When it comes to Fender Squire guitars, what’s the first thing that you think about? If you asked me this a few years ago, I would associate the brand with electric guitars. However, did you know that the Squier brand also produces bass guitars? Not only do they produce basses, but they even design specialized left-handed basses, 6-string basses, and even jazz bass guitars! I couldn’t believe it when I discovered these jazz basses, and as a frequent performer within jazz bands, I knew I had to grab one for myself!
Perhaps you’re a jazz fan too and this instrument might come in handy for you, or perhaps you’re simply looking for a jazz bass for performing musicians to record within your home studio.
Regardless of your reasoning to be interested in such a niche instrument, I did a lot of research a few years back when I first discovered these instruments and writing this guide today to share what I learned along the way. Read on to find out more about the best Squier jazz bass guitars, and what you should look for in them, in addition to some of my recommendations!
Bottom Line Up Front: There are many excellent Squier jazz bass guitars on the market, providing an excellent entry-level option for aspiring jazz bass guitarists. The range includes a variety of models including ones with fancier finishes and specialized styles, but my personal favorite has to be the Squier Affinity Five-String Jazz Bass due to its low price and additional string.
What’s the Difference between a Standard Bass Guitar and a Jazz Bass Guitar?
Until I discovered them, I never realized how commonly known jazz bass guitars were – I was telling my musician friends about my discovery, and they were all laughing at the fact that I’d never heard of them. However, when I asked them what the difference between them was, they couldn’t answer! I did a bit of research myself, and it became clear why people didn’t know – jazz bass guitars are not that different from regular bass guitars.
There’s no difference when it comes to the fundamentals such as the number of strings or the tonewoods – they’re pretty similar in those regards. However, there are differences, primarily in the design of the instrument. Firstly, jazz bass guitars have more narrow nuts than regular bass guitars.
The reason for this is to appeal more to jazz musicians – stringed jazz instruments such as the double bass have a similarly narrow nut width, and this can make using regular bass guitars a little uncomfortable for them. Regular bass guitars or ‘precision bass’ guitars have a broader nut width as they are designed to suit regular guitar players who are transitioning to the bass.
In addition to the wider nut, jazz bass guitars typically have a more thin neck (once again matching the double bass), whilst standard bass guitar necks are chunkier. Again, these differences are important as they can affect the comfort a bassist has when playing the instrument, depending on what they’re used to. It’s all a matter of comfort!
Another major difference between standard bass guitars and jazz bass guitars is the tone. I know that I mentioned earlier that both guitar types typically have similar tonewoods, but this doesn’t mean they have the same tone. This is due to the pickup configuration differences.
Jazz basses typically use single coil pickups, one of which can be found at the bridge and the other on the neck. However, standard electric bass guitars are more likely to use split pickups, commonly paired with an additional pickup on the bridge.
Overall, jazz bass guitars are primarily only different from regular electric guitars due to their design – they are designed to suit the playing style that double bassists are used to. There are a few potential tone differences due to varying pickup configurations, but in general jazz, basses are simply different due to their thinner necks and narrower nuts!
Interesting Read: How to Find the Best Jazz Bass Pickguards.
Why Would You Choose a Squier Jazz Bass over a Squier Precision Bass?
If you love jazz music and like the look of the Squier jazz basses on offer, you might be considering purchasing them already. However, is there any real reason that you should choose this over the Squier precision bass options? Yup, there absolutely is!
Firstly, we have an obvious reason based on what we just discussed – jazz bass guitars are designed to be comfortable to play for double bass players, featuring thinner necks and narrower nuts to reflect the features of the jazz instrument.
Therefore, if you have experience with playing the double bass or other jazz and classical stringed instruments such as the cello or violin, jazz bass guitars may present a more familiar and comfortable option for you. On the other hand, if you’ve been playing the electric guitar for years, a precision bass is going to be more appropriate.
Another reason may arise if you’ve never learned a stringed instrument before. If you have just got into music, you may be struggling to decide on which guitar to choose, as you’ve never played the electric guitar or the double bass. In this situation, I would recommend that you think about what kind of music you will most enjoy playing on the instrument and if you are considering learning others.
If you are a massive jazz fan and think it is likely that you might join a jazz band or learn the cello, jazz basses are going to set you up better to develop your skills. However, if you’re more into rock music and are considering dabbling in the electric guitar, get yourself a precision bass!
Last but not least, you may simply find jazz bass guitars more comfortable. This is why I recommend that, regardless of whether you are new to the instrument or already play the bass, you head to a music store such as Guitar Center and try both types of bass guitars out for yourself. This will allow you to see for yourself which is more comfortable to play, and who knows – you might just discover that you’ve been playing the wrong type all this time!
What to Consider when Buying a Squier Jazz Bass Guitar
Now that we’ve got to the bottom of what Squier jazz bass guitars are and why you might choose one over a standard precision bass guitar, it’s time to start looking online at your options. However, don’t go into this blind – you should do your research so that you know exactly what you should look for. I’ve broken down this process into four main categories – take a look.
Is Squier in the Right Price Range For You?
