Hands on with the Fender Jaguar Special

For some reason, I’ve never spent a lot of time with Jags. However, as I looked at the guitars I currently have, I thought it was time to give one a bit of a go: a shorter-scale instrument with single coils was missing from the collection. And how was it? Let’s find out in a hands-on Fender Jaguar Special review!

Fender Jaguar Special Review

Fender Classic Player Jaguar Special review

Finish

Sometimes it’s about first impressions. With the candy apple red finish of the Classic Player Jag, those surveyed were very positive. A good few gasps of “oh, that’s pretty”, with just a solitary “too sparkly”. A healthy 6:1 positivity ratio there.

Personally, I’ve not historically been a huge fan of candy apple red as a finish, but I think that comes from seeing it on Strats and Teles. On the Jaguar body shape however, I was quite taken with it. I’m not particularly ostentatious, but the finish on this Jag was just showy enough without overly showing off. I suppose what I’m getting at is that it looks dang cool.

Feel and playability

With it’s short scale length (24″), stretches of a good number of frets are possible right down at the bottom end of the fretboard, and the reduced string tension makes 2 1/2 tone bends easy to do. Should that be your sort of thing. Of course, you could always use that short scale length to put on some hefty gauge strings without making things unbendable…

Fender Classic Player Jaguar Special reviewI found the C shape of the neck to be comfortable, it’s certainly not lightning fast thin, but it’s unlikely to be the thickest neck you’ll wrap your hand around. You could call it a good ‘compromise’ neck.

The gloss finish on the back of the neck was possibly ever so slightly too sticky, but if it’s a problem for you a bit of 0000-grade wire wool might be just the thing to make it a bit more slippy.

I had no issue with the guitar holding tune, even with regular use of the trem. Speaking of the trem, it’s perhaps a good time to talk about the bridge…

With an Adjusto-Matic bridge on the Classic Player Jaguar, rather than the multi-slotted vintage-style bridge featured on some other Jag models, there were no issues with the strings moving about. I’m a worryingly heavy-handed player and I’ve had issues on other Jaguars and Jazzmasters with the string moving from one slot to another, which isn’t great when it throws your tuning out mid song…

The weight feels like you’re getting a reasonable amount of guitar for your money, but it’s light enough to throw it about, and it’s nicely balanced hanging from a strap.

Sound

My usual rule of thumb is if it sounds good when it’s plugged straight into the amp I end up using in our usual rehearsal room (of which I’m not a huge fan…), it is good.

This sounded good.

I’ve always liked the idea of the separate lead and rhythm circuits, and they certainly work well here. The hotter than usual single-coil pickups can push amps that bit harder and sounded almost a bit more P90-like.

While the plethora of switches on the Jaguar can look a bit intimidating, there’s actually not much too it once you break it down into the lead and rhythm circuits and, as long as you’re careful, you should end up accidentally turning off both pickups! Although, if you’ve got a sound dialled in using just one pickup on the lead circuit, you can use the pickup on/off switches as a kill switch.

A lot of the sounds I was getting out of the Jag were very bass-rich, to the extent that the bass player commented on it. Not something I’ve ever heard about my Strat or Tele! Good job that bass-cut switch is there…

If you’ve not spent much time with the Jaguar, there is a great guide to the knobs and switches at The Interactive Jaguar.

Summing up the Classic Player Jag Special

I really, really want this guitar. So much so that I’ve actually been thinking hard about selling my American Standard Strat to take this Fender CP Jag Special home.

I loved the way it feels, and something about how it felt on a strap just made me want to be somewhat more exuberant than usual; I  was able to get all the sounds I wanted out of it.

And it looked really pretty sweet.

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Fynn Callum

producer, guitarist, engineer & dj
From indie guitarist to deep house producer via Northern Soul dj; mix engineer, producer and gear enthusiast. Jaffa Cake aficionado.

3 Responses to “Hands on with the Fender Jaguar Special”

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  1. Keef Sparrow says:

    I'd have liked to know more about what all those switches actually DO. As you often see these guitars with the switches taped in postion by gigging musicians do they have much effect and can you do without them? In my experience the more circuitry there is in a guitar the more the tone and output suffer.

  2. the set of 3 switches turn each pickup either on or off and the other switch turns the high pass filter on or off. Then the switch on the other side is for the rythym circuit which colours the tone for a darker feel more suited for rythym play. That's what people normaly tape up as it's qutie easy to hit it by mistake.

  3. David London says:

    Very informative post…I have a Fender Stratocaster that has been bought a lot earlier. I have to learn to run it. I want to know how many times I can learn. Please give me some suggestions about this.
    Fender-Jaguar

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