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Squier Classic Vibe '60s Jazz Bass review

‘Not another Fender Jazz’, you may be thinking. Well, looks can be deceiving...

Squier Classic Vibe '60s Jazz Bass review
(Image: © Fender)

Our Verdict

A highly impressive Jazz - and stunningly playable at this price.

For

  • The giveaway price.
  • Excellent playability.

Against

  • A few minor finishing issues.

Okay, we get it. The Jazz Bass is the most popular bass design out there – perhaps because when you break it down, its components are relatively simple. Why is it, then, that one sounds so different to another? 

I have several examples in my collection and all of them have different tonal characteristics. At a pocket-friendly $399/£331, what sort of performance does this J put on?

Build quality

It goes without saying that certain areas of this low-budget bass will no doubt reveal some cost-cutting – but on first examination, the instrument is surprisingly well put-together, with all of its nickel-plated hardware functional, solidly attached and working as it should. 

The ever-familiar offset body comes in a rather fetching Daphne Blue gloss polyurethane finish, which is made all the more striking due to the four-ply tortoiseshell scratchplate. Body contouring front and rear is as it should be, and the lower cutaway offers access to the upper regions of the 20-fret Indian laurel fingerboard.

Playability is right up there, aided and abetted by the most slinky of necks

A few minutes of playing highlights that although the level of finishing is generally professional, there are a few rough fret edges along the upper side of the neck – but overall, the bass is consistent with what you would expect of an affordable Jazz.

Sounds and playability

If a vibrant, rich, bouncy response is what you look for from a Jazz, this Squier model has all of that and more. Even without plugging into an amp, this bass projects loudly and proudly, with the sort of sustain and resonance you would expect from a top-level bass, not a sub-£350 Squier. 

The unplugged tone is lively when played fingerstyle, and adding a pick into the equation makes the attack and response even clearer. Maybe the pickups will let it down – because so far it doesn’t look like any corners have been cut. Well, that theory goes straight out of the window, as these units convey every note with authority, clarity and warmth. 

Soloing each pickup provides the rounded ballsy tone from the single-coil neck pickup that you would expect while the bridge unit has plenty of honk and mid-range throatiness. So maybe the tone control will show a few shortcomings? Nope – all is as it should be with a fine variety of light and shade on offer. 

Image 1 of 2

(Image credit: Future)

Fender-designed Alnico II singlecoils are right on the money as far as Jazz Bass tone goes.

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(Image credit: Future)

Forget the name on the headstock; this Jazz Bass performs well in any company.

Thankfully, both volume controls and the tone control work across the whole turn, rather than the annoying on/off response we sometimes see. Playability is right up there, aided and abetted by the most slinky of necks. The slim C-shaped neck profi le is a pleasure to play, fitting perfectly with the player’s fretting hand. 

The action was a little high for my liking, but this was easily adjusted, while the slim nut width and standard 19mm string spacing at the bridge make this bass feel better than a lot of instruments at twice the price.

Conclusion

We’ve seen a fair few sub-£1,000 Jazz variants of late, and this Squier can be added to that list, hence its position in last month’s Gear Of 2019 feature. It offers outstanding value for money, and although some may sneer at the moniker on the headstock, I compared this bass with several similar instruments costing much more and none of them could compare with the lively response of this bass. 

No matter what style of music you play, the visuals scream ‘classic’ – and whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned veteran, this bass does everything a Jazz should, and does it very well indeed.

Specifications

  • Price: £331, €449, $399.99
  • Made in: Indonesia
  • Colour: Daphne blue gloss [as reviewed], Three-colour Sunburst, Black
  • Body: Poplar
  • Neck: Maple, 34” scale
  • Neck joint: Bolt-on, four-bolt attachment
  • Nut width: 38mm
  • Fingerboard: Indian laurel
  • Frets: 20
  • Pickups: Fender-designed Alnico single-coil pickups x 2
  • Electronics: Passive
  • Controls: Volume, volume, tone
  • Hardware: Chrome hardware, elephant-ear machine heads, standard bridge
  • Weight: 3.7kg / 8.2lbs
  • Case/gig bag included: No
  • Left-hand option available: No
  • Fender