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As much as I loved my Hofner Violin Bass there came a time when I wanted something else from a bass. The ease of playing in the higher registers was the predominant reason behind it as the Hofner does not have a cut away body to make things easier. Secondly sound, I wanted something different to the Beatle sound the Hofner offered, don’t get me wrong I love the sound but I wanted an alternative. I also had a desire to play slap and the Hofner just was not suitable for slap and so it became time to move on, not to replace my Hofner but to have and enjoy an alternative.
My budget was a big consideration and Squier instruments especially as they are made by Fender seemed to fit the bill admirably and as they offer the same classic lines as their big brothers from Fender they had an instant appeal to me.
Squier to their credit offer a myriad of options that cater for beginners and professionals alike, okay the name will not set the world alight as the Fender name does but they do have a reputation of producing solid dependable instruments that are well placed to serve the budget market.
My first choice was either to buy as precision or a jazz bass which in reality was no choice as the jazz in my opinion would offer me far more tonal variation than a precision ever would, this is due to the precision offering a single split pick up and the jazz offering two pick ups which can be used independent of each other or together so offering a greater choice and variation of tone which can also be changed by use of the tone control.
Next came colour, no contest her as natural really appealed to me and so the choice was made and I decided on the Squier (By Fender) Vintage Modified Jazz Bass. This particular instrument made in Indonesia is based on the Fender 70’s Jazz Bass which was pretty much universally played during that time. Both the neck and body of the bass are made from maple with a superb finish which is offset by a jet black pick guard, the neck is also inlaid with beautiful black inlays which enhance the whole look. The whole symmetry of the bass is stunning and its appearance is absolutely perfect and even the chrome hardware enhances the appearance.
So I bought the guitar by mail order, this was to minimise my costs as I managed to play one supplier against another on mail order prices but in hindsight it perhaps wasn’t the best decision but more of that later.
When the bass arrived it was extremely well packed and arrived as it should in a flawless unmarked condition. It should have been tested before despatch but as it was so far out of tune (fortunately the intonation was correct) I doubt this ever happened still it was no bother to tune it and when it was plugged into my amplifier I was pleasantly supplied at the sound emanating from it’s Duncan designed pick ups, in some ways though I was disappointed as the sound just wasn’t the same as the Fender 70’s Jazz but it wasn’t the end of the world. Perhaps the wood used in the body is different for the two basses is different, maybe the strings are different, both would affect the sound but that’s a puzzle for another day.
The weight of the bass was instantly noticeable as I was so used to my Hofner but given the fact the Squier is well balanced and I had bought a broad strap in anticipation of this again it wasn’t a problem.
On playing it for the first time I found my hang dragging badly on what should have been a fast neck but this was soon alleviated by the application of a good guitar polish, I really don’t know if I should blame Squier or the retailer for it but it should not have arrived like this. On the plus side the action was set low as I like it so there was no need for intervention there.
I played the bass on and off over the next few days and there was something not quite right, I thought it was me moving from the short scale Hofner but it wasn’t. You see bass players playing with their fingers tend to rest there thumb on the top of which ever pick up their playing over and on this bass both pick ups turned out to be loose and worse still on tightening them it was instantly apparent that the bridge (Back pick up) had a screw that was stripped in the body of the bass.
Of course I phoned the retailer and they were more than happy to help but it was going to involve time and possibly cost as I had intervened by tightening the screws, so a quick look in my spares box yielded a screw of the same appearance which was slightly longer which did the job admirably. Had I of bought the guitar locally it is likely that I would have taken it back to the shop but as I say hindsight is a wonderful thing. Looking at the screws on the bass pick guard it was apparent that instead of going in at 90 degrees to the body face they had gone in at any angle and ended up looking like mushrooms growing wild in a field. Although it is only a minor gripe again it should not have happened and there is really little that can be done to correct it, fortunately all the other screws on the bass were tight so it really wasn’t the end of the world.
Anyway these problems solved the bass proved to be a good investment with a good range of sounds but somehow I never took to it as I kept comparing it to the sound from the 60’s and 70’s Fender basses, okay it allowed me to play in the higher registers, it allowed me to learn slap and it held together. It was the sound that did it or my hearing or both; it was like listening to a favourite song on a 45 record and then hearing it again on a CD. Yes that probably is a gross exaggeration but its how I felt, someone unused to the sound of the Fenders would most likely be more than happy with the sound from the Squier. Had I have bought the bass locally I could have sat down and played it before buying and I may well have stopped there and then but again that’s hindsight for you.
So I swallowed my pride and dented my pocket and bought a Fender 60’s Jazz with the intention of selling the Squire to offset the cost. At the moment it still lies at the top of a wardrobe packed and ready to go but somehow I’m not quite ready to let it go, it might be that a set of new Fender vintage style jazz bass pick ups will transform it but that’s a decision for another day.
Would I recommend Squier, yes I would but I would also recommend that build quality is checked as thoroughly as possible before parting with you money, this one may have been a one off as Squier Basses do tend to get good reviews but just remember hindsight is a wonderful thing and do be aware that while it looks like a Fender and is made by a company that is part of Fender and even bears the Fender name that it is not a Fender. Instead it is a bass that is aimed squarely at the budget end of the market and in my opinion you will not buy a better looking instrument for the money. I would say that it is a great instrument to learn on and it would also be more than good enough to go out and gig with. As a bonus it is available for both left and right handed players
Expect to pay around £250 for am new one, you might get lucky and find am used one on eBay but they do tend to be few and far between which perhaps provides a testimony to their popularity..
Should you wish to hear one for yourself take a look at this clip from You Tube: