First Impressions: Squier Paranormal Jazzmaster XII (an affordable 12 string electric!)

Let’s be clear: this is not a review of the Paranormal Jazzmaster XII, but that is coming soon! I purchased this guitar from Sweetwater, and as I often try to do, I filmed the unboxing and first impressions. Those first impressions don’t always hold once I’ve had time with a guitar — sometimes I find flaws I didn’t initially catch — but I like to get them committed to video because I think they’re helpful.

As for this electric 12 string? Well, I had very high expectations. Mostly in that it’s an affordable 12 string, it brought back a classic Fender that hasn’t been available for years in the Jazzmaster XII with its hockey stick headstock, and I’d never owned a 12 string before. (Also, I love Jazzmasters in general!) I’d never even played an electric 12 string before that I can recall. But I love how they sound and something about the Jazzmaster XII style spoke to me.

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Alright, so we know I was excited, but did this Squier 12 string live up to that excitement?

Squier Paranormal Jazzmaster XII First Impressions & Unboxing video

If you don’t want to read then this nearly 20 minute video covers everything and maybe more.

Paranormal Jazzmaster XII Specs

Before I get into how I felt upon initially unboxing and playing the Jazzmaster XII let’s break down the important specs:

  • Poplar body
  • 25.5″ scale lengthe like a regular Jazzmaster
  • Gloss body finish (mine is Lake Placid Blue; Olympic White also available)
  • Maple bolt on C shaped neck; graphite reinforced to help with all that tension
  • 21 narrow tall frets
  • Laurel fretboard
  • Synthetic bone nut
  • 12 saddle hardtail bridge
  • Vintage style tuners
  • 2 Fender Alnico single-coil pickups
  • 1 volume and 1 tone control
  • 3 way pickup switch
  • 2 allen wrenches for truss rod and bridge adjustments included
  • Comes with .010 – 0.46 strings
  • Made in China

What I Thought About This Guitar After Unboxing

Well first of all, the Lake Placid Blue finish is stunning, but I guess my first thought about the guitar was how light it was. I don’t know if you’ve ever played a Jazzmaster before but they are not particularly light guitars. The Jazzmaster XII, however, is unexpectedly light. It’s still nearly 8lbs, but when you’re expecting more it feels surprising, and nice.

Some people don’t like the hockey stick headstock, but I think it’s quite cool. It’s not what you expect from a Fender, but it is true to form of the original Fender Jazzmaster XII.

This guitar arrived with no fret issues, no sharp frets or anything else that would need a guitar tech to fix. Part of that could be owing to the fact that Sweetwater inspects all guitars that cost more than $399. But it could also be that, although Squier’s quality control is not always great, that doesn’t mean it’s always a miss.

Note: There are some things I point out in the first impressions video that are difficult to point out in writing, specifically with regards to the string tree. So if you want more detail I encourage you to watch that video.

How is a 12 string guitar tuned? Awkwardly!

Like I mentioned earlier, I’d never owned a 12 string guitar before. And it’d been years since I even played one. They are very awkward to tune if you’re coming from a 12 string. This isn’t unexpected, of course, but I just want to point that out.

As for how the strings are tuned? The same as a 6 string, with the thinner strings simply an octave (or a double) of the string’s note. So, for example, your low E will have a high E accompanying it.

Sound Impressions of the Squier Paranormal Jazzmaster XII

Just from my initial plug in this guitar sounds fantastic. I actually wish they used these Jazzmaster XII pickups on other Jazzmasters that’s how much I like them. Of course I’ll have more to say and show when I do the full review and sound demo, but initially the sound exceeded my expectations.

But how does a 12 string play?

If you’re coming from 6 strings it’s going to be a learning experience for you. In the case of this Jazzmaster XII you’ve got extra strings, but not an extra fat fretboard so you’ve got smaller string spacing. The nut width is exactly the same on both at 1.65″ (42mm) which means arpeggios and single string runs are going to be a lot more difficult on this guitar. But that also means that chordal playing is not significantly different. Same neck, more strings!

You do need to press down harder so you actually get the octave strings to ring out. I bought a set of lighter gauge strings to mitigate this a little and I’ll let you know how that works out in the official Jazzmaster XII review.

Final Initial Paranormal JM XII Thoughts

I don’t personally play a lot of jingly jangly music, but the Squier Paranormal Jazzmaster XII makes me want to write exactly that. It feels nice, it sounds great, but it is most decidedly a niche instrument. Whether it’s the instrument for you I don’t know, but if you are looking for a 12 string electric your affordable options are limited so you’d be wise to give this one a shot.

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