The Awesome Right Honorable Squier by Fender Jazzmaster Vintage Modified Special Review!

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Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster Special Offset Body Goodness Electric Guitar Review
Over the years, I’ve enjoyed the basic quality and variety of the Fender Squier brand’s offerings. They’re generally well made, generally sound great for the cash, and are always coming up with something interesting.
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The Vintage Modified Squier series has a breathtakingly broad set of guitars and basses that are actually lots of fun to play and VERY affordable for beginners and pros alike. I love my Fender USA instruments more than I can say: and I really enjoy kicking back with my Asian-made Squier instruments, too.

The subject of this review, the Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster Special, is a superb instrument with surprisingly big sound and nice build qualities. I found it to be a real bargain; and it is truly well worth the money, and more.

Quick Opinion:
Honestly, when I unboxed my brand new Squier Jazzmaster Special, I was really very pleased with the feel, the sound, and the quality. For the price, you get a real bluesy and rockin’ guitar with Seymour Duncan-designed Jazzmaster single coils and a nice easy-to-play neck. I didn’t find much, if anything, that I didn’t like right from the beginning.
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It’s a blast to play, a scream to play the blues or rock through a big ol’ tube amp, and a joy on the shoulder. Overall, I like it!

Buy it! You’ll be glad you did!
There are customer reviews and more specs for the Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster offset body guitar with Rosewood fretboard available here at zZounds.

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Features:
The Fender Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster Special is an excellent blend of simplicity and features:
* Alder body
* Polyester smooth gloss finish
* Jazzmaster shaped body
* Polyester-finished C-shape maple neck and fretboard
* 25.5″ scale length
* 9.5″ fingerboard radius
* 21 medium-jumbo (I think) frets
* 1.65″ nut width
* Three-way pickup selector toggle switch:
** Neck
** Neck and Bridge
** Bridge
* Stacked concentric volume/tone knobs, one for each pickup
* Duncan Designed JM-101B Jazzmaster AlNiCo V bridge pickup
* Duncan Designed JM-101N Jazzmaster AlNiCo V neck pickup
* Top-loaded fixed non-trem bridge with saddle adjustments
* Vintage style tuning machines

This guitar (as of this writing) comes in two colors: butterscotch goodness like an old 50s or 40s Tele, and that tried-and-true brown sunburst – both with a maple neck/maple fretboard.

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Playability
The Fender Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster Special is an easy-to-play instrument. For beginners, it feels like a stop-tail Stratocaster in many ways, from the feel of the neck to the way the body smoothly cradles the picking arm and the ribcage. Its offset design is reminiscent of a Firebird and a Stratocaster combined – but with out the edginess feeling of a Firebird. Overall, the guitar is easy to play, and is a pleasure to hold.

I find my Jazzmaster to be fairly well balanced, with a tiny bit of weight bias to the body. Interestingly enough, this guitar is like a blender guitar:
Take one blender and add:
* The switch location and feel of a Les Paul
* The offset-ness of a Firebird sort of married to a Stratocaster
* The general neck feel and look of a Stratocaster
* A fixed bridge that feels something like nowhere else
* The tuners of a Vintage Strat or Tele
* The control knobs of an old Fender bass
* And the jack of a Stratocaster

Mix thoroughly, put in a dash of Jazzmaster pickups, and you’ve got this unique and very satisfying Jazzmaster Special.
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This particular Jazzmaster lacks the array of fiddly switches found on its more expensive cousins. Although the lack of these switches does limit the sound shaping of this Jazzmaster Special, it does make it simpler and easier for the beginner or everyday player. Besides, it is a “special” after all.
I am not only an affiliate of zZounds, I’m a major fan and customer. I really like their zZounds Guarantee “30 days to try out your dream guitar.”

Sound
Sound is a VERY strong suit for the Fender Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster Special. The Asian-made Duncan Designed pickups really do sound awesome. They aren’t quite par with Fender USA Jazzmasters or Seymour Duncan USA Jazzmasters, but they are darn good. At this price range (Less than $299 US, street), one wouldn’t expect pickups to be hugely wonderful – and yet they are.

I like the sound of my Jazzmaster. The simple front-to-back three-way toggle switch feels and sounds solid, the volume controls are smooth and do an OK job (as with most guitars in this price range, the volume drops off with a huge curve with very little turning of the knob – the pots are “you get what you pay for” in this price range). Tone knob wise, these guitars have that old vintage-y clickety concentric tone thing going on. You spin the tone ring (the black ring under the chrome dome volume knob) and it clicks audibly and forcefully as you turn the tone up and down.

