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Phil Collen used stock Squier guitars to record Def Leppard’s new album

Phil Collen – onstage with a Jackson
Phil Collen – onstage with a Jackson (Image credit: Kevin Mazur / Getty)

Def Leppard guitar great Phil Collen has been discussing the making of the band’s “career-best” album Diamond Star Halos and has revealed that he used a stable of Squier instruments during the sessions.

You might be forgiven for thinking Collen would consider a Squier below a man of his means – not least because he has a long-running relationship (and a signature guitar) with Jackson.

However, Collen recently told our friends on Guitar Player (opens in new tab) that during the sessions he was drawn to a Telecaster and Starcaster produced by Fender’s affordable brand – both of which found their way, appropriately, onto new track This Guitar.

“I did use some different stuff this time,” Collen told Guitar Player. “During lockdown I’d ordered a few different, cheaper guitars. Squier had done a reissue of the Starcaster, which I used for the intro to This Guitar.

“For the solo, I used a Squier Telecaster, which I played on a bunch of albums in years gone by. It’s a really cool guitar. It is just literally as I bought it. I didn’t change anything, and it sounds great.

“Then I bought two basses over lockdown – a Squier Precision and an Epiphone EB-3. I was just really curious to see what they’d sound like for when I’m recording demos. They both sounded really good, particularly the Squier, which is particularly interesting when you think how cheap they are to buy, and they were great straight out of the box.”

Collen gave the Squiers another tip of the cap in his recent Guitar World interview, but acknowledged that his signature Jackson played the main role in the sessions. News that will no doubt buoy the brand’s artist relations department.

“For me personally, it was a natural Jackson PC1,” said Collen. “I’ve had it since 2007, and it’s the one. I use it on a lot of the solos and things because it just sounds right. I do like my red Jackson PC Supreme – it’s got the fattest neck they’ve ever made. It sounds great, but for some reason I didn’t use it all over the album, and I should have. But I kept coming back to the PC1.”

Collen is not alone in his appreciation of the affordable Squier brand. Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford recently spoke of his love of the $200 Squier Bullet Stratocaster, which after with a couple of hardware mods was an arena-worthy electric guitar.

Rutherford had this gear epiphany when stuck in Cape Town during lockdown. He didn't have a guitar with him, so he bought a pair of Bullet Strats. One of them particularly took his fancy, and after his tech upgraded the machine heads it was ready to tour. 

“It cost £200 at the most, and I play it on stage on Mama and No Son of Mine,” said Rutherford. "I just love it. It's got a life to it. It's a little bit lighter than some and it's got a slightly smaller neck which helps my aging fingers.” 

For more on the making of Diamond Star Halos, read Guitar World’s full interview with Def Leppard guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell.

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Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk (opens in new tab), which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.