The VM Jazzmaster - Some Thoughts

Discussion in 'Squier Offset Guitars' started by duceditor, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. duceditor

    duceditor Dr. Squier

    Age:
    71
    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    As is so for many of us here, I toggle between what guitars I play most often. This one for a time gets a lot of my attention and time, then that one.

    Lately I've been on a P90 kick, and that has taken much, but not all, of my attention away from my VM Offsets -- the guitars that brought me here to S-T now about four years ago.

    Back then I had 'gone back to my roots' and was fully and wonderfully involved in rediscovering my early playing loves -- the music exemplified and made popular by the Ventures and then several so-called "surf bands."

    Going back to that music I bought a good Fender `57 reissue Strat, but then somehow heard about the VMs, and once I'd played the VM Jaguar and theVM Jazzmaster that Strat went onto the shelf until I several years back now sold it.

    I never lost my love for those guitars, or for the music I purchased them to make, but these last several days they -- and particularly the Jazzmaster -- have come front and center again. And oh, how I do love this guitar!

    This morning I decided to change the string type on that instrument. It hadn't had a string change in some months and of late I've become used to playing on light/medium-heavy strings (9-46), and that on a shorter scaled instrument (The Gibson Les Paul CM). The relatively heavy .11s I'd been playing on the long-scale Jazzmaster suddenly seemed stiff to me. (What part my aging hands have in this I don't want to even ask!) ;)

    Restring the Jazzy was, as always, a pleasure. Why, oh why, did Fender or anyone else ever choose to use any other tuning machine than these classic insert-the-string-down-the-spindle Fender-type tuners. Neat. Clean. Easy. Slip-free. And they never draw blood. I love 'em! :)

    But much more stood out to me as I slowly and patiently worked on the VM Jazzy this morning. Mostly the over and over again realization of what a truly beautifully crafted instrument this is.

    We've had a lot to say here (as on other forums) about paint type. Some for whatever reason (real or imagined -- no let's not go there!) hate poly finishes. Not me. I love them.

    My Jazzy -- gorgeous in its Sonic Blue paint -- after four years of often heavy playing and never having seen the inside of a case -- could literally, apart from some micro scratches on the pickguard, pass for brand new. There is not a single ding on it. And the color glows just as it did when it left the factory.

    The guitar's neck and fingerboard, too, have held up beautifully. A bit of fret wear -- just as one would reasonably expect on a guitar that has been played hard and often for four years -- yes. But other than that observable wear is zilch.

    The switches and controls are still perfect. No, maybe not as A/B smooth as those on a $2000 MIA Fender, but good. Really good. And still quiet and sure.

    The chrome, like the paint, could, with the exception of the bridge which looks tarnished in part from the dried loctite blue that was applied to it several years ago, looks, again, almost new. And fine. And shiny. And rich.

    The Jazzy's nut was never touched. Use of the trem unit had slightly loosened its grab on the .11s -- a bit tight from the day they were installed) but not so tight that a touch of Nut Sauce couldn't render them stick-free. But the new 9-46s seemed comfortable there. I think it'll be several more years at least before that nut needs any attention.

    Changing string type means changing neck tension. Looking for perfection as is my want I took a tool to the neck relief adjuster. It turned smoothly. A one-eigth C-C rotation, and then another, brought the relief right where I like it. (I will go back tomorrow and see if settling makes it require another tweak.)

    Amazingly intonation was still better than ballpark. No tools needed there. That courtesy of the rocking bridge which allows small across-the-board settings to be made tool free. (Who can say when it is exactly centered?) ;)

    How well the light-top strings will work only time will tell. I'll be plugging her in -- wireless of course! :) -- in a few minutes. A couple of run throughs of such songs a Surf Rider, Mister Moto and Penetration will give the answer. But for right now I am loving her.

    Yes, again.

    What a blindlingly beautiful guitar!

    -don

    Jazzy.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2018
  2. duceditor

    duceditor Dr. Squier

    Age:
    71
    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    As a follow up, the 9-46 strings worked beautifully. No jumping on the bridge or any other issues.

    I did need to slightly lower the bass-side of the PUPS. That to keep everything in balance. But that done the sound is wonderful. Bright on top, but not cutting. Solid on the bottom. Full.

    :)

    -don
     
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  3. horax

    horax Dr. Squier

    Age:
    43
    Aug 9, 2010
    colorado springs
    great posts!

    I've been seriously considering a Jazzmaster. I played the American Pro the other day and really enjoyed it!
    I have played the VM Jazz and a 60s Lacquer Jazz but neither really grabbed me that much. I guess I always
    preferred my VM Jag over each of them.

    That being said, the Jazzmaster pickups are what drew me to surf music even though I didn't own one. I was a fledgling guitarist
    and heard the jazzmaster pickups I was playing on in GC, and teh first thing I thought was, "I've heard this before...where was that? PULP FICTION!" Taht started my love affair with surf music.

    Fast Forward to now....I am painting the inside of my house, and my wife has agreed to let me spend about $1500 on a new guitar (and not sell any exisitng ones) in July as a bonus/reward. I'm a tele guy through and through, but I keep going back to the Jazzmaster.

