The Jazzmaster is one of the most iconic electric guitars ever to come out of Leo Fenders Southern California factory. While early players were using this guitar for surf and jazz, J Masics brought in new legions of fans by using a Fender Jazzmaster for heavy metal in Dinosaur Jr. It’s is a testament to the versatility of the Jazzmaster that it’s a good fit in almost any genre of music. For those of us who can’t afford a Fender model, the Squire J Masics Jazzmaster comes though with all the style and uniqueness of the original. Likewise, it’s priced for the masses and made it to our list of 10 Best Electric Guitars Under $500.
Squire J Masics Jazzmaster
Hey everyone! This is your Yateveo back again with another gear review.
This time it’s of the Squire by Fender J Mascis Signature Jazzmaster. You can see his signature there on the back of the headstock. This is my first single coil Jazzmaster. I did, about a year ago or so, I did a review of the Modern Player Jazz Master which, oddly enough, I don’t think they make anymore. So I have, like oddly enough, after doing that review and getting some feedback from everyone who saw it (Thank you by the way if you did), I can’t find it really for sale anywhere. So I hope that if you wanted it, you can find it somewhere in the used market, but I haven’t been able to find it since. But anyway, this was my first single coil Jazz Master and it’s the closest I’ve been able to come to a true, true Jazzmaster quite honestly because I just can’t afford an American one and even the Classic Player Mexican one’s are a little bit out of my price range for a guitar. But you know, I bought this one kind of taking a chance on it, seeing what would be like and overall, I have to say it’s a really good guitar, especially considering what’s on the headstock. Like a lot of you, I had a lot of trepidation buying a Squire guitar. My very first guitar ever was a Fender Squier, like Strat, It wasn’t a very good guitar, but I was enough to, you know, like a lot of us, enough to learn how to play. But I have to say, not really having dealt with Squire in the 20 years since, that they’ve come a long way if this is any sort of indication as to their quality.
Checking Out the J Masics Jazzmaster
So, this guitar is 21 jumbo frets. Obviously, it’s white, kind of, the lighting in this lighting this room’s a little yellow, but it’s white kind of a off-white almost. Some people refer to it as almost like a classic refrigerator. The paint is very thick on there. You don’t see any wood grain through the paint. The faceplate is like a brass color, it’s metallic. I do think that because it’s single-coil, it does give it a snappier tone. There’s a little more like metallic tone which I think is interesting; more than it would if it had a pearl or some sort of plastic pick guard. But maybe that’s just my imagination. It’s got, unlike the Modern Player Jazzmaster that I did a few years ago, it doesn’t have, well I should say, unlike the Modern Player Jazzmaster that I reviewed a while ago, it does have the Classic Jazzmaster electronics so; two single coil pickups, two-way selectors, or I should say 3-way selector switch, volume and tone, switch to another circuit, volume and tone, which we’ll get to in a minute.
Squire Jazzmaster – Not a Fender, But Close
I did just want to kind of go through, and from kind of like tip to stern, to kind of talk about all the different things I’ve noticed on this guitar since I’ve had it. So, from the very headstock here, these are vintage style tuners that are string through tuners, just so you know. Those aren’t honestly my favorite kind of tuners. It’s the kind where you have to stick the string in there, then wrap it around. But it’s very vintage style. It looks vintagey. If you like it, that’s cool. It’s really not much to complain about because if you really want to switch out the tuners, that’s gonna cost you just a few bucks. That won’t be too bad. The nut is probably the cheapest part of this guitar. It is like kind of a crappy, plastic nut. If I had the money and the time to take it to somewhere, I’m a little did trepidatious do it myself, I might have that replaced. Again, probably wouldn’t cost you that much money. The biggest cost would be the labor of actually having someone do it. So, if you have any experience yourself, you can do it for next to nothing I’m sure.
The Neck – Right for You?
Next up, the fret board. It’s a rosewood fretboard. It feels really nice. It feels very smooth. It’s really easy to play. They say its jumbo frets. To be honest, like when it comes to Fender frets, I don’t notice that gigantic difference between them. Like maybe up here at the top, you definitely, I have somewhat big fingers and I have no problem fretting the notes like sometimes I do on other kinds of guitars. So maybe I sore nose it, but it’s pretty standard. It’s a very standard Jazzmaster scale. If you’re into the like Stratocaster, non Jaguar and Mustang type Fender scales, and you kind of know what you’re in for. The neck is a c-shaped neck. I think that’s like a nine and a half diameter neck, fairly thin actually, feeling unlike a lot like Telecaster necks I’ve played that have been pretty like baseball bat feeling. This is pretty thin, not as thin as maybe some super speed metal guitars that you might pick up, but this isn’t a metal guitar. I’ve read reviews that the fret wires were rough. I really have not found that to be a case. I think, like with a lot of import guitars, this was made in China. With a lot of import guitars, I think maybe it’s a case-by-case basis. It’s based on how well did your unit come out of the factory. But mine came out pretty perfect. By that I mean, maybe on the fret ends there’s a couple could be filled down potentially, but like up at the top, I mean I’m up at the bottom here, but nothing that I would really spend that much time or money fixing. It feels pretty perfect to me. The neck on the back is like a satin finish, unlike the modern player that was a glossy finish. To be honest, it’s not my favorite. It feels like this is the only part of the guitar, that to me, feels like Squire cheap and I don’t know if it has to do with the wood that they use, the finish that they did, or what it was. But it does just, it doesn’t leave me with like a super deluxe feeling. I guess maybe that was the point. And it’s definitely able to, you can definitely go around the neck very easily, but it’s just not my favorite. I prefer a glossy neck, but there it is. I think it may have been a choice that J Mascis made.
