Fender, one of the biggest and most influential companies in the business of making and selling musical instruments, has been around since 1946 (that’s more than 7 decades). The Fender guitars are among the most popular and recognized ones on planet Earth. As for Squier, it’s one of their brands that focuses on entry level/low budget models that still sound and feel great. Today we’ll talk about the Squier Jaguar – both the electric guitar and the bass. Let’s not forget that this company created the very first commercial (and profitable) electric bass. And while the original Jazzmaster and Jaguar guitars are too expensive for the students, this brand offers just the right price.
Over the years, there have been numerous revisions of the original concept, and now we have the Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar series. It offers the best of both worlds, meaning you’ll get some of the classic Fender vibes along with a bunch of modern-day improvements that will be greatly appreciated by the contemporary fans of guitars. These guys did a marvelous job of replicating one of the finest Fender models at a competitive price. The bottom line is – if you’re looking for solid axes that cost less than 400 bucks, this series will become your new best friend. We’re going to review the electric guitar first and then move on to the bass.
Checking Out The Squier Vintage Modified EG
Alright, let’s get right to it! Have you ever heard about the so-called “offset” guitar models? The Jaguars certainly belong to that group. Basically, it means that the lower and upper parts of the body aren’t symmetrical; plus, they are offset (to a pre-set extent, of course). This non-traditional design usually introduces tiny problems when it comes to the dynamics of the instrument and its intonation. Thankfully, that’s not the case with the Fender Squier Jaguar, and it sounds awesome. The neck is all-maple, while the rest of the body is basswood. It’s a solid choice of materials, pretty standard but still quite alright.
Speaking of the neck, I gotta mention that it’s a bit shorter than what you might be used to. Don’t worry, though, because that will only make it easier for the novices to play the guitar. Without a doubt, the fans of jazz will also love what Squier has done with it. And what about the hardware? Again, there are some unusual combinations in the Squier Jaguar guitar. It comes with a retro-style trem bridge which is different from the standard fixed tail bridge. The bridge sits very close to the pickups, while the tremolo is in the back (like way, way back), and they’re not connected to each other (which, again, is not a regular setup).
The Electronics – What Does The Squier Electric Guitar Has To Offer?
It’s worth noting that some Jaguar models are known to have troubles with the hardware because of the peculiar design we discussed earlier. And while this is quite a rare thing and you’ll probably never have to do anything about it, if you do end up with a somewhat defective model, a professional guitar technician will help fix everything. Fact: this guitar comes with a 9, 5” fingerboard radius (while the original Jaguars featured a 7.25” radius), which makes it easy to do impressive bends. Alright, let’s proceed with our Squier Jaguar review and see what this guitar has in terms of electronics. As it turns out, the “Jag” is the proud owner of not 1, but 2 single-coil pickups. But that’s not even the most exciting part. You’ll be amazed when you learn what these otherwise standard pickups are wired to.
So, instead of the regular knobs for tuning the tone of the instrument, the Squier EG offers dual circuits with 2 modes to choose from – rhythm and lead. Now, they both come with their own controls and that allows the owner to adjust the tone however he/she pleases. Furthermore, the good old Volume and Tone knobs are still there. Yes, the amount of control you get over this guitar is simply outstanding. In the right hands, this axe will turn into a mighty instrument with the most unique “flavors”. There’s enough space to navigate and to find your dream tone – the Fender Jaguar knobs turn it into quite an attractive choice not only for the beginners but also the pros.
Digging Deeper Into The Rhythm/Lead Circuits
Let’s talk more about the circuits. There’s a switch on the upper plate. When it’s on (in the up position, that is), the rhythm circuit kicks in. It only works with the neck pickup. Compared to the lead circuit, this one has a darker, “heavier” tone. I think you already guessed that when the switch is in the down position, the lead circuit comes to light. You’ve got the tone and volume knobs, along with 3 switches. The first two allow the player to turn the pickups on and off. As for the third switch, it’s a standard high pass filter. It cuts out some of the extreme low-end, thus making the sound thinner and brighter. With some tones, that works great. With others, it ruins everything.
