My Jazz Bass journey from Squier to MIM to MIA

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by zeffbeff, Dec 24, 2014.

  1. zeffbeff


    Dec 14, 2014
    I'm new to bass. Lifelong guitarist, and an obsessive one at that. But for some odd reason, I became obsessed with electric bass a few months ago.

    I had a Squier Vintage Modified Jazz Bass for the past 3 years, in order to record demos and some limited studio use. It was fine. My close friend also has a VM bass, and I played several in stores before buying. I found them all pretty consistent.

    Then, I was bitten by the bass bug, so I figured I'd just go up one level and get the current MIM Jazz Bass.

    Comparing the Squier and MIM:

    The Squier's neck felt unfinished, in terms of fret leveling and actual finish on the back of neck and the fretboard. The MIM had the glossy maple board (which I love), vs the light brown and rough rosewood on the Squier. And also, the back of the neck on the MIM was finished super smooth. The neck just felt so much better on the MIM. Also, the MIM neck was tinted maple, as opposed to the bone-white maple of the Squier.

    The stock pickups on the MIM blew away the stock pickups on the Squier. I recorded some samples direct, and I was shocked at how much lower output I was getting from the Squier (and a flatter tone, too).

    Both held tune well, both had rough fret ends. Hardware was equivalent.

    I loved the MIM (and made a separate post about it here), but the MIA was nagging at me. What I want is to own just one bass, my "forever" bass. I want to use it on everything I record, everything I write, every gig I play. That's how I do gear.

    So, what the hell, I sent the MIM back and bought the MIA.

    Comparing the MIM and MIA:

    The MIA's neck feels as improved over the MIM as the MIM felt as improved over the Squier. The rolled edges are very noticeable (and awesome), and the fretwork throughout the neck is immaculate.

    The MIA's sunburst is sexy as hell, and the Custom Shop pickups stomp all over the MIM's pickups, just like the MIM stomped all over the Squier. There's such a huge difference when I analyzed the direct recordings.

    And the MIA came with a hardshell case.

    So, I experienced giant leaps when going from Squier to MIM to MIA.

    I made the choice which is most comfortable for ME, and yes, all of these lines are great basses for the money.

    But it's just plain wrong to claim that all of these models are equal and that there's no difference (or worse yet, claiming that the Squier is superior to the MIA).

    Hope this can be useful for someone!

    EDIT: Basses used: 2011 Squier Vintage Modified Jazz, 2014 MIM Standard Jazz, 2014 MIA Standard Jazz
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2014
  2. DavidEdenAria


    Dec 13, 2013
    On a Hill
    I find your assessment to be fairly accurate, but myself, I quickly get bored with one instrument!

    However, I don't worry so much about neck smoothness or fret ends as I take care of this myself and pickups are easy to swap (especially for a P bass).

    Myself coming from a 6 string guitar world, I've owned and played many high end vintage Strats etc......the ones I've kept are Japan and one MIM that is all new guts but a very resonant neck/body.

    Right now I own WAY too much gear and would like to own only one very good MIA P bass but it has to be the right one and in my case lightweight which eliminates many MIA P basses.

    Quite frankly the workmanship on my 80's Japan guitar's and basses in general are as good or better than many MIA Fenders for usually a third the cost.

    For me its Japan stuff along with my modded MIM Strat...then there is my 65 SG Special at the top!
  3. BazzTard

    BazzTard Inactive

    agree totally with your assessment of the difference between the MIM and MIA basses. I'd add the better hardware on an MIA like tuners and bridge.
  4. zeffbeff


    Dec 14, 2014
    Yeah that's true-- the hardware on the MIA is of higher quality than MIM or Squier.

    Again, all of these basses are great for their respective pricepoints.

    It's just not my experience that the MIA is arbitrarily pricier than the Squier or MIM. The price difference is justified.
    SamJ, Eric66 and Pet Sounds like this.
  5. Malak the Mad

    Malak the Mad Over the River and through the Looking Glass Supporting Member

    I'm glad to hear you got your money's worth, zeffbeff. :thumbsup:

    Just out of curiosity, do you have pics of all three basses? If so, do you mind posting them for posterity, as well as a bit of context? :snaphappy:;)
  6. hopsbb


    Nov 8, 2014
    I'm still in the hunt for that Mia Fender myself that blows my doors off.Found a few mim that were pretty good but not forking out 6 bills for one new when I personally think there are better options in that price range.

    So far I've played and owned some really great Squiers.They've felt and played better to me than any of the Mim and Mia Fender offerings in the store that day.Therefore they came home.

    I've said it probably 100 times on here as long as there is any doubt in my mind as to whether or not a $300 bass is as good as a $1300 one its not.For that big of a price difference there shouldn't even be the slightest bit of comparison.Yet there is and there in lays the problem.

    Have said that if I ever found said Mia that finally hit the spot for me I wouldn't hesitate to take it home.So far Mia has stood for that feeling missing in action for me.
    jallenbass likes this.
  7. Gorn

    Gorn Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    I've owned fenders from every country that manufacturers them and in my experience, the best of the bunch were Mexican, Japanese and Chinese, in that order.
  8. zeffbeff


    Dec 14, 2014
    Ha yes, pics soon! Currently out for Christmas with my extended family.
  9. zeffbeff


    Dec 14, 2014
    It's all about finding what YOU are comfortable with. I totally believe you that you find better value in the Squier.

    I attempted going that route, after reading the cult-like status that Squiers have on bass forums. But it didn't work that way for ME.

    I paid an extra $750 for my MIA, compared to my old Squier (which I sold). That price differential is 100% justified.

