The idea of a good electric bass guitar, in platonic terms, is something that shall never be achieved. Unfortunate as that is, the fact also makes me a little excited. You see since perfection can never be achieved, we will always have a nice variety in the electric bass guitars available to us on the market. And while it is highly regretful that we shall never get to see the perfect bass guitar, I am excited to know that we shall always have a good variety. Anyway, enough philosophizing, let’s take a look at the Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Jazz Bass ’77 – one of the best bass guitars under 500.
The design of the guitar is nothing new and nobody wanted it to be anything new. This is why it is called the Vintage Modified Jazz Bass ‘77 instead of something more modern implying. So abandon all hope for something impossibly new and get ready for something truly interesting. The design is rather pretty to look at, especially since the manufacturers decided to offer a tonewood-centric coloring option. The result is a vintage-looking guitar that is both rather handsome and a little on the unique side of the modern market.
The body of the guitar is built out of Agathis. Whenever I find out a guitar is made out of this tonewood my heart grows a little sour, since I have known agathis to not be the best tonewood out of three. Still, I always try to give the instrument a chance and in this case, I am not too disappointed. Agathis has many similar qualities to basswood, only having a slightly brighter tone as compared to its better-known cousin.
The result is a well-balanced resonance with both the lows and the highs, with a more or less present mid tone. The tonewood is rather light, so you will have no trouble being comfortable playing it. It is a soft tonewood, so be prepared to protect yourself and it from damage.
The neck of the guitar is made out of more traditional hardwood, maple. Maple is known for a whole lot of things that make it the traditional choice for so many guitar necks. The sturdy nature of this hardwood means that your guitar neck will be highly resistant to warping, denting, and scratching. The neck of the guitar is bolted onto the body, which is not my favorite choice and does not work too well with agathis. Still, the neck is stable, so nothing much to complain about. The fretboard of the guitar is made out of maple, a less traditional pick of hardwood but a good one nonetheless.
The guitar comes with a Fender-designed four-saddle standard bridge. What you get as a result of this is standard string stability and some standard action out of your strings.
The nut of the guitar is made of a synthetic material that is of average quality. This means a rather clean sound for the bass guitar and a nice harmony to go with it.
The tuning machine of the guitar is made well so that it looks fitting on this rather good-looking guitar. The tuning stability is some of the best you will get at this level of price
The guitar comes equipped with two very nice stock pickups. Located at the middle and the bridge of the guitar, these two single-coil pickups do a whole lot of work, even when compared to better pickups. The single coils have a clean sound and a very interesting tone, being especially receptive to the higher tones of the bass guitar. The string noise is nonexistent and the guitar pickups are made to last, and keep their tone for a whole while.
The instrument comes with a rather basic control setup, with two individual control knobs for volume and one master tone knob.
Squier Vintage Modified Jazz Sound
The bass guitar has a very interesting sound. The combination of the bright tones that the pickups produce, as well as the agathis’ resonance with the lower and high tones, results in a strangely, but enjoyably, funky tone. The deep tones produced by the guitar are highly enjoyable, and the high tones are nuanced and very expressive. It’s a shame that Agathis has a hard time resonating with sounds because, with a more resonant wood, the guitar would have had an exceptional sound.
In the end, all I have to say about this guitar is that it is worth it. Despite the agathis body, it has a good lifespan, a powerful and bright sound well suited for jazz and funk, and looks that most guitars could easily envy.