So I bought a Squire Affinity PJ bass the one with the precision and Jazz pickup layout which is the same as my old 1990's Japanese Fender Jazz Bass special. I just did an A/B comparison and the result is that I will return the new Affinity Bass.
The Squire had new strings on it whereas my Japanese one had strings that were boiled in hot water to try and liven em up. So advantage for the squire you would think. Here is what I noticed, The Japanese one had more low end, far better clarity and the notes sounded more 3D and together and the mid range had a more forward tone to it, a nice grind on heavy gain settings. It was quite a huge difference, the squire sounded flat and the note definition through distortion was lacking. I was surprised at the large difference. The Japanese one also had more weight to it which I preferred. I dont like light weight instruments as there is no physical authority behind it when you play em.
Saying all that, the price point was great on the squire but if your looking for tone as priority then look elsewhere. I could replace the pickups but then I would have do some searching on sound shootouts of pickups. I also saw a youtube video of someone doing a similar shootout and I heard the same thing going on. I was surprised at the comments saying how much better the squire was- that is what you get when people listen on laptops of speakers with no low end. lol
There's definitely a pleasant quality to the 90's Japanese Fenders I've played. I think the model I owned for a couple years was the 'Special', same as yours. I remember it getting "in the pocket" with less woof and thump. Probably shouldn't have let that one go but, I love trying new things and I can't keep em all.
Those new "talked about a lot on forums" Squire basses....I'm sorry....I returned it within days. While it IS a better beginner instrument than I'd ever played by ANY manufacturer....I mean was it $275 out the door? I've been playing too long for a beginner axe....which is all it was. I would recommend it in a HEARTBEAT for a parent who says their child wants to take bass lessons, but the reports that the Squire series guitars are "the next best thing to...." Disagree if you're going to use a professionally viable bass as foil.
I have a Squire bass in the studio. I routed it to make it a P/J and installed Fender American pickups that were pulled by folks doing "upgrades" and installed a billet bridge. It gets used more than Fender brand basses that folks bring into the studio with them.
I like the mid-line instruments for the studio. They play decent enough that people don't really notice, are cheaper (even when upgraded), and I don't worry much about them getting knocked over or dropped (which happens more than you'd expect).