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Creeper

Vintage modified squire, “best bang for buck?”

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I recently managed to pick up a Vintage Modified  Squire Jazz bass from a local cash converters for what can only be described as a little loose change. I wanted a cheaper bass for those upcoming summer festivals where I didn’t want to leave my more expensive basses in unsupervised rooms with loads of other gear just waiting to be nicked...

And crikey what a cracking bass this is, its condition is as new, not a mark on it, it’s light, beautifully finished, powerful, great sounding and great to play, a great sunburst, blocks and bindings in a maple neck, the tuners could be more substatial, but they are not bad....It does make you wonder about the “decreasing returns” principle when compared to more expensive basses, at what point do you get your best “bang for buck”, and is this price point changing as Indonesian and Korean factories are getting better and better at producing quality gear.

The most I’ve paid for a bass is £3500, but that is a vintage jazz so not comparable, but I’ve played and owned pretty expensive basses over the years, and this makes you wonder at what point does the increasing quality become negligible.

I currently have a USA Geddy Lee which is an outstanding bass, but new is about £1950, is it really worth over £1800 more than what I just paid for the Modified Vintage Squire???

I would be interested to hear from other people who have these and how they have found them.

Edited by Creeper
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I had the VM 70s Precision for a while as a backup and it was a nice bass, but to be honest it was nowhere near like my US Standards. I think more than anything it was the Duncan-designed pickups, they just sounded, well, wrong for want of a better word. The bass itself played fine but the sound from the pups wasn`t to my liking, but then I`m comparing to Custom Shop pickups so it`s unlikely they would sound similar.

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I had a Squier 70s VMJ.

Had a better neck than my MIA jazz.

Again, the pickups & electrics were the weak point. I'd already put a Badass II on it, and the pickups would've been next, but I had to sell it to raise some cash.

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Posted (edited)

Well since I picked this up for £120, I’ve had a bit of spare cash to mod it a little. So far I’ve put on a badass 2 bridge, swapped out those teeny tiny little pots for some CTS pots, put some Hipshot HB7 tuners on, next will be some decent pickups, at which point the only original bits will be the body and the neck....: 

It does raise the question that at which point, if at all, does this become better than a mim  Fender Jazz, since the neck and body are all computer cut to perfection these these days regardless of where they are made, and the necks and body’s of the Modified Vintage Models are finished off so beautifully, is it only the hardware which makes the fender Mexicans or US better? And if we swap out the hardware for some quality kit what are we left with which is inferior?

Edited by Creeper

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I've had 2 ,and both were quality instruments

i had one which was standard with no mods ,and the other had fender pups j retro pre and hipshot tuners 

i ended up moving both on after a few years ,and i now have 3 fenders a mim a mij ,and a usa none of which are especially superior to my vmj's

as has been said the necks on the vmj's are great ,and when i listen to recordings made with them i regret selling them also my passive standard one had cloth covered wires to the duncan designed pups with decent pots plus everything was shielded really well..

i.m.o. the only bass that beats them in bang for buck are the sires whom i'm surprised don't do a standard passive jazz.

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Posted (edited)

The wood, never mind that the wood may be sourced from the same forests,  the tone imparted by good ol' boy USA CNC machines is far superior to that of Mexican or Japanese CNC machines. 

In all seriousness I am not really sure anymore. I have a range if basses from the USA, Korea, China,  Germany, Taiwan, Czechoslovakia, and India.  Quality is not a function of country of manufacture or price would be my conclusion.  Chowny Indian made bass quality is everything as good as my USA G&Ls.  My Chinese Warwick Rockbass is superb and apart from the gloss finish and wood choice is on a par with my German one (both of those are preferences not quality issues).

 

 

Edited by 3below

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I have this conversation frequently.

It seems that, unlike "the olden days", there are very few bad Basses made today. There are tons of threads here on BC advocating for a virtually unheard of brand or a bass which changes hands for a few hundred quid which is surprisingly good VFM. Only this evening a friend of mine in Scotland was telling me how good his new MM Sire was.

Personally, one of my favourite brands is SGC Nanyo Bass Collection - you can pick them up for around £200...and I've got loads of custom basses.

You don't need to spend thousands on a good bass anymore - most low end basses are more than adequate - and the various shoot outs held at Bass bashes have shown that the majority of attendees (who are bass players themselves) have trouble differentiating between low end and high end basses.

This doesn't stop most of us having GAS - many of us have reached the stage of being financially stable so we can justify the purchase of high end gear....even though we don't really need it.

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I've got a VM 77 jazz in Amber and It's a killer bass, I upgraded all the pots to CTS and loom/capacitor. Left the pickups cos with the new loom they sound great. Body Is soft maple and is proper light which suits me. It honestly plays/feels better than my 80's deluxe Fender jazz. Only stinky poo parts are the tuners. I got It for silly money and It's the best money I've spent on a jazz. My go to bass at the moment. 

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I have a Vintage Modified PJ, with Geezer Butler EMG pups and hipshot tuners (to get rid of neck dive) - and it is the best bass ever. I love how it sounds acoustically, plugged in is a monster, is light, stays in tune and tunes all over the neck perfectly.

I may jinx it but I do believe it cured GAS for other basses, no money buys me 'more' or 'better', and since this feels perfect (2nd hand so for less than 250), I am done with looking for the 'one'.

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Posted (edited)

I have the Vintage Modified Jaguar (full scale) which I call the ugly wife, because it's ok in the house but I wouldn't be seen dead with it in public. I bought it for a song from an online advertising site after several too many vodkas because I thought it looked pretty. As often happens with these things, I instantly regretted it in the morning once the vodka had worn off. 