So going down to the pickups, these are the two big soap bar Jazzmaster style pickups. They look that way anyway. They look very vintagey and its aged white plastic on the pickups. I read online though that it’s not your classic Jazzmaster pickup in the way that it’s made, in the way that it’s wired. I think J Mascis wanted it wired in a way that made it kind of hotter and more suitable for rock. The kind of rock sound that dinosaur jr had and. One thing I do like, is Jazzmasters I’ve heard and the couple that I’ve played, sometimes with the classic style especially, that vintage style tuners it leaves me with the feeling of kind of shrillness. This has got no shrillness at all and it’s really pretty versatile, but I have actually read that these, the way that Mascis had them done, makes them closer to like a P90 then to an actual jazz master pickup. So you’ve got your Jazzmaster purists who will say this is not a true Jazzmaster, but to me, it sounds pretty good. It is single coil. So if you love that single coil twang, this definitely has it. So, for those who are not aware, the way the pickup configuration works is with this switch down, it affects the lead circuit so all the controls at the bottom of the guitar are active. So, you’ve got your standard three position; so neck, bridge, and middle. I kind of like the middle because it really does have a nice kind of jangly sound. If you were into the Beatles and maybe British Invasion type music, this could definitely do the trick for you. Can do definitely the surf stuff if that’s what you’re in the mood for. It handles, the lead circuit handles distortion pretty well. The pickup selector right now I’m all the way to the bridge side. That was the big the Electro Harmonix Big Muff, so big fuzz pedal. Does that pretty well. Here’s a clone of a wrapped pedal. Does a pretty good job. I also have a tube screamer built into my amp. By the way, I’m going through a Ibanez Tubescreamer is called TSA 15. I like it because it’s got, I think, a lot of good clean headroom, but also it has a tube screamer and Ibanez team square built right into the amp. Okay, that sounds like this. Right now, all I have on my board playing is an EQ pedal to give a little bit more brightness and a reverb pedal to kind of have it, just I think sounds nicer. But if you want to hear the complete dry sound. This is what it sounds like. So, it is capable of some good and clean sounds. I’m gonna turn some other sounds on to make it a little bit more fun. So it is capable of some good spacey sounds. Though one thing I have noticed, and take this with a grain of salt because I think as I get older, I think I’m just a humbucker guy and that’s who I am, but I have noticed that the pickups don’t really have that punch or bite that humbuckers might have, especially when you run it through, like I’m using my Zoom. What is this the MS70 CDR, to have big, I do ambient music sometimes, so big oceans of delay and chorus. So like, if you if you add too much on top of that guitar, it does get a little bit lost. It’s not very punchy. It’s a little, it shies away from being super bright, even though I’m in the lead and bridge position and my tone is turned like pretty much all the way up. It’s up to you. I mean, it’s just something I noticed. It doesn’t push itself to the front like a humbucker pickup would. But also, that’s why I love us have many different guitars, right? So that’s the lead circuit, but if I flip this switch up, I activate the rhythm circuit and once the rhythm circuit is activated, these controls down here do nothing and what does do something are these controls up here. In fact, the bridge pickups no longer working, it’s all going through the neck pickup and you’ve got only two controls, volume and tone. So right now, volume is all the way up and tone is all the way up so it sounds like this. You can course dial back that. So, all the way back. So, that was me playing as I just turned the tone knob up. It is capable of some pretty jazzy tones. I will say that it’s interesting to have two totally different circuits inside the same guitar because it really does make you feel like you’ve got two guitars going. That, even though that’s kind of woody and, you know, neck pickup in kind of a low tone. Even if I try to replicate the same thing on the lead circuit and putting my selector switch all the way forward, close, but it sounds a little bit different. I can even dial roll back the tone on the lead circuit, sounds a little bit different than this. It still rolls back some of the highs, even more than the lead circuit does. So, I’ve also heard of people doing things like using the pickup selector strategically. Like perhaps you have part of your song playing live that you want loud and you want to go immediately to a slow, quiet park and back to loud. So you can kind of use it as a volume switch in that way.
