When we hear that someone is playing a Fender guitar, we tend to ask: “The Strat or the Tele?” Somehow we identify Fender with these two models, forgetting about one of the most unique electric guitar that shaped one entire music era and left the huge influence in rock music – the Fender Jaguar.
Jaguar vs. Jazzmaster
I think that it is a good idea that we make one important distinction right at the beginning. A lot of people have trouble distinguishing the Fender Jaguar from the Fender Jazzmaster. Indeed, these two models are very similar – they have the same body style and the same type of the tremolo system. However, there are some major differences.
Fender Jazzmaster is an older model that originates from 1958. As its name suggests, it was intended for jazz players. However, it never became popular among them, but it did have quite an impact on the “surf rock” guitarists. So, Leo Fender decided to focus on this guitarist’s subpopulation and in 1962 he created a sort of a new version of the Jazzmaster called the Fender Jaguar.
One of the main difference between Fender Jaguar and Fender Jazzmaster is in the scale length. The Jaguar has a 24” scale length, and it is the first model with 22 frets. On the other hand, the Jazzmaster has a full 25½” scale length.
Other major difference is the magnets. The common misbelief is that the Jazzmaster has a Gibson P90 pickups; it actually has Jazzmaster pickups. Jaguar basically has Strat pickups; the only difference is that it has metal shielding on the sides in order to cut the single coil hum.
There are also some other differences that we will discuss later in the text. If you want to learn more about this topic, check out this page.
Short History of The Fender Jaguar
The Fender Jaguar was in the production from 1962 until 1975. After the “surf-rock” era, its popularity has declined. During the ’80, even its price went down, so you could buy Fender Jaguar for only a few hundred dollars.
It was almost forgotten until the ’90 and the grunge area. Musicians such as Kurt Cobain, John Frusciante, and bands like Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine gave Fender Jaguar a new life, so its reissue was presented in 1999. Today you can find a lot of different Jaguar models.
The Fender American Professional Jaguar that we are going to analyze was produced in 2017, so it is a pretty young model. It has a few very interesting innovation, so let’s take a closer look.
- Body: Alder with the gloss polyurethane finish
- Fingerboard: Maple/Rosewood
- Neck: Maple
- Magnets: V-mode Jaguar Single-coil
- Price: around $1500
This Fender Jaguar has that classical Jaguar look and the traditional combination of wood, plastic, and metal elements. On the first sight, it is almost identical to the classical Jaguar model (although there are some differences as you will see later in the text).
You can choose between 5 different colors: Olympic white, candy apple red, antique olive, sonic gray, and sunburst. I must say that I am fascinated by the looks of these models. Each one of them looks amazing, so I really can’t decide which one I prefer.
Probably the biggest difference between the classical model and this Fender Jaguar is in the design of the switches. Unlike the classical model that had a lot of switches, this new one has only two, so it is much simpler to use. It has a volume and tone control knobs, a 4-way selector switch (the bridge pickup, the bridge and the neck in parallel, the neck on its own, and the neck and the bridge in series). Besides that, there is also a phase switch that you can use when both magnets are active.
Another innovation is the tremolo lock button. It allows you to lock the tremolo so that it can’t move up. This way you can only push it down. Of course, when it is unlocked, it can move both up and down.
The neck has a “deep C” neck profile, which is somewhere in between the modern C and a U-shaped profile, so it is slightly chunkier, especially around the shoulders of the neck.
Due to its shorter scale, the strings are more flexible and thus, easier to bend. These are good news, as it basically means that you can put on a thicker set of strings and you won’t have any problems bending them.
As I’ve mentioned, this Fender Jaguar has a simpler approach when it comes to switches. However, it doesn’t mean that you’ll face difficulties in adjusting your tone; on the contrary, this new solution only makes this process easier.
So, you have 4 magnets combinations and the phase switch option. This gives you a whole variety of sounds – high and sharp, thick tone with a lot of lows, and a combination of these two. If you turn the phase switch on, you get a thinner sound, which is ideal for funk players. Here you can find out more about the tone combinations and adjustments.
This guitar also responds great to overdrive. After all, some of the most famous grunge, shoegaze, and garage rock bands used Fender Jaguar to achieve that full, dirty, obscure, and dark sound (for example, listen to My Bloody Valentine).
The Fender Jaguar tremolo works wonderfully. Of course, don’t expect to perform any dive-bombs with it! It is intended for a kind of subtle vibrato that will add that “something” to your sound. One of the reasons why shoegaze artist like the Fender Jaguar is precisely this tremolo system. It has a real bone nut, which gives it a slightly brighter tone and increases its resonance.
Overall, the Fender Jaguar is known for itssnap sound, not as full as the Strat, Telecaster, or Jazzmaster. Due to this, the Fender Jaguar tone is unique and easily recognizable.
Other Fender Jaguars
Probably the biggest problem with this guitar (namely, the only problem if you ask me) is its price. We can all agree that $1500 is not a small amount of money. Of course, some of you with the bigger budget can afford this expense. However, if you are willing to give this amount of money, you better be sure that this is the guitar you want.
On the other hand, I believe that a lot of you aren’t in a financial situation to pay $1500 for a guitar. Also, it is hard to be 100% sure that a particular guitar will suit your preferences and needs; this usually takes some time – you have to play the guitar for a while. The good news is that there are also other Fender Jaguar guitars that are not as expensive as this Fender Jaguar American Professional.
For example, there are the Fender Jaguar Player Series models that cost around $650. One of the main reasons why these models are cheaper than the Fender Jaguar American Professional is that they are made in Mexico. So, these are still the Fender guitars, although they are not constructed in the USA.
One of the coolest things about this series is that it has a humbucker pickup in the bridge position. As you probably know, humbuckers are more aggressive and usually have a louder output compared to single-coil magnets. This means that you can play some heavy stuff on this guitar and it will sound great. However, I also have a good news for the ones of you that prefer a more vintage sound.
These model have a split coil option, which means that you can split the humbucker, thus making it sound like the single-coil magnet. Unlike the Fender Jaguar American Professional, these models have a three-way switch (bridge, bridge + neck, and neck). So, as you can see, there are many options that you can use to modify your sound. If you want to learn more about these models and hear how they sound, you can check out this video:
Another interesting Fender Jaguar that you should consider is the Fender Jaguar Blacktop HH. The “HH” stands for two humbuckers (alnico 5 Fender humbuckers). This guitar is great for heavy and dirty sound but also has a nice bluesy tone when you add just a little overdrive to it. You can hear how it sounds in this video:
Fender Modern Player Jaguar is also a good solution for the ones of you who are not willing to pay a lot of money for a guitar. This model is very unique in terms of construction and sound. It doesn’t have that traditional Fender Jaguar look – you won’t find those standard metal elements on it. Also, there is only one three-way switch. It is definitely a very specific and unique model, so you should take a good look at it before you decide to get one. You can start here at:
Fender Jaguar represents an instrument where tradition and technology meet each other. Although in the later reissues it was upgraded and modernized, it still kept its vintage feel and tone. Due to its uniqueness, the Fender Jaguar is usually either loved or hated.
Artists prone to more experimental and garage sound popularized this model in the ’90. However, as you could see in this text, this guitar can be used for all kinds of musical genres – all from blues to metal and funk.
So, if you like vintage guitars but also want a modern touch to it, Fender Jaguar American Professional is the guitar for you. In the case you don’t want to spend a fortune on the guitar, you can always consider some other model that is mentioned in this text.