Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

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Monty1
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Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Monty1 » Sun Dec 22, 2019 3:46 am

My first review of sorts so go easy on me!

Finally yielded to GAS, a crappy week at work and the belief that buying new gear will automatically make me a better player combined with that blasted internet thing where you can buy stuff by clicking a button.... Anyway, I'm now the happy owner of a black CV Bass VI. It arrived yesterday so this really is an early days view. It should be noted that I've never played or even handled any other Bass VI of any kind so I can't make any reasonable comparisons to other incarnations and this is a 'what I think of it' rather than 'how it compares' post. I'm a guitar player, my total previous experience playing bass is about 45 minutes so I'm coming at this from a guitarists perspective. Bass players will have a very different view.

An initial inspection showed no flaws to the finish, the paint is excellent and everything fits well, no gaps. The tort pickguard is OK, I've heard that it's an improvement from the VM version but I wouldn't say it's exceptional and is very 2D, there's a tiny bit of 3D going on but not much. I don't feel the need to replace it though. The thing that did worry me was the fretboard, all of the official Squier images show it as being dried out dog poo brown and mine was no exception. On closer inspection it was really dry, a quick application of lemon oil immediately darkened it up to the extent that from a short distance it's indistinguishable from my rosewood fretboard JM. Close up the grain is clearly different but you need to get pretty close to see it. Fretwork is good, no high spots but the truss rod probably needs a small tweak to take a little bit of the curve out.

The bridge is definitely different to the VM version, all of the images I've seen show height adjustable saddles on the VM, the CV doesn't have adjustment on the saddles. It's not a high quality item, the saddle finish is a bit rough and all the saddles are fairly crudely grooved to accept the G string (the E, A, D sit on top and the B and E are sloppy fits) and whilst I can get it intonated it's 'only just'. The bridge measures 20mm wide, I think Staytrem will still be doing good business on these as I don't think the CV's bridge can be hailed as a complete success. The trem arm and spigot thing is standard Squier fare although the arm is a much better fit in the hole than my JMJM which was really loose. It's borderline whether I change it for a Staytrem unit but as I'm going to do the bridge I'll probably do the arm as well, I prefer the look of the Staytrem curve over the Squire angled arm. The trem arrived with almost no spring compression, I've wound it up a bit and that's improved tuning stability but my JMJM took a bit of use before it settled, I suspect it's a case of all contact surfaces bedding in. I did fit an original Fender spring in the JM which did make the trem feel a little more pleasing to use, it's a better made spring and at £6 isn't a big deal so will probably do the same again. The action feels nice, about 5/64th at 12 fret on bass E and 3/64 for treble E out of the box. Might raise it a little to accommodate the floppy E which does slap around a bit but I'm probably going to get a set of la Bella's once I have a few more miles on the clock. Experience has taught me to wait, sometimes different feels bad until you've got used to it and it's no longer different.

Not opened it up to look at the electrics yet but plan to replace it all with CTS (I'll stick with 1megs), Switchcraft, orange drops and vintage wire at some point. I'll probably copper tape the internals whilst I'm at it although I'm not getting any mains cycle buzz even with 240v dimmer lights in the room so it might already have some kind of shielding in place.

So now the playing :)

It arrived about 2 hours before my regular Saturday afternoon guitar lesson which due to the Xmas break was a 2 hour session rather than hour slot this week. This gave me the opportunity to hear it being played by someone with genuine ability, which I don't have. A couple of hours playing really isn't enough to form strong opinions but this is where I'm at, and the 2nd opinion of my tutor has helped dispel any anticipation bias.

