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Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster Review

The Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster is the best Jazzmaster money can buy right now, even more so than a Fender version. Why? Because it's the most true to what a "real Jazzmaster" is supposed to be without paying thousands of dollars or anywhere close to that.

A lot of dancing around, but few that hit the mark

The original design of the Jazzmaster is something most players don't like, mainly concerning the bridge, vibrato and electronics. As such, both Fender and Squier have several Jazzmaster models that stray far away from tradition.

A few examples:

The Squier Jazzmaster Special has no vibrato, no rhythm circuit and uses concentric volume/tone knobs.

The Fender Classic Player Jazzmaster Special is close to the original, but the bridge is replaced by an Adjust-O-Matic.

The Fender American Special Jazzmaster has no vibrato system at all, and the "swoop" JAZZMASTER logo on the headstock is totally wrong.

Basically put, both Fender and Squier dance around the original Jazzmaster design quite a bit. Currently, there are only 3 models that are true to the original. The Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster, Fender American Vintage '65 Jazzmaster and Fender 1964 Closet Classic Jazzmaster. That's it. All other models don't follow the original.

When you want as-close-to-original with the exception of a modern "C" slim oval neck and modern frets, you get the Squier Vintage Modified version. If you want an absolute original Jazzmaster design, you get the American Vintage '65.

And yes, that basically means if you buy the Squier Vintage Modified, really like it and want to stay with that design, there are only two Fender models above it that can accommodate...

...and it's for this reason I say the Squier Vintage Modified is in fact the absolute best Jazzmaster for the money right now.

Trust Leo's original design and good things will happen

The things people hate about the original Jazzmaster design is the string ring, the buzzy bridge, the buzzy neck, the vibrato system and the way the electronics work.

Or to put it another way, most players love the look and feel of the guitar, but hate almost everything else about it. Fender understands this all too well, and that's why there are so many different Jazzmaster models that stray outside the original design.

An original-design Jazzmaster is quirky as hell, and I don't deny that. But those quirks are what make the guitar so wonderful.

As I say in the above video, a Jazz is not "Telecaster easy". If you want the easiest possible electric guitar to play where you can just bang away on it and not care, you play a Telecaster. Any Telecaster. Whether it's the lowest-priced Squier Affinity model, the high-priced Select Telecaster or any model in between, a Tele is a Tele, and it's stupidly easy-to-play. No vibrato to deal with, a rock-solid bridge setup, and you can literally bang those strings as hard as you can and the Tele can handle it with no problem at all.

A Jazz is not an easy guitar, because there's a lot going on with it. You have to play it differently, the electronics are a lot more complicated and there is a learning curve with the guitar. A big one.

But for many, once you go Jazz, you never go back. The guitar was designed to be insanely comfortable to play, and it is. The offset-waist body shape molds right to you, and having the neck just slightly further away makes such an amazing difference.

I said before in a previous blog that I'm an "offset convert", and I totally am. To me, Strats and Teles just seem so inferior compared to a Jazzmaster now. It's not that Strats and Teles are bad guitars, because they're not, but I can totally understand why Leo Fender pushed the Jazz as the premium top-of-the-line Fender model at one point. The Jazz really is superior, if you know how to wield one properly.

An original-design Jazzmaster is not a guitar I recommend, but I love it anyway

The entire reason I don't recommend the original-design Jazzmaster is because today's modern guitar player wants something "automatic", as in a guitar they can just pick up and play that has little to no learning curve at all.

It's like I said, if you want easy, play a Telecaster. Or if the Tele shape doesn't agree with you, play a Stratocaster, which is slightly more complicated because of the 3-pickup layout and tremolo system, but not by much.

The complicated nature of an original-design Jazzmaster is not why I love it. I love it because it's insanely comfortable to play, and I can get sounds out of it that Strats and Teles simply cannot do.

Even if you took a Strat or Tele and stuffed in those big Jazzmaster pickups somehow, it still wouldn't be the same. Similar, yes, but not the same.

I'm very, very happy there was an inexpensive Squier Jazzmaster that stayed true to the original design, because it's my #1 axe. Great guitar.


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