Purchased from: GuitarGuitar Birmingham
Features — 9
I have a wonderful Squier VM Jazz, made in Indonesia in 2007. It has 20 jumbo sized frets, with a standard 34 inch scale length and a maple fingerboard and neck. The inlays are real blocks, not painted on, a nice feature for such a value bass. The body is also maple, and I think it's just a polyurethane finish, which is very hard-wearing! It's natural, as most if not all of these VM Jazzes are, and it has the standard 4 saddle Fender bridge. It's fully passive, with the standard set up of a neck p/u volume, a bridge p/u volume and a tone knob. The pickups themselves are two "Fender Designed" single-coil Jazz pickups, I think they're actually manufactured by Seymour Duncan but don't quote me on that! The tuners are non locking, standard open gear. All the hardware is chrome, with black pickups and exposed chrome magnets. My bass came with no accessories.
Sound — 8
The bass simply sounds amazing. The tone control brings it from bright and twangy at full to warm, mellow and resonant when rolled off. The included strings were decent, but giving a slightly mellower sound than I was looking for and so I swapped them out for a set of RotoSound RS66 stainless steels. The bass is crisp, and has a very tight low end when running through my compressor pedal, a Boss CS-3. It therefore punches well through the mix, filling both the bottom and mid frequencies, leaving a clear distinction between our lead guitarist and I. Obviously with single coils, there is a problem with noise when you don't run both pickups at full volume. This can be overcome with stacked humbuckers but I feel like that would take away the beautiful single-coil tone of a Jazz bass. I'm not much of a pick player but even with my terrible playing it sounds decent with a pick. Slap and fingerstyle is really where this bass shines though. I like to have the tone rolled off a fraction (80% on or so) when playing slap and fingerstyle, to give a slightly rounder tone. The neck pickup gives a nice warm sound, however the bridge pickup on its own seems slightly dull, so I like to use both pickups. This could be fixed by fitting a more expensive pair of pickups, but the fact is if you're buying a sub-£300 bass you probably won't be buying a pair of £300 pickups for it!
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
The bass came with crazily high pickups from the factory, so high that the strings were bouncing off of them! It was easy to fix this with a screwdriver though. The action was also a little low for my liking, so I brought it up to remove any fret buzz. Surprisingly, the truss rod was perfectly on point. The frets are finished well, nothing sharp or high. The polyurethane finish is thick and very hard-wearing, I've bumped this bass about and it doesn't have a scratch! It's not too thick though, so it doesn't ruin the aesthetic of the bass.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This bass is tough, and holds tuning well so far! I'd happily gig without a backup, but I don't gig very often so don't take me as an example! The hardware is good, no signs of bad soldering within the control cavity. The strap buttons are solid, so solid in fact that it took two of us to get the strap on for the first time! It's fair to say that it's not coming off any time soon either. As mentioned before, the finish is thick and hard-wearing, but not thick enough to ruin the finish and make it look like it's covered in glass.
Overall Impression — 9
I play mostly blues, funk and rock music, and the Jazz bass seems really nice for this kinda style. I've only been playing for about 3 years and so I only own two other basses, and the Jazz bass is a breath of fresh air compared to the other two. If I wish I had asked anything before buying it, it would have been asking how much it would cost for them to set it up! It's a shame the setup was bad, but now I've corrected it, it is a lovely instrument. I reckon I'd buy one again if it was stolen or I lost it, it's a fantastic sounder for the price. All in all, I really like this bass.