Ergonomically it's very nice to play. I play a JM most of the time and my tutor plays a Strat and we both felt very at home with the neck shape, the 30inch scale took no time to acclimatise to. We both have rosewood fretboards on almost all of our guitars, the Indian Laurel didn't feel any different to play. Acoustically the VI has nice resonance, stripping the paint off and refinishing with nitro would no doubt be better but it was 'lively'. Plugged in we noted that there's not a huge amount of difference between the pickups, the bridge had a little more grind and the neck was a little more nasal but nothing like the difference on a guitar, the middle was the most pleasing and will probably be permanently on regardless of what other PU's are selected. I'll play with PU heights at some point to see what happens. The bass strangle did drop out a little of the low end but not as much as we expected We couldn't be bothered to set up his bass amp and were going through a guitar amp so the difference may be more obvious on an amp more suited to low ends. It's likely I'll use the strangle set to 'on' 99.9% of the time.

Delay, chorus and reverb delivered a very Robert Smith sound, we didn't nail it but a bit more time twiddling pedal and amp dials and I think we'd be very close. Ability and style will be the last bit. If you want to sound like the Cure you need to consider buying one. Dream pop and many 80's indie band sounds are within reach which covers 90% of why I wanted this instrument, so it's not going back to the store.

Then we cranked up the gain ;D

Not good at first, for single note bass lines it was fine (but lacked the balls of a true bass) but playing chords near the nut was just way too muddy. Get past the 5th or 6th fret though and chords start to blossom with very different harmonics to anything we'd played previously. Once we twigged this and adapted how we played things improved and heavy riffs were great. We found that you DO need to use volume and tone controls when the gain starts to pile on to get the best tone, you can't just leave them at 10. Over the 2 hours there was a constant handing back and forth of the VI as we both tried different things. As we were packing up at the end of the lesson we were talking about bands as we always do and I was introduced to Type O Negative, a band I've never come across and has a grunge/ambient/shoegaze vibe with a chunk of metal added. In particular the song we tubed was 'in praise of Bacchus'. We mooted the tuning and decided it was probably B standard. We joked that the strings would fall off the guitar if you down tuned that far with anything lighter than 13's when it occurred to me that we could capo the VI. Capo fitted at 7th fret and yes, it worked. The tone was somewhat different (in a surprisingly good space pop metal way) but it worked very well within the song. It's got us thinking about other tunes that are down tuned to the point where 11's would flop about too much that are now potentially within our reach with a capo. I'm fairly sure Josh Homme plays predominantly in C natural so might have a look at some QOTSA over the Xmas break. You probably wouldn't gig with a capo but for home playing it has real potential.

The view of my tutor is that at £349 this is a very well made guitar bass type thing, he thought it was probably double that. He gets to see a wide variety of guitars from real cheap to a couple of students with custom shops so I think he's probably well qualified to comment on quality. His view (he also teaches bass) was that in the 'is it a guitar or is it a bass' dilemma it sits in the guitar area, it can do bass but it's 75% guitar sort of, but the tone is neither guitar or bass, it's quite unique. Bear in mind that this was genuinely out of the box, other than oiling the fret board and tuning it there was no other work done so is 100% representative of how it arrived and not what it could be. It still had the tag on it, it's never been played, don't look at it, no, don't point, stop it. Yes, we did actually do the scene during the lesson. A bucket load of fun to play with an unusual tonality I think I'll have to spend time with it to discover the possibilities as well as the boundaries. All things considered the guitar is well made, good value and sounds great but it does need a better bridge and possibly la Bella's. It's very playable as it comes but a further £150 will improve it.

Anyway, that's my 2p worth. Other's views may differ because they don't have my Squier VI and they don't have my ears either. Bending the strings yesterday has made my finger tips hurt this morning :fp:

Monty

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Bradley-Jazz » Sun Dec 22, 2019 9:10 am

Thanks for the detailed review - sounds like a successful purchase.

Mine is due to arrive tomorrow - my Christmas present! I have already ordered a Staytrem bridge (I have them on all my offsets) and I have a spare Staytremmed Japanese trem that I will probably put on. I’ll take it from there....

