Sound — 9
With the rhythm circuit on, it produces a thick warm tone that can be useful in rock, especially with a bit of distortion. Using the lead circuit, with just the bridge, it's not as thick as the rhythm and has a bit of a clearer sound. With just the bridge pick up, it's a very thin crisp tone, which sounds very beach boys like. Listen to Fun Fun Fun or Surfin' USA and that's exactly the tone you're gonna get. With both on it still has that beach boy's sound, but the thickness of the neck pick up takes away some of the sharpness and balances it out.
Overall Impression — 9
I play all sorts of styles, and this suits most of them. It is at home best in the rock, indie, pop styles though I think it sounds cracking playing Iron Maidens stuff. It doesn't really do heavier metals, mainly because of the drop tuning issue to be honest. I use an EQ pedal with it so with that, a play with my amp knobs and add some distortion I can actually get a decent heavy tone out of it. Overall I think this is a really well put together instrument, with cool Vintage looks, though it would have been better if Squier had included modern style bridges instead. This is the only downside, but the upside is the large array of tones and the fact it looks the sex. If you are thinking of getting this, definitely go to you local guitar shop and play with one. Properly. The qwerky bridge may put you off, and the shorter scale neck may not be best for you. Think about if you'll want to use drop tunings. I'd also compare it to its big brother the Jazzmaster if you can, side by side. Looks similar, but is a different animal, so it might be more suited to you but with the same look.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I haven't gigged with this, however it is built like a brick sh*t house. I think the bridge and string issue might be a bit problematic gigging though. Can be a nuisance putting the strings back in place and it can knock them out of tune when they do, although they tend to find a position they like after a bit or trial and error. Playing small gigs with this is fine without a back up. However playing larger venues in front of a couple of hundred people, possibly drunk and usually unappreciative of your fine art, would be unwise without a back up no matter what instrument you're playing!
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
When I got it home the action did need a bit of tweaking, as there was a deal of fret buzz. On every string. Though I can't say if that'll be with every Jag, and it is just a bit of fiddling with an Alan wrench. Overall for the price you pay, there aren't any complaints in this area. In fact because this is a top end Squier, the only difference between this and a MIM Fender is the logo on the head stock. And about 300! The finish is very nice, and feels like it'll last forever. So if you're going to want that road worn look, then it's going to take a long time, playing in lots of hot sweaty pubs! The frets are ever so slightly a bit rough when running your hand along the neck.
Features — 8
My Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar 2012 in surf green was "Crafted" in Indonesia, in 2012. It has 22 frets on a rosewood fingerboard, but they are a little bit tight for my stubby fingers, but since I usually play bass it is a bit of a leap. The finish on the body is flawless, and is a Vintage surf green, which is a bit of a marmite love it or hate it colour. I love it. The neck and headstock are laminated which gives it a nice, smooth finish. The neck is a short scale at 24 as apposed to the usual 25.5 of a Strat or Tele. This does mean that if you're the kind of player to detune, then look elsewhere, as I find tuning lower than half a step the strings are a bit too slack. Drop D is okay. The Jag has a Vintage style bridge with a non locking floating vibrato. With this you can bend the strings to make a lower note such as with a Strat tremolo, but also you can pull it back to make a higher note. Don't think for a moment that this is some kind of poor mans Floyd Rose mind. I did get a couple of cheeky metal sounding squeals with a lot of distortion, but this was at the cost of an E string. The tremolo arm also doesn't screw in, and is held in because it goes in about 2, but it can just drop out, as I found out at the shop. The Vintage style bridge is the main downfall. The saddles have loads of ridges in them, and so the strings are able to pop out and about now and then. They just aren't held in place very securely. Perhaps this can be changed, and maybe one day I will. The controls are indeed the Jags party piece. It has two circuits in the guitar, lead and rhythm. Starting with the top controls, there is a 2 way switch and two rollers. With the 2 way switch in the up position it is in the rhythm circuit, and is just the neck pick up and the bottom controls are switched off. One roller is for the volume and the other for the tone. In the down position it is in the lead circuit. This activates the bottom three switches and the main knobs. The far left switch turns the neck pickup on or off and middle switch does the same with the bridge. The far right switch is a high pass filter, and simply cuts out some of the lows when on. Then the knobs act as the master volume and tone as you'd expect.