Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

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Zork
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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Zork » Sat Jan 18, 2020 5:11 am

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...of course I forgot to bring the bass home from the practice room yesterday... :fp:

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Monty1 » Sun Feb 02, 2020 4:57 am

A few weeks on and I'm still happy although I will concede to Bradley-Jazz that the stock strings are utter pants. The trem is still 'notchy' but it's better than it was. So on the basis of 'if it ain't broke fix it until it is' I've opened her up.

I replaced the trem spring for a genuine Fender part (which comes with a new top hat all for £6) in my JMJM and it made a huge difference, smoother, no notchyness and holds tune very well and I had planned to do the same on this. No stock anywhere of the Fender item so will mod it. Sorry about the quality of the pictures, hand held macro without a proper light source is always tricky.

Usual squire stuff

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But the spring and top hat both leave a bit to be desired on the finishing.

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The top hat finish is a bit ribbed with what looks to be some wear appearing in the plating and the inside of the spring has a fairly sharp edge. On non guitar related stuff I know both of these things can cause problems with consistency so I'll spin them up and put a better finish on them. I strongly suspect this is the improvement the Fender item gave me. If I can polish the top hat and the inside of the spring to a mirror finish it should make it a much better unit, maybe...

Under the guard the body routing is fairly minimal with 3 areas of routing, PUP's, switching and tone/vol which are all cut tight and wiring passes through holes drilled between 3 areas. I was surprised as it'll make assembly harder as it needs to be done on the body, you can't just do it elsewhere and drop it in as a finished harness which probably adds cost and complexity. The wire itself looks reasonable (but I'll replace it) and the caps are mylar rather than the ceramics I expected to see. I'll test values once it's apart but if they're the usual Chinese no brand they could be some way off the stated values as their tolerances can be as big as +80 -20%. I've got Orange drops in the spares box for the bass strangle but not for the tone. I'm not seeing much tonal difference with the bass strangle so it'll be interesting to measure the cap value. If it's way off I'll get an Orange drop (because they look nice, they're usually very close to spec and at £3 a pop it's not stupid money) but I might play around with values.

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The pots are the small diameter ones, they're stamped "A1M", I've placed a standard CTS here just to show the difference. The channel is cut very tight and is slightly off centre under the tone/vol plate and it looks like I'll have to route it slightly to fit full fat CTS's in. The feed cable from the PUP switching to volume pot is a shielded cable that's grounded onto the pot.

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There's conductive paint in the routings, but it's not very conductive. I had the same in my JMJM, and typically it's reading about 40k ohms if you take a reading a couple of cm distance but it's very variable depending on where you test and how far apart the probes are. There's no shielding on the back of the guard though. I'll reshield the whole thing whilst it's apart and will swap the 1deg shim I fitted previously for a 0.5 degree. And yes, more sawdust!! There's a fair bit of wood knocking around and it's even in the pots which probably isn't a terribly good idea for long term reliability.

Once I've measured the pot and cap values I'll post them just in case anyone cares!

Interested to see how Zork gets on with the Newtones, the stock strings won't be going back on ;) .

Take care

Monty

Edit. Forgot to mention that the soldering is pretty poor. It has given a good electrical contact but it's not remotely tidy
Last edited by Monty1 on Sun Feb 09, 2020 11:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Monty1 » Sun Feb 02, 2020 8:36 am

Bass strangle cap measures 0.003345uF, all the spec's I've found suggest that's correct. Hard to read but the markings on the cap appear to be '2A332J". If this is anything like Sprague designations it suggests the cap is indeed a .0033 and not far off either.

What's weird is they've soldered the grounds for the switches to one of the screws, yes it's soldered onto the thread, holding the neck PUP switch in place. Loads of other places you could solder to ground but they've used something you might reasonably want to unscrew but now can't :fp:

Tone cap is 0.05168uF so again it's in spec. Having looked around a while back 0.050 is a very rare beast in film, but 0.051uF is more widely available.

