1. This day in history: January 12, 2002. 9:49 AM, California time. The Steve Hoffman Music Forums officially launched with this thread. Thank you for 20 years of music, discussion, and great memories! Join our "Thank You!" thread, and we'll see you in the forum!
    Dismiss Notice

What's so great about Fender Jazzmaster and Jaguar guitars?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Turnaround, Jan 3, 2019.

  1. Turnaround

    Turnaround Member your mama warned you about Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    OP here.

    Guitar tech and musician Mike Adams has a really excellent YouTube channel (under the name "Puisheen") focused on setting up and modding offset guitars like the Jazzmaster and Jaguar. The channel's review videos and "on the bench" videos also throw out a lot of information about setting up offset guitars and aftermarket parts (like pickups and bridges). It's a real treasure trove of useful information and know-how that is specific to offset guitars, whose bridge, trem system and pickups are very different from other Fender guitars. I'm not sure there is anything else like this out there.

    Youtube Channel: Puisheen



    Digging around, I also found some articles this guy has written in the past about how to set up offset guitars (some links below). He also has some excellent articles and videos for Guitar.com (including on their Youtube channel).

    DIY: How to Set up Jazzmasters & Jaguars
    Michael James Adams
    26 essential mods for Jazzmasters, Jaguars and other offset guitars
    Tech Talk: Which offset vibrato should you choose, Mastery or Descendant? | Guitar.com | All Things Guitar
    How to fix a Classic Player Jazzmaster trem-lock
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2021
  2. Turnaround

    Turnaround Member your mama warned you about Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    OP here. Since I started this thread, I have come around to appreciating the Jazzmaster more than I did before. I had asked what the Jazzmaster can do that other guitars cannot do. I now think the Jazzmaster can do a 60s Fender clean sound that sounds even more Fender-y than the Strat. I've also come to appreciate the rhythm circuit on the Jazzmaster, which can produce a unique, darker sound with the right pickups and electronics. I still think a Strat is more versatile overall, but my original question was getting at why a Jazzmaster, over other guitars.

    I owned a vintage Jazzmaster decades ago, and got rid of it because I had constant complaints and issues with it. I now realize that I was always trying to get it to play like a Strat, and it was not a Strat. You have to think about the Jazzmaster as a totally different creature. I also think that there are many options today (like aftermarket pickups from Lollar or Novak, or aftermarket bridges like the Mastery or Staytrem) that address many of the problems and issues I had with my Jazzmaster years ago.

    However, I still have not found an answer to what the Jaguar can do that other guitars cannot do. Even though one of my personal guitar idols, Johnny Marr, has settled into the Jaguar as his guitar. The only big thing I can come up with is the shorter scale, which some people may like better. I would appreciate hearing from others who can speak to what's so great about what the Jaguar can do, than other guitars can't do.
     
    johnwilliamhunte likes this.
  3. PhilBorder

    PhilBorder Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sheboygan, WI
    Out of curiosity, do you always play in standard tuning? I've found some less-than-stellar guitars come surprisingly alive or at least play in some redemptively interesting manner in Open D or E tuning. Or like Lou Reed did on 'Rock and Roll, tune all the strings to "D".
     
    Patanoia likes this.
  4. Guitarded

    Guitarded Forum Resident

    Location:
    Montana
    The Jaguar has attack that most other Fenders do not. Closest being a top-loader Tele.

    It has a lot to do with the shorter scale and subseqent higher string tension compared to the Jazzmaster. Many credit the pickups for much of the sound people love, but I really believe it's a combo of the scale and string tension.
     
  5. elvisizer

    elvisizer Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Jose
    [​IMG]
     
  6. elgoodo

    elgoodo Forum Resident

    Location:
    Jersey City, NJ
    Jazzmasters have a very identifiable sound that I enjoy very much. Didn't Jimi play one on the studio recording of "Fire"?
     
  7. walrus

    walrus Forum Resident

    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    yeah I stand by it. Indie rock is mostly boring and Sonic Youth sounds like crap. Not sorry. *shrug*
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2021
  8. Guitarded

    Guitarded Forum Resident

    Location:
    Montana
    Hysterical.
     
    BeauZooka likes this.
  9. Boulder Bob

    Boulder Bob Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boulder, CO
    I have played Jazzmasters for many years, mainly as Ventures inspired surf but also as rhythm guitar in a funk band. The thing that makes these offset guitars unique is the resonance created by the length of string between the bridge and the tailpiece. Think of it as the difference between a 335 with a trapeze tailpiece and one with a stop tailpiece. Many players want as much sustain as possible and a stop tailpiece will give you more downward force than a trapeze tailpiece. Offset guitars are not about sustain.

    A Jaguar, with it's shorter scale, allows you to use heavier gauge strings and still retain "bendability". "12s feel like 11s". The heavier gauge can result in more magnetic response, which can be an advantage for Jags. To my ears, a Jazzmaster makes a "plunk" and a Jag makes a "boink".