Before you even start looking at the specifications of each jazz bass guitar Squier offers, you should first take a moment to consider whether Squier is the right guitar brand in the first place. In case you are not aware, Squier is a guitar brand owned by Fender, one of the highest-quality guitar brands with one of the best reputations out there. However, this high quality comes at a high cost, so Squier guitars are designed to be cheaper and more affordable for guitarists on a budget.
This ultimately means that Squier jazz bass guitars are designed to be low-cost. This doesn’t mean for a minute that they are poor in quality – any guitar I have ever played designed by Fender has been a pleasure to use. However, there is no denying that Squier guitars cut more corners, use lesser tonewoods, and are mass-produced in assembly lines.
There’s nothing wrong with this – Squier jazz bass guitars are fantastic if you are new to the instrument or simply do not have the cash to splash on a fancier guitar. However, if you have the cash to splash and are looking for a long-term high-quality jazz bass guitar, it might be worth considering checking out Fender jazz basses or other brands altogether!
Color and Quality
The majority of Squier jazz basses are pretty similar in design – they all have narrow nuts and thin necks, so unless you have any special requirements, choosing one is ultimately going to come down to color and quality.
Whilst all Squier jazz basses are within a similar price range, some are more high-quality and expensive than others. Take a look online and you’ll find some for as cheap as $200 and some for as expensive as $600! Start by looking at the specifications of some of the cheapest ones, and note the differences between the more expensive models. The more expensive guitars generally have better configurations and finishes, so if you’ve saved up a bit of cash it might be nice to treat yourself to a higher-quality model.
Whilst specifications are important, there’s no denying that we all want our guitars to look great. For this reason, I think it’s really important not to underestimate the value of picking a Squier jazz bass guitar that you simply like the look of. Pick one that features your favorite color, or that has a cool-looking neck. There’s just something great about playing a guitar that looks cool, so make sure you consider your preferences!
Right or Left Handed?
For most people, you can probably go ahead and skip this – you’re going to want to consider whether you need a right or left-handed jazz bass guitar. Unless you have gone through life so far left-handed you are probably going to want to go for a right-handed guitar. People who perform most day-to-day tasks left-handed almost always get on better with left-handed basses. If you already play a stringed instrument, you should simply stick with what you already use.
However, there are circumstances when this preference can be unclear. Firstly, if you have never played a stringed instrument before, I would always recommend that you test both left and right-handed jazz bass guitars to see what you are more comfortable with.
Whilst this will usually be your day-to-day hand of preference, I’ve met some left-handed guitarists who perform most tasks right-handed. Ambidexterity is common when it comes to musical instruments, so you should always give both a go to see which is more comfortable.
How Many Strings?
Last but not least, you should consider whether you are happy with a standard four-string bass guitar, or whether you might want to get a five-string instead. Now, there’s no denying that five-string bass guitars are pretty uncommon in practice, so the vast majority of people reading this should probably head straight for a four-string. However, there are a few genres of music that can benefit from five-string basses, so if you’re into any of them, it might be worth having that extra string!
The main examples of this would be jazz, as well as progressive rock and experimental metal bands. Jazz music often gives musicians opportunities to perform solos, and these generally involve the musician exploring the entire range of the instrument. Therefore, having a fifth string opens up a lot of opportunities – the bassist can extend their range greatly, allowing them to hit both higher and lower notes than normal.
When it comes to progressive rock and experimental metal bands, these genres are simply different from jazz and feature higher bass guitar sections that are influenced more by electric guitars.
Whilst Squier’s five-string jazz bass guitar offerings are limited, those that are available are just as cheap as most of the four-string options, so don’t let cost prevent you from having that additional range. If you think that you might benefit from having an additional string on your bass, I’d say go for it!
My Top 4 Squier Jazz Bass Recommendations
Enough jibber jabbering – let’s get down to answering the title of this guide to the best squire jazz bass guitars! I’ve compiled the following list of my four Squier jazz bass recommendations, so if you’re looking for some inspiration, check these out first! I’ve done my best to provide something for everyone, so I’m sure you’ll find at least one of the recommendations useful!
Squier Affinity Jazz Bass Black
To start my list of recommendations, I’ve decided to begin with the best option if you’re on a budget – the Squier Affinity Jazz Bass Black. This is one of the cheapest Squier bass offerings, and I’d highly recommend it if you’ve never played the bass and are looking for a cheap entry point. It features a maple neck, a poplar body, and the classic two-pickup setup for jazz bass guitars.
There’s no denying that this is one of the lesser-quality options available, but when you’re starting with a new instrument, there’s no point spending a ton straight away. Get yourself something cheap, to begin with, and if you find yourself sticking with the instrument, then it’s time to upgrade.
- Seriously cheap for a jazz bass guitar
- Minimalistic black finish
- Features all the signature jazz bass properties
- The poplar body is one of the lesser quality tonewoods out there
- The overwhelming specifications are entry-level
- A lot of people prefer something more interesting than a plain black guitar
Squier Classic Vibe 70s Jazz Bass Black Left Handed
This second recommendation is for all my left-handed friends out there – the Squier Classic Vibe 70s Jazz Bass Black Left Handed. Not only was Squier great to provide a left-handed version of its signature jazz basses, but they also made it look darn cool too! Similarly to the last recommendation, this guitar features a black finish, but this one is a little fancier.
