Vintage Modified Jazzmaster
Igamikun, on september 12, 2011 4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Price paid: $ 300
Purchased from: Zzounds
Features: So about a month ago I picked up one of these Vintage Modified Jazzmaster's from Zzounds (because a payment plan seemed appealing).
I would like to say this is an astoundingly sweet guitar for the price, and I only went in on it because I looked around and saw everyone saying the same thing.
I'll go over all the things that make this baby actually one of my favorite guitars I've owned. I've been playing for over 5 years and have had my share of Fenders, Squiers, Epiphones, and many others. I'm a big fan of Fender though as I found the tone I love in their guitars.
This guitar was made in 2011, as it's a brand new line that came out in January. It has the Fender standard of 21 frets, and is also a standard scale neck. I've read that the Jaguars in this line have a shorter scale.
The neck is maple with a fretboard to match. The body is made of alder which I think has a great tone, and an easy to handle weight. It has a belly cutout for people like me who sit and play at home alot. I got it in the Butterscotch Blonde finish which I love. The setup on this is not the same as the original jazzmaster's hence the name so I'll go into the differences.
First of all Jazzmaster's are mainly known to have rosewood fretboards because they have a more subtle and less punchy tone. So this guitar may not be the best for Jazz per se but it kicks butt on classic rock and blues.
Pickups are Duncan Designed flat wound single coils (not p90s), and they surprisingly don't actually get too much hum, which I've heard is a problem with this style. I have a Fender Lite Ash Telecaster with Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro pickups in it, and the tone is very similar. I actually like the gain I get from the Jazzmaster more, it screams!
This guitar has a three way switch for your basic selection on the pickups. We all know how it goes. Neck, Neck/Bridge, Bridge. Pretty simple stuff here.
The input jack on this guitar is in the same style as a Stratocaster. I know the Jazzmaster purists hate this, but I think it's a great design choice.
The bridge is an interesting stop tail system that is held on by 3 screws (another purist dislike for lack of tremolo). It's different, but it's not to say I dislike it. It works great and doesn't stop sustain or anything. In fact the sustain is great! It's curved to the C shape of the neck, so intonation is easy.
Tuners are classic styled, with the boxed backs and open tops. Not my favorite tuners but it could be worse and it looks nice. They works pretty sharply, and stay in tune pretty well. Only had it fall twice in the past month.
The knobs are concentrically stacked, which means there is two areas for the knobs that have a stubby tone knob, with the volume one stacked on top of it. I think it's a neat concept, but I must admit when I first got it, I hated the execution on this. There was a little metal piece placed under the tone (lower) knob on each stack that has a nub that basically clicks as you turn it. I personally don't need clicks to know if my tone is where I like it so I took it apart and pulled those off. Also the knobs were rubbing against eachother so I separated them a bit from each other when removing this part. They are held on with an allen wrench tightened system. All in all it works to my liking now! // 9
Sound: Love the sound on this thing. As mentioned above the pickups scream when pushed and hell they even work great with heavy distortion. I can pump out heavy metallica riffs, or pull it back to some punchy blues. This guitar is really versatile and that's what I love about it.
It's really punchy because of the maple fretboard, and just has a that great bright and warm single pickup tone with surprisingly less hum than I would have imagined. It seriously has less hum than my Tele.
I play through a Fender Blues Deluxe at the moment, but I plan on getting a something more in the lines of a Blues Junior so I can get the tubes to scream more without the loudness of my current amp. // 9
Action, Fit & Finish: The action was set up a little high for my tastes at first, but literally in minutes I was in business. The bridge though it is strange is great for intonation. It makes everything more simple which would probably be great for beginners, and just smooths things out a little for me.
I did lower the pickups a bit as they were a bit too close when I adjusted the bridge. Sure it would have been fine with the factory setup, but I love my low action. // 9
Reliability & Durability: I honestly do believe this could be a great guitar for playing live. I'm currently my own one man setup as I live in a small town that doesn't have a lot of musicians. I've played pretty rough on it while having it, and it stays in tune through everything.
If I start playing live I'll probably get new strap buttons as I've never been a fan of standard ones and like locking ones. They seem great to me, but I don't use them as I generally sit when I play at home.
I would say no matter what, it's always a good idea to have multiple guitars when playing live. Even with this guitar being extremely versatile, it won't mystically sound like humbuckers, and if a string busts and your left all alone with one guitar, you're pretty much screwed. Unless you're Bryan May from Queen of course. Youtube it. // 9
Overall Impression: I play music in the vein of classic rock, or blues. I do make my own music and don't just cover other's stuff so for me and what I play, this guitar is a perfect match. It sounds awesome, and once again for the price brand new you can't beat it. It easily beats out any mim Fender I've gone through.
