Jaguar and Jazzmaster

Famous all over the world Fender is acclaimed by musicians of all kinds, not only for the timeless myth they represent, but above all for their unmistakable sound. Fender Musical Instruments Corporation is one of the most famous brands in the world of guitar manufacturers, basses, amplifiers and more!

Fender electric guitars: the origins

Fender Electric Instrument CO.

Let’s start from the beginning… It all began in 1946, when Leo Fender, thanks to his outstanding innovations, gave life to a revolution destined to change music in all its genres: from rock and roll to country, from jazz to r & b, from blues to pop. We are in the Southern California of the 40s.

The luthier Clarence Leonidas Fender intends to improve the amplified guitars available on the market, replacing the hollow body with a solid body design as simple as innovative. He also decides to build his electric guitars on the assembly line, to offer musicians a high quality and affordable instrument. Thus began the revolution of Leo Fender, designed to rewrite the rules of popular music.

His electric guitars will remain unchanged over the years, resist fads and trends, will be appreciated by millions of musicians (regardless of the genre of belonging) for the versatility, the character and the unmistakable timbre.

Fender Guitar Factory museum

The Fender Telecaster born in 1950, is the first solid body guitar in history to be produced in series. The “Tele” presents: two single coil pick-ups; a 3-position sector; a volume enhancement; a tone control. Its solid wood body, without a sound box, completely cancels unwanted resonances and increases sustain.

Among the Fender electric guitars, the Telecaster occupies a prestigious position. Thanks to its great versatility it is perfect for any musical genre: from blues to country, from pop to rock, from funky to jazz.

The Fender Stratocaster was presented by Leo Fender in 1954, with the aim of bringing innovations of a technical and design nature: the third single coil pickup offers a wider range of sonic possibilities; the body with a streamlined line is definitely more comfortable; the missing double-sided design makes it easier to play the highest notes; the vibrato lever gives the musicians more rich colors and nuances.

The Fender Stratocaster is an icon that has entered the legend thanks to the touch of extraordinary musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler and many others.

Jaguar and Jazzmaster

Fender Jaguar vs Fender Jazzmaster

When Leo set up his first “offset” body guitars (you could say “asymmetric”, actually means “off-axis”, in short, “knocked out”), Jazzmaster first and then Jaguar, he did it thinking of start the scene exit of the Telecaster and Stratocaster veterans, of which Jazz and Jag should have been – in his idea – the respective evolution.

The Jazzzmaster arrived in the late 50s with it to replace the “jazz guitar” Fender (it was for Leo the Telecaster), bringing more versatility of sound, a better ergonomics and a more regular frequency response (the Jazzmaster pickup, very low, requires more wire with the same coils, producing an output similar to the Strat, but more resistance, therefore a bigger sound).

The Jaguar came later, as hypothetical substitute of the Stratocaster, with a shorter scale to wink at the Gibson-brand guitars, two pickups virtually identical to those of the Strat but shielded, an avalanche of levers and a similar vibrato in a way to the original Stratocaster project, discarded in 1954 because it dampened the sustain.

At the time the two guitars, especially the Jaguar, went decently in sales, mainly thanks to a long series of endorsers, including the magnificent Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys (who also soon betrayed Fender with a Rickenbacker 360 fireglow). But they never managed to break the hearts of fans who kept buying Strat and Tele.

So the career of the “offset” never recorded large numbers and obviously did not survive the progenitors:

The Jazzmaster came out of the scene in 1980, when the Jaguar was no longer produced by a luster.

Like all things that disappear, the “offset” came back in vogue after a few years, thanks to the grunge bands that emerged in Seattle in the second half of the ‘80s and that they appreciated the look a bit’ nerd combined with the sounds cleng cleng without sustain.

With the vicissitudes that led to the departure of CBS, Fender Japan (much more active and far-sighted than Fender USA) gained independence and began to replicate all the replicable, including Jaguar and Jazzmaster. So it was that the two offsets returned to the shops, in subsequent reissues always faithful to the original (unlike the Strat and Tele that underwent endless changes and variations).

Jazzmaster

Fender proposed the guitar as “top-of-the-line” in 1958, at a price of $329.50 (50 more than the Stratocaster). The Jazzmaster presented remarkable peculiarities and innovations; first of all an asymmetrical body, designed to get a better balance played by sitting and the rosewood fretboard glued (first Fender guitar to adopt it), a new tremolo with optional block, designed not to lose the tuning (Floating Tremolo).

Above all it was the first guitar to adopt via sophisticated (for the era) controls the possibility of selecting two separate circuits.

Tip: By simply controlling a small switch, the guitarist was given the chance to choose a preset for the rhythm (only pick-up at the neck) or for the solos (bridge pick-up and handle together), the latter splittable in turn in three different positions, and to be able to switch quickly from one to another.

