This is a 2012 Squier Vintage Modified Surf Green Jaguar that I recently did a setup on for a client. I was so floored by the quality of this guitar, that I went out and bought one just like it (for the sake of modding! be on the lookout for the thread in the near future) because at $275, these are quite a steal.
Squier really hit it out of the ballpark with their Vintage Modified line in Mid-2012, and finally made a bargain priced line of nearly vintage correct offset guitars that had been out of reach for so players due to the fact that they were generally quite expensive. It was given to me in brand new condition, so it had the stock strings (which we’re .09s) which are not optimal for the stock bridge it is fitted with.
The first thing that really took me by surprise was the fit and finish of the guitar. Aside from the Squier decal on the headstock, it did not at all feel like I was holding a sub $300 range guitar. In fact, it felt identical to many of the expensive Japanese made Fender offsets I had setup, repaired, or owned in my day. The frets were nicely done with no sharp edges to speak of, the nut perfectly cut, and the neck itself very comfortable to the grip. It has a slick glossy vintage tinted finish similar to those found on MIJ/CIJ guitars. The neck pocket fit was tight, and there wasn’t a single blemish in the gorgeous Surf Green finish.
After setting it up with 11 gauge strings, adjusting the truss rod (which is conveniently located at the headstock), intonating the bridge and adjusting it’s height, the guitar played like a dream. After some string stretching and lubricating of the nut, the guitar stayed in tune magnificently despite heavy tremolo use. However, unlike Gotoh tuners, these cheapies do go out of tune over night and may be one of the small investments potential or current owners of the VM offsets may want to make in order to improve the guitar a long way.
It’s fitted stock with chrome plated vintage kluson style tuners, mostly likely made by PING out in China. These are not ideal, but they do do their job decently.
The guitar weighs the average Jaguar weight, with this one at about 8 lbs or maybe a hair or two less.
I didn’t get to take shots of this particular Squier Jag’s guts as I wasn’t asked to go under the hood, but when I peeked, it’s fitted with mini alpha pots in both lead and rhythm sections. The knobs are the same smaller than vintage, sharp fluted cheapies found on Japanese Jags and Mustangs.
My biggest complaint, if one can honestly have one on this guitar, would be the tremolo’s lack of a trem-lock button. The trem lock button is key to getting a precise setup, in terms of getting the perfect string tension in conjunction with the string gauge used on these guitars. Without it, you are left to estimate, which is not how I personally like to do it, especially on a component so crucial to how the guitar will perform. That aside, it’s a nice tremolo, with a nice tight spring tension and with a tremolo arm that surprisingly did not swing loosely like those found on other imports. In fact, the arm on this one would stay in place where you leave it, which is a nice touch! Those looking to save money, but miss the trem lock button, could visit http://angela.com to buy an AVRI trem plate and lock button for around $40 and you could easily transfer the guts from this trem to fit that. Also, the tremolo is placed the vintage correct distance away from the bridge, unlike many of the modern (Classic Player/Blacktop) series offsets that have been coming out.
So how does it sound??? There’s no way a sub $300 guitar will have good pickups?! WRONG! These Duncan designed Jaguar Pickups sound GREAT. They actually sounded more vintage correct to my ears than some pairs of American Vintage Reissue pickups I’ve heard. The neck pickup is warm and full like those I’ve heard on vintage jags, while the bridge pickup is slightly hotter, like those I’ve heard on some CBS Era Jaguars. They are not overly bright or ice picky in the least, and have a beautiful sparkly and attack laden tone that is quintessentially Jaguar! I was besides myself when I heard it. It is definitely definitely much better sounding than any MIJ/CIJ or MIM Jaguars that I’ve heard stock.
So there you have it. The Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar. I’m really glad the mid-2012 series replaced the older series of Vintage Modified Jags (with the ugly weird hardtail & humbuckers. WE DON’T NEED ANOTHER HARDTAIL HUMBUCKER JAG!!!) Get one of these and set it up right, and you will literally feel like you stole a more expensive instrument somehow. As I said, trying this one out inspired me to buy one of my own, which is heavily modified from the stock version. New post on that soon!