Besides what's listed above I have my own homebuilt Strat, with Dragonfire Pickups in it and they rock, also a dinky Squier Strat I upgraded some electronics on. I have a slew of Pedals but my number one is the Visual Sound Jekyll and Hyde v1. It hits all kinds of awesome tones, and to have Distortion and Overdrive in one pedal is freakin awesome.
If this guitar were stolen, I'd probably have a conniption fit, smash some of my other stuff, and be out of equipment for awhile since I'm poor. Just being honest! (also why I love the afforability on this thing!) // 9
Unique Features: Duncan Designed pickups, vintage-style bridge and floating vibrato (non-locking), gold-and-black Squier logo, engraved neck plate, parchment dot position inlays
For me the make or break feature if you don't want to mess with things on a guitar is the bridge. The bridge has a reputation a mile wide for being impossible to work with, and I completely ignored it. I figured I'd already done enough intonation work, as well as every other thing I could think of to my other instruments at one point or another, so I could probably handle this issue just fine. I was wrong, and the bridge sticks out as a sore thumb on an otherwise enjoyable instrument.
I personally like the Duncan Designed pickups and the Jazzmaster controls this guitar has. The vintage tuners are pretty cool as well. Not too fond of stock fender knobs, but those are so easy to replace it's a moot point. All in all, aside from the bridge, it's a pretty stunning instrument. Mine is in Olympic White, and I wouldn't dare trade in this guitar until I swap bridges. // 7
Sound: This is the reason I dare not trade it in. I genuinely love the bite this guitar has plugged in with a little gain. I really don't see how the name Jazzmaster actually applies here, but regardless, Duncan Designed pickups are, once again, more than adequate for all but the pickiest of folks. I personally plan to use this for a lot of bluesy rock oriented material, as I see that as a sweet spot for it, although it's apparently rather popular in the punk rock arena. I will say the bass isn't incredibly boomy, although with a little EQ you could probably squeeze out a little extra. I'm not interested just because of the role I'll be using it for. At least once the disgusting bridge is replaced. // 10
Action, Fit & Finish: The setup was actually fine, with very low action, and some mild buzzing. Upon trying to fix the buzzing things only got worse. I've tried all approaches, and I've come to the conclusion that the setup it had when I got it was the best someone else could do with that bridge installed. That bridge should be discontinued, and never used again. I plan on just putting in a mustang bridge and seeing how that pans out in comparison to the stock bridge. I've fiddled with the thing for hours though, and it just doesn't want to work how it should. All manuals read, all videos watched, and I'm just out of ideas.
The pickups are in perfect position judging by how it sounds, and the routing looks solid. I actually don't notice much noise at all, but that could be lucky, or maybe I'm finally going deaf. Aside from the bridge all aspects of it are well setup, work well, and function as intended. The Olympic White finish I got mine in is a matter of taste, but I really like how it contrasts to my other instruments. // 8
Reliability & Durability: With the stock bridge, if you use the tremolo at all, you're probably going to have problems. Strings tend to pop out and realign them selves in one of the poorly designed "mini bridges" that they're not supposed to be in. If not for the bridge though, the tremolo seems nice. All the other hardware seems way beyond it's price point, and I don't plan on changing anything else on it once the bridge is replaced.
So obviously I don't think you can depend on it with the stock bridge, and I definitely would not use it without a backup. It's just a terrible idea. If you're buying this guitar, buy it with the expectation of swapping that bridge out immediately, to at least a Mustang bridge, or better yet, a Mastery bridge.
I have zero qualms with the finish, and I'm thinking it'll last a long time just because of how thick it appears to be. // 7
Overall Impression: I play very diversely with heavy distortion, blues drive, thick or twangy cleans, slide, whatever. I'd really put this guitar in the more blues rock category of my use, but I can see those that like trebly distortion using this for other genre's surely. I've been playing 11 years, now toting a Schecter Tempest, Washburn WI66Pro (modified with Retrotrons), a heavily modified Squier Stratocaster, and a Schecter Raiden Special 4 bass, and once the bridge is fixed on this one it's going to fit in just fine.
Ask about the reputation of the bridge before you buy it. Google it. Definitely ask for other options for the bridge. A lot of people like to get a tune o matic in there, and others still deal with the buzz indefinitely. I chose the cost effective method of a Mustang bridge paired with a Buzz Stop. The Buzz Stop alone did not remedy my issue, but I'm really hoping the Mustang bridge is the final piece of this puzzle. As of now, if it were lost or stolen, I'd go with the hard tail, even though I really dig the tremolo on this thing.
I love everything about this guitar, vintage tuners, cool pickups, nice finish, nice tremolo, etc. Everything except the bridge. I really didn't compare this to much anything else when I bought it, though I really don't see much that compares. I chose this because of the unique style of pickups, and because to date, I haven't had an issue with Duncan Designed pickups. This is a guitar that really makes me want to rate it post modifications, because the bridge ruins it out of the box.
I wish it had a better bridge. Did I say that enough times? // 7