If you were to close your eyes and hear this guitar played by a great guitar player through a great tube amp, you’d have a serious amount of trouble telling that this is a sub-$300US guitar. It sounds great for its price range – and even for above its price range.
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When compared to a US-made Jazzmaster, there is actually a real tone difference, to be sure. The US model sounds like heaven – and the Squier is standing in line at the pearly gates on its way there.
There is a whole range of Fender Squier Vintage Modified guitars and basses at zZounds.

Fit and Finish
Other than the crazy-to-remove plastic pickguard plastic covering, my Jazzmaster is absolutely superbly made – more so than many MUCH more expensive guitars made by so many other brands.
* The neck sits in the pocket quite nicely.
* The finish on the neck is great. I can easily like gloss or satin necks: and this gloss neck feels like old school stuff right off the bat.
* The pickups sound fantastic and are just fine like they are. Although some would still take them out and replace them, I’ve found them to have a great sound that kicks very consistently.
* The paint finish is very nice. The sunburst-ing is nicely done, the coloring is good, and the finish is nice and even.
* I think the soldering is reasonable for this price range instrument. The components are as expected for an Asian-made guitar, and attention to detail for soldering, placement, and wire lengths are just fine: again, far better than many guitars costing a great deal more. Fender understands this part really well and does a great job of it!
* I am a major fan of the Vintage style tuners used on many Fender and Squier necks. The tuners used on my Squier Jazzmaster are similar to, if not identical to, those on my Jimmie Vaughan Strat – they’re smooth and easy.
* The nut is nicely cut and the strings are in good shape.
* I think a little bit more time could have been spent on string height and intonation at the bridge: it wasn’t grossly set up, but it could have been just a little better – such that our beginner guitar friends would get much more playing enjoyment out of the box.

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Wishes and Wants
As odd as this might seem for me to complain or remark, it was nearly impossible to get all the pickguard protective plastic removed. The material under the bridge and between the bridge and the bridge pickup is still there in little noisy crinkly shards. When I play the guitar I can hear and feel the little bits of plastic all under where the bridge and bridge pickup are. It makes me cringe to hear crackling while I’m playing, so I’m likely going to remove the strings, pop off the bridge, and maybe even pop up the pickguard just to get rid of the rest of the stuff… I’m very appreciative of getting to be the first person to scratch up (what my British friends would call) the scratchplate… But gosh – this is a real pain.

I like the “coolness” of the clickety tone rings on my Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster Special, but it really gets irritating after a while. I’m not a purist, so I would not have missed the clickies at all if Fender had put in smooth-dialing concentric pots ;-).

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Squier (by Fender) Affinity Jazz (the “J”) Bass Review – getting started with an inexpensive bass that actually plays great

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Squier Affinity J (Jazz) Bass long-term review Originally posted March 2006… A few edits here and there, but mostly the original review for this repost

Every guitar player should try playing bass. It’s a blast, and can really teach you something about fret stretches, silencing adjacent strings, and serious hand-strengthening. In another note, every bass player has to have a place to start. Sometimes getting a low-cost bass doesn’t mean having to get a cheap bass!

Jazz Bass, J Bass… You say Fender, I say Phendre.

Quick Opinion: The Squier Affinity and Standard Jazz Bass guitars are actually somewhat comparable to Fender Mexican-made Standard Jazz Bass guitars. The basic features and appointments are almost identical. It stands to reason that the Chinese-made Squiers are slightly less-nice Alder wood, and the finish paint is thicker and harder on the Squiers. However, the impression of the Squier I bought (and have played for more than a year when this was originally posted) is that it is a solid buy, and an excellent bass. Yes, the Mexican-made Jazz basses have nicer necks to an experienced player – but remember that the point behind the Squier Affinity is low-cost and beginner’s playability. Over time, I found that the Affinity is a good starter bass – consistent in quality and sound. If the player finds that he/she wants to play bass more often and has more budget, the step up to the Mexican-made bass is a good place to go…

Free Shipping and more information about Squier by Fender Jazz basses – The Affinity 4-string Jazz is available again!! Look at zZounds.com for great prices and guarantees!

