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Fender Jazzmaster/Fender Jaguar

Updated on June 9, 2011

Among the original models offered by major guitar companies, the Fender Jazzmaster and Fender Jaguar have a following that is nearly as strong as the Gibson Flying V or some of the early Rickenbackers. One of these, the Jazzmaster, first came from the shop in 1958 and, in its original run, was made until 1980 (Gruhn's Guide to Vintage Guitars, George Gruhn and Walter Carter). The first Jaguar came off the shop floor in 1962 and the original run continued until 1975.

Fender Jazzmaster

What's the attraction for the Jazzmaster guitar and its "companion" piece, the Jaguar? Each instrument - whether it's from the Fender guitar folks, from Gibson, or from Rickenbacker, Dean or Ibanez – has a particular sound that captures the attention of a guitar player. Jazzmasters were no different. They had a certain "twang" and even a kind of buzzing tone that was quite popular then, and is even now. While they vaguely resemble other Fender guitars, the design of the Fender Jazzmaster guitar and the Jaguar is just different enough to draw people in.

With help from such recognizable names as Elvis Costello, the Jazzmaster got its following among grunge bands and some of the alternative players and singers who worked during the 1980s. Sonic Youth is known to have used the Jazzmaster extensively, as did The Cure. Some of the younger, less-wealthy musicians first turned to the Jazzmaster and/or the Jaguar because original Fender guitars such as the Telecaster and Stratocaster were commanding high prices. The Jazzmaster was also a guitar of choice with the fine '60s instrumental group, The Ventures, though players and fans from that era remember the group endorsing Mosrite axes.

The Jazzmaster, in its original design and with the Jazzmaster '62 reissue, doesn't have the deep cutaway of the Stratocaster. In fact, the shortened "lobes" at the neck end are offset like the Strat but the bottom lobe is very rounded and is almost no cutaway at all. The same general body style is used for the Jaguar. According to the Blue Book of Electric Guitars from S.P. Fjestad, the Jazzmaster in its original design had an alder body and either a gold metal or tortoise-shell pickguard. In fact, for some the Jazzmaster pickguard is one of the true attractions to the guitar. The two single-coil pickups on the Jazzmaster were rectangular and had exposed pole pieces. Those looking at a Jaguar would see some slight differences in the early years. Jaguar pickups were also of the two single-coil design, but the Jag pickups were shaped much like the oblong/rounded Stratocaster pickups.

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