Pots are both a bit shy of 1meg, both about 0.97, and they're audio tapers

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by windmill » Sun Feb 02, 2020 1:22 pm

Thanks for posting all these details.

This a thread which should be in the Library section of the forum.

:)

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Zork » Sun Feb 02, 2020 3:48 pm

Monty1 wrote:
Sun Feb 02, 2020 4:57 am
Interested to see how Zork gets on with the Newtones, the stock strings won't be going back on ;)
Hey, I know I promised to report but then life happened. To put it short: I can recommend these strings without hesitation. They are great quality, sound incredible and put the whole instrument to a new level.

Here's the extended version:

This is my second Squier VM Bass VI. I sold the first one to found a Moog but regretted it soon (not the Moog, of course...). So when I saw a sunburst one in the local classifieds for 200€ I went for it.
When it arrived, I instantly took it apart. Here's what I did:
• Rattle can refinish (turned out ok)
• Shimmed the neck
• put metal sleeves over the bridge posts to keep it from rocking
• Replaced the nut with a compensated bone nut from AxeMasters (highly recommended!!!)
• 500k volume and 250k tone pot (...or the other way round? I can't remember...
• New caps (.05uF tone & .0033uF strangle switch) and new wires
• A fresh set of La Bella flatwounds

Now, I was really happy with how it all came out. Especially the La Bella flats solved a lot of issues I had with my old VI. Think of intonation, string tension, operation of the tremolo and fret noise. So I wouldn't get tired of recommending flatwounds to everyone all over the internet, wether they wanted to hear it or not. Also consider: Originally, the Fender VI was constructed with flats in mind and it really solves most of the issues that people commonly complain about in the Squier VI. But...

It happened I moved to another city, started a new band, couldn't become the guitarist as intended and picked up the Squier VI to become my main instrument, just to set it apart from what I did in the band before. Turned out quickly that the band is going to be quite a bit heavier than expected. I was in need of more attack, more bite and more clarity than what the flats could deliver and here's where the real story starts. I looked a bit up and down the internet and stumbled upon the Newtone strings. Handmade strings, a reasonable price and 3£ shipping worldwide? I'm in.

The strings arrived much quicker than expected. I put them on, adjusted the truss rod and realised I had a problem: while the strings sounded great at first sight, stayed instantly in tune and felt fantastic, the bridge was a rattling mess and the tremolo action was a nightmare. I had some work to do...

I started with setting up the intonation dead on (which was no problem at all, even with the standard VM bridge and the low E), then took the bridge out and potted the whole bridge assembly in hot bees wax, dipped it shortly in hot water and then in cold water, wiped it off and put it back on. Voila, rattling gone. Now to the tremolo. I took a file and some sanding paper and filed the nut that holds the spring in position and adjusts the tension to a bell or bullet shape. I also filed the square edge of the pivot round and lubed it a bit with some coconut oil. I removed the sleeves from the bridge posts so the bridge would be rocking again and tightened the trem arm collet with pliers. This, too, was very successfull. The tremolo now moves much smoother and changes the pitch in a wider range than before.

Now back to the strings: What are they like? First of all, it's a very well balanced set with an overall nice tension. They feel tight, but not overly heavy and are just very easy and nice to play. There's no loud unwanted string noise. They stay in tune rock solid.

It's kinda hard to describe sound. To me, they have a lot of clarity and pronounciation. People on talkbass forums often talk about "piano tone" and I feel this term kinda nails it. They are just really good balanced over the whole frequency spectrum with a nice, thick low end and a resonant mids range that cuts through everything. The sustain is long and even.

I play through an overdriven guitar amp (50 watts Laney) with a 6x10" bass cab. I tried several fuzz pedals with this setup and while all was pretty muddy and washed out with the flats, all of them worked great now with the Newtone strings. I tried a Germanium Fuzz Face, russian Big Muff, Foxx Tone Machine and Rat and finally settled on my Ibanez Standard Fuzz which is some sort of Super-Fuzz.

