Squier 40th Anniversary Gold Edition Vintage Precision and Jazz Bass review

A new gold standard for affordable bass guitars, or celebratory special edition to celebrate celebrate four decades of the Fender-owned brand? Why not both?

  • £429
  • €469
  • $599
Squier 40th Anniversary Gold Edition
(Image: © Squier)

MusicRadar Verdict

Champagne design at supermarket beer prices, the 40th Anniversary Gold Edition models offer bling and classic bass tones, with a contemporary feel and playability that is on the money for Squier’s target market.

Pros

  • +

    Excellent rendering of classic bass tones.

  • +

    C shape neck is very welcoming and playable.

  • +

    Nice finishes.

  • +

    A collectable Squier? The neck plate says yes.

Cons

  • -

    Priced at the higher-point of the Squier range, you might want to think about the Player Series.

  • -

    No gig-bag/case included.

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Squier 40th Anniversary Vintage Precision and Jazz Bass: What is it?

The 40th Anniversary Series Gold Edition finds Squier gilding its line-up of electric and bass guitars with gold hardware and matching gold anodized pickguards, challenging the notion that Fender’s more-affordable brand is for the beginner only.

Of course, it has that demographic sewn up, with its Bullet and Affinity Series hard to beat if you are looking for a cheap electric guitar to familiarise yourself with the rudiments of guitar playing – or if you’re Mike Rutherford, you just happen to like the finishes, and with a little upgrade to the hardware you can play arena shows with them.

But these two four-strings, the Precision and Jazz Bass are like the guitars in the range, and have an aspirational quality to them. Just as the Classic Vibe Series has done before, these come priced for the intermediate player – perhaps a player searching for their first serious-ish bass – and that raises our expectations accordingly.

Out of the box, the Jazz Bass – offset, effortlessly cool – feels that little bit heavier than the Precision. There’s a pound in it. 

Both feature solid nyatoh bodies, as opposed to the alder you would typically find on mainline Fender, or the poplar and soft-maple tonewoods used on the Classic Vibe bodies, with bolt-on maple necks shaped in a wholly uncontroversial C profile, one that reflects fashionable tastes for a thinner neck than vintage instruments. 

Squier hasn’t spared the poly in making these but nonetheless, the finishes are exemplary, the gloss amplifying the colour finish. Gold neck plates match the hardware and are engraved with the 40th Anniversary livery.

Since we are going all in on classing up the basses for a banner year in the company’s history, both the Jazz and Precision have block inlays on Indian laurel fingerboards. Said ‘boards have a 9.5” radius and seat 20 narrow-tall frets, and are bound to put the bow on the luxury look. 

In terms of dimensions and configuration, the 40th Anniversary models will be welcomed like old friends to anyone familiar with both designs.

Squier 40th Anniversary Collection

(Image credit: Fender)

Both basses are passive. All of these pickup designs have come from Fender and feature Alnico 5 magnets, just like the Fender Custom Shop and vintage units.

For the Precision, you’ve got one single split-coil pickup, positioned somewhere up the middle between the bridge and fretboard. The Jazz Bass presents a pair of single-coils at the bridge and middle positions. 

That pickup voicing is indicative of where Squier is with these basses, for although the gold dates them to 2022, the tones, the vintage-style open-gear tuners and the four-saddle bridge designs speak of two basses that are referencing classic models. So, is that what we have here, the quintessential Precision and Jazz Bass at a more accessible price?

Squier 40th Anniversary Collection

(Image credit: Fender)

Squier 40th Anniversary Vintage Precision and Jazz Bass: Performance and verdict

There is plenty of evidence to disavow the notion that these are truly vintage-Fender-inspired creations. The neck profiles for one are more cognisant of contemporary tastes; there’s a little less oak on the trunk, so to speak. 

The 9.5” fingerboard radius is not quite as modern as those you’d find on the Contemporary Active models, which have a 12” radius, but then it’s not quite 7.25” old-school Fender either – and then there’s all that gold, too. 

More to the point, if you have a gold allergy, Squier has given their 40th Anniversary models a sort of Classic Vibe treatment on the Vintage Edition models, which similarly finish the instruments in aged lacquer that makes them look as though they spent their last 40 years holding down a gig in a smoke-filled bar. 

The nicotine yellow of this effect is complemented by nickel hardware and the block inlays of the Gold Edition instruments are swapped out for more demure dot markers, and fingerboards are unbound maple as opposed to the Indian laurel we have here.

Sound-wise, there’s not going to be much distance between them – but is there a distance between the sounds you’d get out of a Fender Precision Bass or Jazz Bass and these Squiers?

Well, the good news is they hold up well. The P-Bass is a more than adequate stand-in and performs that similarly clever trick of managing to balance plummy depth and warmth, big body and width, with detail – there is a particularly rewarding amount of push in the top end when the tone dial is on 10. 

It’s never overly metallic, though, and just as the Precision built its success on serving the widest demographic of players possible – all kinds of genres welcome, all kinds of styles – this 40th Anniversary Squier does likewise, with little noise too. 

