The Claws

Treble side? Bass side? You decide.

Jaguar pickups have teeth. There is a metal casing surrounding the pickups, and it has four longer and two shorter "teeths" under the strings.
It remains a secret what was the original design - have the shorter teeth under the two treble strings (e-h), or have them under the two bass strings (a-e)?

For both orientations are explanations.

For the treble side there's the theory that string sets back in the 60ies had wound g strings, so you'd get two plain strings and four wound strings, and voila, this fits the 2 short and 4 longer teeth. Plus, the reason for the longer teeth is to "focus" the magnetic field - so the area in which the vibrating string is "detected" by the pickup is narrower at the longer teeth - so the bass(ier) strings sound tighter, and the treble strings have a wider area and so sound not as harsh.

For the bass side the theory is that the longer teeth enhance the magnetic field, giving the strings a little boost -- which is not neccessary with the two thickest strings. So the volume/output is more even across all strings.

Phew. I have not found any info somewhere if someone really A/B-ed the two orientations. And if there really is an audible difference.

I compared four Jaguars from different eras: A 1963, a 2001 AVRI, a 2002 CIJ, and finally a 2012 Johnny Marr Signature model.

And guess what, there's a 50:50 distribution.

The 1963 and the 2012 Marr have the shorter teeth under the bass strings:


The 2001 AVRI and the CIJ have the shorter teeth under the treble strings:

Now, this is by far no representative sample, but it strikes me odd that the AVRI has the shorter teeth under the treble side.
The CIJ might have been trough a pickup change, but I'm fairly certain that the other three are in their factory-mounted state.
Assuming that the Marr model is modelled after his favorite 1965 jaguar, and that the one from 1963 also has the shorter teeth under the bass strings, maybe this is the original design?

But if the AVRI is true to the claim of being a true replica of the 1962 model - how comes the claws are on the treble side?

According to a 1969 Fender manual, the short teeth belong under the treble strings, but this again has been disputed by claims that the majority of vintage Jags have the shorter teeth under the bass strings.

This remains a mystery and ongoing discussion.


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