Enjoy!
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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Mechanical Birds » Sun Dec 22, 2019 1:37 pm

I’d love to see some at home pictures of these if you’d be so kind. The second I found out about the VM version a few years back I had to have one and while stock it was a lot of “meh this isn’t going to work,” fitting it with the correct bridge went a long way. By pure happenstance this ended up being the only of all my modded guitars to end up with a Staytrem collet/arm and it feels pretty wasted on it just because there isn’t a huge range of motion and I don’t reach for it as often as if I was playing a Jazzmaster or Jaguar. I feel like the stock Squier trem would pretty much be fine on one of these.

I thought Staytrem discontinued the VI bridge, no? I really, really hope he didn’t and is still selling them because it’s the only game in town. I think a Mastery would be fine on one but the STAYTREM the only one really made for these things.

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Bradley-Jazz » Sun Dec 22, 2019 1:43 pm

Nope, Staytrem are still doing the Bass vi bridge (to the UK only though).
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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Zork » Sun Dec 22, 2019 2:50 pm

Thanks for the review. I'd like to see some pics as well, especially of the tort and the fretboard.

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by parry » Sun Dec 22, 2019 4:09 pm

I'd be most curious to hear about the necks and their profile, from someone who has both. I recently picked up a Classic Vibe Jaguar in trade and I have to tell you, I was kind of blown away by just how bloody good that neck felt! It seemed to me that the spec on the metal parts seemed a bit better than the previous lines. But that neck - it's so hefty and solid! Makes me wonder if the new CV necks have changed at all with the Bass VIs. Not that there's anything wrong with the one I have (aesthetically, it's a bit anaemic-looking)... but a bit more heft to a neck is never a bad thing.
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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Monty1 » Sun Dec 22, 2019 11:08 pm

I wouldn't call the neck hefty by any stretch, it feels very much the same as the neck on my 3 year old JMJM and my tutors Squier Strat from the 90's (I think 90's, but it's not remotely recent). It's very comfortable to my hands which are kind of medium size.

The trem doesn't give anywhere near the same range of pitch as my JM but it's still a really cool feature that has use. I'm 90% sure that I'll put the Staytrem collet in because I can see that I will use it, maybe not extensively, as it works with the kind of stuff I play. Getting to an ambient place is not hard with the VI so it would be rude not to use the trem at least occasionally. I've got a few weeks before Staytrem come back from holidays to decide.

I'll try and get some pictures up of the tort and laurel later.

The tort is OK, it doesn't offend me, but I expect many will want to replace it. If you have proper tort on something else it will probably be really annoying.

The starting point on the fretboard was a little darker than the images on the Squier web page, sort of dark beige, but lemon oil has really darkened it massively. Looking at it over the last couple of days I'd suggest it's never seen oil before and was shipped completely dry, I've given it another light oiling and it's absorbed quite a bit, colour hasn't changed though. The difference between how it arrived and how it is now is so massive that I really can't believe it was anything other than 100% dry when it shipped. If Squier had used a picture of mine after I'd oiled it on their website rather than the anaemic fretboard they're using there'd be very few concerns over the colour of Laurel and the internet would have 50,000 fewer posts ;D The surface is quite matte compared to my other fretboards which have a soft sheen but it may just be the newness and a bit of playing and a few more periodic applications of oil will polish the surface over time. The grain is more obvious than rosewood and the 'pores' are different, but you'd be hard pushed to tell the difference from 3 foot. But wood is a natural and therefore relatively inconsistent material so I might have got lucky and the website image is representative of the majority of Laurel. It will be interesting to see what Bradley-Jazz thinks when his arrives today.

Monty

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Zork » Mon Dec 23, 2019 2:30 am

Flatwounds are not everyone's cup of tea and they might be too expensive to just give it a try but they are the best I ever did to my VI (other than a neck shim and a bone nut). The trem works much better, the intonation problems are gone and it's capable of a really nice low action without any buzz. If you're already on the fence I'd say go for it.

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by kgbAttack » Mon Dec 23, 2019 3:32 am

Thanks for the nice review! I have a VM with rosewood fretboard - I have added a 1deg shim and a Staytrem bridge and it works much better but I think I need to level some frets. I also replaced the nut, and will slowly upgrade the electronics.