    Personally, I generally prefer 25 1/2" scale guitars (although I do love my Guild archtop electrics). This is why I'm so enamored with the Johnny A Guitar - has advantages of a 335 or Les Paul but has a longer scale.

    One of the greatest surf players, to me, is Dave Wroski of the band Slacktone. The "Into The Blue Sparkle" album is awesome. Dave uses a Jag. It almost sounds like he has a marimba playing along with him. Dave works for Fender.

     
    Turnaround likes this.
  10. petem1966

    petem1966 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Katy TX
    I have a Jazzmaster and like it ok. Sounds great and I love the neck but it's really not for me soundwise, I find it harsh, so I'm selling it. Nothing personal against it, mine just seems brash. I know Johnny Marr plays a Jag, but my Jazz sounds perfect when playing the Smiths, especially I Started Something.
     
  11. thehogsniper

    thehogsniper Active Member

    Location:
    Detroit
    I'll trade you five nickels, Morrissey's sense of decency, and Bernard Sumner's wig.
     
    petem1966 likes this.
  12. BobbyS

    BobbyS Forum Resident

    Location:
    Delaware OH USA
    My main guitar for many years was a white 1963 Jazzmaster. In the 1980s they were much more affordable than a pre CBS Tele or Strat. I was a big fan of two very excellent players, Tom Verlaine and Chris Stamey who both played them. Eventually I wound up with all sorts of guitars and retired from the Jazzmaster world but they are very fine instruments. I never played a Jaguar because I'm not much on the shorter scale.
     
    GimiSomeTruth likes this.
  13. PRW94

    PRW94 Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Southeast
    I don’t know if it’s been mentioned and I’m not going to go through 13 pages to see, but the development of the Mastery bridge and vibrato have solved all the intrinsic structural issues with those guitars.

    www.masterybridge.com
     
    Boulder Bob likes this.
  14. Turnaround

    Turnaround Member your mama warned you about Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    Yes and no. The Mastery bridge fixes design issues with the offset bridge, but it is a non-rocking bridge that affects the sustain, resonance and tone of the guitar. Some people find that antithetical to the classic sound of the offset guitar. Others find it a small trade-off, relative to the advantages of using the bridge, or even prefer the change. The Staytrem is another design that fixes design issues with the offset bridge, but stays truer to the original bridge. Fender Custom Shop now has its own RSD bridge, with compensated saddles, that fixes design issues of the offset bridge. Each of these bridges have their pros and cons.

    I have played offset guitars with each of these bridges, and I think they are each a huge improvement over the original bridge for someone using, say, 10's on the offset guitar. The three I mention above seem to be the best solutions, but some people will prefer one over the other because of their pros and cons. The good news is that people now have all these options.

    No, Jimi did not play a Jazzmaster on "Fire". You are mixing up different stories and urban legends.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
    PRW94, Boulder Bob and DTK like this.
  15. AlienRendel

    AlienRendel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, il
    The Jaguar's short scale makes for a very comfortable play. My Jaguar can do wonderful jangly rhythm tones, cutting, snappy leads and the body on mine is resonant enough to get some nice controlled feedback out of when I want it. Really great guitar.
     
    Lightworker likes this.
  16. Boulder Bob

    Boulder Bob Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boulder, CO
    I went from the original bridge to a Mustang bridge to a Mastery. Of the 3, I like the Mastery. The base plate does not rock like the original, but the saddles do rock within the base plate. I have noticed over time, my High E develops a sitar like sound and I need my tech to "re profile" the saddle. I guess the saddle is made of a steel that is softer than the string.

    I would like to try an RSD bridge on my guitar, but they don't seem to be available. I played a JM at Wildwood that had an RSD and I liked it.
     
  17. Turnaround

    Turnaround Member your mama warned you about Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    I think the Mastery became the go-to aftermarket bridge in the US, over the Staytrem, because the Staytrem designer is based in the UK and did not ship outside the UK or sell through retail outlets. The Staytrem was near impossible to obtain in the US. However, the designer has recently started to ship outside the UK, and it is much less expensive than the Mastery.

    What I like about the Staytrem and Fender's RSD bridge is that they fix the problem with the bridge, and nothing more. Whereas the Mastery is a total redesign of the bridge. Although that is not to put it down: many people love the Mastery bridge. It's like fixing a Tele by replacing saddles with those that have compensated notches, versus replacing the entire bridge system with a modern six-saddle system and heavier bridge plate (which does alter the guitar's sound, more modern vs vintage sound). Or fixing a Strat's trem issues by redesigning it as a hardtail, or blocking the trem altogether.

    When I owned a vintage Jazzmaster decades ago, I wanted it play like a Strat, when it wasn't one. I realize now that way of thinking was a big reason I never connected with it. I am finicky about altering a vintage design because at some point, you'll have re-tooled your Jazzmaster into a PRS guitar that you don't have to fight and plays perfectly, but that's not really what you wanted in the first place. That goes to my original question of this thread: why use a Jazzmaster or Jaguar instead of just going with another guitar.
     