You gotta understand that this circuit setup makes it possible to create two different tones and volume levels and toggle between the two in the blink of an eye. That’s pretty cool, right? Don’t be afraid to experiment, because that’s the only way towards greatness. Thankfully, this guitar offers more than enough control over the final tone.
The Most Important Question: How Does This Bad-Boy Sound?
Historically, the Jaguar models have always been different from the rest of the bunch. Compared to the world-esteemed Teles and Strats, they have a more surf-rock kind of sound. That doesn’t mean that this guitar isn’t good for some bangin’ rock. On the contrary: it is capable of producing rocky tones that even the “gourmands” will appreciate. Thanks to the sophisticated circuitry, you can achieve a wide range of tone variations. Furthermore, let’s not forget that the short scale and the flexible circuitry allow us to create quite impressive jazz sounds. You won’t even have to spend days on trying to find the proper tones – they’re right there, in front of you.
It’s safe to say that the Fender Jaguar Squier is a musical workhorse (that’s a compliment). It’s not limited to one genre and will serve you for many years. Versatile, adjustable, and relatively easy to use, it’s like the guitar equivalent of the legendary Swiss army knife. A lot of experts were skeptical when the company announced this series of guitars. They doubted that is was possible to create a replica of the classic Jaguars that sounds epic and comes with an affordable price-tag. Well, they did it! True, this isn’t an ideal instrument, but it definitely is a good investment for your hard-earned bucks. For many beginners, this is a perfect first guitar. The average price for the Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Guitar is 399.99 dollars.
Checking Out The Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar BASS
The Squier brand first saw the light of day in 1982 and was positioned as a low-priced alternative to the “elite” guitars made in the States. For 35+ years now, Squier has been one of the best providers of affordable instruments for the beginners. Today, this brand is known internationally and the budding musicians love it for the increased quality, reliability, and, again, low price. The Vintage Modified bass looks like a million bucks. It resembles the best Fender models from the 70s. The fretboard is made of rosewood and feels great under the fingers. The edges of the board are nice and smooth, without any sharp ends or anything like that.
The neck is made of maple and is just as smooth and balanced. It comes with 22 frets and a 9, 5” radius. The body, In turn, is made of agathis wood. This is a very popular material in Asia (and, therefore, cheap). Depending on the species of the wood, the guitar can sound either dense or bright. This bass guitar isn’t particularly heavy, but it does feel nice and solid in your hands. The Squier bass features two Duncan Designed pickups: one single-coil (a JB102B) and one split single-coil (a PB101). Both pickups have their own controls for volume and tone (I’m talking about 2 stacked concentric knobs). The bottom tone knobs come with several “serrated” positions and click every time you switch between them. That’s a good decision, as no player in the world would want to accidentally change the tone while jamming with the rest of the band.
How Does The Squier Vintage Modified Bass Guitar Sound?
I’m happy to say that the tone is full and balanced, which is vital for a bass. It sounded lovely when I played some fast and funky grooves on an amp. The strings are a bit tight, but that’s not a problem. The dual volume/tone knobs give you a lot of control over the tone. You can fine-tune the guitar to anything from contemporary indie rock to some smooth classic Rhythm And Blues. The tone is always nice and warm. However, don’t bump the bridge pickup too much, because that will probably result in an unpleasant brittleness. Certain folks complain that the pre-set positions of the tone knob take away some of the versatility, but I’m not with them on this one. There’s enough space to maneuver as it is. The average price for the Squier Vintage Modified is 299.99 dollars.
Comparing The Standard Squier Bass To The Special SS (Short Scale)
In many regards, this beast is identical. At the same time, it’s got its own tricks, and we’ll go through them all right now. This Jaguar guitar comes with a 30” scale, and that’s the biggest difference between the two (it’s also known as the short scale). As a general rule, these kinds of bass guitars are intended for the beginners, as they are easier to play. Yet, a lot of pro players find them quite attractive as well. The reason is the warm, classy low-end and suppressed high-end (in a good way). Furthermore, if you’ve got short hands and fingers, it will be much easier to master the Special SS than the regular Squier bass – keep that in mind.
