NBD Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar V Bass w/ Review
OK. So I've wanted one of these since they were announced in the early summer. Sadly, the initial launch was only in Europe & they weren't made available in North American until August. With my Spector ReBop 5DLX needing a truss rod replacement, and a new pre-amp going in, I decided that I needed a backup 5 string and jumped at the chance to pull the trigger on a (now justified) bass!
I tried a Yamaha RBX375, but found it cumbersome to play. It had a harsh pre-amp, the pickups couldn't be lowered enough & the action wouldn't go down because the relief couldn't be pulled OUT of the neck. So, I took it back & ordered the VM Jag V in 3TSB to try out. It took exactly 1 week to come in, arriving 5 minutes after I had been in the shop asking if it had been arrived. I was on my way to my Wednesday jam & immediatly went back to pick it up.
Weighs 9 lbs
5 piece Basswood body
3 tone sunburst poly finish
Black 3-ply pickguard
The salesman, who is also my bass tech, & I unpacked it & were both shocked at how little it weighed. It was comfortable & close to my 8.5lb Spector & 8lb P-bass. It also balanced well on a strap, despite having a shorter horn than a Jazz or P-bass would. I looked over the body & noticed it's a 5 piece. It's very reasonably matched, for an inexpensive bass, with only 1 piece standing out as noticeable on the front.
When you turn it over, you can see all 5 pieces clearly.
There's a knot on the piece closest to the upper edge (when lying horizontal).
Neither of these issues bother me, as you can't see them from the front and the bass is structurally strong. The pickup routes are aligned correctly, as is the bridge. The P pick-up's pole pieces are spaced too wide to line up, but it's centered.
No gaps between the control plate & pickguard. No screws forced in sideways.
Maple neck with Rosewood fingerboard & skunk stripe
4+1 open gear tuner arrangement
Bar string holder across EADG strings
Aside from the rosewood board (I'm a maple fan), the neck is pretty & solid. No flaws in the construction or finish. No sharp fret edges, no high frets. The tuners are solid and the nut is well cut. I may at some point decide to order a Warmoth Standard 5 neck for it, but that would only be to go back to a maple board with block inlays. :) The other option would be to order a Squier VM Jazz V and swap necks, but then I'd be left with a 5 string Jazz with a non-bound neck to sell, and I doubt I'd get enough back to cover the difference between this option & buying the Warmoth. If anyone has a bound & blocked VM Jazz 5 neck & wants to trade, I'm all ears. :D
I tested the Jag out briefly at the store, to ensure all electronics & hardware worked, and that it was playable. The strings are tighter than I would have expected, and the B resonates well without having to adjust my playing style. It played great out of the box. That being said, whoever set it up did so for 1 whole note drop tuning. -_- As soon as I tuned it up to BEADG, the intonation was a little out. The action is also higher than I like, but that will be adjusted as I go through this review. I played it at my jam for 3 hours and was impressed with how well it kept its tuning (didn't need to retune at all) and that the high action didn't really bother me much. The neck is fast and doesn't feel fat, despite being wider than my Spector. The string spacing is comfortable, too.
I've since adjusted the bass' relief, action & intonation. It plays much better than before & the travel distance doesn't irk me when I'm noodling in the upper register. There's a slight buzzing when playing unplugged, but it's not audible when plugged in. If it bothers me too much, I'll just give each saddle a half turn & retest it.
5 string P-bass & J-bass pickups
Wired Vol-Vol-Bass Boost-Tone
The tone on this thing is nothing short of astounding for the price range. I didn't know how the bass boost was going to sound. I expected them to put a bargain basement boost circuit in that sounds like garbage. I was wrong! The boost circuit is smooth and clear. I don't dial much in, but it's not even overbearing at full volume. It will be quite useful for my cover band's range of songs. The P, when solo'd, sounds exactly as a P should sound. Thumpy and full of mids. The Jazz solo'd is throaty with a bit of growl and more highs. The passive tone control is smooth, with no harsh clanking from the strings at full. Great for any post-punk or 80s rock songs we break out.
