Price paid: C$ 175
Purchased from: Best Buy
Sound — 8
I play every style of music I possibly can. I play in a classic rock cover band, as well as an alternative/ 90's cover band. I am also involved in a project that includes jazz, funk and punk. The bass can handle all of these styles with very few problems. I don't really use too many effects, but I do like to run the bass through my MXR distortion + and the dedicated overdrive channel on my amp on occasion. The bass sounds very good when distorted, but again, that's all subjective. The bass itself isn't very noisy. There is a bit of 60 cycle hum that you would expect due to the one single coil pickup, but other than that, it's as quiet as most other basses. The bass is a bit of a one-trick pony. Varying the tone knob does not yield radical changes in the tone. It basically has one sound, unless you change your technique. The bass has a very usable slap tone, it sounds warm when you finger pick it, and it can sound aggressive when using a pick. Overall, not the most versatile, but you can coax it into making some interesting/unique sounds. I'll give it an 8 to be fair. It is a one-trick pony, but it does that one-trick very well.
Overall Impression — 9
As I've stated before, I play a lot of everything. Varying your technique is the trick to getting the most out of this bass, it can be used in a lot of different styles. I've been playing bass for 6 years and guitar for 4. I own a lot of gear and have a soft spot for the cheaper brands. I like to take cheaper basses and show people just what they are capable of. I don't need a $4000 alembic when I could get 20 of these for that price. I currently have 5 basses and 2 electric guitars, as well as a violin but that's a different story. The Bronco Bass fits into my stable very well. I think it will be around for a long time to come. I can't think of anything I should have asked prior to purchasing this bass. It was a very good deal. It was on sale, plus I get three free setups at 3, 6 and 12 month intervals. That's not a bad deal for best buy. If it were lost or stolen, I would buy a new one. The necks are the hidden gems on these basses. Incredibly comfy for a bass that can be had for under 2 bills. I'm already contemplating getting a second one just to mod it and see what I can really do with it. I love the neck on this thing, minus the fret edges. But, this thing is incredibly comfy regardless. Give it a try! Oh, also, the balance on this bass is perfect. If you take your hand of the neck, the bass won't dive for the floor, and the bass only weighs about 6 pounds to boot! I have some gripes with the hardware, but the stuff works, and it can be adjusted. There isn't really too much to compare this bass to, as there are very few comparable short-scales, but when compared to any of my long-scale basses, this thing is just as comfortable (if not more comfortable) and it sounds great. It sounds great in general, not just for the price. I chose this bass because I have always been interested in the musicmaster basses and really love the looks and design of them. This seemed like a good way to get my feet wet and see if a musicmaster style bass was the bass for me, and I do like it very much. Things I wish it had: graphite nut, better color options. I have nothing against red and black finishes, but if this thing was offered in seafoam green or sonic blue, I'd probably have 15 of these already. Well, I guess that is it for my review. Overall, this is a very usable bass and it doesn't deserve to be trashed like it has been. People tend to miss the big picture when they look at an instrument. They look at what an instrument IS, not what it COULD be. With about 15 minutes of setup work, I'll have a bass that could pay itself off after just one gig. Of course people will always wonder why their $150 bass doesn't play like a Fodera or Sadowsky, but you can never win with those people. This is a fine working mans bass at a reasonable price, what more do you need? I give the bass a 9 in this section. It's durable, sounds pretty good, it stands out from all the Precision basses and jazz basses that you see, and it's light enough to comfortably play a 4 hour set. I definitely recommend this bass, but be sure to play a lot of them! I chose mine from about 3 of these basses, and I chose the best of the bunch. Play before you pay, and enjoy!
