Squier's Vintage Modified guitar and bass range is designed to take old school designs and make them work for contemporary players on a budget. And that's exactly what the new Jaguar HH we have here is all about.
Now see the Jazzmaster in action with our video demo...
You get the classic offset body, gloss finish bolt-on maple neck, a big CBS-era headstock and, well, that's pretty much all the vintage stuff covered.
To bring the guitar's performance up to date, Fender has fitted it with beefier pickups, dropped the old school vibrato that made the original guitar an acquired taste and worked in a 241mm (9.5-inch) fingerboard radius (in place of the original 184mm/7.25-inch) for improved string-bending and general playability.
The recessed Stratocaster-style jackplates and stacked concentric '62 Jazz Bass controls are also obvious departures from Leo Fender's original blueprints. The chrome knob on each control handles volume duties, while the bottom ring part is a tone.
Then there's the isosceles trapezium-shaped hardtail bridge. It looks very similar to a Danelectro unit and is mounted like one too - the front of the bridgeplate rests on two screws that raise or lower the action.
You can also tweak the action and intonation with the six individual saddles. The rear of the bridge is secured with a single large screw that can alter the angle of the whole unit.
The jackplate looks a bit out of place to us, and the controls have an annoying habit of snagging on each other - meaning both move when you're trying to adjust only one.
Moving swiftly on, the body of the Jazzmaster is formed from four pieces of alder and build quality is generally good, except for an untidy gap where the butt of the neck meets the face of the body. It doesn't affect
playability, but we expect better, even on a guitar of this price.
While we're in the neck area, the Jazzmaster is only available with a maple 'board with black dots. It has a sleek 'C'-profile, with 21 medium jumbo frets. It also comes loaded with a pair of Duncan Designed JM-101 single-coil pickups. Powered by Alnico 5 magnets, these pickups have apparently been overwound for a beefier tone.
The playability of the guitars is excellent - that common neck profile is a joy to noodle on and the frets have been finished perfectly. There's no buzzing or choking to spoil the fun either.
Tonally, the Jazzmaster is versatile. Run it through a small tube amp (or similar modelled sound), crank up the volume and you get that punchy clean tone heard on Tom Petty, The Smiths and REM records.
Add some filth for snarling punk licks or switch both pickups on with a clean tone and slapback echo for convincing rockabilly rebellion. Played clean, the Jazzmaster kills for surf (although you might miss the vibrato), ska, country licks and some Johnny Cash boom- chicka-boom. Indeed, Cash guitarists Luther Perkins andBob Wootton both used Jazzmasters during their time with The Man In Black.
The neck pickup will do jazz styles, but we can't imagine that many dedicated jazzers would choose to pick up this style of guitar over a hollowbody.
As mentioned, we're not keen on the jackplates and super- sized controls, but in every other regard our time with the Vintage Modified Jazzmaster has been great.
It's vibrant, easy to play and comes loaded with great sounding pickups. Yes, Fender has squeezed an incredible amount of juice out of its old classics, but when the result is an instrument that playa and sounds a step above its price bracket as this does, few will be complaining - big knobs or not.