Last updated April 12, 2022
This is the most comprehensive Squier Classic Vibe ’60s Jazzmaster review online and also includes 30+ minutes of video footage. I will, of course, answer whether I think you should or should not buy a CV Jazzmaster or not. But it’s not an easy answer and depends a lot on your preferences.
And unlike a lot of reviews ArtOfShred reviews are completely unbiased. I purchased this guitar with my own money from Musician’s Friend. I was not paid by Squier, Fender, Musician’s Friend, or anybody else.
I’ve personally played this Classic Vibe Jazzmaster (in Sonic Blue!) for well over 20 hours. Likely closer to 40 hours. Which is to say, I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing whether it’s worth buying one of these guitars or if you should buy one of the more expensive Fender Jazzmasters … or none of the above. Let’s get to it …
Table of Contents
About The Author
Hey, I’m Karol (like Karl not Carol). I’ve been playing guitar for 20+ years, but I’m still an amateur and learning every day. In my younger years I played in a band, but nowadays it’s for fun.
Why should you listen to this review? Because I don’t care about selling you anything and I want to help you make an informed choice. I started Art Of Shred because I was unimpressed with the obviously biased guitar and musical equipment reviews online. Keep in mind, of course, that these are just my views. I don’t know everything and my opinions are my opinions.
Squier Classic Vibe '60s Jazzmaster
CV ’60s Jazzmaster in Sonic Blue
Made in: Indonesia
Fun to play
Arrived with a few issues out of the box
Noisy (like all single coil guitars)
You might need to upgrade some things to get your desired playability
If you prefer video I created three accompanying video reviews (the sound demo is in the first video) for this Squier CV ’60s Jazzmaster.
- The first video is pre-setup: https://youtu.be/H9JRa2bAYJ8
- The second video is post-setup: https://youtu.be/j5si2IT-21g
- The third video is “permanently” fixing the bridge: https://youtu.be/JFXnuUksog4
If you’re on a time crunch I would definitely watch Part 1, but Part 2 has lots of fun things in it so watch that when you can.
And if you’re on an unbelievable time crunch I created this bare bones 45 second review as well.
The Classic Vibe ’60s Jazzmaster is modeled after … well … it’s in the name! The 1960s Fender Jazzmaster. It’s got 21 frets, a bone nut, vintage style tuners, Fender-designed single coil pickups (these are not P90 pickups), and the vintage style Jazzmaster tremolo system. Of course, unique to Jazzmasters are the Rhythm and Lead circuits, and of course, these Classic Vibes have that too. A full explanation of the Rhythm and Lead circuits is in video #1 above. It’s much easier to explain in audio & video than in text.
About the Jazzmaster Rhythm & Lead Circuit
Here is the simple explanation of the circuit. If you switch up to the Rhythm circuit the pickup selector and the lower volume/tone controls don’t work. The disc style volume/tone controls are now in command. If you switch down to the Lead circuit then the 3-way pickup switch works as you’d expect. Left is the neck pickup, middle is both pickups, and right is the bridge pickup. Again, review video part 1 above has a visual explanation.
I was very excited to get this guitar and the out-of-box experience can be described in one word: disappointing.
There was glue and dirt all over the fretboard, there were a few small chips in the fretboard (these don’t affect playability, but still unexpected on a brand new guitar), and there was a small finish blemish in the lacquer. Not fun to see on a brand new guitar, especially one that is no longer in the “very cheap” range.
Suffice it to say that my first impressions were not good. That said, the guitar felt nice and taking a step back, it looked nice. It would just take an hour or two of my time to clean it up, set it up, and make it worthy of my collection. (Or any collection for that matter.)
I called Musician’s Friend and they were very apologetic about the issues. They immediately offered an exchange or a small refund to make up for the time it would take me to get the guitar up to snuff. I decided to take the refund and move on. (I probably should have negotiated to try to get more? Oh well, I’m okay with how it worked out.)
OK, we’ve already talked about the things I didn’t like out-of-the-box so I’m not going to repeat myself here. So I’m going to highlight two things.
