A while back I posted in threads about the Classic Vibe 60s Jazz that I would eventually give a detailed review after messing around the bass for an extended period of time. Since it has been around a month since I have bought one, I think it would be a good time to share my thoughts.
I will cut right to the point that most are probably wondering about – I certainly think that this bass is worth $300.00 and yes, I do believe Squier basses have been getting better in terms of value and quality control.
I bought the bass the day after trying it at a music store and I compared it to a quite few other Fender (as well as a Squier Vintage Modified) basses. No, I do not think this bass is better than an American Fender, but for the money, one cannot expect it to be.
The first thing that surprised me about the bass was the weight. It is fairly light (around 8 pounds) and is very resonant. I was skeptical about the basswood body (my other bass, a Tetsu-model GrassRoots bass, is also made of basswood and is HEAVY) and was pleasantly surprised when I picked it off the wall.
Next thing was the finish and setup. It was nicely setup and looked aesthetically pleasing, especially the tortoiseshell guard. I did not notice the bridge saddles at first (supposedly brass) but looking at them now, I think they make the bass look fairly unique (for a mass produced bass that is).
Plugged in at the shop, it sounded like a decent Jazz bass. It could ape the standard slap tone, the thick neck sound and the Jaco-esque bridge vibe. After buying it, I was really excited to play it through my amp and cabinet (Little Mark II, GK Neo 112) ... sadly, this is where a couple of issues arise.
I could not tell at the shop, but the bass really needed some shielding. How I missed it, I have no idea. Perhaps it was the Fender combo amp that I was playing through (and possibly the fact that I just kept mucking around the thing), but at home, the pickups produced an annoying hum.
I was also a little disappointed with the tone of the stock pickups. While they are not terrible by any means, they certainly are not very inspiring. Like I mentioned before, the bass could mimic the tone of other Jazz basses decently, but that is where it ends. Personally, “decent” is just not my thing. I am not the type to go modification happy, but after about three weeks of humming and overall bland tone, I swapped the pickups for DiMarzio Ultra-Jazz pickups (courtesy of Best Bass Gear) and had the cavity shielded. After getting the bass back, I was fairly pleased with the sound of the Ultra-Jazz set. While a lot better than the stock set, the bridge pickup does not cop the exact aggressiveness I am looking for. For now though, I am really happy with the end result. No hum and improved tone is always good.
Another annoyance (which I relieved with some mild work) was the stiffness of the tuners. Swapping out the stock strings (of unknown origin), it took a Herculean effort to tune the thing back up. Not a huge deal since it appears to hold in place well, but still worth mentioning.
One last complaint is the finish on the back of the neck. At first, I was happy at the sight of no “skunk stripe.” After a while though, the almost radioactive-looking orange tint started to be a bit of an eyesore. It is not that bad, but it gives the bass a cheap appearance (which I suppose is fitting, given the brand and price).
In spite of the issues that I brought up, I still very much think that the Classic Vibe 60s Jazz is a nice bass. It feels nice in my hands, can produce “Jazz” sounds and a big plus for me is the fact that it looks great in person.
To sum it up -
Pros – Looks great, is light weight (though that may certainly vary from bass to bass), sounds decent (even without modification, though shielding may be required) and carries a price tag of $300
Cons – Pickups may not be suitable for some, may have some grounding/hum issues, may have stiff tuners, some may not like the finish on the back of the neck and it carries a price tag of $300
Obligatory photos of the bass -
A full shot of the bass. Nothing too out of the ordinary for a Jazz style bass.
A closer shot of the body – the “brass saddles” on the bridge can be seen a little better here.
A shot of the headstock for those that were curious about how it looks. The gold lettering is a little cheesy, but hey, at least it's not the old boring black text of other Squier instruments.
Here's a shot of the neck. The lack of the “skunk stripe” is very appealing to me, but the finish screams “this came out of the same factory as an SX bass!” It is alright, but the wood itself does not have a very attractive appearance.