Like the ‘real thing’, this Squier Jazzmaster shares certain features with its close cousin. The body shape is very similar, but basswood replaces alder and any joins are hidden by a butterscotch blonde finish that reveals only a glimpse of the grain.
It’s finished in high-gloss, as is the neck, which is just as playable as the Jaguar’s, though it’s all-maple and comes with 21 frets and Fender’s standard 648mm/25.5" scale. The headstock, tuners and single string-guide are the same, but the position dots are much easier to see.
While pickups represent a major mod for the Jaguar, the Jazzmaster retains its typical twin, large-sized single-coils… both Duncan Designed JM-101s, but one is reverse wound/reverse polarity to provide hum-cancelling operation with both selected.
As usual, they sit within the scratchplate and the latter’s outline differs to that on the Jaguar via a blunter upper horn.
The control configuration is the same, and the stacked knobs again need some attention to stop them turning in tandem. The Danelectro-derived bridge is another component common to both Vintage Modified models, as is the front-mounted Strat-style jackplate.
The all-maple neck contributes to a brighter and thinner acoustic character, but the plugged-in performance warms things up. Played clean, this Jazzmaster still supplies those classic deep and twangy surf tones, courtesy of the neck pickup or with both combined.
Used in isolation, the bridge single-coil has a brasher snarl that works well with varying degrees of distortion to deliver anything from pop-friendly grit to punk-flavoured upfront attack.
The Jazzmaster's VM status is mainly about improving physical performance via simplified circuitry and less quirky components.
It's versatile six-strings that punch well above their price weight; build, finish quality and playability are all very impressive, while criticisms are comparatively minor.
It's an attractive and very affordable proposition to any player who fancies an offset-waisted Fender.