There are 11 different Fender Jazzmaster (not including signature models) guitars and 6 different Squier Jazzmaster models available at the time of writing. I’ll address all these models later in the article but I’ll start with 4 of the most popular versions and compare them in-depth:
- Squier Affinity Jazz Bass
- Squier Classic Vibe ’60s Jazz Bass
- Fender Player Jazz Bass
- Fender American Professional Jazz Bass
This gives us a good basis for our Squier vs Fender debate. We’ll be looking at the cheapest and most expensive Squier models, as well as the cheapest Fender Jazzmaster and one of the most expensive Fender versions available.
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 Jazzmaster||Squier Classic Vibe ‘60s Jazzmaster||Fender Player Jazzmaster||Fender American Professional II Jazzmaster|
|Body Finish||Gloss Polyurethane||Gloss Polyurethane||Gloss Polyester||Gloss Polyurethane|
|Neck Shape||C-Shape||C-Shape||Modern C||Deep C|
|Fingerboard Material||Indian Laurel||Indian Laurel||Pao Ferro||Rosewood|
|Fret Size||Medium Jumbo||Narrow Tall||Medium Jumbo||Narrow Tall|
|Inlays||Pearloid Dot||White Dot||White Dot||White Dot|
|Pickups||Squier Ceramic Single Coil||Fender Designed Alnico Single Coil||Player Series Alnico II Humbucker||V-Mod II Single Coil|
|Rhythm/ Lead Circuit||Yes||No||No||No|
|Bridge||2-Point Tremolo||6-Saddle Tremolo||6-Saddle Tremolo||6-Saddle Tremolo|
|Tuning Machines||Squier Die-Cast with Split Shafts||Squier Vintage Style||Fender Standard Cast||Fender Standard Cast|
|Sculpted Neck Heel||No||No||No||Yes|
Pickups and Tone
All four of these Jazzmaster’s have different pickups.
The Squier Classic Vibe, Fender Player and American Pro II have alnico pickups which in my opinion sound considerably better than the ceramic pickups in the Squier Affinity Jazzmaster which sound quite muddy in comparison.
The Squier CV and Fender American Pro II both have the classic single coil pickups that you’d expect to see in a Jazzmaster, whereas the Fender Player has humbucker pickups. The single coil pickups unexpectedly have that bright and chimey quality whereas the humbuckers sound warmer, and fuller.
The Squier Classic Vibe and American Professional II pickups sound quite similar, although I’d say the CV pickups sound a bit fuller in comparison to the American Pros which sound thinner and brighter.
Check out this video comparing the Affinity, Classic Vibe and American Professional II Jazzmaster models so you can hear how different these single coil pickups sound. It’s actually a blind test so you can figure out which you prefer without having any preconceived notions.
The controls operate quite differently on some of these Jazzmasters.
Squier Affinity and Fender Player Jazzmaster Controls
These two models have the most basic controls:
- 3-way pickup selector
- Master tone control
- Master volume control
The only difference between the Fender Player and Squier Affinity Jazzmaster controls is that the Fender Player also has a push/pull tone pot for splitting the humbuckers. Since the Squier Affinity has single coil pickups, this option is of course unnecessary.
Squier Classic Vibe Jazzmaster Controls
The Squier Classic Vibe Jazzmaster uses the classic rhythm/ lead circuitry.
These models operate by using a lead/ rhythm switch to activate either circuit on the guitar. By activating one of the circuits, you can use different controls to change the tone.
- Lead Circuit: gives you access to both pickups, the pickup selector and the tone and volume controls. The lead circuit sounds bright and crisp.
- Rhythm Circuit: uses only the neck pickup, and the rhythm tone and volume controls, so bypasses all the other controls on the guitar. The rhythm circuit sound warm and mellow.
Although a little bit confusing at first, this gives the guitar a lot of versatility. The Fender Vintera ’60s and Fender American Original models also use this control system.
Fender American Professional II Jazzmaster Controls
Although the Pro II’s controls look the same as the Classic Vibe’s, they have different functions.
- Phase/ parallel switch
- Volume controls for both pickups on the upper horn (these work when the phase/ parallel switch is in the “up” position.
- 3-way pickup selector
- Master volume
- Master tone
- Push/ pull tone: coil taps the bridge pickup on the Pro II)
Check out my complete guide to using a Jazzmaster for more information on all the different models.
The Squier Affinity and Classic vibe both have a classic C-shape neck, and the Fender Player has a “modern C” shape neck. Having tried several of these guitars I’ve found that the depth is pretty much the same whether the guitar is labelled as having a “C” or “Modern C” neck.
The neck on the American Professional II though is a tiny bit thicker and is described as a “Deep C”. This measures approximately 0.84″ thick at the 1st fret and 0.92″ thick at the 12th fret.
In comparison the other guitars measure roughly 0.83″ at the 1st fret and 0.91″ at the 12th fret, so only a 0.01″ difference which is within the normal tolerance range for a guitar neck.
The only other notable difference here is that the American Pro II has a slightly wider fretboard.
One of the biggest differences between these three guitars is where they are manufactured.
- The Fender American Professional II Jazzmaster is made in the USA
- The Fender Player Jazzmaster is made in Mexico
- The Squier Jazzmaster models are made in Indonesia
Indonesian Squier guitars are mass produced in factories to a specific low price point. This means they are not crafted with the same attention to detail as the Fender guitars.
Fender’s made in Mexico guitars are built using higher quality materials and with better quality control compared to Indonesian Squier guitars.
The flagship Fender models are made in the USA by some of the best luthiers in the world. Fender’s factory in California has an outstanding reputation for their excellent build quality and craftsmanship.
On Fender Jazzmaster electric guitars you’re less likely to run into quality control issues and will often find that the finishes are nicer, the fretwork is neater and the guitars are setup out of the box better and require less adjustment.
- The Fender American Pro II has a sculpted neck heel to aid upper fret access (the other 3 guiars do not)
- Fender Jazzmasters have traditional alder bodies compared to cheaper poplar bodies seen on Squiers
- Fender Jazzmasters have better tuning machines and hardware
- Both Squier models have 21 frets whereas the Fender versions have 22 frets
- The Squier and Mexican Fender guitars have Indian laurel and Pau Ferro fretboards respectively, which are cheaper than the rosewood fretboards seen on the American Pro II
- Only the Fender American Pro II comes with a case
- 25.5″ scale length
- Maple neck
- 9.5″ fingerboard radius
- Plastic controls
- 9-gauge strings
Check out my comparison between the Fender Player and Squier Classic Vibe series to learn more.
Squier Jazzmaster electric guitars cost between $280-$470 on average, whereas Fender Jazzmaster guitars cost between $880-$2400, depending on the exact model.
Here are the main Jazzmaster electric guitars available from Fender and Squier at the time of writing and their average prices in the USA and UK.
|Jazzmaster||Average Price USA||Average Price UK|
|Fender American Vintage II 1966||$2400||£2250|
|Fender American Ultra||$2250||£2100|
|Fender American Professional II||$1800||£1800|
|Fender American Performer||$1500||£1250|
|Fender Made in Japan||$1200||£1400|
|Squier Classic Vibe ‘60s||$430||£380|