It includes a scratchplate with a different hue, complemented by a white border and a separate silver plate for the tone and volume controls. Adding to that the sleek black fretboard inlays, it’s a seriously sexy jazz bass guitar!
Whilst the body of this jazz bass is still made of poplar, it does include a proper bone nut instead of a synthetic one, a maple fingerboard and neck, and the classic two-pickup setup. It’s a shame that there’s not a cheaper option for left-handed Squier bass guitars, but there’s no denying that the higher price point is worth the sleek black look.
- Sleek and cool-looking color scheme
- Features a white-bordered dark-grey scratchplate and a silver plate for the tonal controls
- A perfect option for left-handed musicians looking to learn the bass
- Pretty expensive considering the body is made from poplar
Squier Classic Vibe 60s Jazz Bass Daphne Blue
This next bass guitar recommendation is the one that I think looks the coolest – the Squier Classic Vibe 60s Jazz Bass Daphne Blue. As soon as I saw this guitar, I fell in love with the Daphne Blue finish and the beautiful tortoiseshell scratch plate. I also love the black tonal control dials – it contrasts with the blue and brown perfectly! This guitar is not just a pretty face though – it also features an Indian Laurel fingerboard which gives the instrument a smooth feel when navigating the strings.
This is one of the more expensive options here, but in terms of the visual aesthetic, I think you just can’t beat this guitar. I think it’s a particularly good option for people looking to be in a jazz band, or perhaps are into more light-hearted music. There’s just something about those minimal black jazz basses that I think works better in progressive rock and jazz metal bands.
- Beautiful Daphne Blue finish
- The blue color is complimented wonderfully by the tortoiseshell scratchplate and black control dials
- Probably the coolest looking Squier jazz bass
- Features and Indian Laurel fingerboard, making fret navigation ultra smooth
- Other than the Indian Laurel fretboard, you’re mainly paying extra for the pretty looks
- The blue finish and tortoiseshell scratchplate just doesn’t sit right in heavier musical styles
Squier Affinity Five-String Jazz Bass
I’ve saved the best for last, in my opinion at least – the Squier Affinity Five-String Jazz Bass guitar. Now, I know what you’re thinking – you don’t need a five-string bass, four strings are perfectly fine. However, I would recommend you check out this guitar first and take a look at the price – despite its additional string, this is still one of the cheapest Squire jazz bass guitars available!
It mostly features the same features as the previously mentioned Squier Affinity Jazz Bass Black, except it has an additional string. Not only that, but this jazz bass guitar is even available in two different colors – the classic tricolor Sunburst finish, or a sleek and minimalistic Olympic White.
I am a big fan of this Squier jazz bass guitar because of its color customization, and of course, it has five strings. Ultimately, I just think that when it comes to bass guitars, the more strings the better! You never know when you might get invited to perform a jazz bass solo or join a djent band with crazy bass riffs! However, there’s still no denying that five-string basses are not for everyone, especially if you’re used to playing a standard bass. When in doubt though, try one out first!
- It has an extra string!
- Despite being a five-string, this is still one of the most affordable Squier jazz bass models
- Available in either Sunburst or Olympic White finish
- Not everyone feels comfortable playing five-string bass guitars
Before we finish up this guide to the best Squire jazz bass guitars, let’s quickly finish things up with a much-needed FAQ section. We’ve covered a lot of ground throughout this guide, and I don’t want you to leave with any unanswered questions!
Question: What’s the Difference between Standard and Jazz Bass Guitars?
Answer: Whilst jazz bass guitars are mostly similar to regular jazz bass guitars, they feature a narrower nut and thinner neck to suit double bass players better, whilst also using a different pickup configuration.
Question: Are Squier Jazz Bass Guitars High Quality?
Answer: Squier jazz bass guitars are designed to be cheap and thus affordable to beginners, and therefore the quality of squire jazz bases is lower than other brands such as Fender.
Question: Are All Squier Jazz Bass Guitars the Same?
Answer: Whilst most Squier jazz bass guitars vary only in appearance, the guitar range does offer a five-string option as well as a left-handed option.
Well, that just about concludes everything I have to say about Squier jazz bass guitars. I have always been a fan of Squier and the way it produces affordable guitars for any purpose, and therefore I think their jazz bass series is perfect for anyone interested in learning the jazz bass.
My personal favorite has to be the Squier Affinity Five-String Jazz Bass due to its fifth string and low price, but there’s no denying that options such as the Squier Classic Vibe 60s Jazz Bass Daphne Blue have a better aesthetic and specifications.
Regardless of which guitar you choose, I wish you the best of luck on your journey to finding the perfect jazz bass guitar. Whatever you do, always make sure that you do your research, read the reviews of each product, and ensure that you are always purchasing a Squier jazz bass guitar from an official retailer or reputable source!
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