2014 Fender Jaguar


This guitar is what happens when a cherished guitar maker decides to throw away its brand equity.

First, some history.

In the 1980’s, Fender was on the ropes. CBS Instruments had pillaged the company and burned the brand to the ground. The only reason to buy a Fender over one of the excellent imported copies was the funny headstock shape and the name on the headstock.

In the late 1980’s, Fender’s employees saved their pennies and bought out the company, and then spent the next decade or so repairing their legacy. The name “Fender” on a guitar actually meant something again. Quality went up, features were refined, new models were brought out, etc.

In order to tap into the ‘beginner instrument’ market, Fender began its Squier line. Cheap, mediocre copies of their classic instruments, sold at the same price as their competitors. Why buy a Cort Strat copy when you could buy a Cort-made Squier with the authentic Fender headstock shape for the same price?

Well, those days are gone!

The Fender employees sold out to a bunch of weasels apparently intent on squeezing every last ounce of cash out of the name.


Calling this Chinese made lump a Fender is a disgrace. Why market this as a Fender instead of a Squier? Well, maybe they figure they can charge a few more dollars for it. Maybe they think it will sell better. While the Fender mystique lasts, that is. Forget about protecting your brand – screwing people is where it’s at!

It’s not as if this is a bad guitar, per se, it’s just that this is, for all intents and purposes, a Squier. It’s like Apple putting their name on a $100 LG smartphone and calling it the new iPhone.

The fret job was very poor. It’s the worst Squier I’ve ever had. I’ve become used to using a file or a claw hammer to drive down one or two high frets, but frets were high on about half the neck!

It plays well. Now that I’ve fixed it anyway. I like the profile of the neck. Similar to my green Squier Strat with the Jazzmaster pickup. The frets are a little small for leads but usable. The short scale really helps on the big bends so that makes up for some of it.


I like that this doesn’t feel quite like a typical copy. The mix of Fender and Gibson works well enough. Like a Firebird mated with a Jaguar. The switch and the volume control aren’t in the best location, but it’s OK. Easy to get to. Too easy – I keep hitting them.

The finish is good for a low end guitar. I like the dark sunburst. Probably hiding cheap-ass wood but I don’t believe it’s plywood. The bridge and tailpiece are quite acceptable. The electronics work, it doesn’t squeal much, the cheap P-90 copies sound like cheap P-90s.


This is the only guitar I have with a flat top and a Gibson style bridge, so I decided to put the Fishman Triple Play on it. It is a wireless guitar Midi interface.

This thing works a treat. The tracking is excellent, provided you clean up your playing. If you’re looking to play guitar and Midi at once, the guitar will suffer. You will need to play very stiffly. Slurring notes together, shambodically bashing away, strumming all 6 strings and muting 5 of them with your left hand won’t do. Clean and precise.

The software works well enough. The built-in instruments work better than any of the free VST plugins I tried. I guess they have too much CPU load – they are laggy no matter how I set them up.

Basically, it is easier learning to clean up your playing to work with this thing than it is to learn a completely new instrument.

The only failing is that although it is wireless, you still need to plug your guitar into your PC’s sound card if you want to use the included guitar effects. Why can’t I plug my guitar directly into this box? A 16 bit 44.1KHz data stream would present negligible bandwidth demands.

SUMMARY: (guitar)

Condition: 9/10

– Cosmetics: 9/10 About what you expect from an imported Chinese guitar

– Working order: 9/10 Now that I fixed the frets, no big problems

Playability: 8/10

– Rhythm Playabiliy: 9/10

– Lead Playability: 7/10 The frets are a little small for shredding

Sound: 7/10

– Bridge: 7/10 Sounds like a cheap P-90

– Neck: 7/10 Also sounds like a cheap P-90!

Mutton dressed as lamb. Fender is destroying their brand by releasing this as a Fender instead of a Squier

SUMMARY: (Fishman Triple Play)

Route the guitar’s signal through the wireless Midi device and I’d recommend it to anyone. As it is, it’s better than the Roland’s I’ve tried, but more for novelty than actual use

2000 Squier (Cort) Telecaster


Twang King!

This is my 2000 model Squier Telecaster. My mom bought it for me for my birthday back in 2001.

It was originally the “fat” variant, with a humbucker pickup in the neck and a traditional Telecaster pickup in the bridge position. I really didn’t care for the obnoxious ceramic magnet single coil in the bridge position, so I bought a humbucker bridge and added the Guitarfetish Surf 90s.


The Surf 90 is an interesting pickup. It’s a single coil in a humbucker case. It is supposed to sound like an old DeArmond Dynasonic. I figured that hey – the Dynasonics are supposed to be ‘twangy’ pickups, and the Telecaster is supposed to be ‘twangy’, so let’s combine them! It worked rather well.

To make the guitar stand out even more, I reversed the control plate, ala Bill Kirchen. Then I put on the Muddy Waters volume and tone controls. I really like this arrangement. Working the volume control is so much easier.

The bridge Surf 90 is a tad too dark for my liking. Sounds great, but lacks a certain bite. It has alnico 2 magnets. I suppose I’d like it better with alnico 5’s. Too bad there’s no easy way to change them. Doesn’t really sound much like a Telecaster anymore, but it’s still cool.