The contoured body, incorporating a scale length of 25, 5”, the circuit that allowed achieving an adequate sound for solo or rhythm guitar by means of a switch, with independent volume and tone controls, and the floating tremolo with tuner were the frets of the personality of the Jazzmaster.

The Jazzmaster has a more mellow sound than the “Strat”, which provided a more jazzy sound, despite not being fully accepted by jazz musicians (Joe Pass, however, used one during his stay in Synanon, since that he had been the only guitar he had been able to achieve).

Tip: Instead, rock guitarists used it, especially surf rock (The Ventures and The Fireballs were prominent users of the Jazzmaster). Then Fender would recognize the need to create a guitar with “surf” design, and presented the Fender Jaguar.

The Jazzmaster recently revived in a version based on the specifications of the early 60s, its innovations are remarkable.

  • Asymmetric body to ensure a better balance to those who play sitting
  • Rosewood fingerboard glued
  • Tremolo equipped with an optional block to avoid losing the tuning

Tip: Thanks to its natural tendency towards feedback, this instrument is adopted by many groups of Noise music in search of continuous sound experimentation.

Fender Classic ‘60s Jazzmaster Lacquer

Fender Classic Series 60s Jazzmaster

Source: reverb.com

For those guitarists who love the sound of the original Jazzmaster the Classic Series 60’s Jaguar Lacquer is the best possible choice! This Jaguar is in fact equipped with all the peculiarities of the original model, including the nitrocellulose finish able to make the body resonate with great, and the pair of “vintage” pickups, in detail the American Vintage Jazzmaster Single Coil.

Technical specifications Fender Classic ’60s Jazzmaster Lacquer:

  • Body material: Solid Alder
  • Body finish: Nitrocellulose
  • Neck material: Maple
  • Neck profile: “C”
  • Fretboard material: Pau Ferro, 7.25 “(184.1 mm)
  • Scale: 25.5 “(648 mm)
  • Nut: Synthetic bone
  • Width at nut: 1.650 “(42 mm)

Pros

  • The balance of low and mid frequencies
  • High quality “Flatwound” strings

Cons

  • Maybe: neck’s a little over varnished
  • Maybe: needs properly setting up

Jaguar

The Fender Jaguar is an electric guitar produced by Fender since 1962, based on the Fender Jazzmaster. In the years prior to the introduction of the Jaguar, Fender was often accused of producing excessively Spartan instruments compared to other manufacturers who were entering the new electric guitars market.

The Jazzmaster guitar did not get the hoped for success because the jazz music community did not seem to appreciate the solid-body electric guitar as the traditional semi-acoustic archtop electrified, and Fender thought of introducing the Jaguar as an evolutionary improvement of the Jazzmaster.

Tip: Originally advertised as a surf music guitar, it became quite popular in the 1960s. At the end of the seventies he became the favorite guitar of Tom Verlaine, who helped to clear it in rock. In the nineties it found a new youth in the field of alternative music and grunge: among others it was used by Kurt Cobain and Sonic Youth.

Compared to the previous models it boasted a higher shielding to the interferences, due to various metallic plates, in addition to a greater quantity of controls that allowed obtaining a wide variety of sounds. The particular endowment of controls came from the circuits that Freddie Tavares, for many years to follow Fender’s leading designer, had designed and mounted on his private guitars.

A singular characteristic that differentiates the Jaguar from the rest of the Fender production is the reduced length of the tuning fork (the vibrating part of the string).

Tip: Thanks to the shorter tuning fork, the Jaguar allows a more comfortable fingering on longer intervals, with a lower tension of the strings compared to instruments with a longer tuning fork.

Fender Classic ‘60s Jaguar Lacquer

Fender Classic 60s Jaguar Lacquer

Source: reverb.com

Technical specifications Fender Classic ‘60s Jaguar Lacquer:

  • Body material: Solid Alder
  • Body finish: Nitrocellulose
  • Neck material: Maple
  • Neck profile: “C”
  • Fretboard material: Pau Ferro, 7.25 “ (184.1 mm)
  • Scale: 24 “ (610 mm)
  • Nut: Synthetic bone
  • Width at nut: 1.650 “ (42 mm)

Fender has prepared a series of presentation clips that are impress some of the big names: in the videos, Kenny Wayne Shepherd tests the Stratocasters, Marlon Williams presents the Telecaster, Nick Reinhart plays the Jaguar and Jazzmaster models, Nik West talks about the Jazz Bass and Sean Hurley shows the particularities of the Precision Bass.

Pros

  • The modern play-ability
  • Sound quality

Cons

  • Build quality
  • Maybe: hard to learn for beginners