AF’s Weblog

March 9, 2009

Fender Classic Player Jazzmaster & Jaguar Guitar: The Test

The Parable of the Jazzmaster and the Jaguar
Fender Classic Player Jazzmaster & Jaguar: The Test

In the beginning, Leo created the Telecaster. Keith and Bruce were happy. On the second day, Leo created the Stratocaster. Jimi and Eric were in ecstasy. On the following days, Leo created the Jazzmaster and the Jaguar, which, although intended for jazz, found followers within the surf music scene of the 60s and the rock music scene of the 90s. Today we’ll be testing the 2008 edition of these mythical guitars …

A Little History Lesson …

Jaguar

The history of these two models is not trivial. In 1958, Leo Fender, father of the famous Telecaster and Stratocaster, decided to take advantage of his reputation and try to seduce jazz guitarists with a model logically called the Jazzmaster. With a rosewood fingerboard, a floating vibrato, new pickups, and a warmer sound than the Stratocaster, Leo thought he’d please jazzmen at the time. Unfortunately, its tendency to feedback prompted them to ignore it. However, the Jazzmaster began to interest groups in the surf movement like The Ventures and The Fireballs. Leo, always on the lookout, took advantage of this interest and came out with a model specifically designed for the surf music scene in 1962: the Jaguar. With a shorter scale (24 inches), single coil Stratocaster-type pickups, 22 frets, a spring-loaded rubber string-mute, and a notched side plate that made it less prone to interference, it was the ultimate surf guitar. Unfortunately, the surf music scene went out of fashion in the 70’s and production of Jaguars and Jazzmasters was stopped in 1980.

These models were then set aside for a few years until indie rock bands in the early 80s such as Sonic Youth or My Bloody Valentine saw in this guitar (which was affordable at the time and gave ample feedback), a good way to satisfy their experimental sound cravings. By strumming the strings behind the bridge they could get a unique chiming sound as well as produce sympathetic resonance due to the low break angle over the bridge. Following this rediscovery, the Jazzmaster and Jaguar were reintroduced into the Fender catalog in 1986 with Japanese 1962 Reissue models.

2008 saw the birth of the “Classic Player” series, made in Mexico and at relatively affordable prices. To celebrate their 50th anniversary a “revision” was in order … This test will be of a Jazzmaster, a Jaguar with single coil pickups, and a Jaguar with Humbuckers.

Dos

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Chevalet et vibrato

It’s difficult to to be picky when confronted with these guitars! They look and sound great and are a joy to play. The only criticism that can be made by Jazzmaster/Jaguar traditionalists might be about the changes made to the bridge and tremolo location. While they facilitate adjustments and improve intonation to some extent, they slightly change the original character of these models . But for an average price of around $900, Fender delivers high quality guitars. Yes, they’re made in Mexico, but hold their own when compared to certain more expensive models. It’s a good reason to take the plunge and buy one of these mythical guitars!

Look
Finish
Neck
Pickups
Intonation
Price
Changes that bring the guitars up to date …

… But slightly change their original character
I’m hooked. I want one now!

Photos : Denfert

To read the full detailed articled see:  Fender Classic Player Jazzmaster & Jaguar Review

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