I think the Newtone strings are the best rounds you can get for the VI now. My first VI had La Bella nickel rounds and compared to the Newtone they sounded kinda "klanky" and had a more chaotic sustain in my memory, but are more than double the price. Still love the La Bella flats, though. Maybe I should get another VI...

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Monty1 » Sun Feb 02, 2020 10:14 pm

Nice one Zork :)

They're back in stock at Newtone so I've got an order in. I'm sure La Bella's are wonderful but these could make owning a VI much more viable, spending £50+ on strings for a £350 guitar feels slightly bonkers but at £18 it's not a biggie.

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Bradley-Jazz » Mon Feb 03, 2020 6:08 am

So on the basis of 'if it ain't broke fix it until it is' I've opened her up.
↑ Love this... except when I do it myself of course! ;)

Great posts both - thanks. I hope to get a good deal of life from the Labellas for the £45 or whatever I paid, but will definitely try the Newtones in future.
Stop me if you think you've heard this one before....

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Monty1 » Mon Feb 03, 2020 10:52 am

windmill wrote:
Sun Feb 02, 2020 1:22 pm
Thanks for posting all these details.

This a thread which should be in the Library section of the forum.

:)
G'day mate and thanks!

I've been close to pushing the 'add to cart button' for ages and despite scouring the net couldn't find anything useful so I took a punt, hopefully this thread and the excellent contributions made to it will help the next person that's thinking about a VI. I'm a closet engineer (although a pretty rubbish engineer I'm way better at that than this guitaring lark) so this is generally what I do, but generally I don't publish it. Generally.
Bradley-Jazz wrote:
Mon Feb 03, 2020 6:08 am
So on the basis of 'if it ain't broke fix it until it is' I've opened her up.
↑ Love this... except when I do it myself of course! ;)
Yep, that's the trick. Get someone else to do it :D

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Zork » Mon Feb 03, 2020 2:46 pm

Bradley-Jazz wrote:
Mon Feb 03, 2020 6:08 am
So on the basis of 'if it ain't broke fix it until it is' I've opened her up.
↑ Love this... except when I do it myself of course! ;)

Great posts both - thanks. I hope to get a good deal of life from the Labellas for the £45 or whatever I paid, but will definitely try the Newtones in future.
La Bellas are excellent strings. I've got them on all of my basses by now and while I was always having a hard time to shell out that much money for strings, I never looked back. They last forever and are top notch quality.
The Newtones are cheaper and have thicker bottom strings, so I chose them this time, but you can never really go wrong with La Bellas.

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Monty1 » Sun Feb 09, 2020 2:17 am

Some more numbers for you:

Neck PUP 5.69k Ohms
Middle PUP 6.00k Ohms
Bridge PUP 11.19k Ohms

I had no idea what they'd be but not what I was expecting on the bridge TBH

Life/work got in the way so I'm a bit behind on the 'putting it back together' bit but the good news is that standard size pots do fit in the existing space but it's very close. Just waiting for the last coat of conductive paint to dry and it's about an hour or two of effort left before I can start annoying the neighbours with Bass VI goodness.

There were more ground straps than you can shake a stick at, they've really gone to town on that, but I've got a feeling the guy that soldered mine may have been on his first day at a new job :derp:

Monty

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Monty1 » Sun Feb 09, 2020 7:47 am

Back together and Newtone strings fitted. Something strange going on with the volume but I'll look at that later ::) [edit: Now resolved, it appears some fool forgot to solder the ground on the volume pot :fp: ]

Strings are a massive improvement, I concur completely with Zork's findings. The E and A are more Bass like and the extra tension means I can tune E flat and it's OK, drop D is just a little too far though and it flaps like the stock strings did in E. Once everything has settled I'll tweak the truss, look at the string heights and set the PUP heights. Not done the intonation yet but the adjustments it needs will bring some of the saddles back towards the centre of the bridge so may resolve the issues with the standard bridge.