    While i prefer the feel of nitro, finding a nitro bodied jazzmaster IN THE COLORS I prefer just isn't happening. No, I'd have to use hte Fender Mod Shop to get a perfect specimen, or I'd have to get the American Pro with standard appointments.

    The search continues, but I'm sure one day I'll have one. And YES the thought has occurred to try the VM Jazzy again and see if it plays
    as well as the AMerican Pro and just upgrade the living snot out of it....but I'm still a few months off to enjoy trying to find 'the one.'
     
  4. duceditor

    duceditor Dr. Squier

    Age:
    71
    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    I've not played an American Pro, but I bet they are great guitars.

    Odd thing is I never feel anything is lacking with my VM. Personally I prefer not to have the hot lead PUP (although I think it is likely a great choice for most players) -- so I switched that out. And neck shape and gloss finish is a personal thing. (I am not super fussy -- as long as the quality is there -- and on my VMs it is.)

    It'd be fun to have a bunch of perfectly (and similarly) setup Jazzies and just try them all -- one after another! We'd likely get hooked on this one or that, but I bet they'd all get pretty high marks.

    :)

    I just had a long (for me) session playing mine and all my surf and pre-surf favs. Some several times.

    These days getting my picking hand to respond can be a challenge. So when I have a "good" day I try to milk it for all the playing fun I can. Such as this morning. :D

    -don
     
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  5. horax

    horax Dr. Squier

    Age:
    43
    Aug 9, 2010
    colorado springs
    I played my Jaguar exclusively tonight.
    Busted out some surf faves and started learning Telstar by the Ventures.

    I tell ya, even though I usually play surf on the bridge, playing on the middle with the strangle switch off is one of the most PURE Sounds ever heard from a guitar.

    Loved every moment of it. ;)

    2496AF4E-C9F9-442D-A523-5D9630FA56F4.jpeg
     
  6. horax

    horax Dr. Squier

    Age:
    43
    Aug 9, 2010
    colorado springs
    Miss my old one though. Wife hated the color combo, but DANG it was sexy!

    3BEB875F-F4F3-4AA4-B80D-0788C112ED9E.jpeg 5DA0DBC9-6A46-47F2-AB81-FC45A9865B44.jpeg 861DB457-4B58-4B30-9000-5A2AB44503BB.jpeg
     
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  7. duceditor

    duceditor Dr. Squier

    Age:
    71
    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    Yesterday I took delivery of the 3rd wireless system. As it was charging I had a long and wonderful surf session on the Jazzy in the music room. But as soon as the batts were charged I went up to the library and put the new wireless system to work there between the Jaguar and the G-DEC 30 amp.. And, yes, had another lengthy surf session.

    I dunno. I may prefer the Jag to the Jazzy. There is something about the Jaguars bright chime that makes it unique. And I do dig the short scale.

    Gotta have more sessions with both. That's the only way I'll know for sure.

    Oh, to have such problems!!!!~ :D

    -don
     
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  8. Ralph124C41

    Ralph124C41 Squier-holic

    Feb 10, 2016
    I do like these comparisons. As i said, I hope to buy a VM JM because .... well, its a JM and all. But it has those unique pickups which I don't have anything similar to. I have single coils, I have one guitar with P90s, I have humbuckers. I'd like to get a sunburst VM JM but, as I think others here have said, sometimes the top pieces seem somewhat mismatched. I have seen some that you can't even see the seams but I have seen others that the seams are clearly visible. And to get the best deal possible I will have to buy one online sight unseen and I really don't like to do that.

    Decisions. Decisions.

    You folks know I already have that surf green VM Jag but I think I'd prefer something with a little more mellow a sound but not as edgy as in some P90-equipped guitar.
     
  9. duceditor

    duceditor Dr. Squier

    Age:
    71
    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    Sweetwater has detailed photos of each of their guitars. Sometimes there will 3 or even more of a given model and you get to choose which one you want by its actual serial number

    That's a boon with the sunburst models because you can see the grain of the actual one you will be getting. Oh, and you also will know what each weighs. :)

    -don
     
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  10. Ralph124C41

    Ralph124C41 Squier-holic

    Feb 10, 2016
    that's totally true. But, as I said, I'm looking for a good deal because of my present (lack of) finances. I've never gotten been able to get a good deal at Sweetwater. At Musician's Friend right now I get get one 15 percent off, so about $360. Then tack on another 8 percent on that for Backstage pass promotion on future transactions, that brings the price down to around $331 or so.

    However, no assurance of what the guitar would look like ... and no free small bag of candy, either.

    Heck, I'll send an email to SW to see what somebody there can do. Huh, SW does NOT have the sunburst in stock. I'll send an email anyway.

    Oh, somebody about 80-100 miles away from me just posted a used Mascis JM for $300.
     
  11. ADLGMT8

    ADLGMT8 Squier-Meister

    187
    Jan 6, 2018
    United States
    Cool guitar and story, I have a VM Jazzmaster too, the Sunburst one, has one of the nicest neck shapes ever, can really dig in, I need to sort out the bridge though, my strings seem to jump a fair amount.