Tune-o-matic Bridge – Works Like a Charm
Keeping going down the guitar, as we get down here, yes indeed, this is a Tune-o-matic bridge. Again, some people are going to complain about that. I think that was a positive change having dealt with other kinds of Fender and other kinds of just weird bridges over the years. My personal opinion is they got it right when they invented Tune-o-matic bridges and we should all just switch to Tune-o-matic bridges. Some people will say that you can get better tonality out of other kinds of Jazzmaster bridges, but the folks who say that usually want you to buy, like a mastery bridge, and I’ve heard those are really good, but now we’re talking a lot of money and I just don’t know if the amount of money you would spend on that to really be that much better than a Tune-o-matic bridge to justify the cost. Your mileage may vary. Also going down the line, we have a vintage style tremolo system which I actually think is awesome. I actually love this tremolo. The only things that you might not like about it, if you care about brands, is it does not have the Fender logo stamped into it like my Modern Player does. It’s just a blank plate. In addition to that, it does not have a locking mechanism, so maybe that bugs you. To me, it’s not a huge deal because I really don’t break strings and if I was going to play a gig live, I’d probably have multiple guitars setup anyway. Like I’m not going to change a string in a stop a show to change a string anyway, so the fact that whether or not the tuning mechanism is going to lock to me has only marginal difference. It’s not enough to make me, like, to have to switch this out. The thing I will say that I do definitely like about this more than the Modern Player Jazzmaster and a lot of other especially finger guitars with tremolo systems, is this a tremolo arm. First off, I love the long tremolo arms that you get on Jazzmasters. This tremolo arm does not screw in. It actually is a more, I understand, a vintage style system that pops in. So, the first time I did it, I’m not going to take it out, because it does make you a little bit afraid the first time you do it, because you really have to like pop it and force it in, and like, you have an instant where you feel like, “Oh man, am I gonna break this thing”. I looked more into the mechanics of how this tremolo system works and it’s actually as tremolo systems go, it’s pretty basic. Like there’s just basically, like a big fat spring underneath the plate here, that when you depress the arm all you’re doing is you’re pushing out on a big fat spring. There’s not a lot of engineering that goes into it, comparatively. But yeah, you really got to press down and once you press down, this thing is in there. I’ve heard people complain and I’ve seen in reviews of saying like, “Oh my tremolo bar popped out. I hate this vintage style, needs to screw in”. I think what you’re doing is not popping in all the way and the reason I say that is I did that effect for the first two weeks I had this thing till I read some stuff online and saw that there was a little bit of a gap between where the curve over the bar met with the hole that goes into the tremolo system. There needs to be very little gap there. Mine was like, maybe a half inch out. If you’ve got like a half inch gap, keep pushing push it until it locks in all the way. The way this thing is set up, as you can just put it in the case with the tremolo bar in. It’ll be fine and once it’s in there all the way, it’s not coming out, even if you do like dives up. My favorite part is that it just floats. It just floats there whereever you put it. Whether you want it down here, like you don’t want to worry about it, or you want up here because you want to use it. So, on my Modern Player Jazzaster and other Fender guitars that I own and have owned, the tremolo bar screwed in and I don’t really like those as much because instead of floating where you put it, it just always will swing down and so you always have to reach down and grab it, which to me is an extra step while I’m trying to finish a sequence and then, you know, do that awesome whammy bar thing with the last note. I don’t want to have that stutter step of having to reach down and grab it. I like the bar just being where I left it and that’s what this thing definitely gives you. I actually have to say, I think what I’m going to do, I’ve found these Squire tremolo systems on eBay for like 35 bucks apiece. I’m think I’m going to buy one and put it in my Modern Player Jazzmaster because I just liked it so much.
This Jazzmaster is Worth Considering
But overall, this Jazzmaster is really good. If you want to get maybe not all the way, but close to what a what an actual, you know, American or Classic Player Jazzmaster would give you, for I think, if you buy like a standard retail, it’s like 450, but you can find on eBay for 400 or less. For less than $400, this is the closest that you’re going to get to a true vintage style Jazzmaster. I think it looks awesome. I think it plays really great. I’m not a huge fan of the neck. The electronics are not as perfect as they would be on American Jazzmaster, but that’s, you know, it’s also not like $2,500 too. For the money. I think this is one of the best value guitars out there and I think it just, this thing just looks killer. Different strokes for different folks, some people might not be able to get over the Squire on the headstock. I’ve even seen stuff of people online, like standing it off and putting Fender on there. I really don’t care that much. For me, in my book, if it sounds good, it is good and doesn’t really matter that much what’s on the headstock. I would recommend it if you’re looking for a Jazzmaster, it’s really great stuff.
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