Playability: The neck is solid, and is nicely tapered. It is physically similar to Fenders costing much more… The maple neck and rosewood fretboard feel excellent and are easy to play. The bass is comparatively light and is fairly well balanced. The excellent Fender-designed double-cutaway body allows easy, full access to the entire fretboard. As a long-scale (34”) bass, the Squier Jazz Bass is extremely playable and is a joy to use.The bolt-on maple neck/rosewood fretboard comes surprisingly well finished. Only two or three of our guitar’s fret ends were a little sharp. The fret height is very consistent throughout the neck. Note that the Mexican-made Standard does have a smoother finish to the back of the neck – and that the Chinese Affinity Squier bass necks tend not to be arrow-straight (there are other manufacturer countries for different models these days – some with substantially better quality that rivals the Mexican-made basses)
For folks with small hands or less-than-average arm lengths, a full-scale bass like this might be a little tough to play (especially during quick, challenging passes). If you’re not comfortable with a long, 34” guitar, I recommend trying out the Squier Bronco, Squier Mustang bass, or, if your budget can accommodate, a Fender Mustang bass.

Features: The appointments and features of the Squier Jazz Bass are good for this guitar’s price. The pickguard is a well-made three-ply plastic guard (white-black-white on our Red Metallic bass). The pickups are two “vintage-style” pickups (bridge and mid). The guitar features two larger volume knobs and one smaller tone knob. The two volume knobs allow you to choose the tonal variety by selecting the volume for a specific pickup. The tone applies to the entire sound output (the Squier Jazz Bass guitars are passive, in that they have no equalization or boost electronics or batteries on board). As with pretty much every Jazz Bass guitar, the Affinity’s neck is bolt-on. In the case of the Squier Jazz Bass, the neck truss rods are adjustable via an allen wrench in the headstock (no need to unbolt the neck and unscrew the pickguard). The chrome tuners are the enclosed variety, and are fairly accurate – I do like the “open gear” variety used on the up-scale Jazz basses better, but these do hold pretty well to normal play styles. The Squier Jazz uses a round string tree in the headstock for the two highest strings.
The Squier Affinity Jazz Bass has top-loaded strings (means that the strings are not fed through the body, but are fed through the end of the chrome bridge).

Sound:The Squier Jazz Bass guitar has a consistent, vintage sound. The pickups are pretty noisy – a bit more so than standard Jazz single coils, and the output isn’t very strong. The quality of the sound that does come out is all Fender, though. With the right amplification and EQ-tweaking, you can get the Squier to growl, rumble, and thumb-slap-“splank” without too much trouble. If I was to make this guitar my full-time bass – I might take the time to upgrade the pickups to Fender SCNs, or some type of high-output noiseless.

Value: This is a $299 guitar in value (not ‘retail’, ‘street’). The sound, quality of make, and appointments are good. Many other low-end guitars have badly twisted/warped necks, poor sound, and extremely cheap parts – the Squier Jazz Bass is very much a cut above the average low-end bass (no pun intended!). You would have to buy a much more expensive Fender bass to get better sound.

Wishes: I really wish these were offered with maple fretboards (a matter of personal preference, yes, but still something that would be good to offer). The pickups really should have more output. I wish these had more consistent necks and more consistent fret-finishing. These should all come with open-gear tuners – I don’t think Fender will lose much (if any) money on using nicer tuners.

Squier Affinity (by Fender) Telecaster First year review – played and recorded!

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This was one of my earliest reviews… I had played my Affinity Tele for quite some time, and had even given it to my son for a while. We both loved the guitar… Here’s what I thought when I first reviewed my first Squier Tele (there have been several now…)

Some time back, I was in search for a low-action, fast-neck guitar that could both twang and growl. On top of the need for such a beast, I had a very small amount of cash with which to work. Since I was lucky enough to have a double-humbucking guitar at the time, I really just needed… a Telecaster™. Before I was seriously blessed by my brother’s gift of a Blonde American Deluxe Telecaster™ (thanks, Bro!!!), I needed the use of a Tele™ for more than a year.

Enter the Squier™ Affinity Telecaster!

I went to my usual guitar stores. I played 6 examples of Squier Affinity Telecasters. I tried several different individuals – all of which had been whacked around pretty good as floor models. I was blown away at how this particular variety of guitar felt and sounded. The key here is that the two largest concerns I have when purchasing guitars are: 1) The sound the guitar can make through average amplifiers (I’m on a budget – no $2500 Buddhas here); and 2) The way the guitar as a whole feels when I’m playing it.