The neck pickup is nice and fat. Not the clearest, but you can at least still hear the individual strings. It’s not all that different from the original humbucker, to be honest.

As you might expect, the magic happens in the in-between position. That’s where all the twangy goodness comes from. With both pickups in parallel, tone just oozes from this guitar. It ‘hits above it’s weight’ – lots of tone for such a cheap guitar.


Part of the reason for the more ‘expensive’ tone is that this is a true ‘string-through’ Telecaster. The strings go through the body, like the expensive Teles. Strings mounted to the bridge is a sure sign of a cheap Tele. But then a few people actually do prefer the sound of the top-mount Telecasters.


The neck on this thing is of the ‘baseball bat’ variety. I really do not like that. My thumb cramps like you wouldn’t believe. It is downright painful to play this for long periods. One day I’ll get the sander after it and profile it. Other than hurting my thumb, the guitar plays well. I’d prefer a contour body – screw tradition!



Condition: 10/10

– Cosmetics: 10/10 (needs a good cleaning)

– Working order: 10/10 (works like new)

Playability: 8/10

– Rhythm Playabiliy: 8/10 (I don’t like the baseball-bat neck, but that’s just me)

– Lead Playability: 8/10 (decent frets)

Sound: 9/10

– Bridge: 7/10 (too tame – needs more bite)

– Both: 10/10 (twang!)

– Neck: 8/10 (fat with decent clarity)

I would gig with this guitar.

D.I.Y. 2002 Squier “Stratmaster”

I was in a fit of “I’m not gonna pay $1000 for a guitar!” rage when I decided to make this one.

It was late 2013. I had just seen Man or Astro Man live, and I desperately wanted the Star Crunch signature guitar. Sure, Hallmark’s Mosrite copies have an awesome reputation, but I paid $2000 for my last car.  Paying $1000 for a guitar when I’m not even in a band just seems stupid. Besides, who really wants somebody else’s signature guitar?

I’d rather make my own “signature guitar” than pay for the privilege of having somebody else’s signature guitar, no matter how good. Is that D.I.Y. or arrogance? Well, in my case, it’s arrogance to be sure, but at least I have the woodworking ability to not make a complete ass of myself.

I love my red 1993 American Standard Strat, but I wanted the sound of a Mosrite. Seems easy enough – stick a Jazzmaster pickup on there, and voila – instant Stratmaster! Route some holes, solder some wires, there you go. But the Jazzmaster pickup is huge. Removing that much wood will compromise the structural integrity of the guitar – that’s probably the reason that the Jazzmaster doesn’t have a Strat style tremolo. Plus, carving out a huge chunk of body will affect the tone. So I decided to mod a Squier instead.


I started with a bog-standard green 2002 Squier Strat. This particular Squier was made by Cort. I got it for $150 at Guitars on George.It’s a typical Squier – fit and finish is OK for a cheap guitar, bridge was OK but made from pot metal, and the pickups stunk.


First, I bought a new tremolo, Jazzmaster “hot” bridge pickup, 3 way “SG” style switch, and a humbucker/single volume knob pickguard came from Guitar Fetish. I routed the pickguard for the new bridge pickup, and also for the original Squier neck pickup. Then I drilled holes for the switch and a tone control. Then I routed the body for the switch and bridge pickup. Everything went smoothly.


Below is a pic of what I did about all the wood I removed. Normally, there is a lot of “dead” space in front of the tremolo. I usually put a block of wood in there to give my tremolo a positive stop. This aids in tuning and also improves sustain. Instead of just gluing a block in there, I glued it in place and then surrounded it with “wood fill” epoxy putty. I doubt it will help, but it can’t hurt. You can also see where I had to enlarge the tremolo hole for the massive Guitar Fetish trem.


It played and sounded great for $250, but I wanted more. I knew that Star Crunch’s guitar has a “zero fret”. I found that Goldtone makes the Zer0 Glide – a zero fret retrofit kit for guitars. $30 seemed like an OK price, so I put one of them on.


I cut the nut slots too wide and it still works. I didn’t notice much of an improvement, but I think that next time I have to replace a nut I’ll try it again. I’d recommend it if you want the benefits of a zero fret. But get the pre-slotted version! (Not sure why I didn’t. Maybe they didn’t offer them then? It was a new product at the time).

Overall, I’m satisfied with how the guitar turned out. Blasting through my Fender Twin, it really does come close to capturing the vibe of Man or Astro Man. But it’s a one trick pony. The distortion tone isn’t all that great. The pickup selector switch isn’t in a very ergonomic position. The neck pickup (which I didn’t replace) still sucks. The Guitar Fetish bridge breaks strings more often than it should. The zero fret helps it stay in tune, but it still goes out after a few songs.


Condition: 9/10

– Cosmetics: 9/10 (nothing visible to the audience)

– Working order: 9/10 (switch isn’t in the best spot, but everything works)

Playability: 9/10

– Rhythm Playabiliy: 10/10

– Lead Playability: 8/10

Sound: 8/10

– Bridge: 10/10 (Surfy!)

– Neck: 2/10 (shrill, but who uses the neck pickup for surf?)

I wouldn’t gig with this axe, but it’s great for going deaf while playing “Inside the Atom” at home