Price paid: C$ 290
Purchased from: Long & McQuade
Sound — 8
OK, here's were my review gets muddy. Now, I didn't buy this guitar with the intention of keeping the humbuckers. From go, my intention has been to route the cavities to accomodate soap-bar PU's. Having said that, these "Duncan Designed" humbuckers are quite clear and bright. Owing to out-of-box setup, bass-tones were a bit dull, though when in dual PU and bridge-only PU modes, mid and treble tones were very clear and bright, and bass was well compensated. The grounding and shielding of this guitar is very modest and simple, but brilliantly effective. There is not one surface point on this instrument that you can touch with your skin and hear an increase in noise. Some hum on volume ranges between 3 and 8, but are minimal. I'm replacing the stock humbuckers with soap-bars, because, frankly, if I wanted Gibson SG sound, I'da just bought an SG. If the tone range of two well placed humbuckers is what you want, you won't be disappointed with the stock PU's. Or at least you'll like their placement, if the "Duncan Designed" stock PU's aren't up to your standards. For humbuckers, they *almost* manage to pull off a decent "surf sound," if you're into reverb like me. Despite having neither the extra tone controls of the Fender Jag or Jazzmaster, this guitar with it's two single dials puts on a reasonable display of tones, out-of-box. For my own equipment, I use a simple practise amp when I need to rattle windows in my tiny bachelor apartment; otherwise I use a Behringer guitar link and an obscene amount of cabling and software. Very modest setups. My PC serves as any configuration of emulated amps or effects I choose. I'm giving this instrument an 8 for Sound, simply based on how it performed out-of-the-box with minimal setup. It's not pristine, but it's pretty damned good.
Overall Impression — 9
If you dig metal, the out-of-box experience should please you. If you dig 60's sound or grunge/post grunge/indie, modifications will quickly give you what you want if you have the wits to do some research and use the proper tools. Or trust your instrument to a luthier who'll do it for you. Clean sound is about as close to an Acoustic as any of the best-suited electric guitars I've had the pleasure of playing with. I researched this guitar's qualities against the Jaguar for a little over a year before I decided to finally buy one. It's sexy, wonderfully scaled for anyone who finds some chords hard to form on a full-scale Fender neck, and in general a cut above a lot of the instruments that Squier often dumps on a demographic that doesn't quite fathom the dollar/quality value ratio. For three hundred well-earned dollars, I defy anyone to find a better solution combining stock features with upgradeability to what this instrument has to offer. And did I meantion it's short-scale? The only thing I wish Squier offered with this model line would be the availability of P-90's instead of humbuckers. After taking delivery of my order and setting up, I went to the Squire site to register, and fired off a complaint to their QA team. I basically chastised them that something this fine should damned-well come with a card. In general, I'm a big fan of Fender sound. Having said that, I have had my hands on some Squier instruments after their first ten years of instrument making that were absolute garbage -- poor value for the money. I believe the Duo Sonic and the Jagmaster represent strong potential for the Squier brand to come into its own as a true contender against other major companies' "discount" brand models. If you have questions (or ideas!) for JM mods, please feel free to email me at tsebra-at-telus.net And if you're an employee of Squier/Fender reading this.. like I said in the first category: "DOUBLE-ENDED WRENCH, YOU CHEAPSKATES!" :) Beautiful instrument. Outstanding value for your dollar. And in case I didn't mention it already... Short scale. Cheers.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This is a good question. Survivability. My particular instrument was shipped to me with a two-piece jointed body. Whilst the joint is apparently very good.. It is still, nonetheless, two different pieces of wood. If I were to perform a "Voodoo Chile" 'sacrifice, ' I don't think this particular instrument would survive long enough to have Zippo fuel poured all over it and set alight. But then again, I didn't buy this instrument with the intention of destroying it. As for the metal gear, the frets and bridge saddles are of a higher quality than the typical Squier Strat. The neck and fretboard are of a very high-grade grain, and look like they'd tolerate a good thrashing. My other two guitars are a Stratocaster and an ESP F-50. How I might compare them in terms of durability would be something like, 'Not as tough as a strat, but way tougher than the ESP.' I can't see this instrument failing inexplicably during a session. This is a well thought out instrument. Having seen that, I've seen a lot of examples of JM's with worn finishes. But of these, none showed any important structural damage.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Factory setup. Well, in a word.. Very good. It's very likely that when this instrument left the factory for shipping, everything was spot-on. Intonation was off by no more than three cents. Bridge heights were perfectly matched to neck relief. Every fret was properly dressed. I wasn't satisfied with the inclination of the neck PU, but that was fixed with a single clockwise twist on the low E side screw. Done. Neck relief was perfect. Someone who knew what they were doing adjusted this instrument. Out-of-box, every string was tuned down a full step. No more, no less. Better packaging may have better preserved the factory setup during shipping overseas, but this is purely academic, since everyone experiments once they get their hands on a new instrument anyways. As for quality on the controls.. No crackling on either dial.. slight click on the PU selector.. nothing some molybdenum grease won't fix. I've heard some folks complain about the stock potentiometers, but I did not have that experience. The pots were smooth yet firm. No weak contacts. Impedence (resistance) relative to PU strength was properly matched. My greatest peeve with fit/finish would have to be the protective skin over the pickgaurd. It's a nuisance to get off.
Features — 9
- 2010, crafted-in-China (they all are) - 24.75" short-scale, maple neck with rosewood, 21 MJ frets. - Body is likely basswood. - Finish for mine is 3-tone sunburst. Also comes in high-gloss black. - Body is roughly the same contours and displacement as of a Jaguar. - Slightly modified Squier Strat trem bridge. (different bores) - Controls include single volume, single tone, three-way PU selector. - PU's are H/H, "Duncan Designed" -- Interpret that as you will. - Tuners are Standard Squier Strat, though they feel a bit more fluid and consistent than any Squier Strat I've toyed with. They seem to have all the torque you need, response up/down is correctly proportional and instantaneous, up or down. - Included accessories: 2 alan wrenches, for saddles and truss. 1 baggie of dessicant gel to shield against excess humidity. I didn't pay what I paid for this instrument because of extra goodies. I bought the instrument, and therein was my only expectations. What might have made a nice touch would have been a double-ended wrench for the jack and selector Switch nuts. Imo. I'm just going to assume that anyone who owns an electric guitar also owns a few philips-head screwdrivers. I suppose if I wanted my guitar to come with things like a strap and a cable, I could have bought the "Hello Kitty" affinity Strat.