fellow Jaguar and Jazzmaster connoisseurs…
Here you will find plenty of information on these two guitar-models and their specialities, strengths, and problems. Information that I collected since 1999, when I got me my first Fender Jaguar, and was intrigued by the oddities of that guitar.
Hopefully you’ll find what you came here for. :-)
Depending on the point of view it’s a good thing that, after a short boom during the surf area, the Stratocaster took over (with a little help of this guy named Jimi Hendrix), and that these models remained the ugly ducklings for many years, available cheap and unloved in pawnshops everywhere.
Then, with the Seattle-craze, grunge and the world-wide fame of Nirvana, the Jaguar became the must-have guitar for many alternative rockers and finally was considered cool. By then Sonic Youth had utilized Jazzmasters in every modification and variation, of course there were many more musicians – but on a “non-geek”-level (i.e not for specialists only), Elvis Costello, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur JR and My Bloody Valentine are the names most often connected with these guitars (surf-musicians not included).
Back in the early nineties there was me, barely able to play an e-major chord properly, in front of this small guitar store in an even smaller street in my home town… window-gazing and wondering “what the heck is this thing over there in the dark corner with all that chrome and those many switches?” – I was deeply impressed. Almost ten years went by, I had my small share in the local music scene, at last managed that e-major chord, and then, one day in January 1999, finally I had the money to buy me my first “vintage” guitar: a 1963 olympic white Jaguar, complete and original with dings and scratches and a truckload of vibe to it. (My very first guitar was a night black “Shot” Stratocaster-copy. Having played bass for a while, I was used to heavy strings and so I innocently asked for .13s – which granted me more than an odd look from the local dealer… :-) )
Soon I realized that I need to know more about this guitar, get behind the secret of the trem-loc and the rhythm-circuit. Not that I knew at that time that the knob down there behind the bridge is the “trem-loc” or that the switch above the strings triggers the “rhythm-circuit”. Or what these gadgets are for, beside the odd cool look. That came later. Much later.
To be honest, I started my quest by trying to figure out how old the guitar was. Not many sites offered information on the Jaguar back then (I know, it’s only some years ago, but in terms of the internet, that’s a lifetime). One of the first sites I came across was the “Vintage Guitar Info Site” by CFH, a great source and still around. Likewise is Mel Waldorf’s “Jaguar and Jazzmaster Page“ (Domain gone :-(). Another great site I found then (and the only site that dealt with the trem-loc-setup) has disappeared, like many others with small but important information.
I realized that no one in the stores and workshops I knew had any knowledge of the Jaguar or Jazzmaster – and I had the distinct impression that they were not too impressed by my guitar, believe it or not.
Something had to be done about this. So I had to put up this page, make it a collection of all the info I gathered. In parallel to this decision I discovered the Fenderforum in 2000 – and the massive knowledge that the forum’s members from all around the world share. A great place to spend your online-time in. And particularly one person needs to be mentioned: Jim Shine (add applause here). He is a Jaguar/Jazzmaster compendium and knows all the answers to all the questions that I and other mere mortals may ask about these guitars – be sure to visit his web site and prepare for a boost in knowledge :-).
This site started in early 2000 and has been very well received by visitors from all around the world. It’s been a great time and it still is! Enjoy this place as much as I do. Play your beauties, share your pictures and spread the word!
-- Tom Arnold