
People who play guitar: 50%
People who play electric guitar: 25%
People who play Fender style electrics: 15%
People who play Fender style electrics and know/care enough to customize the instrument: 5%
So companies like Fender, Glendale, All Parts, Seymour Duncan, and on and on, are all compete for the 0.05 percent of the total population that appreciates a customized instrument.
Where am I going with all of this? Well, Charmin toilet paper competes for 100% of the population. We are all daily consumers of their product. When was the last time you bought custom shop toilet paper?
It makes strong business sense for FMIC to make the Squier line phenomenal. The Custom Shop guitars SUPPORT THE MYSTIQUE THAT SELLS THE SQUIRE GUITARS. For every lawyer/doctor/rockstar that comes in and buys a Custom Shop, TEN weekend warriors buy a guitar they can afford and can use to make money. And for every one of those professionals, TEN MORE kids come in with their parents and buy a Squier to learn on.
So, from a business standpoint, the "standard of excellence" had better be with the lower cost instruments, because that's where the competition is. When you start paying automobile-type sums for a musical instrument, it's a given that the quality will be top notch, from any manufacturer. It's down there in the $100-$400 range that the heat is on and the money is made.
I said, "I don't think so, Scooter!" And I was wrong.