Reliability & Durability — 9
I definitely think this bass will withstand live playing, and I will verify that in a week or so when I use it on a gig. The hardware is functional, not anything to write home about, but it works. The strap buttons are actually exceptional. I was surprised as I don't think my strap will ever come off. I think I could depend on this bass at a gig without a backup. There are very few things that can go wrong with this bass. Leo designed them to be very simplistic for a reason. The finish is definitely going to last. I've had a few basses with this Fender polyurethane finish on them, nothing short of a bomb will remove this stuff. I like the durability of this little bass. Because the bass doesn't really have any shortcomings in this section, I'll give it a 9. While it doesn't fail at anything, better tuners wouldn't hurt it.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
The action was pretty good when I bought this bass. It was setup with a medium action, I like a med-high action because I like to dig in. The bass could easily be setup lower, but it was set where I like it. I must complain about the intonation though, the bridge is the main culprit here. The bridge is basically a musicmaster bridge, except it has only two saddles like a telebass bridge. The fact that there are only two screws to adjust the intonation makes it very hard to get all of the strings perfectly intonated. You can get them close enough, but it seems never dead on. A common mod is to buy a musicmaster bridge for about $20 because they have 4 saddles, but they require drilling holes in the body for the string thru ferrules. Personally, the intonation on my bass is close enough that I consider that mod to be overkill. The bridge is perfectly centered on the body and all of the hardware lines up properly, nothing is out of place. Onto the frets and nut. This is where I think the bass lacks the most. I can deal with the bridge and tuners, but the frets and nut have to be perfect for me to be 100% satisfied. The fret edges are sharp to the touch, but a few minutes with a sanding block and some fine steel wool will correct that. The nut itself isn't terrible, it just looks rushed and a new graphite nut would do wonders for the setup. I feel that the frets and nut really dragged this bass down in this section. It's a shame that the bass didn't get that extra 15 minutes of QC, but that's how it goes in the mass produced market place. I'll give the bass a 6 because I'm a hard ass when it come to the feel of the neck.
Features — 7
My Squier bronco was made in Indonesia in 2011. The bass has 19 frets and a scale length of 30" , and it's not the same scale length as a guitar as some reviews on this page have stated. The frets are medium-jumbo. The neck itself is a one-piece maple neck with a rosewood skunk stripe. One-piece necks have a tendency to warp over time due to the fact that there aren't conflicting grain patterns like there are in multiple piece necks, but right now the neck feels solid and comfortable. It's one of the most comfortable necks I've played. My only gripe is sharp fret edges, it is winter here so it could just be a case of fret spout; but given the basses price range I would just assume it was a QC issue from the factory. The bass has a solid body, made of agathis I believe. I've owned agathis bodied basses before and I have no complaints about it. People consider it a cheaper wood, but I've yet to have any problems with it. The finish is the signature poly finish that is used on most fenders, it's indestructable. I've tried to remove this stuff with a chemical paint stripper before, and the stripper has barely put a dent in this stuff. It's solid. Onto another thing that a lot of reviews on this page get wrong... The body style. I've seen too many reviews that say this bass was based on a stratocaster or a mustang, the simple fact is; it wasn't. This bass is actually based on the body styling of the Fender musicmaster bass that Leo Fender introduced in 1971. The Squier Bronco Bass was introduced when Squier discontinued the Squier "Vista" musicmaster bass. The bridge and tuners are lacking, but are usuable. Even with a new set of strings put on, the bass barely goes out of tune, which isn't bad; I've had basses that cost 10 times as much that went out of tune more often. The tuners don't turn very smoothly, but they work. These are the usual parts that people change on the bass, but I find that on my particular instrument, they work fine. I think the one part I will change on this bass is the nut, it looks like it was crudely cut in the factory and a new one couldn't hurt. The bass has passive electronics and a single affinity series stratocaster pickup in the middle/p-bass position. A lot of people complain about this pickup saying that it sounds "weak" or "Anemic" , and honestly, I disagree. I've tried it through many amps and find it to be on par with just about any other pickup in a bass at this price range. I thought I'd hate this pickup, but it gives me a great punk tone, while also being able to suit a bit of jazz if needed. The electronics do leave a bit to be desired, but they function properly. Lots of people say this bass hums and hisses, mine isn't any louder than another bass. I guess mine was shielded properly. I got a gig bag with this bass when I purchased it, and it's not a bad gig-bag either. I could definitely see myself using it. Both the bass and gig bag were on sale when I bought them. I'll give the bass a 7 because of the sharp fret edges and the functional-but-bare-minimum style hardware.