Just like its sibling, this model features a maple neck with a 9, 5” radius. The fretboard, again, is made of rosewood. The number of frets is also different: the SS comes with 20 instead of 22. The fretboard is nice and smooth, which is awesome for such an affordable instrument and proves that the masters at Squier know exactly how to make top-notch bass guitars on a budget. The agathis body has a super stylish silver finish that makes it look “expensive”. As for the pickups, we’ve got 1 single-coil Jazz bass (bridge) and 1 split-coil Precision bass (neck). Each comes with a separate volume control, while there’s only one Master Tone knob.
The Tone Of The Special SS – Is It Any Different?
This might come as a surprise to you, but the tones that this monster generates are almost entirely different from the Vintage Modified. Generally, the tones feel more “bassy”. There’s more low-end there, that’s for sure, and you won’t be able to switch to something else, despite the huge amount of control over the tone. Don’t attack the instrument with your fingers, and the characteristic will change significantly, but not entirely. The Precision pickup is super fat and full, which is a surprise for a bass this affordable. Usually, we get something like that on much more expensive models. The bridge, in turn, is not nearly as exciting and sounds basic.
Yes, the neck pickup is doing all the heavy lifting, but the one on the bridge is still important. It will help you balance the mighty low-end a bit with a smidge of high-end frequencies. But on its own, it doesn’t really do much and will disappoint you with the bleak midrange and the lack of proper sustain. With that said, the beautiful neck pickup and the superb quality of construction turn the Special SS into a great instrument, especially given the fact that the average price is only 249.99 dollars. I say this wonderful model offers a great bang for the buck and will serve as a wonderful instrument for the beginners on a low budget.
What Else Do You Need To Know?
The SS bass guitar is available in three colors combinations, including silver, black, and candy apple red. The headstock and the pickguard are always black, though, while the fingerboard is rosewood. Tuning stability is solid, which is very important for an instrument that provides the foundation for any song. The neck is super-straight, while the jumbo frets look like they belong to an expensive American Fender rather than a low-budget model. I said it already, but I’ll say it again: the neck is great, and it’s very smooth under your fingers, turning an average soundcheck session into quite a pleasant routine. It’s extremely narrow at the nut and resembles a Jazz Bass (by Fender).
The higher you go (closer to the body), the wider the neck gets. Still, it’s not nearly as wide as the Jazz Bass. That, along with the significantly shorter scale length, puts everything closer to each other and easier to reach than on a regular bass guitar. The contour for your right arm makes playing this instrument even more enjoyable. With all those nice treats, the balance is top-notch, which can sometimes be a problem with short scale guitars. So, as you can see, this Jaguar Squier is quite a crowd-pleaser. It’s cheap, easy to play, comes with good-quality pickups and allows you to fine-tune the tone to your liking. I say that’s quite an attractive proposition!
The Conclusion For Both Bass Guitars
The Vintage Modified series is truly one-of-a-kind and has proven over the years that it offers exactly what the beginner/intermediate musicians want. Compared to the very first models, the modern-day Squier VM Jaguar guitars are light years ahead. They feel and sound great both in the studio and during live performances. Both the Vintage Modified and the Special SS have solid tones and are built like the more expensive siblings. As for the affordable price-tags, they turn these fascinating instruments into the most attractive picks on the market. Obviously, they’ll never sound as good as the true vintage models, or, say, the brand-new American Fenders.
However, they’re the best alternative out there. I can tell you right now that with the right skills, you’ll be able to “boost” their tones to industry standards and no fan at a concert will notice that you’re playing a much less expensive bass guitar. It’s also worth mentioning that with the unstable economy today, this offer should be treated as a God-sent. As a backup or an inexpensive replacement for the big-bad US-made Fender, the Vintage Modified and the Special SS are great. On the other hand, if you’re a seasoned veteran, the lack of a super-smooth tone might be a huge turn-off for you. At the end of the day, it all depends on your personal preference. Ok, that’s it for our Fender Jaguar review. Check back with us more often to stay on top of things!