The trem mod has made an improvement, I used 320 grit to cut through the plating down to the brass on the top hat, rounded the 45 deg chamfer slightly, span it up with 800 grit to get a satin finish then polished the crap out of it with Autosol. I did it on a lathe but you could do it on a power drill. Flattened the ends of the springs to a much better finish and used 800 grit on the inside of the coils to get a fine finish and remove any burrs from the edge of where the spring had been cut. A little bit of PFPE grease added to help it all slide but any waxy white grease like Lithium would do. Probably not as good as an AVRI/Mastery unit but it's much smoother and stays in tune even with big wangs on the arm, so it does what it's supposed to do. It cost nothing to do so give it a spin if your Squier trem is a bit notchy.

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Monty1 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 11:24 pm

Final update and summary.

It's all good now, plays really well and is a significant improvement over stock.

I dropped the trem out last night to look at my mod on the spring and top hat and there's a little bit of wear appearing right next to the 45 deg chamfer on the top hat so I probably wasn't aggressive enough reshaping it to a radius. Works OK so I'll leave it be for the moment but will do that at the next re-string.

Newtone strings are excellent, I can get the action low without fret slap and tonally it's an improvement over the stock strings to the extent I've no GAS for la bella's. Chords played on E and A are notably less muddy and it just seems fuller throughout. They intonate really well and may solve some of the problems with the standard bridge. The saddle for the treble E is still heading towards the end of its travel but everything else is close to the centre line. Pretty much the same price as the d'add's and less than half the price of la bella's so they're worth a try.

1 degree neck shim has helped enormously, more bridge break angle and pressure and I can drop the bridge to get a lower action than the standard setup. The neck cavity will take a Stew Mac pre-cut guitar shim without modification but the Bass shims need to be cut and the screw holes are placed differently so you need a blank rather than pre-cut one if that's the route you wanted to take. I think a 0.5 deg would probably be fine.

Staytrem bridge is everything it's reported to be. Bad luck if you're not in the UK

Internal conductive paint shielding is poor, it needs to be improved as the PUP claws ground by making contact with the paint via the springs and there are loads of ground cables everywhere to make up for the high resistance of the paint. I used better paint to improve shielding (typically getting less than 15 ohms between any two points) but also put copper tape in the bottom of the routings to give the claws a 0 ohm path to ground. It's now 100% hum free even at fairly silly gain levels and I've not had to put some of the ground cables back so the wiring is tidier.

PUP selectors and jack now Switchcraft. Pots replaced with full size CTS and they fit in the cavity but it's by a hairs width. Caps replaced with orange drops but I doubt these things have improved tone. The original pots were full of sawdust so it's likely to be more reliable in the long run now. No wiring to contemplate other than the shielded cable from the selector switches to volume and the wiring between the vol, tone, jack but replaced it with vintage cloth.

Values of the standard electrics are:

Neck PUP 5.69k Ohms
Middle PUP 6.00k Ohms
Bridge PUP 11.19k Ohms

Bass strangle cap 0.0033uF film
Tone cap 0.051uF film
Tone and volume pots 1meg ohm taper small diameter Alpha's

Now I get to play it ;D

Monty
Last edited by Monty1 on Thu Feb 13, 2020 5:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by windmill » Wed Feb 12, 2020 1:19 pm

Excellent work

Thanks for posting all the things you have done .

Hope you get a lot of enjoyment playing it.

:)

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by aliendawg » Wed Feb 12, 2020 1:48 pm

simply beautiful!
"With the resurgence of offsets it seems like we're also seeing a resurgence of people who don't know what to do with them" - 601210

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Re: Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI. First thoughts.

Post by Monty1 » Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:42 pm

Thanks guys and especially Zork, I doubt I'd have found the Newtone strings without his significant input, they're game changing for small money. I owe him a beer ;)

I need to remember that Robert Smith wasn't the only person to play a VI....

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