Anyone who’s looking or a decent Jag knows that there are only two options available: either Fender or Squier Classic Vibe Jaguar. I recently bought the Squier FSR Jag (it’s the limited edition with a matching headstock) and honestly it blew my mind.
I’m convinced that Squier CV Jaguar (both 60s and 70s versions) can easily compete with Mexican-made Fenders. This axe has everything you need – awesome tone, great build quality and affordable price.
I’m extremely happy that I managed to get the charcoal version – it’s not that easy to find these days. If you ever stumble upon that model on the second hand market – go for it! You won’t regret it. It’s the same as other version though.
So today I want to highlight this axe and give you some tips on how you can make it even better. It’s not ideal, so we’ll talk about the cons as well. I’ll try to be as unbiased as possible, but come on – I REALLY like that axe.
Let’s start with a quick sound demo.
About Squier Classic Vibe Jaguar
Body & Neck
CV Jags have poplar bodies and maple necks. They have a gloss finish (which is not my favorite), but I have to say that it’s comfortable to play.
The fingerboard is made of laurel, which is quite easy on the fingers. But there’s one problem with that – at least in my model – the fretboard was very dry at the beginning. I had to apply some lemon oil, so it wasn’t anything complicated. I guess it’s because of the fact that it was made a long time ago and it was waiting for me to buy it.
As you can see on my photos, my Jaguar has a charcoal finish with a matching headstock. It’s the FSR (Factory Special Run) model, so it’s not that common. But apart from the color, it’s the same as other CV Jaguars.
Other colors are available too – such as Surf Green or 3-Color Sunburst.
I was actually surprised that the factory setup of that model was good. Most of Squiers that I had in the past had some issues, but in this case – nothing bad happened. Well, apart from the dry fretboard.
For those who aren’t aware, axes from the Classic Vibe Series are made in Indonesia. They’re known for their good quality, but sometimes their setups are pretty poor. I’m not sure if I was just lucky, but mine was 10/10.
So huge shoutout to guys at Squiers factories – you guys really know how to make great guitars and your quality control is really on point these days!
Hardware & Pickups
Squier decided to equip this model with a set of Fender-Alnico single-coils and a 6-saddle vintage-style bridge with trem system. And to be honest, it’s all awesome!
The pickups used in that model sound very cool and they’re VERY versatile. No matter whether you’re into indie, grunge or classic rock – you’ll definitely be able to find the tone you need.
I just love using the bridge pickup with a bit of spring reverb – it’s basically the ideal surf-rock sound. Very bright and chimey, but it can become much deeper and jazzy when you’re using the neck pickup.
The quality of this bridge is also really good. I didn’t experience any issues with it so far, but I know that some people reported that it tends to sink. It can be easily fixed with using blue loctite though.
The tremolo is a crucial part of any Jazzmaster and Jaguar, so of course, it makes this axe even more versatile. But when you use it too much, it tends to affect your tuning a bit. That’s how it goes with Jaguars!
Rhythm & Lead Circuits
Of course, just like any other Jaguar, this model is equiped with two circuits: rhythm and lead. You can use that tiny switch on the upper body to switch between them. When it’s up, you’re using the rhythm section and when it’s down, you’re using the lead circuit.
Once you’re in the lead circuit, you can use all the controls at the bottom. You can notice three switches in there – two of them are for activating pickups and the last one (on the far right) is basically a bass-cut switch. It makes your tone even brighter.
As you can imagine, having these two circuits opens a lot of tonal possibilities. It may be confusing at first, but I’m sure that after a few weeks of playing you’ll find your favorite setting. Personally, I don’t use the rhythm section that often – I actually use it as a kill switch.
Now it’s time for something you’ve been waiting for! Here’s a few sound samples that I recorded for you guys to check out. So grab your headphones and have a listen – you’ll definitely agree with me that this guitar sounds very good.
Sample 1 – Clean
Sample 2 – Distortion
Sample 3 – More Distortion
Sample 4 – Chorus & Reverb
If you’re a nerd like me and you like to know every little detail before your purchase, here’s a list of full specifications.
|Pickups||Fender Alnico single-coils|
What I Don’t Like About That Jag
Let’s be clear – I’m a huge fan of that guitar. I would definitely choose it even if it would be a bit more expensive. But there are still things that could be better.