    Boulder Bob and PhilBorder like this.
  18. GimiSomeTruth

    GimiSomeTruth Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Some serious false info on this thread that needs to be squashed. I have owned several dozen vintage Jazzmasters/ Jaguars / Mustangs/ Duo Sonics (and yes, a few 60s Strats) over the years (mostly Jazzmasters). I’ve also worked as a touring guitar tech for several artists (including one major rock n roll fame of fame member group) for those that ‘want my resume’.

    These guitars were all made to the same quality as any comparable era 50s-70s Fenders. Namely, phenomenal care and attention to detail up til 1966. Post ‘66 still has plenty of wonderful examples. The sound, or scale length on the short scale guitars may not be to an individual’s liking, but they are all beautifully crafted guitars. There is something very special about the final hand carving on Fender guitars before the introduction of CNC machines in the 80s. They were lovingly shaped by a human. Even the least expensive Duo Sonics have that magic. Hell, John McLaughlin apparently played a Mustang on Bitches Brew and A Tribute To Jack Johnson, and only a contrarian fool would say anything negative about his tone on those records.

    The electronics do not go bad! They used the same quality components, and I have never had to change any electronic parts, ever, on any Fender guitar from the 50s thru the 70s. The switches and pots all need regular cleaning with Deoxit, but the same can be said for any old guitar. Too many hack repairmen over the years have replaced parts on old guitars for no good reason.

    Until the introduction of Mastery bridges, a Mustang bridge was the best possible bridge upgrade. They intonate dead on when set up properly. There are no Stradivarius violins in current use with the original neck angles, and very few modern players want to deal with the heavy strings that the original Jazzmaster bridges were made for. So get a properly installed Mastery or Mustang style bridge and problem solved. The old vibratos are dreamy, and once again, with a proper setup there are virtually no tuning issues.

    I’m pretty certain that there’s gonna be a day when vintage Jazzmasters exceed the value of Strats. They are already well on their way, and watching the market shows that nice one sells quickly, whereas Strats tend to hang around. Not many folks under 60 are interested in old Strats these days. Jazzmasters continue to grow in popularity.
     
  19. Lightworker

    Lightworker Forum Resident

    Location:
    Deep Texas
    My '64 Jaguar is still going strong with all original electronics and furniture.
     
    GimiSomeTruth likes this.
  20. Lightworker

    Lightworker Forum Resident

    Location:
    Deep Texas
    A vintage Jag is the "True Root" for reggae rhythms. I wrote the only 'rock steady' song I ever composed (with profuse apologies to Dudley Sibley) on my trusty old '64.
     
    beccabear67 and Bobby Buckshot like this.
  21. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Media Omnivore

    Location:
    Victoria, Canada
    I think the Strat is the top electric guitar for sound (Dick Dale, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, Hank Marvin, Jimi of course). Jaguars were more affordable and were around when a lot of instrumental ('surf') groups needed them, so kind of a budget Strat? Interesting about the reggae connection in that light as well! Mosrites had a fuzzier rattier sound, popular later with the punk/back to basics '70s dudes. Nokie Edwards of The Ventures is who would make me appreciate the sound of the Jazzmaster. They had a deal with Mosrite but he knew the Fenders were the real tops.
     
    Lightworker likes this.
  22. StarThrower62

    StarThrower62 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Central NY
    When you end up with a 1965 Jazzmaster for free while cleaning out someone's attic because they had no idea what it was. Just happened to a friend of mine a few weeks ago.
     
  23. wwaldmanfan

    wwaldmanfan Born In The 50's

    Location:
    NJ
    A friend of mine sold me his Jazzmaster back in the 1980's for $100. It was surf green metalflake with matching headstock. Not sure what vintage it was, anybody know?
    The bridge was really weird. The assembly floated on two pegs, and the strings sat in individual rollers. The slightest pressure, and the strings would pop out of the grooves in the rollers. It was basically useless. Maybe it wasn't setup properly, but I couldn't get anything out of that guitar. I don't even remember if I resold it or gave it away. Hard to believe that Leo Fender would design something like this after creating the Telecaster and the Stratocaster.
    A decade earlier, I had owned a Mosrite Ventures Model. I certainly preferred that to the later Jazzmaster, but after that, I stuck to Telecasters and Les Pauls. I actually never owned a Strat, and now have no electric guitars at all, just acoustics.
     
  24. GimiSomeTruth

    GimiSomeTruth Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    the Jaguar was Fender’s most expensive new solid body during its initial run.
     
  25. GimiSomeTruth

    GimiSomeTruth Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    surf green is one of the rarest custom colors, but is not metallic. It’s a pale pastel. Custom colors were offered for many years, and there is no way to date a vintage Fender guitar by its color alone. For the strings to pop out of the saddles, the string gauge was too light for the setup. Neck shimming would have solved that problem. It was designed that way because, at the time, standard electric guitar strings were 13-60, and they did not pop out of the saddles.
     
    AlienRendel and wwaldmanfan like this.

Share This Page

molar-endocrine