Fender Mustang vs. Pawn Shop Mustang vs. Squier VM Jaguar (Short Scale)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by purerubbish, Dec 11, 2014.

  1. purerubbish

    purerubbish Guest

    Dec 11, 2014
    Hi all. I need some advice on this major indecision.

    I am a musician (guitar, bass, etc.), but I am actually shopping around for a bass to give my wife. She is also a musician. She plays a Fender Precision bass (that she has had for 20 years), but she finds it very big, heavy, and cumbersome. And she has tiny hands. I think she would transition nicely to a short scale bass. (She plays exclusively with a "pick" and plays indie/alternative music like The Pixies, Bloc Party, and Interpol, with some hints of blues and folk.)

    I set out to find her a Fender (or something comparable) in the $450 - $500 range. I quickly narrowed the selection down to the Squier VM Jaguar SS (which is way below what I am prepared to spend) and the current lineup of Fender Mustang basses (which are above my target price).

    I worry the Squier won't be appealing to someone who plays a Fender P-Bass. How good can the sound and playability be on a $175 bass?

    I'm willing to go up and spend the extra on the Fender Mustang if it is really that much better. Yes, these are two different classes of instrument (intro level vs. something intended for real use), but I keep hearing really good things about the Squier VM Jaguar SS. How do these basses really stack up to one another? Is the Mustang significantly better?

    Then there is the Mustang dilemma.

    If I go with a Mustang, what is the real difference between the standard single coil version and the Pawn Shop with a humbucker p-up? Is the humbucker really as bad as I hear?

    Frankly, if the standard Fender Mustang came in any other colors, I wouldn't be asking any of these questions--I would have bought one by now. I like the weight and feel, but I have a hard time getting excited about Vintage White. I really like the red and sunburst options for the Pawn Shop Mustang, but that means going with a humbucker.

    So I'm trying to wrap my head around these choices that you can't actually see/hear/test since none of the shops keep them in stock. (Ok, I tried the standard Vintage Mustang at a shop around the corner, but I have nothing to compare it to.)

    Any thoughts would be hugely appreciated.

  2. birdman14


    Feb 7, 2011
    Depending on your level of comfort buying used, and your local craigslist, you could find a standard mustang in fiesta red (color they used to carry), for around 500 dollars. Bonus, you could throw a tort guard on it and make everyone drool.
    Doctor Hugocat and purerubbish like this.
  3. boristhespider7


    Jan 27, 2008
    The humbucker on the Pawn shop is a mudbucker...mud and more mud. I've tried both the Fender Mustang and own the Squier VM Mustang. Not much difference in tone IMO, although the Fender is better quality in terms of neck, frets etc. Having said that the satin neck on the Squier feels really nice. If your wife likes the P sound then the split coil mustang PU really gets you close. Personally i'd choose that rather than the mudbucker which is less versatile in tone IMO. I compared the Mustang to the Modern player jazz shortscale and preferred the Mustang. The split coil on the Mustang sounds more like a P to my ears than a lot of PJ basses i've tried. Also strung through which i like. Only downside might be the Squier logo if that bugs you but thats easy to change if that takes your fancy. You can get it looking just like a 70's Fender mustang if you want. Squier VM Mustang: Squier VM Mustang_SB.jpg
    70's Mustangs:
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  4. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
    You can get an MIJ, Sunburst Mustang Bass (with the split single coil) by dealing directly with Fender Japan, but you will have to shell out more ducats. Unfortunately, they are not imported to the USA by retail outlets. I have the standard white MIJ and really like it a lot, though I also would've preferred other color options. All depends on how bad you want "non-white", I reckon. There are several Ebay sellers who sell the unique Fender Japan products generally not otherwise available here. And here is a link to Fender Japan:


    Fender Japan also makes the "Smart-Size" (short-scale) '62 Jazz Bass, another short scale option to consider if you're gonna spend the extra:

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  5. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
  6. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
    And here is my Mustang next to a couple short-scale SXs. The CAR "Jazz" one is likely about the same size as the Fender Japan JB62SS (so this PIC will give you a rough idea of how the JB62SS stacks up against the Mustang, size-wise):

  7. purerubbish

    purerubbish Guest

    Dec 11, 2014
    Thanks for all these responses/opinions. This info is very helpful.

    I did look into the Fender Japan options. They have some beautiful choices. I was a bit intimidated by the language barrier, but I might take another look considering that small scale Jazz bass.

    So I am keeping away from the pawn shop series (avoiding the mud) and will probably end up with a Vintage White Mustang. I like the feel and the tone and each time I see it in person, the white slowly grows on me. My wife loves the P-Bass sound and it seems like the Mustang has the combination of sound and playability she'll be looking for.
  8. MakoMan


    Oct 17, 2011
    Ottawa, Canada
    Just grab a Squier Jag. Seriously... how can you go wrong for the price? It's a great bass and she'll probably love it, and at the very least it will allow her to try a shortie. If the Jag turns out to not be her thing you can sell it used and be out only 50 bucks tops. You can't lose.
    The Jag definitely can get the P-bass sound. It's also lighter than any of the Mustangs. The neck is literally like lightning.
    Not knocking the Mustangs - they're great basses - but the SS Jaguar is one of the best deals in the bass world. Lots of bang for the buck.
  9. felis


    Jul 31, 2013
    Midwest, USA
    Man purerubbish, I can really relate to this. I just went through that same decision process.
    Not for someone else, but for myself.