This bass is an absolute STEAL for the money. Fit & finish are astounding, with minor cosmetic issues that I've also seen on American Standards. The weight is less than most Mexicans, and rivals most Americans. The tone is something you would expect from an instrument at least 3x its price. And the look is 1 of a kind! Nobody else makes a 5 string Jaguar! Not even Fender!
I give this bass a solid 8/10, with 1 point deducted for the knot in the body and 1 for the P pick-up pole piece spacing. I definitely recommend this to anyone that's on the fence about 5 string basses, or is looking for an inexpensive backup.
Thanks for the review. Will keep it on my short list.
Nice review. The nice thing about this is it's cheap enough you can buy one just for fun but a good enough instrument that it's fun to play too. Congrats!
Your strings are really really off from the poles, thats weird, I've checked mine and the strings could hardly be more aligned to the poles... maybe the pickguard isn't cut well? It can hardly be the bridge...
Anyway, glad that you like this instrument, its really is a killer deal, I doubt that the pole being misaligned affect much the sound but beside that, its a lovely instrument for sure.
Nice looking bass ya got there.
What is the string spacing at the bridge, 18 or 19mm?
Does anyone know if this is the same neck that they use on the Deluxe Active V? I'm trying to get an idea of 'chunkiness'. As a frame of reference, the old Squier 'Precision V' (that had 2 J pickups :confused:) is what I consider too chunky for me.
The neck on the Deluxe Active Jazz V is quite thin front to back, with a wide/flat carve. It's a hair over 2" at the nut (51mm), which is crazy wide.
If the Jag has the same profile as the VM Precision V I tried, then it's a fairly deep C, with a hint of a soft vee to it. I expect that it is, as it has the same nut width at a hair over 1 7/8" (47.6mm) and description on their web page.
I'm normally a sucker for wider necks, but even I found the Active Jazz a bit much. It's funny how an extra 1/8th of an inch can be so noticeable. The VM P5 felt much faster and more comfortable, at least for my tastes. Kind of reminiscent of my Indonesian Ibanez ATK 305.
I hadn't even given these any thought, but I see that the neck is finished in satin poly. I much prefer the way that feels, to the thick CV 60's-style gloss finish that's on the new VM P-Bass V.
I'm looking for a cheap beater backup as it is, so I might have to investigate these.
The extra versatility of the P/J setup would be handy, and from the couple of demos I've seen, it seems like the boost circuit works pretty nicely.
The fact that it's $50 less than the P-Bass is interesting, too. I wonder how they justify that?
Probably the Jag bass doesn't have the reputation and fame of a P-bass... so they want to give people extra incentive to try them out :bassist:
The neck's quite comfortable, thinner than my Spector but slightly wider at the nut. It's definitely not a beast of a neck.
As for why it's $50 less, no idea. Prestige & the lack of a maple board neck is my guess.
That being said, if anyone wants to trade me their maple board neck for my rosewood... ;)
Fender's 5-string demos drive me nuts. They rarely even use the low string. :(
The best way to demo it is in person, honestly. That way you can check for imperfections, too. I ended up returning mine because the pole alignment bugged me too much & the replacement they ordered in had cosmetic damage.
I ordered one in 3TSB a few days ago and it should be here this week. Just trying to learn as much as I can about them...guess it helps with the anticipation of waiting!
What did you think of the pole peices on the Jazz pickup? Did they bother your fingers if you played over it? I'm wondering how high out they need to be in order to be set up properly. Also, was it noisy? I've only owned one P/J before, and the Jazz pickup was so noisy that I didn't even use it at home. I was able to use it at gigs, usually because of good house sound equipment that would get rid of the noise.
I saw the pole peices on yours, and that's a shame! I have a 1995 USA Peavey Fury that was about like your VM Jag V when I bought it at a pawn shop. I replaced the bridge with a Schaller Roller Bridge with adjustable string spacing. It fixed the problem completely, and I think improved the even-ness in sound and response across the strings. If I remember right, you already sent yours back? If not, getting a bridge with adjustable string spacing might fix it...not that you should have to immediately replace the bridge on a new bass, but...
This bass will be my first 5 string, so I didn't want to spend much. If I really like it, I'll probably upgrade the hardware and pickups over time, but I'm hoping for a gig worthy instrument after a setup and a little bit of messing around with it. I plan to gig it this weekend if it comes in on time.