Also consider...

Squier

(Image credit: Fender)

Squier Classic Vibe '60s Jazz Bass
This takes the cake in terms of value, and delivers a sound and look that gets you in the same ballpark as those much sought-after vintage instruments even if, like the majority of us, you can't afford the ticket. 

Harley Benton JB-75 (opens in new tab)
And even more budget-friendly bass, clearly inspired by the J-style bass guitar, the JB-75 is a superb choice for beginners and perhaps guitar players needing a knock-about bass for fun.

Squier Classic Vibe '50s Precision Bass
The bass end is warm and fruity and the top end provides attack rather than becoming glassy. Ease the tone up a fraction from the bass end and you get both warmth and edge and this is what gives you the punch that P-basses are known for. Like the '60s Jazz Bass, seriously impressive at the price.

The neck, once more, is really very accommodating and welcoming, for bassists who like to play. Ditto, the 40th Anniversary Jazz Bass. Its dual-pickup configuration, as on its extended Fender family, opens up a few more possibilities or at least presents them in an even more user-friendly format. 

Via the individual volume controls for each pickup, and a master tone, the control setup here offers a guided tour through Jazz Bass tones of yore, with enough effervescent bounce to make it an option for slap and percussive players, enough grit to make it rock. 

Both are convincing. There are other options of course. Even in the range. The aforementioned Vintage Edition will give you that aged look, and there’s no question they’re less ostentatious without the gold. At this price, the 40th Anniversary Series are just over two hundred bucks cheaper than their equivalents in Fender’s Mexican-made Player Series. The latter offers more finish options, alder bodies, and the Big F’s name on the headstock.

That will sway some players. But after all these years, the Squier brand has established itself as a chip off the old block. These are imbued with a lot of the same DNA as their Fender counterparts. Squier is in a good place right now. That in its own right is something to celebrate. So, too, is 40 years of Squier. These Gold Edition models are dressed for the occasion. 

MusicRadar verdict: Champagne design at supermarket beer prices, the 40th Anniversary Gold Edition models offer bling and classic bass tones, with a contemporary feel and playability that is on the money for Squier’s target market.

Squier 40th Anniversary Vintage Precision and Jazz Bass: The web says

“If I had to use one word to describe the sound of the Squier Precision, it would be ‘authentic’. It’s loud and proud, and in a straight fight with my 20-year-old Fender P, easily holds its own, with even more of a snarling clang to the top-end. Very impressive.

“The Squier Jazz feels substantially weightier than the Precision – in fact, it’s exactly a pound heavier. It feels and looks like a high-quality instrument, and it sounds great too… All the classic Jazz bass tones are present and correct, with a particularly impressive, zingy top end which will make this a slapper’s dream.” 
Bass Player Magazine (opens in new tab)

Squier 40th Anniversary Vintage Precision and Jazz Bass: Hands-on demos

Andertons

Patrick Hunter

Squier 40th Anniversary Vintage Precision and Jazz Bass: Specifications

Squier 40th Anniversary Vintage Precision Bass

Squier 40th Anniversary Precision Bass

(Image credit: Fender)
  • MADE IN: Indonesia
  • BODY: Nyatoh
  • NECK: Maple, 34” scale 
  • NECK JOIN: Bolt-on
  • NUT WIDTH: 43mm (38mm)
  • FINGERBOARD: Indian Laurel
  • FRETS: 20, narrow tall
  • PICKUPS: 1 x Fender-designed Alnico V split single-coil 
  • ELECTRONICS: Passive
  • CONTROLS: Volume, tone (front pickup volume, bridge pickup volume, tone)
  • HARDWARE: Fender, gold-plated
  • WEIGHT: 8.4 lbs (9.3 lbs) 
  • LEFT-HAND AVAILABLE? No
  • CASE/GIGBAG INCLUDED? No
  • FINISH OPTIONS: Black [as reviewed], Lake Placid Blue

Squier 40th Anniversary Vintage Jazz Bass

Squier 40th Anniversary Jazz Bass

(Image credit: Fender)
  • MADE IN: Indonesia
  • BODY: Nyatoh
  • NECK: Maple, 34” scale 
  • NECK JOIN: Bolt-on
  • NUT WIDTH: 43mm (38mm)
  • FINGERBOARD: Indian laurel, bound, 9.25" radius
  • FRETS: 20, tall narrow
  • PICKUPS: 2x Fender-designed Alnico single-coils
  • ELECTRONICS: Passive
  • CONTROLS: Volume, tone (front pickup volume, bridge pickup volume, tone)
  • HARDWARE: Fender, gold-plated
  • WEIGHT: 8.4 lbs (9.3 lbs) 
  • LEFT-HAND AVAILABLE? No
  • CASE/GIGBAG INCLUDED? No
  • FINISH OPTIONS: Olympic White [as reviewed], Ruby Red Metallic
  • CONTACT: Fender (opens in new tab)

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