    I got a Jaguar SS as my first bass a couple years ago, and decided early on, after trying many out,
    that short scale is right for me.
    I knew I eventually wanted to get a Mustang, but agonized a bit over which one,
    and by the time I started looking for something, it seems like the Squier VM Mustang isn't an option anymore.
    I couldn't find them for sale new anywhere. And I had the nagging feeling that if I got the Squier Mustang, I'd still want the Fender Mustang.

    Long story short, I ended up getting the Vintage Mustang Bass.
    Just last week, so there might be a tiny touch of 'honeymoon' still going on.

    The Jaguar SS is excellent value for the price. It has a wider range of sounds than the Mustangs,
    but a lot of people don't like the J pickup. Fit and finish is surprisingly good considering its cost,
    but for some reason, it just looks a little cheap to me. I've got the CAR finish.

    I know you said you don't care for the white, but to me, it just exudes 100% pure class, in both looks and feel.

    Sound is subjective, but they both sound very good to me. I put some flats on both of them.
    The Vintage Mustang is just really pleasing to my ears. I like the neck and general feel better
    than any of the other six basses I've had in the couple years since I started playing.

    I bought a new one, and it's a bit above your price range.
    But there are currently some used ones that look in good shape
    that are priced close to what you want.
    If you can swing it, my vote goes to the vintage Mustang.
    It costs a bit, for a short scale, considering that it costs more than a standard P or J bass.
    But for me, it's worth every cent.

    About the humbuckers - I've had a couple and to me they're a bit fuzzier or woolier sounding.
    Just depends on what type of sound you're looking for.
    Long winded post, but I'm still a bit buzzed about liking the Mustang so much.

    Is this going to be a surprise gift or something, where she can't try them out for herself?
    You're a musician, so maybe casually bring up the subject and find out what her thoughts are on it.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2014
    purerubbish likes this.
  10. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
    Mine is also strung with flats (d'Addario ECB81M [medium scale] chrome flats 45-65-80-100) but then, I string everything with flats. If you get the Mustang and want to buy new strings for it, they should be medium-scale rather than short. The extra length is needed for the string-through bridge.
  11. purerubbish

    purerubbish Guest

    Dec 11, 2014
    Thanks for the string advice.
  12. DrDAV14

    DrDAV14 Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2008
    Denver, Colorado
    You can also look at the Squire "Mikey Way" signature model. It has a humbucker that is more P-bass-ish in tones with hotter output. It sells for $299
  13. bassrich


    Nov 20, 2011
    Sarasota, FL
    Don't overlook the Squier Bronco very 50's p sounding love mine
  14. big_teee


    Sep 16, 2014
    Mid-South USA
    nerkoids, purerubbish and Linnin like this.
  15. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Just a thought - why not narrow it down to a few models, and take her shopping to demo them? I know I would rather pick the bass myself.
  16. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Another thought, if this is her vibe - Epiphone Viola (Hofner copy).
  17. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's

    I have both the VM Mustang (CLOSE to the Fender Mustang) and just bought a VM Jag SS. IMHO - the Jag is by far the better instrument, and it is so cheap!! There is a 3-part thread here with all the owners expressing their love for the Jag SS.

    The neck is smalerl and thinner (and even easier to play) than the Mustang, and the sound us simply HUGE - I am liking it better than any other of my P-type basses. YES, the j pickup is a little weak, but it doesn't matter - you are obviously looking for a P-Type sound, and the Jag SS has it by the bucket. It is awesomely amazing.

    I don't have the Pawn Shop Mustang, but I do have the Tele Bass Special with the same humbucker at the neck and a J pickuip. I will tell you that the sound of the humbucker is not like anything else you will try - it is room-shaking, teeth rattling speaker-blowing low end. I use it with my hard Blues band. Although in the P position in the Pawn Shop Mustang, it is still probably very thick and bottom heavy - NOT AT ALL like a P sound.

    IMO - The Jag SS is the way to go and you can buy that and a good amp for the price of the Mustang.
  18. Stripes

    Stripes Guest

    Sep 14, 2014
    You could check out the Modern Player short scale jazz bass. Has a precision pickup and a jazz pickup , short scale and a Fender logo. And it's basically a smaller Jazz with a different pickup configuration. Gives your wife some tonal differences because of the jazz pickup at the bridge as well as the precision pickup which she apparently likes otherwise she wouldn't have stuck with it so long.
  19. I love my SS Jag. A friend plays one (in his cover band) with Duncan Quarter Pounders through a PF500 and an Orange 410. I'm 57 and heard a LOT of bass rigs; I was really impressed by the sound of that Jag. It helps that he's a better than average player who knows how to dial in a rig.
  20. macmanlou

    macmanlou Don't push it. Just let it fall. Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Washington, DC Area
    The standard split-coil pickups (either the Squier Duncan Designed or Fender) sound much more like stock P-bass pickups than any other I've heard. The humbuckers sound more like, well, humbuckers (think Gibson EB0 and such).