Submitted January 27, 2017 by Mark W in Austin, TX
"My new main guitar. "
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I've wanted a Jazz Master for years, the late nineties to be exact, but they always seemed insanely out of reach for me. Eventually, I decided I'd probably never really end up owning one. Then J Mascis puts this Squier signature out so now he's a hero not just for Dino, but for also for finally being involved with the release of a high quality, functional, and affordable JM. It even actually has the rhythm circuit that they've left out of even the new pro series that just released. The mods that Mascis/Squier have employed here are all things a lot of people would normally do anyway.
I was surprised that with the factory setup when I received it. The action was comfortable for me, and the intonation was very close to being correct out of the box. That will change as soon as I throw 11s on it, but this was a detail I wasn't expecting. That's something worth noting here. I also appreciate that they decided to move the tremolo closer to the bridge improving the strings' break angle over the adjusto-matic. I'm a very very heavy handed player and I had zero issues with the strings jumping out of the saddles. I also, as a test, decided to keep the stock strings on until one breaks and I'm pleased to say that I haven't broken one in almost a week. That's really impressive and I'm a guy that broke two gabriel tenorio strings in under a month. The string spacing across the neck took a little getting used to. The gaps between the strings feel wider to me, but I quickly adjusted to this. The only thing I found really necessary was to loosen the strings up and throw some graphite into the nut slots.
I now own two Squier guitars, my other being the Classic Vibe Tele, and I've been very impressed with the quality and playability of both. That's not something I can even remotely imagine saying if you had asked me 10 years ago, but I'll get back to the guitar itself.
The pickups, from what I hear, are more P90 than they are wide range JM single coils. I think this will be a matter of opinion, but they sound great to my ears. They do have the distinctive mid range bark I typically expect from P90s, and they suit my style of playing more than the traditional pickups. It's more Sonic Youth than it is Mickey Baker.
All the typical JM electronics are faithfully represented here. You have the rhythm switch, rollers, and traditional 3 way bridge toggle people are familiar with. Personally. I find the rhythm switch has utility as both a quick fire rhythm toggle and an overall kill switch. It has a lot more utility than people give it credit for and unless you play with your guitar slung really low it's unlikely you'll bump it by accident.
The aesthetics are entirely a matter of opinion. I think knowing that JMs used to come with an anodized gold scratch plate helps, but, personally, I love the way it looks. I like it far more than the sparkle purple Mascis JM put out in Japan.
When it comes down to it, the guitar is an incredible value and a great introduction to the JM, which has been woefully out of reach for people that don't have wads of cash to spend on AVRI or Japanese models. You could say it would be nice to switch out the tremolo system (vibrato system) with an AVRI or Mastery system. You'll maybe want to switch the nut to a bone nut at some point. I might want to switch out the pickups for Lollar P90s or SD Antiquities, but these are are also all mods you might consider doing on the higher priced models as well. However, with the Squier model your base price is much much lower.
The only thing I take issue with is the adjust-o-matic bridge. It's apparently a common mod and one Mascis employs himself. However, this means that switching to a mastery bridge is no longer a 'drop in' affair. You would have to drill new holes and that's not something I'm entirely comfortable with.
A note on the trem-arm. The one included with this guitar is of the 'push-in' variety. The one on mine quickly became so loose it just flops down to the guitar input. However, I've heard that this is because it isn't all the way in. I've put what I would call an uncomfortable amount of pressure on it and I still don't think I've got it down all the way. Even in a simple google search you'll see some photos show the trem arm with about a half inch of vertical bar outside of the collet while other show the arm almost immediately bending outside of the collet. I believe the latter is correct, but I haven't gotten mine down to that point. Also, this seems to be up for debate. It would be nice for Squier to include some instructions on installing this correctly.
Finally, it looks as though the new, 2017, line of Squier offsets includes a jazz master that is pretty much a standardized version of the Mascis JM. It must have done well enough to warrant that.
I've been playing professionally and just at home for over 15 years now.
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