Got one of the new Squier Chris Aiken Signature P-Bass 3 days ago, but I wanted to make sure I ran the usual "tests" on it before posting. First thing is first, let's get the specs out of the way (cut & paste from Fender's official website):
Neck Shape: "C" Shape
Number of Frets: 20
Fret Size: Medium Jumbo
Position Inlays: Pearloid Block Inlays
Fretboard Radius: 9.5" (24.1 cm)
Neck Material: Maple
Neck Finish: Polyurethane
Nut Width: 1.625" (41.3 mm)
Scale Length: 34" (86.36 cm)
Neck Binding: White
Pickup Configuration: Single Split-Coil Pickup
Middle Pickup: Duncan Designed™ PB-105 Split Single-Coil Pickup
Controls: Master Volume
Bridge: Hi-Mass bridge with brass saddles
String Nut: PPS
Tuning Machines: Vintage Chrome
Retail Price: $275-299
Second, the pictures of it along with my Fender Seafoam Pearl Special Run Precision Special Active Deluxe. As you can see, I'm a huge fan of 4 things:
1) Glossy necks
2) Bind & Blocked Inlay Necks
3) Precision Basses
4) Mirror Pickguards
And last, my impressions of this bass. I'll format it into short points with pros (+), cons (-), and neutral (o) points. Please remember, YMMV due to a various number of factors either internal or external.
+ No sharp fret edges
+ Smooth finish
+ Tuning machines hold tuning well
o Binding on this particular model is good but not perfect
- Compared to other Fender models (not Squier) the binding is about half the size (height-wise)
o Compared to other Squiers the binding is normal-sized.
o PPS nut (scroll to the very bottom of the post for more information on PPS and what it is)
o 1.625" nut width in combo of the "C" shape neck - feels easier to play than a 1.75" spec "C" shape neck like on the MIM Fender Classic & MIA American Vintage P-Basses / This is completely preference though.
+ Smooth finish
+ Light weight
o Basswood body / Preference, but the tone-wood fanatic inside of you (if there is one) might be skeptical.
o Olympic White is the only color option / Other choices would be nice, but it does match the pearloid blocks and white binding.
o Squier Hi-Mass bridge (same one that are on the CV & Matt Freeman basses) / For those that favor other bridges or like to replace bridges with their own preferred choice - a direct drop-in replacement is out of the question due to the mounting hole placement.
o String Spacing is slightly larger than the usual 19mm / A blessing for some - a hassle for others.
Pickup & Electronics
+ Volume doesn't scratch when turned
+ Volume knob is responsive
- No tone knob / I know there are some players out there (like me) that - when a tone knob is available - we keep it wide open. However, a tone knob would have been a nice option.
o Duncan Designed PB-105 / Modeled after the Quarter-Pound pickup but (to me) is voiced like the SPB-1 from Seymour Duncan - gives a vintage tone but with the mids a bit subdued.
String Reaction: Strings that were used during this test with EQ flat, Notch Frequency off, and Tweeters off on an Acoustic B600H and 2 Acoustic B115 cabs plugged straight from the bass to the amp. Note that all rounds were fresh out of the pack during this test for the most *zing* and played roughly 45mins to 1hr after intonation and being tuned. Unfortunately, no Stainless Steels were available to me for testing.
Rounds: Fender Nickel Plated Steels, GHS Boomers, Dean Markley Nickel Plated Blue Steels.
Flats: GHS Precision, Fender Nylon Tapewounds.
Personal Verdict: Best match were the GHS Precision flatwounds. The way the pickups are voiced, a warm and vintage tone is a solid way to go on this P-Bass. None of the strings sounded "bad" on this bass, but the GHS flats were just able to let the pickups sing (for flats). As for rounds, the Fenders were the only strings that felt like it wasn't fighting the pickup. The Boomers slightly suppressed the mids more than it already is and the Blue Steels gave it an unwanted "boost" and "bite" that sounded a bit harsh. On a side note, I use the Blue Steels with my active P/J and they sound fantastic with that bass.
Overall, for a $275 bass (BRAND NEW), it's a great buy compared to the other PRECISION (TYPE) basses within the $250-350 price range.
Is it the best in it's category? IMO, I would rather take a Classic Vibe over this one. However, the neck alone is worth the price of admission. The nut and the binding could be better, but let's face it, it's a $275 instrument. Some things are not going to be perfect while some things will be. Now, the last question to answer might be: How does this compare to a Fender MIM Standard? I won't make a comparison since each offer something a little different that the other doesn't. But as for THIS particular bass, it gets a seal of approval from me.
Now for the info on PPS and what it is (for those wondering what on Earth Fender was using for the nut on the neck)!
PolyPhenylene Sulphide (PPS) |
PPS is a crystalline material, usually supplied reinforced with glass fibres or glass fibres and mineral fillers. The chemical and ionizing radiation resistance of PPS is excellent and the maximum recommended service temperature for PPS is about 200°C, although it will withstand 350°C for short periods of time. While PPS will burn and char in the presence of a flame, it is self extinguishing and any smoke that does form is lower in toxicity compared to that given off by many polymers. There are some similarities between PPS and polysulphones, with PPS usually the cheaper option. Uses of PPS include chemically resistant coatings, chemical pumps and electrical components