The long, tangled story of the great Fender copies – and the official Fender reissues they inspired – is worthy of a book. In the late '70s and early ’80s Japanese guitar makers such as Greco and Tokai responded to the high price of USA-made Fenders by producing really good quality replicas, aided by lower production costs prevalent in Japan at that time. Though Fender acquired the Squier brand name in the late '60s, they didn't officially use it until 1982. Lengthy negotiations with Greco's parent company gave birth to Fender Japan, who were initially sole manufacturers of a Squier range known as the JV or Japanese Vintage series, denoted by a 'JV' prefix to the serial number. Squier production has subsequently expanded to Mexico, Korea and now China, which brings us bang up to date in the form of the Classic Vibe Jazz Bass.
The CVJ follows the famous template pretty accurately. The body shape is right, there's a forearm chamfer on the upper bout and a tummy-cut on the back, and authentic detailing that includes the tortoiseshell-style pickguard and a finger-rest stationed below the G string near the neck. This particular feature was originally included due to the prevalence of thumb-style bass playing in the early '60s, and it’s our bet that the majority of players will grab a screwdriver and whip it off… or risk serious bruising.
The thickly-applied but cool-looking olympic white finish hides one of the modern truths of Far Eastern budget production: rather than alder or ash, the core is basswood. This may not affect the quality of tone but it does help bump the weight up to almost 4.5kg, which is a lot. They could have compensated by shaving a few millimetres off the overall depth, like the Affinity Strats, but they’ve chosen to stay true to the original despite the slightly shoulder-denting outcome.
The neck is a single piece of maple, beautifully crafted and finished with a vintage-tint gloss lacquer. The profile is a modern C-shaped contour which feels as comfy as an old pair of slippers, and the scroll headstock carries a white synthetic nut. The four tuners are the basic open-geared type and there’s the usual chrome string tree for improved downforce on the D and G. Rosewood is the fretboard material, and besides dots on the face and top edge the Classic Vibe carries 20 vintage-sized frets, with no fitting or finshing issues to report.
Follow the strings to the body and you’ll end up at the swanky (relative to traditional Fender bridges, that is) Hi-Mass bridge we first encountered on Fender’s new American Standard Series. The baseplate is chrome to match the rest of the CVJ’s hardware, but the saddles are brass and have either been ‘vintagised’ or have become tarnished rather quickly. There’s nothing shabby about the pair of Custom Jazz Bass single coil pickups with Alnico 5 magnets, and nothing unexpected in the choice of passive electronics. The CVJ’s controls, as always on a basic Jazz Bass, include two Volumes and a single Tone control of the treble roll-off variety although, as with all inexpensive passive basses you shouldn’t expect much in the way of blend level variety between pickups.
Classic Vibe JAZZ ’60s
Description: Solidbody bass. Made in China
Build: Basswood body, C-shaped maple neck with 20 vintage style frets on a 9.5" radius rosewood fingerboard. Open-geared tuners and Hi-Mass bridge with brass saddles. Chrome hardware
Electrics: Passive with two Jazz Bass single coil pickups, two Volumes and one treble roll-off Tone control
Left handers: No
Finishes: Olympic White only
Range Options: There’s also the Classic Vibe Precision Bass ’60s and the Classic Vibe Precision Bass ’50s
Scale length: 864mm/34"
Width of neck:
12th fret 55.5mm
Depth of neck:
1st fret 19mm
12th fret 23mm
Action as supplied:
12th fret treble 2.5mm
12th fret bass 3mm
Contact: Fender GB&I