    PS really like the Sitar in the photo, I'm looking to get a Sarod when I can find one!
     
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  12. VealCutlet

    VealCutlet Squier-Nut

    560
    Aug 9, 2011
    Brookyn, NYC
    When the VM JM was introduced, I couldn't wait to get one. I had tons of Musicians Friend gift certificates, so it was basically free, to me. I ordered the Sonic Blue and couldn't wait for it to arrive.

    When I got it, I fell in love with the way it felt and looked. Howver, I think I got a lemon. It was noisy as heck. Action and setup was terrible. The bridge buzzed like mad, despite my efforts to stabilize it. The trem crunched against the cavity wall when used. Maybe I was in shock, maybe I was too lazy to ship it back, but I held onto it.

    I started looking at the OSG forums for ideas. I really wanted this thing to work for me. Gradually, I started to work on the guitar's issues.

    - Fender US trem installed - this resolved the terrible action on the stock trem
    - Staytrem bridge - works beautifully
    - New wiring harness w/switchcraft/CTS gear
    - Replaced pickups with GFS (I kind of regret this but the neck PUP is fantastic)
    - Mint green pickguard (Fender branded bought online. I wish it was a little mintier)
    - Neck shim
    - "Witch hat" knobs

    Doing this has made me realize that I shouldn't mod guitars anymore. At least not a traditionally wired offset. It literally took me a year to finish. Now, it's the guitar I would keep if I could only keep one.
    upload_2018-4-11_11-50-10.png
     
  13. duceditor

    duceditor Dr. Squier

    Age:
    71
    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    I always intended to. Just love their sound!

    For those unfamiliar...



    -don
     
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  14. ADLGMT8

    ADLGMT8 Squier-Meister

    187
    Jan 6, 2018
    United States
    It's a really great sound, really interesting too when melded with more contemporary sounds!

     
  15. Sydney FC

    Sydney FC New Member

    Age:
    61
    1
    Apr 28, 2018
    Wollongong
    Hi,
    Back on this forum after a while had to re-register as forgot passwords , changed email address etc. Good to be reading about VM JMs' again. I have a Sonic Blue 2014 VM JM which I keep coming back too. I have recently acquired a 2003 Highway One Strat, a 2013 MIM Tele and a 1973 Gibson L6 S. All of these are fine guitars and I love playing them but I have a constant urge to play the VM JM. Not sure what it is ... maybe I keep trying to affirm the quality of the JM against the Fender's and Gibson. I keep trying to find fault in the JM PUPs in comparison to the Fender's and Gibson but they seem to be quite toneful and do not have the jarring sharpness that you might expect from a mid price guitar. In fact I think it is the variety of tone settings from the JM that has me hooked. The brightness of the lead setting is clear but not sharp while the rhythm circuit has a lovely woodiness about the lower strings that I love for playing chordal melodies. I wonder why the Tele and the Strat sit idly on their stands while my vintage Gibson remains in it's case as once again I pick up the VM JM in preference. Am I crazy ... is it simply some crazy addiction or could there be some other reason?
     
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  16. Big George

    Big George Squier Talker

    18
    Jan 11, 2018
    North Carolina
    I finally took a long look at the standard bridge on my VM Jazzmaster today, same bridge as the Jaguar, and didn't like how the saddles looked or where they were, decided to loosen everything and then just eyeball it to where I thought they should be and what looked proper to me. Holy smokes, it worked! I'm still playing the jazzy just to see if what I'm hearing is really what I think I'm hearing, but next up is to locktite everything and then just leave it alone.
     
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  17. Acidhouse

    Acidhouse Squier-holic

    Age:
    48
    Sep 16, 2010
    Birmingham . . . Alabama
    I’ve been really intrigued by these for a while. Obviously, when you have someone like duceditor who owned a real 60s version and says that the pups installed nailed the original sound, that’s really saying something.
     
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  18. duceditor

    duceditor Dr. Squier

    Age:
    71
    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    Eyes and ears. Often the best tools. Almost as often the only tools we need. :)

    -don
     
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  19. so1om

    so1om Dr. Squier

    Age:
    50
    Feb 10, 2010
    Chicago
    @Caddy replaced the DD pickups with the Fender reissues. As he owned the originals, I accept his testament that it all combined to get the original tones.
     
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  20. so1om

    so1om Dr. Squier

    Age:
    50
    Feb 10, 2010
    Chicago
    I am in a similar boat. I have old 60s Gibsons and Gretschs. I have odd ball Sears catalog guitars, I have newer Epiphones. I have a lot of newer Squiers.

    What is ever so very odd is that I always seem to reach for the Bullet HH Strat first!

    For me it's not to find THE fault or to verify quality per se. It holds its own. It's light, it has good tones, it is comfortable along the neck, it stays in tune, I like tones.. umm.. But wait. shouldn't I play the old Gibson? Isn't that better? Or what about...

    And while I'll go through a phase a play another guitar for a few days, it's back to the Bullet. What gives??

    I don't think I'll figure it out. More importantly, I need to accept this.
     
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