On the other hand, the tort guard isn't great (and the top layer is already peeling off after just over a year). I've seen someone from UK selling custom VM/CV guards for bass VI and they seem nice - Is there any other shop in Europe that you all know of?

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Fendereedo » Mon Dec 23, 2019 4:02 am

Great review OP. I've been on the brink of buying one of these so many times now. Your review may have just given me the final shove.

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Zork » Mon Dec 23, 2019 5:37 am

kgbAttack wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 3:32 am
Is there any other shop in Europe that you all know of?
I ordered a aged pearl guard from WD music UK. It is very well made, fit like a glove and they have loads of different materials.

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Mechanical Birds » Mon Dec 23, 2019 9:16 am

Need to see pics come on

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Bradley-Jazz » Tue Dec 24, 2019 9:57 am

OK, if you need pictures...

Here's mine, arrived yesterday. Straight out of the box:

Image

Close up of the Indian Laurel - not horrible, form any reasonable distance, but a bit poo-ey!

Image

It's a great guitar-bass thing! Very good fit and finish, lots of good sounds - I'm finding a good range of tones available from the different pickup combinations, so far just into a MarkBass 801 practice amp. I've swapped the trem for one I already had with Staytrem, and put on the Staytrem bridge. I'm going to put some Labella rounds on, so I haven't intonated it properly with the set on there, but it's not far off. I did shim the neck (two thicknesses of business card at the end of the pocket. It already had a tiny bit of sandpaper in there, and the stock bridge was really low to the pick guard.

I gave the fingerboard two coats of dark furniture scratch cover, which I did with the IL neck on my CV Mustang - darkens and evens it nicely, whilst still looking like real wood. I'll give it a dose of fingerboard oil when I change strings too. Here it is now:

Image

Image

I'm happy!

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Monty1 » Tue Dec 24, 2019 11:00 pm

Happy Christmas everyone!

Looks like I got slightly luckier on the fretboard, out of the box it was probably a bit lighter than Bradley's.

Image

It has a slightly more streaked appearance close up, this is after 2 applications of lemon oil. The piccie has come out very slightly lighter than it actually is. I may replace the picture with a better one taken in daylight later. The tort is identical to Bradleys.

A few days into playing it there are a few things on the to-do list. I think it would benefit from a neck shim, the bridge is almost bottomed out and the break angle is very slight. I'm getting a bit of rattle so a degree or so of shim would probably help so I'll do that once I get the new bridge.

The finish on the frets is good but a polish with a fine rubber will improve them.

I really don't like the standard bridge, the more I look at it the more I wish I'd ordered a Staytrem 3 weeks ago! I'm a closet engineer with a lathe in the garage and am half tempted to machine new saddles but the time and effort to make 6 tools the correct size for each string groove just isn't worth it. Part of the problem with intonation is the amount of space the springs take up. If I was keeping the bridge I'd cut some of the length off a few springs so there was more adjustment space. The Squier bridge measures 20mm (outside dimension) but the wall thickness of the trough and the spring length when fully compressed leaves only 12mm (about 1/2 inch for non metric folk) of adjustable range. Cutting down the spring could give you another 3 or 4mm, but only in one direction.

I've spent lots of time just cycling the trem to run it in and stability has improved but the nut appears to be cut very tight on the strings, all the slots are tight but the treble E in particular seems very snug. This probably not helping with tuning stability so I'll open them out a little and also polish the underside of the string tree for good measure.

Monty

Better picture added

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Monty1 » Thu Dec 26, 2019 3:02 am

Some more pictures for you.

Break angle looks like it would benefit a shim

Image

I like the logo and vintage tint on the headstock

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DANGER: HERECY WARNING!

It might be bone but it doesn't look especially well made. I'm not 100% convinced that bone is the holy grail of tone... you can probably see where I'm going with this.

Image

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