All you need to know about the Fender Jaguar and Jazzmaster

jazzmaster-jaguar

Historically, Fender’s offset guitars – the Jaguar and Jazzmaster – have been the weapon of choice for the cool & mysterious indie band. Used by the likes of Sonic Youth, Kurt Cobain, Dinosaur Jr, and even Radiohead, they’re the less obvious Fender – for the people who like to stand out.

Fender Jazzmaster Lacquer

But what’s so different about them…?

The Fender Jazzmaster adheres to Fender’s standard scale length, of 25.5 inches between the nut and bridge, whereas the Jaguar is a shorter scale guitar, at only 24 inches. This is due to the Jaguar originally being a student guitar, as the shorter scale length makes the strings feel looser, and therefore easier to bend.

Traditionally, both guitars had two separate circuits, for lead and rhythm, with the controls for the lead circuit being below the strings, and the controls for the rhythm circuit being above. This means you can switch between them as you please, or use the switch as a kill-switch if one circuit has the volume turned down.

The Jaguar has a similar sound to the more common Fenders, due to having very similar pickups, so it’s got all the twang you’re used to from a Strat or Tele, whereas the Jazzmaster’s pickups are a lot wider, so the resulting sound is a bit more low-mid heavy.

That being said, the Jaguar has a few different electronics options now: The Squire Vintage Modified Jaguar features the classic single coil pickups, with faithful 2-circuit electronics, whereas the new Fender American Professional Jaguar ditches the 2 separate circuits, and opts for a simpler single circuit.

Squier jaguar

The Classic player HH model features twin humbuckers, which can split into 2 single coils, and blend anywhere in between, for extra versatility. There’s also the Fender Jaguar Special FSR – a Japanese made guitar which comes with 2 Dragster C humbuckers, and a stop tail.

There are a couple of options for the Jazzmaster too. The Squier Affinity Jazzmaster HH is the cheapest Jazzmaster available, and that comes loaded with 2 humbuckers and a hardtail bridge, rather than the traditional tremolo system. The Squier Deluxe Jazzmaster is another budget friendly option, which comes loaded with two standard Jazzmaster single coil pickups, but a stoptail bridge.

There’s a Fender offset for almost everyone now, even if you’re extra hard to please. This Fender FSR American Professional Jazzmaster in Pine Natural is a limited edition model in the new series, made of cooked reclaimed pine, with an anodised aluminium pickguard.

That’s enough for an overview. All that’s left is for you to pop into Red Dog Music and find your offset guitar of choice!

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Chris Milnes

Christopher Milnes is a Leeds-based musician and music producer. He’s received various awards and scholarships for his music production work, notably The David Thompson Scholarship, and the O2 Think Bigger award, as well as the conservatoire prize at Leeds College of Music. His work has been broadcast on BBC radio 1, BBC Radio 3, and many other radio and TV stations.

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