Price paid: $ 200
Purchased from: Flores Music, Peoria IL
Sound — 8
The bass is pretty quiet, but that is in comparison to my Fender Jazz, with the SD Quarter Pounders, and upgraded control circuitry. It would definitely benefit from a circuitry upgrade, though. While you get a lot of bright attack from it, courtesy of the slightly hotter DD pickups, you could probably do a lot more tone shaping with an upgrade in the control cavity, and by that, I plan on adding in the SD active Blackouts. It has a stacked tone for both pickups, and a stacked Vol/Blend knob, and would greatly enhance the range of this bass' capability, for under a couple hundred bucks. It's an upgrade I'd recommend for almost any jazz bass, Fender or Squier, Affinity, VM, or CV. And with the VM, if you bought it right, and inexpensively, installed for about $200, you're still coming in with more tonal versatility than a new MIM Fender out of the box, and for about $50-$100 less. I play a lot of pop, but it's very cross-genre stuff. So i need that versatility. You might not. This bass has a pretty wide range as it is, but I would love to see it woof a little deeper, while still bringing that bright maple snap the wood in this bass is capable of. So for starters it's good, but if you find it lacking some versatility, it's inexpensive enough to be easily upgraded to expand your sonic toolbox.
Overall Impression — 9
As I have said, for the kind of music I play, basically pop rock, with some hard rock thrown in, synth bass work, etc., this bass more than does the job. I don't need a 5-string, I don't play 8-string basses. I just like a good jazz bass, which gives me enough fluff without having to overthink all the guff that goes with more expensive basses with a lot of knobs to twiddle and switches to flick. If you're into toggles and knobs, this will not be the bass for you. If you like good reliable musical instruments that are quality when you purchase them, and have a good upside with how far affordable upgrades will take you, then this is a bass worth looking at. I've been playing bass for more than 25 years, I've toured, I've played weekend warrior gigs, and I've done studio work. This thing would cover 90% of the gigs I've done, and certainly the one I am currently doing. If it were lost or stolen, I wouldn't hesitate to buy another one. No, Squier, that does not mean you can send ninjas to steal it so I'll buy another one. I have a ninja-detecting shark, and it is usually in a really cross mood. What I love about it, is the price, and how it sounds for that price. Great bass, great price, and compared to my Fender Jazz, while it's not as full-bodied a sound, I think that's more or less simply a matter of the wood. Ash body vs. maple. Rosewood board vs. maple. SD Quarter Pounders vs. DD. It's not a fair fight. Never was. But that's not the point. The point is, the Squier's actually in the fight on this bass. Nice work, Squier.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Yes, this bass will stand up to some hard work. It's solid feeling and has a good tone to it, and doesn't break up when properly set up. Which is the key. If you buy this at the big-box store, take it to a luthier, or learn correctly how to set up your own bass. It makes a crappy box-store set up bass into something you can really work with. The hardware, knurled control knobs, are actually less cheap feeling than the plastic MIM knobs on my Fender. I know the whole legacy thing of the plastic knobs, but even on a '74 Jazz I played, they feel cheap. Always have, always will. I would recommend a control circuitry upgrade, as I will increase what you can do with this bass, but out of the box, it's ace for 80% of the bass market and 100% of beginners. Strap buttons are solid, and I would use this on a gig without a backup.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The action gets pretty low. I don't like my action TOO low, so this bass doesn't hit the deck. With heavy tension strings you might get it lower, but I don't believe it's necessary. The pickups were pretty well matched for power output. I raised the neck up a bit to give it some more bottom end, and that helped alot. The top, as I have said, is three pretty well-matched for being a 3-piece top. Surprisingly so, I've heard this form a lot of people. The only thing I have to complain about is a big knot in the figuring, but it's a completely full knot, and sorta adds to the character. You know this is not a 1972 Fender Jazz Bass. It's not going to be exhibition-grade wood. But the folks in this price point are sure not looking for that anyway. All fit and finish was good, and the one flaw I really noticed of a not-wide-enough nut slot was easily taken care of, and the bass is even more playable now.
Features — 8
My Vintage Modified Jazz Bass, purchased used in 2012, was made in Indonesia in 2007. For a 5-year-old budget line bass, it was in excellent condition, no scratches, bumps or bangs to speak of. A hard case is on order, as the Fender jazz bass it was purchased as a back up to, had seen a hard life in a gig bag. The bass has a one-piece black-bound maple neck, with black block inlays, and the frets were in good order. The action was a bit high, and once lowered and intonated, was pretty close in height to my Fender. The neck has a satin finish, while my Fender has a gloss neck. Doesn't really effect playability, to my way of feel. I changed the roundwounds on the bass (GHS Bass Boomers) with some D'Addario Chromes and neither set sat properly in the nut slots at the D or G strings, so I widened the slots. The body is a three-piece maple, and is nicely figured, and you have to hold it in just the right light to tell it's three piece. They do a good job of matching the grains on their wood. The stock black pickguard was in good shape, but I still replaced it with a white pearl pickguard that was originally designed for the Fender American Standard Jazz Bass. This required a bit of fitting, as the Squier's control cover comes to a point in it's center and the Fender's is a soft round contour. Careful shaping and taking your time will make it look like a proper fit. The pickups are Duncan Designed pickups and I'm a big fan of Seymour Duncan products, and I use Quarter Pounders in my Jazz and my Yamaha. I can't tell you if these pickups are made in the same place as SD's, but what I can tell you is that the output is substantially more potent than the output of stock Fender (MIM) pickups. The tuners are standard Fender fair, as is the high-mass bridge. Overall, I expected this bass to be lighter than my Fender. It definitely was. By about a pound and a half. Overall, it's a good, nicely made bass, that looks pretty snazzy with an upgraded pickguard, regardless of what the headstock says.