To be fair it plays and sounds superb! The neck is a dream, I even quite like the body shape, but damn that standard Fender shape headstock is ugly, with it's tuners like Jodrell Bank. It's like putting the elephant man's head on Claudia Schiffer. I'll never understand how Fenders caught on outside dark caves or schools for the blind. 

Edited by Newfoundfreedom
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Posted (edited)

I'm not an owner so treat my comments as unfounded rubbish but just on 'buzz' alone, I think SIre have stolen the best 'BfB' crown.

*Edit: Internet buzz rather than fret buzz*

Edited by visog

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Got a Squier 70s VM Jazz in Olympic White earlier this year - love it!

Only thing I did was change the strings.

_20190127_180428.JPG

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Considering the precision machines that are used in the construction of basses these days, and the finishing off of the neck and body is excellent, is the main difference the just hardware?

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On 14/05/2019 at 09:26, Teebs said:

Got a Squier 70s VM Jazz in Olympic White earlier this year - love it!

Only thing I did was change the strings.

l got one the same model and colour in 2015 (I think) and it's hands-down the best instrument I've ever owned. I changed the bridge out of curiosity but it certainly didn't need doing as I loved it fresh out of the showroom.

I did swap the black pickguard for a tort one, but the fit isn't as nice as I'm planning on going back to black!

47355750_204730843741089_3134009551385484550_n.thumb.jpg.e5965610e6e08f28ebab25c1afdb0632.jpg

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10 minutes ago, Rikki_Sixx said:

l got one the same model and colour in 2015 (I think) and it's hands-down the best instrument I've ever owned. I changed the bridge out of curiosity but it certainly didn't need doing as I loved it fresh out of the showroom.

I did swap the black pickguard for a tort one, but the fit isn't as nice as I'm planning on going back to black!

47355750_204730843741089_3134009551385484550_n.thumb.jpg.e5965610e6e08f28ebab25c1afdb0632.jpg

Lovely! :)

Nice bridge - Gotoh?

I put Rotosound Nexus black-coated strings on mine - looks mint! :)

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On 14/05/2019 at 09:26, Teebs said:

Got a Squier 70s VM Jazz in Olympic White earlier this year - love it!

Only thing I did was change the strings.

_20190127_180428.JPG

Nice.....

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They look great in that colour with the black B&B necks... only thing those boyos need to do is change the knobs IMHO. 👍

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I got mine in white in 2015. All I have changed so far has been the pots and socket, but plan to replace bridge and pickups soon.

Feel especially is great and I like the sound for the most part.

I got a tech recently to give it a more professional setup than I normally do myself and he thought it was new!

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What pickups are you thinking @pintspiller?

Am I right in thinking that the later VM basses don't have the same pick-ups as the ones that were in the 2015-ish models?

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Mine has the Fender Designed instead of the Seymour Designed. I do like the sound generally, but find I like to hit the amp with a compressor to make them sing.

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On 11/05/2019 at 21:46, 3below said:

The wood

Worth giving more thought I reckon. What I gather of Squiers is play before you buy as they vary from quite good to silly-good.

But this thing about wood, over the past 20 years the supplies of good woods has depleted seriously, so the quality of alder or ash or whatever that was affordable to the Squier build budget 20 years ago will be nowhere near as good now. All these woods have probably doubled in price (approx) in real terms over that time. And now we have issues with rosewoods - fingerboards becoming pau ferro or wenge or some other substitute. The 'farmed' hardwoods are managed to grow fast, the closeness of grain and consistency is just not as good.

I think this makes a good case for looking at the older Squiers, and pretty much any other manufactured bass be it Fender, Musicman, Warwick, whatever your taste. I guess the premium makers still source really good woods and just price it in (Lakland, Sadowsky etc). How on earth Sire make those V and M basses to retail at that price beats me. But I've owned a V7 and I would far rather pay the same for a great 90s Squier if I was out shopping right now. Or maybe go the few quid more for an MIJ - upping the budget is just so easy !!

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@Soledad There's been many debates over wood. There are many factors in the overall sound you get from a bass, and those also have been covered many times before on here.

However, saying 90s wood is better then that used today is rubbish. Different manufacturers use different woods so there isn't a direct comparison. Having owned a few 80s and 90s Squier P basses, I wouldn't say the wood bodies are better than those used in new Squier basses or guitars. Personally I prefer the newer Squier bodies, I had a 2015 affinity p bass which was better sounding and playing than any of the Korean Squire P's I've owned.

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One of the things that surprises me about the new basses being made is the quality of the finishing of the wood, the binding, the blocks, the frets on my VM Jazz is superb, I have a USA Geddy Less Jazz which is a beautiful bass and which retails at £1900, my VM Jazz cost £120, and whilst both play and feel wonderful, the difference in the build quality of necks and body to my eyes is minimal... the hardware is a different matter..

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17 hours ago, Teebs said:

Lovely! :)

Nice bridge - Gotoh?

I put Rotosound Nexus black-coated strings on mine - looks mint! :)

Good eye, mine is indeed sporting a Gotoh! Purchased from someone on BC, but I forget who (sorry, if you're out there!). The sustain is a fair bit better, it's pretty meaty!

Those black strings you have do look great. Is that purely aesthetic or do they last a bit longer? I'm tempted by some black knobs (ey up) for mine.

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4 hours ago, hooky_lowdown said:

However, saying 90s wood is better then that used today is rubbish.

I didn't say that. And 'rubbish' is a bit strong anyway.
In the global market for hardwoods, supplies have tightened considerably and prices pcm have generally about doubled (in real terms) since 2000. This is true of alder, ash, cherry, maple, oak, poplar, walnut, mahogany... etc.
To be clear, makers are either paying considerably more for woods of an equivalent quality, using lower grades, or using cheaper alternatives.

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