I found one particular Squier Tele that I enjoyed a great deal, but it was not the color I wanted, and it had too many sales-floor-bang-ups. If I’m going to buy a bargain guitar, I really want the color I want and I don’t want one that has been whacked up by anyone but me or my son. I ended up settling on taking a chance with an online purchase. Free Shipping and lots of information about the Squier by Fender Affinity Telecaster here at zZounds.com…

Quick Opinion: I really like Fenders, but my budget was really tight this time around. That said, I was REALLY blown away by the quality, finish, playability and sound of this $169 Tele! If I closed my eyes and picked up the Fender and the Squier in succession, I would be hard pressed to tell the difference in MOST respects. The sound is proportionately as good good as in the basic Made in Mexico standard Fender (price to sound). The neck and the pickups of the Fender are better (realistically), but the playability of the Squier is fantastic, just the same!

Playability: The neck is a delightful satin-finish flat-ish “c”-ish shape hard maple two-piecer.
The frets are finished surprisingly well, with only a few end-burrs, and no inconsistency in fretwire height or finish. The frets could have been polished a little nicer – but you can do that yourself pretty easily with the right polishing paper/cloth. The scale is just right – medium. There are no buzzy frets on the example I purchased. The string height is very low, but only exhibits a little buzz – the buzz does not carry out into the sound through the pickups (only acoustically). I decided to leave the string height as-is – and replaced the factory strings (.09 Supers) with Stainless 3350s. After enjoying the sound of the stainless strings, I’ve since gone back to nickel strings because of the heightened fret wear present when using stainless strings (I found that the stainless strings were grooving and scarring the frets much faster than nickel strings… it’s a conscious choice: fret life over a particular sound). The neck is really quick and the strings play out like hot butter! The only drawback is that the neck is a little thin for me (others may find it to be great, but I like to get a grip on my guitar necks).
The weight and balance of the guitar as a whole is excellent. It’s not overly neck-light (as are some Squier instruments), and the feel of the instrument’s construction is solid. The instrument is not as light as an Ash Tele, but won’t cramp your style in hours of spankin’ the fretboard plank. The hardware was finished flawlessly, and the electronics are clean enough.

Sound: Despite the slightly buzzy (normal for $169 guitars) pickups, the output of the pickups is surprisingly strong. If you were to put some Tex Mex Custom shops or some GFS Alnico pups (I’m gonna get some fairly soon myself! They’re a bargain!) in this guitar, it would absolutely scream – for not a lot of bucks. I found that running this guitar through some interesting Line6 guitar models made this guitar really sound rockin’. Played through a Fender tube amp, the guitar sounds fantastic!

Value: This is a $249 guitar in value (not ‘retail’, ‘street’). The sound, quality of make, and appointments are top-notch for a bargain electric guitar, excellent. To get a better instrument, you’d have to spend $399. My particular Squier Tele was made in China, but you would have difficulty telling its origin from the excellent build quality. I have since seen the >Butterscotch Blonde version of this Tele – looks great! (Note from re-post: I ended up buying a couple of the butterscotch ones and really loved them!)

Features: This is an excellently-designed instrument. It has the bits needed for daily use and for recording alike. The finish on the body is even and consistent. The neck finish is without remark, and the tuners are remarkably good for this price range… Overall, Telecasters are simple and genius at the same time.

A Small Issue at Delivery: When I received my Squier Tele, the nut had been cut incorrectly at the factory. The slots were not spaced very well, and the overall height of the nut was much too low. The 1st and 2nd strings had a bind-buzz from pinching at the nut, and the strings were way too close to the first and second fretwires. I called the Guitar Center that day, and (as is very much usual), their customer assistance was excellent – they shipped out a GraphTec replacement nut (an upgrade – I don’t (at least at the time I wrote this review) have the tools to slot an OEM Fender nut) immediately at no charge. I replaced the nut on its arrival and have since become a big fan of GraphTec’s guitar nuts. The bending is easier and the intonation stays put longer when I’m using one of their nuts. The nut was a little bit wide for the Tele’s neck, but not enough to get sideways about it – I don’t have a problem with the fact that it is not flush left-to-right.

Wishes: I’m glad to have the GraphTec nut, but I wish I hadn’t had to deal with the problem. A tinted neck would really look nice! They could make this neck a slight V shape like the 50s player Telecaster and wouldn’t cost them a dime, but would sell a lot more Affinity Telecasters!