    I hope to have this bass for the rest of my life, and I'm fortunate enough (and hard-working enough) that buying an MIA isn't a severe financial burden for me.

    Just wanted to offer a counterpoint, in case someone else out there is researching whether to buy to Squier, MIM, or MIA.
  10. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Yeah, what TB needs is another Squier v. MIA thread.

    Can't we all just let this dead horse lie?
  11. hopsbb


    Nov 8, 2014
    You're right it is about finding what you're comfortable with.As I stated I wouldn't hesitate in a minute to buy a Mia if it felt right for me and the sound I was looking for was there.I've as of yet to find that for myself though and have had better luck with Squiers and currently I feel with what I've played that the price difference just hasn't been worth it.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2014
    zeffbeff likes this.
  12. Fenderon


    May 28, 2008
    Then someone tells you that you need a P and a Jazz and it all starts over again.
  13. Mike M.

    Mike M.

    Feb 14, 2010
    I experienced pretty much the same thing when shopping for my AM STD Jazz bass. I played Squire's, MIM's, American Specials and American Standards and the further up the price point I went the better the quality felt. Not at all knocking those below the AM STD because there were some pretty good one's along the way. Fact is, it actually came down to two basses for American Special vs the American Standard and it really was a tough choice. I compared those two for about an hour and really wasn't sure of which one to buy. But I figured that this was going to be one of the last basses I would ever buy so I went with the American Standard and I have no regrets.

    That was in December of 2012 and I haven't GAS'ed for anything since. I also have a Soundgear SR505 and an MIJ Classic 70's Precision that I bought prior to the Jazz. I wanted a Jazz to round things out and as far as I'm concerned my collection is complete for my needs.
  14. devin_bass


    Nov 1, 2012
    I had the opposite journey. I had a Fender select jazz, and then I bought a mikey way squier. They both played extremely well, but I found my self on the mustang bass more due to its short scale. I sold the jazz and now I only play on my short scale mustang.
  15. My journey-- Squier Jazz Bass--- Ibanez--- Rickenbacker--- Spector--- Carvin Custom---MM Stingray--- Fender P-Bass(s)--- current- Carvin Custom SB4000 & Carvin Custom JB. Guess I was a Jazz Bass guy from the start.
  16. mdogs

    mdogs Supporting Member

    And I have said it before, if you are unable to tell the difference between the Squires, MIMs and MIAs, then you are rationalizing.
    SamJ likes this.
  17. tjh


    Mar 22, 2006
    .. zeff, glad your journey went so smoothy, and you feel justified in your increased expenditure each time ... a very nice comparison also

    ...just a Christmas caveat though ... to speak in general terms of MIA vs. MIM vs. Squier, can be a bit misleading to the more novice TB readers, as there are several models made within each country of origin, and also several different eras of many of the models ... it always helps to identify the model when comparisons are being made, even though those that have been around for a while reailze you are comparing an earlier version of Squier VM, with the Duncan Designed pups, a current version ('08+) MIM Standard with the maple fretboard, and also a current edition 'New' American Standard with the CS pups (post 2012) ...

    ... for some, things like neck profile, truss rod adjustment location, new vs used resale, lighter weight potential, etc. are the most important criteria, and you explained your criteria comparisons as well as providing an excellent counter-point ... ;)
    zeffbeff and DavidEdenAria like this.
  18. braud357


    Jul 1, 2010
    Gonzales, LA
    A few years back, I went to the GC in Tallahassee, FL. Intention was to see the actual differences between a Squier, MIM Fender, and the MIA Fender Jazz basses. I asked one of the clerks if he could make this happen, and he obliged me. First, I tried a Squier Standard Jazz Bass in Candy Apple Red. Then, I tried a MIM Fender Standard Jazz in black. Finally, an American Standard in sunburst. Considering all options (sound, playability, fit and finish) - they ranked - 1st Place - American Standard. 2nd - Squier Standard, - 3rd MIM. Between these particular instruments, the Squier simply CRUSHED the MIM Fender, sound, playability, etc. The MIM actually felt cheap ! The American Standard was better than the Squier, but not $1,000 dollars better ! Result - I bought the Squier ! It is still my #1. Like the OP, I prefer a gloss finished neck. About a year later, I bought a new, take-off neck from a CV 60's Squier Jazz. This neck was meant to be on my bass - I did not have to do ANYTHING as far as adjustments. One thing that needs to be considered - this was just a comparision of these 3 instruments. Is my Squier exceptional ? probably so ! Do you stand a better chance of consistently getting a quality instrument with the American Standard - probably so ! Not trying to start an argument - just sharing my experience. My advice - play a bunch of them - the right one will speak to you !
    Joedog likes this.
  19. diamondsplit


    Jan 13, 2012
    I love the American basses. It depends on years the SW 1 switch wasn't great. But i think Japan models are just as good. I got a 62 RI Precision in candy apple red for 399. The bass is very good shape and it was just missing the ashtray cover I bought a set from fender and the bass looks so much better and it plays just as nice any new Fender P. They sound great can't beat the price definitely when its a reissue. i got Noel Carrol bass paid 500 or more for what they have sold for and this is incredible. He was involved with the whole process and said its rarely dead on with his 65 and his signature is still perfect
  20. DavidBassista


    May 21, 2014
    OP - Now you just need to go out and try a Custom Shop bass ;)

    A few months ago I decided to buy my first electric 6 string. I knew that I wanted a Telecaster. I was going to buy an American Standard but than found a really good deal on a CS one that had the features I wanted, and I just bit the bullet and purchased it. I'm really happy with it. Personally I wouldn't ever buy a non-American made electric guitar/bass, but that's must me.
    SamJ and zeffbeff like this.