**Edited...DERP! THIS is your thread...lol! And you mention sending it back in the post I quoted...fail! Sorry about that...reading too many different threads this morning!
NBD Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar V Bass w/ Review
I pulled the trigger on a 3TS VM Precision V this week, but I should get a chance to test it back-back with the Jag Special V in the next week or so. Looking forward to the comparison.
^^ looking forward to reading your comparison. There is another thread about this bass here on TB and I posted my review there.
Here is a copy of what I typed in the other thread:
Well, the bass came in today and I must say, I am quite thrilled. Fit and finish were far superior to what I expected from a $250 instrument. Fretwork is on par with my MIM Jazz. The finish isn't quite as nice, but I didn't buy it for decoration. Playability is very similar. The only noticeable difference is the finish on the back side of the neck, and the rosewood fretboard seems to maybe be a bit cheaper. The neck on this bass almost feels sanded, but not coated. On my MIM I can feel more of a "finish". The rosewood on my MIM seems to be a bit thicker and have more texture to it. Maybe this one will develop some texture over time. I'm pleased with the pickups. They are smooth and even sounding. If you leave the preamp off, they aren't very hot pickups. I have to turn the gain on my amp up a bit compared to my other bases. Once you engage the preamp, the output level comes up to par with my other basses. I had to adjust the truss rod a full turn, which I expected to have to do. I had to adjust the saddle heights because the factory setup was a little high for my taste. The intonation was also off quite a bit, but adjusted well. The B string didn't sound right, so I re-strung it and it sound great now. I think it was twisted during the install. The tension and tone of the B are very acceptable to me. I've played a few other 5 strings in shops (Ibanez SR and ATK lines and several Schecter models), and would say the ATK was the only one that could compare. This one is certainly better than the SR's and Shecters I tried. This is my first 5 string, so I didn't want to spend much. Over all I'm very pleased and would recommend this bass to other in a similar situation.
Gigged with the VM Jag V this past weekend and was really pleased. The J pup is pretty loud at my house (big power lines just beyond my backyard), but was really quiet at the venue. The bass feels great in my hands and didn't feel any heavier than my other basses. I need to raise the pickups a bit under the D and G strings, they were a bit quiet compared to the B, E, and A strings. The sound guy (has done sound for us for over a year) made a comment about enjoying the sound when we were done playing, and my band mates didn't have any complaints. I listened to a recording of the performance and was pleased with the sound in the mix. The lowest note I played was a low D, and the B string sounded and felt fantastic. The neck is thick and the spacing is pretty wide, but it feels really comfortable to me. No complaints at all! Doesn't seem like there are too many of these around yet...maybe that will change in time.
I asked my local Long and McQuade to transfer a 3TS Jag V in from the Maritimes, so I could take a look at it. I thought the Jaguar might be a cheap alternative to my Vintage Modified Precision V.
It was a fail from my perspective, on a number of levels.
The Jaguar neck-dived pretty badly, didn't sit well, and weighed close to a pound more than the VMPV.
I normally prefer necks with thin oil finishes vs thick poly, but not in this case. The Jag neck is a little thinner and flatter front to back, and feels almost like raw wood. The difference in shape was slight, but I preferred the PV's nice big handful. Meanwhile, the P-bass neck feels about $100 more expensive, with nicely rolled fretboard edges and rounded fret ends. The Jag fingerboard had sharp edges, rough fret ends, and was already manifesting some fret sprout. This was not promising, given that our winter has barely begun.
My P-bass has a single dead spot at the 5th fret on the g-string. The Jag felt and sounded dead all the way up and down the fingerboard.
Comparing the split-coil pickups, the Precision had a bigger, rounder tone. The Jag sounded a bit anemic in comparison. Turning on the Jaguar's active boost didn't cover the same ground- at anywhere past about the first 10%, it just got loud and boomy.
Pros for the Jag:
- The J pickup. The VMP5 has a nice tone, but it doesn't do bright or detailed. The Jag has a range of more aggressive sounds.
- You may like the body style.
One thing that struck me about my recent shopping experiences with Squier: you can expect surprisingly good quality of fit and finish at this price level, but consistency is not their strong suit...
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