There are quite a lot of Fender and Squier versions of the Jazz Bass which I’ll address later in this article. In order to compare these two brands I’ll compare four of the most popular models to begin with:
- Squier Affinity Jazz Bass
- Squier Classic Vibe ’60s Jazz Bass
- Fender Player Jazz Bass
- Fender American Performer Jazz Bass
The Squier Affinity is the cheapest J Bass available, whilst the Squier Classic Vibe ’60s is one of the most expensive Squier models. The only Squier J Bass which is more expensive is the “Contemporary” version, which is an active bass with pretty different features compared to a traditional Jazz Bass.
The Fender Player J Bass is the cheapest Fender version available, and the Fender American Performer is the cheapest American-made Fender Jazz bass available. Hence, this selection of 4 models gives us a good spread of price points to compare so you can see what you get for your money.
Quick Feature Comparison
First, let’s take a quick look at the features and specifications using this table. *If you are on a mobile device, turn your phone landscape or scroll across to see the full table.
|Feature||Squier Affinity Jazz Bass||Squier Classic Vibe ‘60s Jazz Bass||Fender Player Jazz Bass||Fender American Performer Jazz Bass|
|Pickup||Squier Ceramic||Fender Alnico||Fender Player Alnico V||Fender Yosemite|
|Tuning Machines||Squier||Squier||Fender||Fender Lightweight|
|Neck Finish||Satin Polyurethane||Gloss Polyurethane||Satin Polyurethane||Satin Polyurethane|
|Fingerboard Material||Maple||Indian Laurel||Maple/ Pau Ferro||Maple/ Rosewood|
|Fret Size||Medium Jumbo||Narrow Tall||Medium Jumbo||Medium Jumbo|
|Gig Bag Included||No||No||No||Yes|
When comparing these particular four Jazz basses, there’s one that stands out as sounding “worse” than the other three and that’s the cheapest Squier Affinity model.
The main reason for this is that it uses ceramic pickups which sound a bit harsh and tinny compared to the alnico pickups used in the Squier Classic Vibe, Fender Player and Performer models.
I say “worse” as tone is subjective, but most players are in agreement that the Affinity pickups just don’t sound as good.
The Squier Classic Vibe pickups are notable better and are actually designed by Fender, so there isn’t much of a different in tone between the Squier Classic Vibe and Fender Player/ American Performer Jazz basses.
Check out this YouTube video for a tone comparison.
One of the biggest differences between the Squier and Fender Jazz basses is where they are made.
- Fender Jazz basses are made in the USA, Mexico and Japan
- Squier Jazz basses are made in Indonesia and China
China and Indonesia are typically known for mass producing cheap guitars. They (generally) use lower quality materials and the factories do not have the same stringent quality control checks compared to Mexican, Japanese and American factories.
The cheapest Fender Jazz basses are made in Mexico and Japan, two countries which have a very good reputation for producing good quality but still affordable guitars and basses. The flagship Fender basses are made in California, USA, and have an outstanding reputation for their excellent build quality and craftsmanship.
So what kind of differences will you notice between Fender and Squier Jazz basses?
- Typically the fretwork is neater on Fender Jazz basses compared to Squier versions
- Most Fender basses are balanced better
- Fender basses usually have nicer finishes
- Fender basses are usually setup better out of the box and require less adjustment
Materials and Features
On the Fender Jazz bass you’ll notice there are several upgraded features compared to the Squier Jazz bass models:
- Some Fender basses come with gig bags but unfortunately no Squier models come with gig bags
- Fender basses have traditional alder bodies compared to cheaper poplar bodies seen on Squiers
- Fender basses have better tuning machines and hardware
One interesting thing to note though is that the Fender American Performer and Player Jazz basses have a synthetic plastic nut whereas the Squier Classic Vibe model has a bone nut which is actually a better material.
There are several key similarities between all these four Jazz basses including the controls, neck shape and scale length. Here’s a list of the features that all these basses share:
- 2 single coil pickup configuration
- Volume controls for each pickup
- Master tone control
- C-shape neck
- 4-saddle bridge
- Black plastic controls
- Maple neck
- 34″ scale length
- 9.5″ fingerboard radius
- 20 frets
- 1.5″ nut width
- 0.045-0.105″ stock strings
Fender and Squier Jazz Bass Price Comparison
Squier Jazz Bass guitars typically cost $280-$480, whereas Fender Jazz Basses are significantly more expensive and cost $850-$2400 depending on the exact model.
Here are all the Jazz basses available from Fender and Squier at the time of writing and their average prices in the USA and UK.
|Jazz Bass||Average Price USA||Average Price UK|
|Squier Paranormal ‘54||$430||£350|
|Squier Classic Vibe ‘60s||$450||£380|
|Squier Classic Vibe ‘70s||$450||£380|
|Squier Contemporary Active||$480||£430|
|Fender Player Plus||$1200||£960|
|Fender Vintera ‘60s||$1200||£1000|
|Fender Vintera ‘70s||$1250||£1000|
|Fender Aerodyne Special||$1350||£1000|
|Fender American Performer||$1500||£1300|
|Fender American Professional II||$1800||£1750|
|Fender American Original ‘60s||$2159||£1900|
|Fender American Ultra||$2250||£2200|
|Fender American Vintage II 1966||$2300||£1950|
|Fender American Original ‘70s||$2400||£2300|