As you already know, my setup was pretty good, but it doesn’t mean that it will be the same in your case. I had A LOT of Squiers in my hands throughout the years and to be honest, their setups were always a lottery.
So I can’t guarantee that your Jaguar will be as good as mine. If you do experience some problems with the setup, just visit your local luthier. I know that it means additional costs, but this guitar is worth it.
Also, this Squier usually comes without a case. That sucks to be honest. The main problem is that Jaguars (due to their unusual shape) don’t always fit inside of regular cases. I can definitely recommend Fender FEJ-610 gig bag – this one is made specifically for Jazzmasters and Jags.
The last thing that I don’t like about that Jaguar is that it features 9-42 factory strings. This is not an ideal solution for this type of guitars. And since it’s a short-scale guitar (24″), using thicker strings will make it sound much better. I’d recommend using 11s instead of 9s.
But again – if you decide to get a set of 11s, you’ll have to find someone who will modify the nut for you. These strings are too thick so the nut will need a bit of work.
I know it’s pretty annoying, but I definitely recommend doing that. It will have a HUGE impact on your tone.
Who Is It Ideal For?
Squier Classic Vibe Jaguars (both 60s and 70s versions) are ideal for both amateurs and more advanced players. It doesn’t really matter if you can play guitar or not – you will notice the uniqueness of that model.
If you have small hands, that’s even better. Since it’s a short-scale axe, it’s very comfortable for players with shorter fingers and smaller palms. But if your hands are huge, playing on that model may actually be uncomfortable.
Jags are very often used in alternative rock genres and subgenres. Think of surf rock, indie pop, dream pop, shoegaze and everything similar to these styles of music. This Squier will be perfect for that.
And of course, since it’s an affordable guitar, it’s definitely a good option for those who don’t want (or can’t afford) to get a Fender. The CV Jag is around two times cheaper than the cheapest Mexican Fender, so that’s a pretty big difference.
But honestly, I don’t see why anyone would not be happy with that axe in their hands. It has pretty much everything you need. Like honestly, it’s probably one of my top 5 axes of all time. And I had A LOT of them.
Fender vs Squier Jaguar
The difference between Squiers and Fenders isn’t as huge as you may think. If you would compare the tones of these Jaguars, it wouldn’t be that easy to spot which one’s which.
The things that differentiate these guitars are:
- Fenders are made in Japan, Mexico or United States, while Squier Jags are made in Indonesia
- Fenders are WAY MORE affordable
- Squiers are made of cheaper components
- Squiers don’t have the fancy Fender logo on the headstock
As an example, Fenders are usually made of alder or pine (instead of poplar). These woods are a bit better, but it doesn’t mean that Squiers are bad. Same with electronics and overall build quality – it’s usually better in Fenders.
So in the end, it all comes down whether you want a high-quality Fender or a functional and great sounding Squier instead. I don’t see anything wrong with using a Squier. And neither should you!
Is There Any Alternative?
If you’re thinking about getting specifically a Jaguar, this Squier is actually the cheapest option out there. There are simply no other Jags!
You can always get a cheaper Jazzmaster or Mustang (from Affinity or Bullet Series), but it will never be the same.
I know it’s a bit sad, but it is what it is. Who knows, maybe Squier will decide to make cheaper Jags in the future, but for now – the Classic Vibe one is the only option.
Of course, if have the budget for it, you can always get a more expensive Fender – there’s nothing wrong with that. There are plenty of them out there – including Japanese, Mexican and American ones.
But to be honest, I think that looking for something else isn’t necessary. If you’re on the hunt for your first Jaguar, this Squier is a very good place to start.
As much as I’d love to complain about the stuff that could be better in this Jag, all of these flaws pretty much disappear when I look at it. I mean, come one. Look at it. It’s literally love from first sight.
Summing up, I think that getting the CV Jaguar may actually be a better idea than getting any Mexican-made Fender (apart from the Vintera one – these ones are super cool). So if you’re looking for an affordable axe of this type, grab the Squier. Maybe you’ll fall in love too.
Thanks for reading my post! Who knows, maybe it was helpful. If you do end up with this Jag in your hands, leave a comment here and let me know what you think. I’m sure that other readers will also love to hear what you think about it. And let me know if you experienced the same issues!
That’s pretty much it. If you want to read more about the gear that I had throughout the years, make sure to visit my Gear Reviews category. If not – that’s cool too. I wish you all the best!