- It’s a noisy guitar.
- There are some upgrades that some people consider necessities for Jazzmasters.
Let’s tackle #1. Yes, Jazzmasters are noisy, but all single coils are noisy. There are a few things that might make Jazzmasters slightly more noisy than a typical single coil guitar and I go into more detail in video #1, but to me the sound (noise and all) of these guitars is part of the charm. I don’t think the noise is anything to worry about as long as you’re not trying to play chug chug metal on it. (And if you are, a good noise gate should help you out.)
As for #2. I personally think people are a little crazy with what they deem necessary upgrades on a CV Jazzmaster. You’ll find a lot of people spend as much or more on their upgrades as they did on the guitar in the first place. I really don’t think it’s necessary. I did, however, make an upgrade. I spent $21.64 on a 0.5 degree neck shim. More on that in the Setup section below.
If you like Jazzmaster you probably already know the pros, but let’s talk about them anyway.
- Looks beautiful
- Sounds great
- Fun to play
What more do you need in a guitar? Now, that doesn’t mean you should get a Jazzmaster because it’s definitely quirky. But it ticks the necessary boxes in terms of looks, sound, and playability.
What Kind of Setup Did I Do?
As mentioned above I had to do a pretty extensive setup on this guitar. Mostly with regards to cleaning the fretboard. I show the process in the review video #1, but suffice to say it was time consuming.
First I took a razor blade and carefully scraped the glue off all the frets. ~30 minutes
Second I taped off the fretboard with painter’s tape and polished all the frets with 9 grits of micromesh. ~45 minutes
Third I removed the painter’s tape and I cleaned and polished the fretboard with lemon oil. I used D’addario lemon oil and I like it, but use whatever you have.
Fourth comes the unnecessary upgrade that I ultimately think was worth it: I installed a 0.5 degree shim that I bought from Stewmac ($21.64 with shipping and taxes). To do that I had to remove the neck, place the shim, and replace the neck.
Due to this shim changing the break angle of the strings I then had to raise the bridge to set the proper string height. I explain more about this whole process in video #2.
Finally I set the guitar’s intonation. If you don’t know I made a video about how to set your guitar’s intonation.
How Does A Jazzmaster Sound?
I think these guitars sound great. The review videos have more extensive sound demos, but I also recorded this short demo:
I really like how Jazzmasters sound. They can be chunky and somewhat muddy, but also clear and full depending on how you use them. They’re great with fuzz and have a really nice clean sound.
What Else I Might Upgrade
While some people think upgrading the tremolo system and bridge is a must, I’m not convinced. I like the trem just fine although yes, it can be finicky. You’ll see in review video #1 I used plumber’s tape to wrap around the base of the trem arm (aka wiggle stick) to keep it from rattling. But the real fix to that is to push the tremolo arm into the socket with so much force you probably think you’ll break it. You won’t break it and the arm will stay in place and stop rattling. Nice!
I personally might upgrade the tuners to locking tuners, but I’m simply a big fan of easy string changes that locking tuners provide. This guitar does not have tuning stability issues.
I also might upgrade the pickups. As mentioned, I like these pickups, but swapping pickups is a fun way to get new sounds from an instrument. I have no plans to do that at this moment.
Classic Vibe 60s Jazzmasters Photo Gallery
You like offset guitars? You like shoegaze or indie/alternative music? You like a little noise with your distortion? You don’t want to spend over a thousand dollars on a Fender? Well, the Squier Classic Vibe 60s Jazzmaster is it. All the features and charm of its Fender counterpart without the high cost.
All that to say, yes, if you’re thinking about getting a Jazzmaster, and in particular a Squier Jazzmaster, then I think you’ll be happy with the Classic Vibe 60s edition. If you can find it for under $400 then even better, but I would be happy with this at full price as well.
Hopefully, your out-of-box experience is better than mine. But even with my experience I give this guitar high marks.
Overall? A 7.6/10. But this would be higher if my out-of-box experience was better.
Do you own a CV Jazzmaster? Let me know what you think about it via email or the comments below.