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Over three decades after Leo Fender established Fender Guitars in 1946, the demand for his instruments was so high that in 1982, the company decided to offer a new line of basses and guitars that fit anyone’s budget, released under the brand name Squier. Forty years later, Squiers are still the most popular instruments for entry-level musicians, eager novices, and even pros who want reliable gear that can take the wear and tear on the road. Since 2020, largely due to the COVID lockdown, over 16 million people picked up instruments for the first time and started playing — making beginner-level basses and guitars more important than ever before. Fender’s foresight 40 years ago is now benefitting a whole new wave of musicians of all ages from all over the world.        

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To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Squier line, Fender has released the limited-run 40th Anniversary Jazz Bass Gold Edition, with elevated details and features. Offered in stunning Olympic White and Ruby Red Metallic finishes with gold-plated hardware, gold-anodized aluminum pickguards, bound necks with pearloid block inlays, and engraved neck plates, these basses bear an elegant appearance fit for an anniversary celebration.       

The upgraded features continue with its bound Indian laurel fingerboard, lightweight nyatoh body, C-shaped maple neck, Fender-designed alnico single-coil pickups, four-saddle vintage-style bridge, and vintage-style tuning machines. In staying true to the Squier brand model, the bass has a street price of $600, which makes it obtainable for any player or aficionado looking to add to their collection. Fender’s main goal in this anniversary edition was to celebrate the history of Squier basses, while creating a 4-string that would perform in the studio and onstage at a high level. They nailed their mark in creating this instrument.    

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Simply in unboxing the bass, the quality is obvious, as its solid feel, balanced weight, and overall appearance stood out and made it feel equal to, if not better than, many Fender Jazz Basses I’d played. The attention to detail and aesthetic choices gives it an air that made me want to plug it in immediately, as it was already feeling and sounding great without an amp. Once plugged in, my expectations continued to be exceeded. The classic tone came through with all of the punch, presence, mid- and low-range focus, and clarity that you crave from a Jazz Bass. Testing it through a Darkglass Microtubes 500v2, an Aguilar Tone Hammer 500, and Markbass Classic Series CASA, the bass excelled and maintained a personality, even given the vast differences in the amps. 

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The Indian laurel fingerboard delivers a bright tonal punch, along with great playability and no dead spots, while the C-shaped maple neck provides a comfortable, familiar feel. From open strings to the 20th fret, the bass projects a solid and consistent sound, and the alnico single-coil Jazz pickups offer great clarity without any pops or crackling that can come on a bass with a beginner price. Fingerstyle, picked, plucked, slapped, and thumbed, the tone remained consistent across its range and even out-powered my Fender Precision when comparing the volume of the two. Rolling back the tone knob, the lows rumbled the Markbass CASA 8x10, and did the same with the other two amps. Turning up the tone knob gave a punchy brightness that worked best while using a pick, slapping, or soloing. A 12 o’clock setting provided the best of both worlds, keeping the bite and copping the low tones, as well.  

Bottom Line

In celebrating the deep history of the Squier brand, Fender succeeded in creating a bass that keeps up to Leo’s standards in performance, look, and feel, while boasting a modest price tag. A solid choice for any style of playing, this limited-edition model exceeded my expectations and is a bass that I’d gladly keep in my arsenal. If this is any indication of what’s to come in the next 40 years for Squier, then the ensuing generation of players is in good hands. –BM

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Squier 40th Anniversary Jazz Bass Gold Edition

Pros Elegant look, great sound, impressive tone, inexpensive

Cons None

Bottom Line The 40th Anniversary Jazz is a superb bass with a modest price tag that features a slick look and all the bells and whistles you’d want, with all the tone of an expensive bass.

SPECS

Construction Bolt-on 

Body Nyatoh

Neck Maple

Neck shape C

Fingerboard Indian laurel

Radius 9.5"

Tuners Vintage-style

Frets 20

Scale length 34"

Pickups Fender-designed alnico single-coil 

Bridge Four-saddle vintage-style

Weight 11 lbs 

Made in Indonesia

Street price $600

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